UK quad poster for TERROR TRAIN
"Don't waste money on a return fare.
You won't be coming back!"

TERROR TRAIN review: page 2


       On board the party gets into full swing. You'll know what to expect if you've ever seen a teen slasher movie- and the fact that you're reading this then the chances are that you have. It's nothing new really- a little dope smoking; lots of drinking; a splash of David Copperfield tries to look menacing as the party gets into full swingsneaking off into cabins for a bit of how's-your-father; plenty of buffoonery; and copious amounts of David Copperfield... Ok, it may have something that other teen slashers don't have- but that's not really something to boast about really is it! Copperfield, who looks faintly psychotic with his bowl cut and disco lapels, mumbles to his glamorous assistant that it, "looks like a rotten crowd", as he scans the party. This doesn't stop him from hogging what seems like half the movie with his cheesy Vegas style magic show. Veering from the sleight-of-hand trick he uses to get Jamie Lee to grab a handful of peanuts (I said 'peanuts'!); to full on lady floating in mid-air accompanied by a throbbing disco score. Him and Jamie Lee get pretty close for a while- they make doe eyes at each other and he gives her a levitating red rose; and for one horrible moment I thought they were going to get it on. Luckily, for one and all, his magic wand stays firmly under wraps .

       You could be forgiven for thinking that the magic show will never stop. With this and all the teen politics and chitchat, is seems like The killer stalks the corridors of the 'Terror Train'!the makers almost forgot exactly what type of movie they were making. In-fact nothing much happens on the train for the first half hour- apart from the aforementioned party shenanigans. The killer is briefly glimpsed skulking around the corridors and is actually pretty spooky looking- cold, cold eyes peering emotionlessly from behind the Groucho mask; but things don't really kick into gear until the second half. When the group of kidders who tormented poor Kenny three years ago get their bloody by o..(oh, you know the drill!).

       TERROR TRAIN isn't trying to outdo HALLOWEEN- it knows it has no real class. It isn't that bad a movie really- and occasionally it's a lot of fun. It looks great- courtesy of some lush cinematography from John Alcott (who also worked on Kubrick's THE SHINING (1980)); and has some pleasingly clever moments- like the idea that the killer assumes the costume of the last victim. I also liked the way one of the gang gets bumped off during a Copperfield show without anyone noticing (I thought maybe boredom did him in- but no); and a cleverly perverse trick with a severed It was a dangerous occupation being a teenager back in the early 80'shand (which neatly mirrored an event in the past). The performances aren't half bad either- especially Jamie Lee Curtis (her character is a little bit more cocky here than Laurie Strode was, but she's still the nice girl battling the monster; and once again proves she has a great pair of lungs with some ear shattering screams); and Hart Bochner (soon to be seen in URBAN LEGEND 2 (2000)), as the nasty Frat King who becomes the ultimate snivelling coward. The film does ape HALLOWEEN (as all early 80's slashers do) in its grande finale, but again lacks the finesse of Carpenter's movie. Having said that there are a couple of pretty good suspense sequences- Doc alone in his carriage looking for the killer comes to mind; as does Jamie Lee's flight through the abandoned corridors from the axe wielding psychopath (this time in a monk's habit and old crone's mask). There's also a fair bit of hokey gore (the tumbling severed head comes to mind), which whilst not being especially explicit, seemed to signal the direction the subgenre was going to take- in the direction of films like HELL NIGHT (1981).

       Jamie Lee Curtis comes face-to-face with the masked assassin!The film is surprisingly sadistic- especially towards the end when the tone changes quite dramatically from cheesy to something a few shades darker (from camenmbert to, say, red leceister!). You do get the sense that, whoever is doing the killing, really wants to make the group suffer- and as the group is mostly male they make up most of the film's victims (only one victim is female). However, the killer seems to take great pleasure in roughing up Jamie Lee- smearing blood all over her face. She, however, is the consummate trooper- if you watch closely, during a climactic tussle, as she slides down a door she really does whack her head on a door handle, but carries on regardless.

       Whilst the identity of the killer is never really in doubt the end of the film brings with it a HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1981) type twist, which will either have you laughing along with a golden cheese moment or groaning into your beer. I, naturally, loved it.

       TERROR TRAIN is a fairly fun slasher flick, but is ultimately marred by some pretty lack lustre pacing- too much time hearing about boring teens and not enough time finding creative ways to kill them!

BODYCOUNT 10  bodycount!   female:1 / male:9

       1: Male teen run through with sword
       2: Male teen has head smashed against mirror
       3: Female teen has throat slit (offscreen)
       4: Male teen stabbed in chest (offscreen)
       5: Male missing presumed dead
       6: Male missing presumed dead
       7: Male teen decapitated (offscreen)
       8: Male run through with sword
       9: Male found run through with many swords!
     10: Male teen falls to his death