TERROR TRAIN- cover for US 'Key Video' release
3 stars   Cheese Rating: 75% Feirce Fromage!

"The boys and girls of Sigma Phi.
Some will live.
Some will die."


directed by: Roger Spottiswoode
starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Ben Johnson, Hart Boochner, David Copperfield, Derek MacKinnon, Sandee Currie, Timothy Webber, D.D. Winters [Vanity (as in Prince's ex!)]

(back of video blurb):


       Take an excursion into terror with Jamie Lee Curtis and Ben Johnson in this classic shocker from director Roger Spottiswoode.

       It's New Year's Eve and a group of college co-eds have planned a masquerade bash aboard a chartered train. What they didn't plan was that a knife-wielding psycho would crash the party and begin slaughtering the guests one by one!

       Who is this brutal costumed killer? Could it be the mysterious magician (David Copperfield) with a talent for swordplay... a former frat pledge with an ax to grind... or any number of other guests, both invited and univted?

       Climb aboard the "Terror Train" for a frightening combination of blood-curdling horror and intriguing mystery."

choice dialogue:

"Try and see they don't tear [the train] apart. With a party like that I'm always afraid some kid's going to hurt themselves."
- Station staff discuss their fears for the night ahead- with uncanny accuracy!

slash with panache?

       TERROR TRAIN was one of the first slasher movies out of the gates in the wake of John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN (1978); a comparison even more pertinent due to the fact that it also starred that film's heroine- Jamie Lee Curtis, who, with this cheese-fest on Alana (Jamie Lee Curtis) says 'cheese' for the camera!wheels, cemented her emerging image as scream queen numero uno for the late 70's and early 80's.

       The film kicks off at an outside college bash for New Year's Eve, with a load of knitwear clad teens partying around a roaring bonfire. Alana (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friend Mitchy (Sandy Currie) giggle coquettishly as a group of boys eye them across the flames. The freshmen, who consist of- frat king Doc (Hart Bochner); class clown Ed (Howard Busgang); and jocks Jackson (Anthony Sherwood) and Mo (Timothy Webber), try and convince wimpy Kenny (Derek McKinnon) that Alana has the hots for him. "Chicks go for the sensitive fellas", one of them says; egging him on to go up and meet her in Doc's room for a night of passion. Kenny, bashful to the last, eventually agrees and makes his way there. Little does he know that he's going to be the star of one of those good ol' fashioned pranks- the kind that never end well in these kind of things... Alana is fairly reluctant to go through with the prank- which consists of her hiding behind a four poster bed, which is Jamie Lee looks on horrified as Kenny freaks out!obscured with chiffon curtains, and luring Kenny into the arms of one of Doc's 'friends'- but Mitchy convinces her to go through with it. The plan works like a dream and Kenny, after removing his glasses and most of his clothes, crawls into bed following Alana's come-ons. He embraces, not her, but an... armless, elderly female cadaver (stolen by Doc from the college mortuary)! Kenny freaks and stands bolt upright- screaming and spinning around on the bed; he starts to become caught up in the chiffon. The others in the group burst into the room and stand laughing at his predicament. Alana peers through the curtains to see what Kenny is screaming about and, as she realises the full extent of the prank, her face also turns to one of horror. As Kenny becomes hopelessly entagled the camera slows and his screams descend from shrillness into a low guttural growl...

       Cue 'three years later' (oh, yes!), and some of the students have organised a graduation bash- a fancy dress party on a specially chartered train. Again it is the dead of Winter- and it's the dead of night, as the revellers step off the coach and onto the platform- one of '3 years later' (that old chestnut!) and the party prepares to board the 'terror train'the jocks proposing a toast, with a spray of beer, to "My last big college party!" (oh, the irony!). As they gather around the old fashioned steam train the crowd of forty or so raise merry hell in their costumes ( Jamie Lee is done up like a plucky pirate); and Ed, dressed as Groucho Marx, entertains them with his 'hilarious' (and please note the brackets) comedy routine with a blow up doll.

       Watching all of this, with a benign look of weary resignation, is the middle-aged conductor (Ben Johnson)- who I was sure was going to come out and say "pesky kids!" at one point, but sadly never did. What he does do however is bemoan the lack of a phone on the train- a fact that'll surely come into play later in the film. Also getting ready to board the train is bug eyed David Copperfield- here looking a shade less orange than usual; who is along to provide the 'entertainment' for the journey (again, please notice the brackets).Ed...is...dead!

       As the crowd boards the train with shrieks of excitement, Ed stumbles towards a few stragglers hurrying on- an ornamental sword handle protruding from his stomach. Several of the partygoers notice him, laughing and whooping at what they think is another of Ed's lovable pranks. None of them stop to see that, in-fact, Ed..is..dead (sorry, I couldn't stop thinking about that old Pixies song when I saw this bit!). Just before the train pulls out somebody (the fact that we don't see their face should go with out saying), strips Ed of his costume and the sword he was run through with; and, in the film's first hint of a sadistic streak, the killer moves Ed's body onto the line- which results in a nasty squelching noise as the train slowly chuggs out of the station...

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