Terror Train review by The Grim Ringler

Ya know, god bless actress Jamie Lee Curtis ‘cause few actresses have the fortitude to stick with the horror genre for as long as she did back in the late seventies and early eighties. Sure, you have your scream queens and topless sleazoid honeys, but few real actresses stuck with the genre. At least in the modern era. But dammit, Old Jamie Lee gave it her best even in some of the silliest of horror chillers, like Terror Train. Admittedly, I used to LOVE this film, or thought I did. Now, after buying the slasher cheapie I am wondering what the hell I was on when I thought that.

Yet another slasher revenge film, this one finds a young man who was emotionally scarred due to a cruel and strange fraternity prank. The young man in question is pledging a frat but needs to lose his virginity to make it in. The brothers decide to be pals and set him up with a sorority hottie – Ms. Curtis – who is more than happy to put out. What the guy thinks is a sure thing though turns out to be a hideous joke as he is tricked into getting into bed with an armless woman’s cadaver and, upon seeing the creepy corpse, the fella pops a gasket. Flash forward a couple years and the frat brothers who were involved with the prank have planned a New Year’s Eve overnight train excursion (huh? Why? Why a train? Why New Year’s? Huh?) for their frat brothers and sorority sisters as a way to say goodbye to the year and to their friends as the seniors get ready for graduation. Along for the ride is Miss Curtis, still feeling guilty for her part in the prank, which sent the victim into the psych ward since that day. The trouble starts when a masked killer joins in on the train ride and begins dispatching the people involved with the hazing prank. The bodies begin to pile up before anyone realizes that there’s something amiss and by then there is no turning back as the train is too far from their destination or their starting point to just go back easily, and being that they’re in the middle of nowhere during the Winter, well, it’s on through the night the train hurtles. But as the remaining participants of that prank and the rest of the train discover, the person they suspect of the murder may not be who they think, but time is running out. Will the killer finish out their revenge or will they be stopped before it’s too late.

As slasher flicks go, this really is pretty average fare. You have your masked killer, your dark secret, and your promiscuous teens. The hell of it is that this, along with god knows how many others, never really bother to challenge the standard. They never really care enough to be different. There are a few twists here, and the killer is pretty nutty at the end, but it’s all for naught as, were it not for Curtis, this is pretty forgettable fare. But she manages to create another girl-next-door that, despite her participation in the prank, you pull for. Her character has remorse for her actions and it’s that slight humanity that Ms. Curtis adds that keeps you interested. The kills are pedestrian and not that interesting and, sadly, the other draws here are a fading actor – Ben Johnson – and a young magic-man – David Copperfield. The idea isn’t a bad one, the idea of a revenge for misdeeds is as classic as you can get when it comes to reasons to kill, but the filmmakers don’t do anything with this. Ugh. I mean, hell, I have no problem with slasher films, I mean, I am watching the Friday the 13th boxed set right now, but when there is no thought put into the film, and no passion or fun even, what’s the point? Money of course. This was in the hey-day of the slasher films and it was easy to make movies like this. But I stand by the idea that you can run over familiar ground and be interesting – case in point being Hell Night which is an effective and well made slasher film. This isn’t a bad film per se – the actors are adequate, the mood is fine, and the train is a unique setting, but it’s like they were creating a movie from a pattern, only putting the ingredients together but not knowing why they fit. Not putting in reasons for them to fit.

So, is Terror Train worth a trip? I will keep mine ‘cause it isn’t, as I said, bad, but it just isn’t great. It’s mediocre in every way. Even the ending. This is decent for a rental, if you are in need of a slasher, but there are far better ones than this out there so I’d say keep lookin’.


6 out of 10 Jackasses
blog comments powered by Disqus