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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

31 Days of Scream-O-Ween! - Terror Train

By Adam Ruhl

Today’s Scream Factory goody hails from a long, proud tradition of Canadian horror films like Black Christmas and later, My Bloody Valentine. Unlike those holiday themed horrors Terror Train veers off on its own path by taking on the horrors of being trapped on mass transit with a murderer. It’s also the film that confirmed Jamie Lee Curtis as the Scream Queen, so let’s dive right in and look at Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition of Terror Train!

Terror Train

The Film:
Over the course of watching many horror films for this series I’ve noticed a plotting trend. Much like The Burning, Terror Train starts with some kids prank gone wrong; which maims someone and sets them on a long term path of murderous revenge. In this case its college kids who trick a virgin pledge named Kenny into almost kissing a corpse from the med school. He doesn’t do it mind you, just almost, this apparently traumatizes him to insanity.
Flash forward a couple years later and those same kids are getting ready to graduate. Alana (Curtis), a girl who was in on the prank, joins her boyfriend and the Greeks for a costume party on a train. They are traveling at night, in Canada, in winter, which sets up their isolation (the conductor goes into a long diatribe about how he wishes the train owner would put a phone on it, because FORESHADOWING).

Even before they’re underway, one of their friends is impaled on a sword which everyone thinks is a really funny joke (must be Canadian humor), which allows Kenny to don the dead man’s mask and board the train. Once the train gets going frat boys are lined up for slaughter by a deranged maniac as he tries out a series of increasingly bizarre masks. This movie is fun but strange, case in point, about midway through the movie David Copperfield, the actual magician David Copperfield, performs a magic show on the train. 1979 David Copperfield, slasher movie, train, while those elements sink in let’s talk about the disc.


The Disc:
The art cover for Terror Train is again by Nathan Thomas Milliner. It’s well done but not quite as well composed as some of his other covers. In a way it reflects the somewhat awkward visual composition of Terror Train itself.
The film presentation is clean but there is a distinct low budget feel throughout. Costumes are thrown together and don’t always make sense for the characters. There is a lot of debris scattered around the train, it is supposed to be a party but it just ends up looking a little haphazard. Terror Train never quite sold me on its own reality and it’s a touch distracting.
The extras are pretty thin for a Collector’s Edition. There’s no commentary’s at all, this film just screams for a David Copperfield commentary track. The bonus features only has a handful of interviews, none of which are the actors, director, or writer. See Jamie Lee Curtis’ interview in Scream Factory’s The Fog release, she talks about Terror Train in some detail.

The Features:
  • Destination Death – Interview with the Producer
  • Riding the Rails – Interview with the Production Executive
  • All Aboard – Interview with the Production Designer
  • Music for Murder – Interview with the Composer
  • Still Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spot


The Specs:
·         1080p Hi-Def widescreen 1.85:1
·         DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
·         DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
·         English-only Audio & Subtitles
·         Original Release: 1980
·         Runtime: 97 minutes
·         Rated R

Final Grades:
Story: C / Kids get on train, killer gets on train, kids get murdered on train. That’s all the plot you need.
Presentation quality: B+ / Looks good and the train shots are pretty but not very complex visually.
Scare factor: B- / Scares are broadcasted a little too much.
Gore Factor: C / Violent but not particularly gory.
Special Features: C / No commentaries and a handful of interviews with producers and the composer. Sparse compared with some of the other releases.   
Add Terror Train to your collection, click HERE!

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