Friday, December 19, 2008

Terror Train (1980)

Yay for the 80s. Where not everything was a remake and horror movies actually had original concepts and not just ripoffs of everything else. Terror Train, filmed back to back with Prom Night earned Jamie Lee Curtis the title of Scream Queen. Some critics joke that this movie is basically "Halloween on a train" but I think it's pretty original. Let's take a look.

Terror Train begins not on a train at all, but at an 80s frat party. The poor pledges are getting hazed and the brothers have a special trick in mind for Kenny Hampson. A trick that obviously goes awry, or we wouldn't have this movie. Of course Jamie Lee Curtis and her ditzy blonde friend are involved, as well as some meatheads posing as med students.

Fast forward a few years and it's graduation time. Kenny's not around anymore, and although it's not clear why, I think we get the picture (one of the fratties mentions he "couldn't take it")

So as a graduation surprise, this group of friends is having a party aboard some sort of sightseeing train. Although it's dark outside and I doubt they can see anything. Everyone is in costumes and ready to get their drink on. But, woah, people start disappeering. And everything is obviously super confusing, because everyone is drunk and wearing costumes. And there's a magic show. These things alone would make me jump out of this train due to bewilderment and pure fear.

So this is actually a pretty great concept. The killer is popping all over the place by killing a person and then wearing their costume, thus convincing everyone else that they are original said person. Also, David Copperfield is the magician, which obviously throws a whole new awesome layer into the mix.

This movie actually has some pretty great twists and turns, and I was pretty surprised about who the killer turns out to be. The train is a unique setting, the whole thing was a new idea for its time, and Jamie Lee is awesome albeit a little Lori Strode-ish. To be expected.

Grade: B (Friday the 13th Part 2 - costumed killers make for great horror fun)