Friday, October 14, 2011

31 Days Of 80's Movie Slashers: 10/14 - Terror Train (1980)

Day Fourteen:

Terror Train
From Twentieth Century Fox
Original Theatrical Release Date: October 3, 1980
DVD: Yes

Plot: Poor Kenny. He was the victim of hideous fraternity prank gone wrong. Now the gang from Sigma Phi are boarding a train to have a costume party. Kenny follows with vengeance on his mind. Prepare to have a bumpy and bloody ride!

Terror Train isn't really about a masked killer on a train. Nor is it about Jamie Lee Curtis once again playing the sympathetic and headstrong final girl. It's also not about the magic and wonder that is David Copperfield. Terror Train is actually the tender love story between Doc (Hart Bochner) and Mo (Timothy Webber). These two guys are seemingly inseparable. And when bad things start to happen on their little train ride, they go absolutely nuts for each other.

Doc: She's still mad?
Mo: Yeah, she's still mad.
Doc: She'll get over it.
Mo: You know doc, I'm not so sure this time.
Doc: Well if she dumps you, you've always got me you know. 
(Mo snickers)
Doc: I mean it.

If Terror Train was allowed some more running time, would we might have been privy to these two fraternity boys' backstory? Did they meet at college? Were they playground BFFS? Of the two, Doc is the one that seems head over heels. His screams for his good buddy are piercing with ache and love. No one could quite understand Mo like Doc can. And Jamie Lee's Alana is just in the way. I wonder if Kenny never did show up what would become of this tangled three? Part of me suspects that Doc himself might be just a bit mad. He alternates between being a lout and a smoldering, brooding monk. Would he don a mask and throw Alana off the train himself? Would Mo eventually realize his own feelings that are slowly bubbling up to the surface?

Okay, Terror Train is also about a killer on a train and all of that jazz. And it's a Picture that has a killer who keeps changing costumes! This Slasher also has great suspense and atmosphere. Directed by Roger Spotiswoode (frequent editor for Sam Peckinpah) and Cinematography by the late great John Alcott (The Shining, Clockwork Orange, Vice Squad), Train has a classy touch while delivering all your Slasher Movie needs. The finale with Alana being chased and trying to escape the killer's clutches is one of Slasher Filmdom's best set pieces. I always enjoy the characters and the unique vibe of the film.

The Picture also has the added value of a magic performance by Mr. David Copperfield. His role is pretty convincing as an uber creepy magician, Jamie Lee Curtis ogler and possible red herring. And for adults who don't quite care about drunken college jerks, there's Oscar Winner Ben Johnson (The Last Picture Show) on hand to give the film some emotional weight... or pad out the running time in between the suspense and set pieces. Terror Train plays all the Slasher angles, some to great success and others to varying degrees. It's definitely a slasher ride worth taking.



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