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Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.71%
Worth A Look: 23.53%
Pretty Bad: 23.53%
Total Crap: 5.88%

2 reviews, 22 user ratings

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Terror Train
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by Dr. Isaksson

"Jamie Lee is getting chased on a Train"
2 stars

So at the end of the 70's and moving into the 80's, Jamie Lee Curtis must have not been getting too many offers to star in any major films. "Trading Places" was still a couple years down the road so one has to assume that she would have to accept whatever film was offered to her. I completely understand why she is called the Scream Queen given her string of films that she rolled through in this post Halloween phase of her career. And I don't think they meant that she looked like a transvestite. (Even though I do think she cuts her hair far too short all the time.) So in 1978, she starred in that big breakthrough role in "Halloween". In 79 she was in "The Fog". In 1980 she was extra busy starring in three horrors, the strange and not-too-horrible Australian film "Road Games", "Terror Train" and then the wondrously horrific (and I don't mean scary) "Prom Night". I don't know the sequence in which she made these works of art but I'm writing now to discuss the one that has a killer on a train. Creatively titled "Terror Train".

The film starts with a bunch of college students who are boarding a train and there's a big party on board complete with a mirror ball and disco music! This is already a downfall because it really dates the film and makes it look all the more cheesy. The students are dressed up in various outfits because it's a masquerade party! Perfect for a knife wielding killer to disguise himself among the masses. Are you scared yet? Anyway, for entertainment there is a magician on board who is none other than 'The Prince of Cheesy Tricks', David Copperfield. This guy is right up with Ziegfried and Roy in the weirdo Vegas entertainment department. He does some tricks, none of which are all that fascinating and I kept waiting for the film to get scary. So after a few overly happy people are killed off a touch of fear tried to peak its wicked head out of the darkness but it's not all that frantic and the film drags on and on as one moron gets killed after another. Then finally Jamie Lee Curtis (who took a back-seat in the beginning credits to someone named Ben Johnson) gets terrorized by the killer who dons a dumb troll mask. The whole pace of this plot is confusing and the whole atmosphere on this train seems to be lacking in any real style or substance.

The attack scenes are done quite well and I kept thinking that Wes Craven must have been influenced by them when he was creating his massively famous Scream films because the killer's attack methods come of as very similar. Also, our villan here dons a black robe, which Craven seems to have totally ripped off. Terror Train's psycho killer is a kind of clumsy, all too human psychopath who can't just kill you off in 2 seconds. He actually has a little trouble and stumbles and falls then manages to clutch your leg a few times in the process of attacking. This makes for a much more realistic predator, not the unstoppable killing of Michael Myers or the blockhead lump of wood that is Jason Voorhees. Not surprizng, Jamie is able to escape him a couple of times which makes for some good tension. So it gets points there.

But the direcing is far from exciting and I didn't get that eerie suffocating feeling of people trapped on a train like I hoped for. There are shots of cramped quarters but it isn't presented in very scary way like it could have been. And there are these constant shots of the train on its tracks traveling along. Over and over, just in case you forget they are on one. Perhaps the director needed to take up some more time to reach 90 minutes. Needless to say the musis is not of John Carpenter quality. It's a lame and forgettable score and the script is mediocre and bordering on horrible most of the time.

Other than the good fight scenes, I was really bored with Terror Train. The cast didn't ease this dislike much either. They were a bunch of forgettable faces that delivered very poor, forgettable performances. Really bad. I mean, they were reading lines as though they had never read the script and so someone placed cue cards two feet away for them to work with and even then it sounded as if they were having a hard time getting the words out in any belivable kind of way. Conviction wasn't the strong point here. I'd say they gave the Friday the 13th actors a real run for the money in the crappiest actor awards. In fact, I'd push this far enough to say that these people were actually worse. This film plays itself 'dead' seriously and with this weak talent involved it falls flat most of the time and even becmes laughable. Even the ex-Prince moll Vanity in a supporting role couldn't liven this muck up any. As the viewer, I was just left to wait around for them to each kick the bucket. Jamie Lee Curtis is an adequate lead for the film but she doesn't have much to work with, so unfortunately she becomes annoying after a while and the plot is so slow and mundane that this film easily slips into auto pilot and never bothers to take it's hand of the brake and really go for something terrifying and dare I say.. OFF THE TRACK!

Not a great film at all. A thin, unexplanitory plot that isn't exactly scary with actors who don't make this mush memorable. I was bored and nothing was here to impress. Weak early 80's slasher crap. Not even ONE creative death scene either. Jamie Lee is fun though. ** 2 Stars

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originally posted: 07/03/03 12:29:38
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User Comments

9/16/17 morris campbell decent no more no less 3 stars
3/01/10 Toni Lentz One of my all time favorites! DM was perfect as Kenny. 5 stars
10/11/09 art FRIDAY THE 13TH SHOULD BE IN THE HALL OF FAME FOR SLASHER MOVIES,not this turkey! 1 stars
1/15/09 Shaun Wallner Well made. 3 stars
6/19/08 mr.mike Takes time building up steam 3 stars
11/19/07 art FANTASTIC it should be in the slasher movie hall of fame 5 stars
3/02/07 action movie fan rather dull gory horror flick on board a train-quite lame 2 stars
2/22/05 Jeff Anderson John Alcott's stylish photography, good direction & cast make this REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!! 5 stars
11/27/04 Samuel A decent flick. 3 stars
4/18/04 American Slasher Goddess One of Jamie Lee Curtis's best slahser flicks. Very well done. 4 stars
2/04/04 Chad Foster Awesome 5 stars
12/03/03 ROY L. CAIN,JR. A creative slasher yarn that did not produce any sequels, thank god . 4 stars
8/01/03 Jake Jamie lee's kiss is deadly, watch and see. What is wrong with Copperfield? LOL! Poor film. 2 stars
7/03/03 Sane Are you people retarded? This is a sickeningly pathetic attempt at slasher horror 1 stars
7/03/03 Cash Bailey Under-rated horror flick. Great Kubrick-like lighting. 4 stars
4/29/03 Pinkline Jones ...And I Thought the State Rail Dining Car was bad! 4 stars
3/03/03 Jack Sommersby Atmospheric, taut horror flick. 4 stars
11/20/02 Charles Tatum A great change from the typical slasher fare 4 stars
5/24/01 Erik North The best HALLOWEEN-inspired film; suspenseful and not painfully gory. 4 stars
4/03/01 Andrew Carden One of the first good horror movies of the 80's. 4 stars
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  03-Oct-1980 (R)
  DVD: 07-Sep-2004



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