No one screams like Jamie Lee Curtis. No one.
Combine those ear-piercing screams with a creepy Groucho Marx mask, a young David Copperfield, a ghostly train ride, and you have sure fire success for a late October night full of terror and mystery. Rising above the typical slasher flicks of the early 1980s, Terror Train entices its audiences with standout visuals and a revenge plot aboard a private train trip that goes horribly macabre.
It’s winter. For a group of students celebrating their rapidly approaching graduation, a costume party aboard a private train trip feels like the best way to celebrate their freedom from medical school. Alana Maxwell (Curtis), her best friend Mitchy (Sandee Currie), and their boyfriends Mo and Doc (Timothy Webber and Hart Bochner) soon discover that someone from their past – a New Year’s Eve prank gone incredibly wrong - has returned for cold and calculating revenge.
But who is it? Could it be the mysterious and charming magician (Copperfield)? Or is it the enigmatic train conductor (Ben Johnson)? Some masked and extremely insane guest? Only screenwriter and folk singer T.Y. Drake knows and, with the amount of red herrings he tosses in to the script, he’s not talking.
Terror Train features Roger Spottiswoode (Tomorrow Never Dies) in his debut as director. While definitely not astounding, his focus on mood and sensation throughout the movie is to be commended. He also allows for plenty of misdirection as the audience tries to figure out who is haunting the partiers. It’s a regular mystery dinner party aboard an art deco traim - courtesy of production designer Glenn Bydwell - bound for hell and Spottiswoode keeps the tension tight.
Make no mistake, though. Terror Train burns down the tracks because of Curtis’ performance. Riding her soaring star, after the success of Halloween, The Fog and Prom Night, Curtis was hot property and her performance here is on par with her previous outings. Vulnerable and definitely no stranger to the concept of a horror express to Hell, her strong performance, once again, defies her 21 years of age.
Climb aboard the Terror Train if you dare.
MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime: 97 mins.
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Writer: T.Y. Drake
Cast: Ben Johnson; Jamie Lee Curtis; Hart Bochner; David Copperfield
Tagline: Don't waste money on a return fare. You won't be coming back!
Memorable Movie Quote: "I am. He didn't know how to saw a woman in half."
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Release Date: October 3, 1980
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: October 16, 2012
Synopsis: A masked killer targets six college kids responsible for a prank gone wrong years earlier and whom are currently throwing a large New Year's Eve costume party aboard a moving train.
English SDH, French, Spanish (less)
English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH (less)
Available on Blu-ray - October 16, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); DVD copy
Region Encoding: A
Shout! Factory continues to roll out their catalog of horror releases just in time for the scares this Halloween. Presented in a crisp 1080p transfer, Terror Train’s print is dominated with reds and greens that absolutely burst with color. It’s a dark film, for sure, but the costumes are detailed and the art deco design is bursting with a nice level of clarity. There are a few scratches from time to time as it isn’t a complete restoration. Black levels are solid and skin tones are natural. Audio wise, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is clear and the dialogue is never lost or hard to hear.
Housed in a nice slipcover that boosts new cover art, Shout! Factory continues to spoil its fans with a nice array of bonus material that is dominated by interviews with various members of Terror Train’s crew. Production executive Don Carmody, producer Daniel Grodnik, production Designer Glenn Bydwell, and composer John Mills-Cockell are featured in separate interviews as they discuss the making of the film and their thoughts on its legacy. Rounding out the collection is a theatrical trailer, a TV spot, and a gallery of promotional items. The release also comes with a DVD copy of the movie and reversible cover art.
- Destination Death (12 min)
- Riding the Rails (13 min)
- All Aboard! (11 min)
- Music for Murder (8 min)
- TV Spot
- Still Gallery