Terror Train (1980)
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Ben Johnson, David Copperfield, Hart Bochner
Directed by: Roger Spottiswoode
A group of medical students throw a fancy-dress graduation party on an old steam-train. As the train speeds through the night, one-by-one the students are butchered by a forgotten figure from their past…..
Easily one of the best 80s slasher movies and the film which probably cemented Jamie Lee Curtis as the original ‘scream queen’. Noted western actor Johnson adds a touch of real class as the bemused but heroic conductor.
There are some genuine scares – most important, in any horror flick – and the cinematography on-board the train of death is genuinely impressive – the rocking carriages, dark corridors and claustrophobic compartments heighten the tension to fever-pitch levels at times. The fact that the killer changes disguise as the film develops furthers the sense of mystery and is an interesting departure from the usual zombie-killer-dismembers-teens formula akin to the low-grade slasher movies such as The Burning (1981).
Moreover, there are some little twists and unusual red-herrings which keep the viewer engaged with the plot throughout – a real achievement in this genre. More broadly speaking, gore is sparse – simply because the film doesn’t need it – apart from a quite nasty scene where a young man gets his head smashed in during a trip to the train lavatory. So, if you are looking for a splatter film, look elsewhere.
Overall, an ‘A’ grade slasher which does what it sets out to do – it frightens you. Much better than Jamie Lee’s other 1980 slasher flick, Prom Night.
hotdog rating: 7.5/10