Wednesday, January 4, 2012

TERROR TRAIN - A slasher for the NEW YEAR!

Terror Train
All aboard, the terror train is on the tracks…chugging along at maniac speed….a hard cold steel death machine….for the people trapped on board this new year may be their last….Kenny Hampson’s got some tricks up his sleeve and revenge on his mind ….he’s ready to make your life go….*POOF*…disappear!  

You’ll only need a one way ticket when you ride the TERROR TRAIN!

Whenever I reminisce of Terror Train I think of the story that a friend of mine once told me about David Copperfield trying to “cop-a-feel” from his mother after cutting someone in half on stage.  I think of magical peanut vending machines.  I think of a man dressed as a parrot, speaking in a parrot voice, and fully expecting to be taken seriously.  Terror Train is essentially The Great White North’s poor man’s answer to John Carpenter’s Halloween; except on a crazy train, and by ZHUUL I am sold on that idea.

There’s a fraternity prank, some nerdy never-do-well named Kenny Hampson gets tricked into crawling into bed with a corpse.  I don’t see what the big deal is, dead chicks don’t say “no” Kenny.  He totally flips his lid and spins himself into a fangled mess of curtains, as if wrapping himself in that shocking moment of time.  Poor Kenny; should have known that movie-land frat pranks typically pave the trail for tragedy.

Kenny liked to play with trains and was an amateur magician, so guess how the same frat house knob jobs that wronged Kenny decide to celebrate their graduation; on a train watching a hired magician.  These guys really love tempting fate with bad cine-karma.  When the train leaves the station (and even before) the bodies start to drop.  One crappy Groucho imitator gets impaled and grinded up in the train tracks.  Good thing too; that guy’s jokes were killing me.  Hardee HAR!  

I love the long dark train hallways in the later half of the film, the shots of the dimly lit mahogany interior of the cars after Mo dies and they abandon the train briefly in a panic. That dark, foreboding, tunnel-like vision underlines the single minded tunnel vision mindset of the killer as well as compliments the claustrophobic elements of the film; like when Doc Manley and Alana try hiding from the killer in a locked room. The pastel lighting is also an interesting choice; it always reminded me of some sort of dream-like, spaced out dementia, like a glimpse of the world through Kenny's eyes.
Another aspect of the film that stood out to me was the train conductor Carne. He brought a real salt of the earth sensibility to the play. Out of all the characters I think I enjoyed him the most; a genuine old school good guy. I like the fact that they resisted the temptation to make him too much of the stereotypical tough guy who swoops in to save the day at the last moment. If this had been a recent release they would have replaced Carne with some daytime television soap opera heart throb. He struck me as an ordinary guy doing his best in extraordinary circumstances all the while managing to remain frank and cool headed. Bravo sir!

There’s some hooey about he said, she said, typical B-flick wishy washy romance crap, but this movie has true red slasher blood running through its veins and none of that candy ass filler really detracts from the good times, so don’t sweat it.  If you find your mind wandering just think about what a bag of tools David Copperfield is, it won’t be long before a sword ruptures someone’s spleen and all will be right in the world.  No Halloween-on-rails would be complete without James Lee Curtis screaming ITS ragged face off, and this has got that too.  There’s costume switching hijinks, magic shows, a slow dancing secretary in a wheel chair, and all sorts of fruity crap to keep your toes curled, not to mention cold hard DEATH in the caboose.  The last chase scene is as bloody suspenseful as schlock comes.   So don’t delay, seek Terror Train before the party leaves the station!