Sunday, December 05, 2010

Night Train To Terror (1985)

How does one profit off of three barely released and completely ignored features? If you answered, cut them all to a third of their runtime and package them together into an anthology centered around God and Satan trading souls aboard a train whose only other occupants are a terrible rock band performing for themselves, then you've already seen this and frankly, that's cheating. You should be ashamed of yourself. It is a rather ingenious plan from a marketing standpoint though a bit of a sucker punch to any discerning horror fans that need their movies to make sense. For those that may be wondering, the three films in question are Cataclysm (1980), Carnival of Fools (1983) and Marilyn Alive and Behind Bars (1992), all of which will hopefully be reviewed in their entirety at some point here as they each possess interesting qualities. The only problem being that I have now essentially seen all of their "greatest hits" and will be left with nothing more than exposition and character development; the two components of basic filmmaking that Night Train of Terror completely disregards.

And this is where it gets difficult to review as each new scene in each story is missing integral connecting scenes that explain how characters got to where they are, where new characters came from, why that one guy is suddenly dead, you know, stuff that usually helps progress the story along. The first tale, to the best of my deciphering, involves a playboy, who under a doctor's hypnosis, lures easy women back to their hospital so that Bull from TV's Night Court can lop off their body parts and sell them to medical schools around the globe. Highlights include a lobotomized patient performing unnecessary surgery, several paper mache severed heads (much thanks to whatever elementary school art class provided their services here) and Bull from TV's Night Court sweating profusely (if you're into that sort of thing).

Our middle story begins with a romance between a college student and the girl he falls for while watching her perform in a pornographic video (ain't love grand?). He tracks her down but is then swept into the Death Club that she participates in. Basically, Flatliners (1990) except with obscenely complicated traps including a Harryhausen-esque deadly beetle and a wrecking ball on a slowly dwindling rope swinging above the club members who are all in sleeping bags for some reason. There is also what may be the longest electrocution death of all time. This is definitely one to track down.

The final tale is perhaps the most convoluted of all as a demon masquerades as a young man that never ages. After the mysterious death of a concentration camp survivor, a detective discovers that this young man has had a huge impact on every major war the world has ever known. With the assistance of a defrocked monk (great band name) and the wife of an author whose latest work declares "God is Dead," (only post-dating Nietzsche by about a century), they set out to bring this purveyor of evil down once and for all. A bit of a let down even with more stop motion lunacy to spice things up.

As for the bookender, we find God and Satan waxing philosophically without ever really saying anything and a performance of the same song at the beginning, end and in between each tale by our soon to be rocking out in hell bandmates. At one point, the lead singer even yells out, "Again, from the top," to which we, the audience, must always reply, "Dear God, No!" Though to be fair, the same lead singer's corpse somehow holds the breakdancing pose he was performing even after the train crashes. Impressive.

So to sum it all up in a way that only this movie can be, allow me to severely edit my final thought. Night Train to Terror is ............... movie ............... experience.


  1. I don't care if it's incomplete....
    You've stoked my interest. I gotta find this one!

  2. Excellent write up, my dear, however you didn't mention the 'band's' song, which is now in my head and easily one of the most fun things about this movie!


    You're welcome for me putting it into your head!


  3. Andrew: I found a cheap VHS of it though there is a DVD floating around; all be it with considerably worse cover art. It looks like it should be a concert video for Motley Crue or something...

    Jenn: It is catchy, I'll give em that much...what with Mama at the shopping mall and Junior smoking for me, I was watching a movie called Night Train to Terror. Not sure what that says...