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December 11, 2012

Movie Review: Terror Train (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack)

Revenge themed horror surrounding nerds and bullies became a huge part of genre films in the 70’s and 80’s. For example, Massacre at Central High sort of stands out as a movie early on that pushed forth this often fun narrative that brings a rooting mentality to many viewers (Hell, I’m a nerd..Just not the smart kind).  The 1987 slasher Slaughter High also comes to mind as a highly enjoyable (though stupid) nerd on the rampage flick.  Roger Spottiswoode’s Terror Train nails down the same template while it not as serious in tone as Massacre at Central High nor as goofy as Slaughter High – it really captures a happy medium. Now it’s available for the first time in a special edition Blu-ray/Combo Pack from Scream Factory so now you can see Jamie Lee do her best to evade a geek for 90 minutes.

Terror Train begins in fairly cruel manner as our embattled nerd is being tricked by a group of college kids thinking he's going to get laid. Jamie Lee Curtis plays Alana Maxwell, a lovely and very innocent co-conspirator who gets mixed up with a prank that ends up with the nerd necking with a corpse wrangled by the evil medical students. I don’t know about you, but I’d be pissed! Years pass (as they always do in slashers) and he’s back for blood-soaked revenge on this group of douche-bags.

Everybody who played the prank hop on a party train and get ready to screw, drink and watch a young David Copperfield do magic. These kids know how to party. Thankfully, they start dropping dead at the end of some very sharp blades placed strategically by our vengeance seeking seeker of vengeance. Poor Alana though, she’s on the train too and must run for her life where there really isn’t much room to run.

 The body-count in Terror Train isn’t bad for a slasher but don’t expect much gore. We get a lot of aftermath blood but the kills manage to be amusing with some touches black humor. The atmosphere and claustrophobic nature of Terror Train is what really brings the film up as one of the top-tier slashers of the 1980’s.

Curtis is at her Halloween best here as the premiere scream queen (She’s still the best ever even today). The performances by Ben Johnson (The Wild Bunch, One-Eyed Jacks) as Carne the train conductor and David Copperfield as the “Magician” are also quite solid. Only a guy as tough as Ben Johnson could make a train conductor uniform look cool.  I bet he ate nail sandwiches with Warren Oates back in the day.

Scream Factory has an impressive selection of extra features put together by the supplement pros at Red Shirt Pictures. We get to see four featurettes that include interviews with producer Daniel Grodnik, composer John Mills-Cockell, executive producer Don Carmody and production designer Glen Bydwell. All are solid, though I liked Grodnik’s the most as he basically admits to the film being “Halloween on a train”.  Definitely a great idea considering it came out on the heels of Halloween’s success and Jamie Lee’s performance. Trailers are also included as is a still gallery.

The Blu-ray looks and sounds quite good. The film grain is thankfully present here, so no DNR anomalies to report. It really looks much improved from previous releases so it’s ok to scrap your old DVD release.

Terror Train gets an excellent release on Blu-ray (and DVD) via the folks at Scream Factory. This is an essential addition to the collection of any fans of true old-school slasher fun.  Now, don’t piss off any nerds!

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