Review: Terror Train (Blu-ray)

2012/10/15 15:11:28 +00:00 | Derek Botelho

After the immense success of John Carpenter’s Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis was on the top of the list for horror movies that needed a plucky girl to fight evil in movies like Prom Night and 1980's Terror Train.

The early 80’s were rife with slasher films, yet Terror Train rises above other genre copycats due to its interesting location, intriguing mystery, and some creepy visuals courtesy of some eerie masks. If the Groucho Marx getup doesn’t make you shudder, then I don’t know what will.

In the dead of winter, a group of medical students including Alana (Jamie Lee Curtis), her best friend Mitchy (Sandee Currie), and their boyfriends Mo and Doc (Timothy Webber and Hart Bochner) decide to take a private train trip and throw a costume party to celebrate their imminent graduation. However, this bash quickly goes off the rails when someone from their past returns to exact revenge after a prank at a party a few years prior went horribly awry.

From the onset it’s clear this is Curtis’ show, but the cast is large and most of the actors in the ensemble are given enough to keep them from becoming stock characters. Curtis turns in a solid performance, even when romanced by magician David Copperfield, unsurprisingly playing a magician hired to entertain the guests. Currie, Webber, and Bochner are able to give their secondary characters some interest, especially Bochner, playing Doc’s near constant insecurity in an interesting counterpoint to his charm and good looks. Film veteran Ben Johnson is a welcome inclusion as the train’s conductor, helping Alana out during her ordeal.

It seems Shout! Factory can do no wrong with this current crop of horror releases just in time for Halloween. Terror Train is presented in its original aspect ratio in a rather clean print. There are a few nicks and dings here and there, and it’s not as crisp as the Halloween II or III releases, but that is nothing to denigrate this disc. An often-dark film, the Art Deco sets and the myriad of costumes is nice to look at thanks to the faithful reproduction of the theatrical print. The film grain has been kept intact, and appears natural, without any apparent overuse of DNR. Audio wise, there is a 2-track stereo mix and a new 5.1 mix; both are clear and dialogue is never lost or hard to hear. English subtitles are also included.

The disc stacks a nice array of bonus material that is dominated by a series of interviews with various participants in the film. Production executive Don Carmody, producer Daniel Grodnik, production Designer Glenn Bydwell, and composer John Mills-Cockell
 are all given separate showcases to discuss the making of the film and their thoughts on the experience. A theatrical trailer
, a TV spot
, and a stills gallery close things out.

One of the films that cemented Jamie Lee Curtis’ reputation as a “Scream Queen” in the early 1980’s, Terror Train manages to stand up quite well considering its “Halloween on a train” lineage. The film is, of course, a showcase of Curtis’ iconic scream and she, along with the rest of the cast, turn in good performances. Of note is Ben Johnson of The Wild Bunch and The Last Picture Show, making a nothing role of the train conductor something worth watching. For fans of slashers, murder mysteries, and of course Jamie Lee Curtis, this is a must have. Shout! Factory has again, released another undervalued genre film in a rather nice looking package. Buy yourself a ticket, and hop on board!

Film Score: 3/5 Disc Score: 3.5/5