Terror Train (1980)


Directed by: Roger Spottiswoode

Written by: T.Y. Drake


Ben Johnson .... Carne, Train Conductor
Jamie Lee Curtis .... Alana Maxwell
Hart Bochner .... Doc Manley
David Copperfield .... Ken, The Magician
Derek McKinnon .... Kenny Hampson
Sandee Currie .... Mitchy
Timothy Webber .... Mo
Anthony Sherwood .... Jackson
Howard Busgang .... Ed
Vanity .... Merry
Joy Boushel .... Pet

Release Date: Theatrical: October 3, 1980




A group of graduating college students from the Sigma Phi celebrate a New Years Eve costume party by boarding a steam train.
Lots of silly pranks that almost look gruesome and deadly occur. They also have magic tricks and disco dancing on the train.
However, a masked killer is doing many of them in who also boarded the train and this is no joke. All of them realise that there is no escape even when they try to pull the train over in the freezing snow.
This all started 3 years ago when a fraternity prank went wrong when a pledge sees a fake slaughtered corpse and gets tangled up in some sheets accidentally and was being humiliated and nearly suffered through it.


In the beginning the film lacked a bit and was a little slow and terribly trite. However, in the second half it really gets exciting with the mysterious killer doing people in. The film does start out nicely though with a bunch of fraternity freshmen near a bonfire in a snowy evening all partying out in which I could tell the makers of Hell Night spotted this and decided to do the same for their flick since it had similar chemistry to it like showing some of them in costumes and other neat things. Also it was a nice quiet set with the dweeb Kenny falling for a prank in which this gives you an impression that something terrible is going to happen and it just does with him spinning around and caught in a bunch of drapes. You do think to yourself "What is going on???"
Then it real nice with a dark opening on a train slowly leaving a train garage type area to get to a station which looked impressive for a horror film on a steam locomotive. Plus this train had a high pitched whistle which sounds a bit creepy as well as it's heavy chugging sound in the night as this works well too.
Then it's nice to see the students being excited about going on a train trip on New Years Eve making you want to really jump in and have some fun with them pulling pranks. Yet someone is killed but others think its a joke with the killer dragging his victim on the tracks so he will be run over which is a total gruesome thought since he isn't fully dead yet but soon will.
There's moments with the main characters like Alana distuerbed by the prank that effected Kenny and what the results were so it's nice to have it explained and the guilt hidden with the frat group which seems to work for a horror film especially when people are getting killed off in the train making you wonder if Kenny is seeking revenge. A total tradition for a mysterious slasher without a doubt.
There's also a good mysterious scene with the killer lifting up his mask to reveal to another person in a costume before he does him away. Yet we only see this killers head turned so no one knows till the end of the film as this worked very well since it won't be a spoiler.
There's also alot of uplifting entertainment with the character Ken doing magic tricks for his friends including on putting a cigarette through a quarter as this has been common for magic tricks and what he does with it all. I still can't figure out on how that trick is done but am told it takes alot of practise.
Plus lots of disco type dancing as well as Ken doing magic tricks for the whole audience which also looked fun to watch too. owever one of the main characters named Mo is killed while watching the show but there's no explanation as to how he was murdered there which seems to be a case of either bad writing or an unsolved mystery. But then Doc Manley rcarrying him and crying for help seems to be another typical prank of his in which he was the perfect boy who cried wolf since others were just laughing and not taking him seriously this time. There are other unsolved mysteries like the fellow in the train the killer killed wearing a costume as the other person was wearing a costume too and the main conductor encountering it with shattered glass and blood then when he brings someone to show what had happened it shows the supposed victim just on the ground waking up seemingly drunk with no blood or shattered glass. In which it's the killer covering up wearing the costume. Yet you wonder how the mess was all claened up and what happened to the body.
There's other moments like the train forced to stop to get the passengers out to see if they can find the killer which looked fun to watch by seeing everyone's reactions to this. Plus there's a moment with a pranskter named Doc Manley dragging in Alana and locks themselves in a car of the train and he gets anxious almost making you wonder if he's the actual killer or not.
The dark hallways of the passenger cars can seem creepy with someone creepily walking by ready to kill proving this to be quite creative.
There's other creepy moments like with Alana running to a conductor to tell him about who the killer is but is this person really the conductor or the killer?! Plus there's a great dark moment towards the end of the movie which looked very twisted and fun to watch wondering what's going to actually happen.
Bottom lin is this is an interesting 80's New Years Eve slasher flick which almost had similar elements to other films like Hell Night but the events were in a train. Plus there's alot of elements similar to a future cheesy slasher flick titled Slaughter High as alot of the storylines on that was very similar. This film was very influential to other cult slasher flicks later on.
It's definetely an 80's cheesy horror flick but a good one.

The acting is at a good pace as we even have Jamie Lee Curtis (Alana Maxwell) in the film during her scream queen fame and does great as usual playing one of the head Sigma Phi students and still has the knack at freaking out with the terrifying incidents inside the passenger train. She also shows a niceness to her part along with doing well acting emotional too like she often did after experiencing a tragedy. She shows a great sharp anger in a part of a scene which looked nicely done. She also looked great by breaking down and crying after spotting the corpse of her friend which looked perfectly done. Plus really pulls off her aggressions well about what happened due to a prank gone wrong all bringing it in together. She was really powerful with her words when she tells someone on who this killer possibly is. Her screaming and running away from the killer was very similar to her role as Laurie Strode in Halloween and the camera takes for it was in the same style too.
Ben Johnson
(Carne the Train Conductor) really pulls off his character greatly as a charming train conductor and knew his stuff with his part in the film. He shows a perfect disturbed behavior when the murders pile up and really acts very quiet and still with many moments along with having good disturbed expressions too. He certainly studied this part well as if he has experience portraying this kind of role.
Hart Bochner
(Doc Manley) has nice timing playing a troublemaking jokester in the film which brings alot to the plot in the film. He also seemed to do well by acting like a dick when he felt like it as well as showing great high energy with his anxious attitude too. He also does well freaking out screaming for help while carrying someone through a passenger car. In another part of the story does well panting hard and almost losing it when he thinks the killer is in the room with him and is great with his panicking. In the beginning of the film he certainly came across as someone who could be a suspect in the story.
David Copperfield
(Ken the Magician) was very talented with his work in the movie playing a magician and brings alot of entertainment to the picture. He shows a perfect romantic type of charming attitude onto the screen and really performing it in a great way. He shows alot of great charisma to his part in it as well as being sharp and entertaining with his tricks.
Timothy Webber
(Mo)was the hearthrob playboy type of role showing a nice romantic type of attitude as well and also really knowing how to behave very witty and acting like he's having fun in the film. He was a true character actor in the flick and it wasn't surprising that he got more work in future shows since this one was a nice boost to his acting career.
Supporting actor Derek McKinnon (Kenny Hampston) looked good as a dweeby type of character and performs well at doing so but also was great with his evil and menacing actions too in the picture. His reactions finding out his prank was great at freaking out while being tangled by a bunch of sheets. He really knew his part inside out in which you can tell when you watch him perform as someone who is mentally disturbed by what had happened to him a few years before while seeking his revenge. He does a great job by sitting at a table and and speaks coldly and evilly close to the end of his performance.
Another supporting actor Anthony Sherwood (Jackson) showed a great character to his part as a partying one in the film as he brings some neat enthusiam with what he did in the flick. He looked good while standing at the doorway of a bus sipping his can of beer and making a speech.
Howard Busgang (Ed) was another one who stood out with his burly type of features and bringing on a good charm to the women in the flick. Basically he really came on as someone who liked to have a good time and was a nice key supporting role to the film.

Joy Boushel (Pet) had an effective supporting role as a lustful type and really believeable as someone who acts flirtatious and bubbly too. She comes across as one of those party animals who will do anything to grab a good lookinh guy's attention. I could see her getting more work since she really brought alot of good spunk in her role.

Joy Boushel is wearing nothing but her panties trying to make out with a guy in a room while they are dancing.

A bloodied slit throat
A decapitated head (Very much like during the ending of Sleepaway Camp)
People stabbed by a blade

The music pulls through well by John Mills-Cockell. He is also great with the disco music songtracks. Kinda makes you think of Prom Night and Hell Night put together. There's alot of good deep suspenseful trombone playing for the real dark creey moments as well as the mudering moments. Plus there's good shivering banging high keyboard sound effects too in many of the terrifying sequences too. There's also some nice peaceful romantic saxophone type of composing with the Magician acting charming towards Alana when he performs a magic trick to woo her which blends in perfectly to the story.