Saturday, December 31, 2011

TERROR TRAIN (1980) - When Jaimie Lee Curtis boards a train on New Year's Eve with drunk college students wearing masks, what could go wrong?

Some frat boys, always looking to assist others, alert a nerd that there is some cooze stashed away in their frat house. He navigates his way through this haven of beer and indiscriminate fondling and averted academics, lit only by flashing Christmas lights. Friskily approaching his present like a kitten scurrying up to a bow-wrapped dimebag of cat nip on Christmas morning, he hears the sultry tones of Jaimie Lee Curtis and gets in bed, no doubt thanking his lucky stars that Mr. Fatty Claus has finally come through. However, Jaimie is actually doing some ventriloquist act, and the dummy is actually an old dead lady. I guess the nerd is not quite up for that level of kink, so he spins around while covered in a bed sheet, his girly yelping slowing down to a monstrous crawl. Stuff like this occasionally happens when you put your faith in other human beings.

It is now three years later, and all of the students are throwing a New Year's Eve costume party on a moving train. Conductor extraordinaire Ben Johnson complains that the train is not outfitted with a radio, swatting down any future plot holes. The drunken schmucks, save for a sober David Copperfield, head on to the train, chuckling at one of their own getting stabbed with a sword. It’s a costume party, so his costume must’ve been that of the dude that just got impaled by a giant fucking sword. The killer then puts on a Groucho mask and smashes a fake lizard’s mug into a mirror. As far as Marx Brothers references go, I reckon this one is amongst the most obtuse.

Meanwhile, Copperfield does the cigarette in a quarter trick like the dime store magician he truly is. Even Ben Johnson has caught that magic fever, and shows Hart Bochner some shitty sleight of hand. David’s real magic show finally begins, supplemented with some magical disco funk. He makes cards disappear like nobody’s business, and then fucks around with a couple of metal hula hoops. Vanity shows up as some sort of harem girl covered in blue sequins, running off to make out with Hart. Ben finds the dead lizard boy and alerts his co-pilot. “I never saw nobody as dead as that”, he proclaims, flaunting his use of the double negative. However, he reports it as an accident. I guess he thinks the lizard boy got drunk and fell into a mirror and died. Kids these days. Well, the crafty killer puts on the lizard costume and bumps into Ben, so naturally this quells his concern. To celebrate his new found lease on life, he gets down with the token slut (somehow not Vanity), eventually killing her off screen.


Meanwhile, Copperfield and Vanity hook up for some further “wizardry”. She makes him disappear (unfortunately not permanently), and he turns into his hot female assistant in the red sequin dress. While this is going on, one guy presumably falls asleep from boredom...oh no, he’s dead. Hart notices the corpse, whimpering like a little girl at the prospect of losing his drinking buddy. A soft rock band kicks Copperfield off stage and gets the teens slow dancing, but Ben slams on the breaks, causing the teens to collapse on the dance floor. Ben and his buddy finally get the teens off the train and make them take off their masks. Jamie mentions to Hart that the nerd went crazy and killed somebody when he was institutionalized. They head back onto the train, and Hart gets his throat slit off screen after some solid cat and mouseisms. Jamie somehow figures out that Copperfield is the killer and alerts Ben. They look for David, and bodies and heads start falling out of overhead compartments and what not. The lead actor from Skullduggery, the wimp who was manipulated by an invisible dungeon master into committing murder, finally grows a pair, calling Ben Johnson an asshole and stating that he’s the one that’s gonna take out the killer. Ben hands him an axe, but he wusses out. I take back that comment about him not being a pussy.

It’s Jaimie Lee, of course, that ends up having to take care of beeswax, managing to become smothered in blood during the prolonged showdown (she makes it work). The killer finally explains that he is, in fact, the hot magician assistant with the red dress, and is most definitely not a chick. Uh oh. I hope I’m not gay. Anyway, he further reveals that he is the nerd from the beginning, who somehow waited in the weeds until getting a job as David Copperfield’s female assistant. You do what you have to do I guess. Regardless, Ben smacks him with a shovel, and he falls off the train. Unfortunately for him, the train is rolling over some elevated tracks, and he falls to his wet, icy grave below. In the end, whether it’s frat houses or frat trains, nerds should learn to stay amongst their own, and not try and branch out to other stratas of society (women, for example).


  1. Ha! I never thought of that as the moral, but it works for me!

  2. @Emily
    It's sort of a "glass half empty fatalism" approach to nerd culture. :)