Supertrain: Season 1, Episode 1

Express to Terror (7 Feb. 1979)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Drama
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Title: Express to Terror (07 Feb 1979)

Express to Terror (07 Feb 1979) on IMDb 5.5/10

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Harry Flood
Robert Alda ...
Dr. Dan Lewis
Rose Casey
Aarika Wells ...
Bill Nuckols ...
Lou Atkins (as Michael Delano)
Charlie Brill ...
Mike Post
Char Fontane ...
Cindy Chappel
Jack Fisk
Winfield Root
Deborah Benson ...
Barbara Root


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Comedy | Drama





Release Date:

7 February 1979 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Eugene Lourie was brought out of retirement to art direct (supervise) and to direct the second miniature train unit of "Super Train". Two differently scaled miniature trains were built. The (1) smallest miniature engine, luggage, passenger cars, end observation deck and swimming pool car, were each four feet long (4' x 0"), approximately twelve (12") high, mounted on a metal framed carriage wheeled base. A miniature hobby train shop in Burbank built the engine car and passenger car carriage frames, with the show's special effects crew mounting the car bodies onto the carriages. All of the cars had been carved from balsa wood. With very poor planning, no casts were made of any of the cars, especially the lead engine and observation rear end car mock-up. This miniature train was set up in a satellite hanger at the (Bob Hope) Burbank airport. The train track was elevated, over a miniature city-scape of streets and buildings. The track was on a loop in the hanger, with the elevated (10' x 0") track's end extending sixty (60' - 0"), aimed uphill at a 30 degree incline, beyond the hanger's exterior wall; with a pongee chord "S" trip (located in the middle of the train track to catch the lead engine car) at the end of the track (catching the engine) to stop the train. After several weeks (6) of miniature work, the engine car's variable speed was not properly monitored by the effects driver. The train's speed was too fast to maneuver the elevated 8' high return track loop, causing the train derailment. The lead engine car sailed off the track, flying ten feet in the air, missing the telescopic camera and camera operator riding a hydraulic crane lift, crashing onto the concrete hanger floor below. Repair of the engine car required one week, stopping the second unit camera crew work until repairs were made. (2). The second larger miniature train was sculpted and built by the train special effects team, with the engine and passenger car wheeled carriages provided by the Burbank Hobby Train Company. The length of the second miniature engine, luggage, and passenger car(s) was six (6' x 0") each, by two feet six inches high (2'-6"). This second train was set up on a hill top location site, directly above Six Flags Magic Mountain Amusement Park, Valencia, California. The larger train's tracks were set in a giant connecting "S" plan with bridges and tunnels for the larger train to traverse. The smaller train's tracks were woven in the distant horizon-landscape, with bridges and tunnels. This plan enabled both trains to travel in opposite direction for camera set-ups. (3). The full size ("miniature") train passenger cars' were built by prop-makers in the MGM Mill. The top and side elements of this fabricated mock-up train were trucked to an Oregon Amtrak train track location, where a freight train had been ordered for the crew to assemble the large scaled mock-up. Thirty prop-makers were sent to Oregon, with the third camera crew following the second week. The freight train cars proved to be a major problem. In designing the train tops and sides, no one considered the factor that no freight car is alike. A computer orders the freight cars for a train. The computer wasn't programmed to order all of the freight cars to be identical! In "Amtrak speak", no one orders identical cars...the order was filled with variable sized freight cars. The prop makers had to order additional material and supplies to make the pre-built parts fit each different freight car. While the camera crew traveled to Oregon, the weather had changed. After arriving, rain poured for a week. No film was shot! The plug was pulled! The prop makers struck the train scenery, and all the crews returned to Culver City without any exposed film of this third expensive train. Another poor planning factor was the scale of the trains. No one considered a manufactured normal toy scale for toy cars, trucks, dolls that would match the miniature train's scale. Locating set dressing to dress out the miniature buildings surrounding atmosphere was impossible. Although Gene Lourie had been the art director for the second unit, as well as the director, he concentrated on his directing assignment. Ned Parsons ordered his art director, Hub Braden, to oversee the set-ups of the miniature filming. Scavenging thrift shops for toy cars and dolls became one of his "decorating chores". Eventually, an assistant art directing crew was sent to the Ventura location to assist Gene Lourie. Every time Braden arrived at the Ventura location, he found everyone sleeping! Supervision was fruitless! During the series production, the first miniature was set up at the Dodger Stadium Parking lot overlooking the downtown horizon of Los Angeles city. After the series was canceled, the second size larger miniature train was sold to a train enthusiast living in Atlanta, Georgia. See more »

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User Reviews

"Supertrain" pilot movie re-titled for video

Those familiar with NBC's short-lived and big-time failure "Supertrain" series from 1979 will immediately know what they've gotten into when "Express to Terror" starts to roll. The copy of "Express to Terror" that I have seen is a VHS release on the PRISM label. The quality of the transfer is good and I believe it is out-of-print now. As mentioned, this is simply the two-hour pilot movie that launched the "Supertrain" series. It is a rather weak attempt too, even by "Supertrain" standards. The story involves Steve Lawrence playing a guy with a gambling problem who is returning to L.A. on Supertrain and is working for Stella Stevens. Stevens plays a Hollywood agent who is using the trip on Supertrain to try and put together a movie deal with George Hamilton and Vicki Lawrence, who are on board under the credit 'Special Guest Appearances.' Neither George Hamilton or Vicki Lawrence have much of any screen time in the entire movie. In fact, I'm not sure Hamilton and Lawrence deliver more than a handful of line between themselves. The movie centers around Steven Lawrence's apparent troubles with the mob. He's borrowed money and thinks his time to repay has run out and now the mob is trying to kill him. Bumming along with Steve Lawrence is Don Meredith. Meredith plays Vicki Lawrence's husband, he is jealous of her possible relationship with George Hamilton. Steve Lawrence's job is to keep Meredith away from Hamilton and allow Stella Stevens' character the time to put together the movie deal. The plot gets rather muddy by the end, with Don Stroud thrown in as a person apparently trying to steal Steve Lawrence's identity...though considering his troubles who'd want it? Fred Williamson turns out to be the person who is hired to "off" Steven Lawrence, by literally putting him off Supertrain. It's not "Murder on the Orient Express" and not even a good "Love Boat" clone. To introduce the series, Keenan Wynn is shown announcing he is devoting his remaining years and large fortune to create Supertrain and revolutionize rail travel. Wynn is along for this first trip, but does very little. Throughout the proceedings, we are introduced to the various people who made up Supertrain's crew and regular cast.

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