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Melissa Sue Anderson,
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Jamie Lee Curtis,
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A college fraternity prank goes wrong and a student ends up in the mental asylum. Three years later, it's graduation time, and the members of the fraternity decide to have a costume party aboard a train trip to celebrate their graduation. Unknowingly to them, a killer has slipped aboard, killing them off one by one, disguised in the costumes of the victims. Written by
A fraternity prank on a weakling of a student goes horribly wrong, when the victim is emotionally affected by it and ends up in an institution. Now three years have past and the senior fraternity friends have decided to celebrate their final outing with a New Year's Eve costume party on a train. But an uninvited guest has managed to stall away on the train by killing off students and using their costumes to pose as that person to lure their next victim. After a death or two - Carne the train's conductor discovers the bodies and he goes into investigation mode along with one of the initial victims, Elena.
All aboard the train of death but you got to make some room for partying and David Copperfield! Wow, let's break out the streamers, as that sounds like a great time. Yeah, it sounds like but it doesn't entirely eventuate. Being there would be more fun than watching it. "Terror Train" is a competent looking slasher by director Roger Spottiswoode, but here we go again in the formulaic stakes, which isn't too bad because it's slickly done with a different and claustrophobic setting. But I found too many aimless spurts with tired gags and constant drinking and dancing - instead of giving us the real good stuff and when it finally does it's not terribly worth-the-wait. Damn even Copperfield gets enough screen time doing his bag of tricks that I was hoping he would magically disappear off the train! Sure, his tricks are entertaining and what so, but was it trying to distract us from the really unoriginal story telling and a lack of suspense and blood. The novelty behind the plot with a costume party aboard a speeding train is a good idea with many possible outcomes, but the fractured script doesn't take full advantage of it and actually decides to display the usual ingredients, vague characters and stale clichés. Even the mystery side of the story is poorly executed with red herrings that don't work. It's slightly entertaining, but more effort could have gone into the story's structure and shock tactics. Most of the cut-away deaths are swiftly tame and slim-pickings. While, the film only goes for about 90 minutes, it does feel longer because of some long dry spells of dull chin-wag and tedious fooling around. There are some redeeming qualities in this fault-filled production. Firstly there is a richly thick atmosphere with the train being covered in shadowy patches and gloomy lighting that enhances the tight air. Sometimes it was that dim that a flare would have worked wonders. The film is filled with lush photography and a rattling score, although the profound disco music can be quite sore on the ears. While, the opening of the film was rather sleepy, there are a few intense builds ups and an explosive showdown between heroine and killer in the final third. Spottiswoode's capable direction keeps the film level with some flair and the performances by the always watchable Jamie Lee Curtis (who just reprises her signature scream queen role) and Ben Johnson is decent in a minor sense. The rest of the performances are forgettable with the usual cheeky, drunken frats and you got the stiff looking David Copperfield.
"Terror Train" is a modest slasher affair all round that at times is a bit too convenient, but while there are some restrictions it still mildly entertains.
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