James and Eloyce Gist were not only husband and wife but they were a traveling ministry who would turn black churches and show this picture. It was somewhat of a roadshow event as things would start off with a preacher and then we'd get to this film, which would be shown while Eloyce played piano for its music score. There really wasn't too much known about this film until here recently when a print turned up (along with Gist's two other films) but it's certainly a rather crazy picture.
Basically this is a warning picture against anyone who might be wanting or willing to sin. We learn that there's a large black train that takes people to Hell and sure enough it's the Devil himself driving. From here we see a group of people getting on the train where there are such evil's as dancing, drink and of course sex, which leads to either babies or abortions. Throughout the 48-minute running time we see countless sins that will get you a ticket on the train to Hell.
HELLBOUND TRAIN is a really, really awful movie. Let's just get that out of the way. It's clear that the Gist's didn't know how to make a movie and more than likely this here was just a way to help them get around in their ministry. The film is really, really bad. I mean really bad on all levels. The storytelling is among the worst I've ever seen and it's clear that no one knew what they were doing. However, the level of badness is what makes the film worth watching because it really does belong on the same screen as stuff like MANIAC and REEFER MADNESS.
Had this film been released or better known then I'm sure it would have a big cult following and now that it has finally been released I can only guess that it's reputation will eventually grow. As a race film it's pretty awful. As a religious film it's quite laughable at times and especially with some of the "sins" that are warned about. The great thing about bad movies is that the filmmakers usually had true intent on creating something great. There's no question that this movie was meant to scare sinners into finding God but man what a stinker this thing was.
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