FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jun 22, 2005

Terror wears many disguises...

...all of them deadly!

TERROR TRAIN! That's right,'s viewing was 1980's Terror Train, starring Jamie Lee Curtis in what would be her last original slasher flick. 1980 was a big year for Curtis in the genre, as she also appeared in The Fog and Prom Night. Sigh...those were the days.

The movie opens during a New Year's Eve bonfire party, thrown by a bunch of wacky pre-med students. The nerdy, quiet Kenny is persuaded by some frat brothers to follow the super foxy popular girl Alana (Curtis) up to a private room for a little nookie. Oh, Kenny! Wake up! Think for a moment! Why would the foxy...aah, never mind. He's already up there, stripping down to his tightie whities. Alana's in the bed, it seems, beckoning him..."Come on, Kenny, don't be's my first time, too. Kiss me, Kenny!" We all know, however, that it's just a cruel joke- Alana's hiding behind a curtain (and we know she doesn't really want any part of this because she frowns alot whilst luring the nerd) who does Kenny climb into bed with? It's a limbless cadaver! EWWW! Ha ha on you, Kenny! All the frat boys enter the room and laugh and laugh...Alana looks concerned...and Kenny totally flips out. He stands on the bed, sort of shrieking, sort of going "uunnnnnhhhhh" while spinning around and getting all caught up in some gauzy material. They fried his brain! This can't be good. Don't they know that traumatic events like this make psycho revenge killers out of people? Didn't they see The Burning, or Prom Night? Guess not. Dumb med students.

Now it's three years later and all the people we met a moment ago are ready to climb aboard a train for a costumed New Year's/graduation (don't ask) party on board a steam locomotive. Yay! Party! In fact, the only person we don't see three years older is Kenny. Hmm...that's strange.

Over the next hour or so, the practical jokers get killed by someone wearing various masks. Who could it be? Could it be...David Copperfield? That's right, David Copperfield is on board the train as well, to provide some magic tricks for the kids- including a marvelous bit where he endlessly makes playing cards fall out of his sleeve while disco music blares. Personally, I would've preferred Doug Henning as "The Magician", but what're ya gonna do. Oh, and yes- he's called "The Magician". Not "Fantasmo the Amazing" or something cool...just "The Magician".

Anyway, Copperfield also wows the crowd by performing some weird synchronized tai chi with his "beautiful" assistant, then making her levitate and finally disappear. He also makes eyes at Alana, who seems to find him charming. How does he get all the girls? How did David Copperfield wind up with Claudia Schiffer, you wonder? Probably by using his old trick from this movie: asking "Do you believe in magic?", then making a red rose float in the air. Le sigh, le swoon.

When the bad pre-med students (hmm...the killer only seems to be killing the students involved with that practical joke three years ago...I wonder...) are just about all dispatched, Alana and Doc (such a clever name for a pre-med student!) get their Scooby on and figure it's Kenny! You know how they figure it out? Doc has a copy of an old yearbook, and here's a full-page picture of Kenny performing magic tricks! He must be...The Magician! Nooooo! Oh, and by the way, Alana mentions that she went to visit Kenny in the loony bin after the whole bed-twirling incident, and man, was he damaged. She couldn't even see him, the doctors told her, because Kenny had killed someone way before the bed-twirling incident, so no visitors. That killing was probably just an accident...but dang, imagine how crazy he is NOW!

David Copperfield ends up quarantined and everyone feels much safer. I know I'd feel better if that maniac magician were locked away somewhere.

Alana tries to get some rest, but she feels uneasy...because the killer is now chasing her! Gasp, it's not David Copperfield! It's...the "beautiful" assistant. That's right, Kenny's revenge plan apparently included spending quite some time in drag as an apprentice to The Magician. Man, he really hated those pre-med jerks...or he liked the spangly dresses of a magician's assistant. Who can say.

Kenny and Alana battle it out a few times, Kenny pulls off his wig, and tells Alana to kiss him. Poor Kenny. He's so screwed up. Not knowing what else to do, Alana leans in and finally gives him a smooch. Kenny starts his spinning routine again, presumably not as a "Sound of Music" happy moment, but rather another freak-out moment. As he gets caught up in some fabric again (he really oughta watch where he's twirling), a train conductor bonks him on the back of the head with a shovel, and out the door he goes...

Kenny ends his days with a big splat on the snow covered ground, then gets washed away down an icy river. What a crazy kook.

Despite the unusual locale and the Jamie Lee Curtisness, Terror Train is just a bit above average for the genre. I'd say it warrants...mmm...6 and a half out of 10 floating red roses.
Choo choo!


Carnacki said...

I always thought about renting that movie at the old corner video store, but the cover poster turned me off from renting it.

Stacie Ponder said...

At a slumber party once, my friends and I tried the old undies-in-the-freezer gag on the girl who fell asleep first. However, we didn't know you should WET them first to freeze them, so in the morning the undies were just cold.