Terror Train (1980) Halloween Advent

Rating 18
Length 1h35
Release 4.11.2019 (Blu-ray release)
Director Roger Spottiswoode
About During a hazing, a fraternity of pre-med students has a particularly sinister prank in store for one their more timid pledges (Derek MacKinnon). With the help of a coed, Alana Maxwell (Jamie Lee Curtis), they pull off the prank so well that the pledge needs to be institutionalized as a result. After several years pass and people forget the incident, those involved with the prank are ready to celebrate their graduation by having a costume party on a train, but they haven’t escaped their past yet.
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
Trailer:

Trick

  • I have a massive issue with the handling of the trans character. It is a problem that many films have and it feeds into the issue that trans people have in society today. This is not the first film to portray someone who is a trans woman as someone who is not only deviant, but psychologically compromised.
    Over the last year, gender critical activists have used this Hollywood archetype of the trans woman as an excuse for their hate.
    While I give the film credit for hiring a known transvestite for the role, it doesn’t change the fact that the portrayal, and use of the character as a plot device, as grossly problematic.
  • The transition from one New Year’s Eve to another lacks a little context; the viewer certainly does need more than the ‘three years later’ credit. The audience already know going in that the killer is going to be Kenny so making a mystery of it is really pointless. Instead, it would have been better to hear what happened to him.
  • Other than Doc, and the blurb, it wasn’t overly clear that these students are pre-med. Maybe its that I watch too many medical shows, but these people weren’t really characterised as people involved in medicine.

Treat

  • Hart Bocher, who most will know as Die Hard’s smarm Ellis, gets a doucebag expansion in this film. This role was clearly made for Bocher and its wonderful to see this man get more screen time.
  • The fact that we don’t see the first attack is amazing. Even the audience think that Ed is messing about, given that he’s just been near the magician’s equipment.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis gives us a much stronger character than Laurie in Terror Train. She challenges the behaviour of people around her. I also like how much remorse she shows towards Kenny.
  • I love that its set on New Year’s Eve rather than Halloween. I also love the concept of the killer taking on the outfit of the person previously killed. Yes, we know what the killer will turn up wearing next, but the characters in the film don’t and it really adds to the suspense.

Final Thoughts

A film with flaws, but enjoyable all the same.

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