As slasher films go, TERROR TRAIN is above average, but that isn’t saying much as it’s still rather run of the mill and never rises to the heights of the films that inspired it.
A college fraternity decides to hold their New Year’s Eve party on train and unbeknownst to them there’s a killer onboard. Though is this some random serial killer or someone with a “literal” axe to grind.
There’s not much more to the plot.
Other than a few recognizable names, like scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, Hart Bochner (The smarmy Ellis from DIE HARD) and western-legend Ben Johnson, the rest of the cast are relatively unknowns. That is except for a young budding magician named David Copperfield who was still on the rise. He portrays the “Magician” that the college students hire as entertainment. This is one wild crowd.
Directed by up & coming action director Roger Spottiswoode, TERROR TRAIN has a nice look and is well shot for a film of this ilk. Next to the original HALLOWEEN it’s one of the nicer looking slasher films.
My big complaint (other than the razor thin story) is that most of the kills happen off screen or are relegated to throat slashes. There’s no real make-up FX to speak of which is one of the hallmarks of the genre. It relegates the film to be more of a horror/thriller than an actual dyed in the wool blood & guts slasher film.
At the end of the day TERROR TRAIN is brisk in its pacing and doesn’t overstay its welcome. If you’re a fan of early 80’s horror than this is worth a look. Just don’t expect the “pomp and circumstance” of the Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm St. series.