NORTH OF THE BORDER HORROR: Terror Train (1980)

Jamie Lee Curtis. A train. A murderous slasher. And David Copperfield. Yes, Terror Train is unlike any other slasher that ever came before or since.

Directed by Roger Spottiswoode, who was also in the chair for Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, this movie was totally conceived as Halloween on a train. Jamie Lee had just finished filming Prom Night, so she jumped back on the slasher, err, train one more time.

Much like Slaughter High, a prank puts all of this in motion, as Alana (Jamie Lee) is coerced into pulling a joke on frat pledge Kenny Hampson that uses a female corpse, because you know, humor. Kenny doesn’t get the joke, goes nuts, gets put in a mental asylum and then, of course, breaks out and kills nearly everyone.

But what about David Copperfield, you may ask. Well, he’s all over this movie, both doing illusions and being a red herring. His scenes with Jamie Lee make the screen smolder with pure sex. I’m totally lying to see if you’re paying attention.

Ben Johnson, Captain Morales from the original The Town That Dreaded Sundown shows up as a train conduction. And hey! There’s Vanity (credited as D.D. Winters) years before she’d meet up with Prince, star in Action Jackson and Tanya’s Island, then get heavy into drugs and dating Rick James, Adam Ant (who wrote the song “Vanity” about her on the Strip album), Nikki Sixx and Billy Idol. After that, she went into renal failure, found God and later died because her body had endured a lifetime of drug abuse.

I really like the killer’s gimmick of continually switching masks. It’s pretty effective and leads you to wonder who really is behind things, even if the opening totally gives the identity away.

Shout! Factory re-released this on blu-ray recently, but it’s already out of print! Oh man! If you find a copy, grab one!

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