2018 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 19: Night Train to Terror (1985)

Today’s Scarecrow Psychotronic challenge is 19. VHS DAY. Watch something on the greatest physical format known to psychotronica. If you don’t have access to a VCR watch something originally shot on video.  While I don’t have Night Train to Terror on VHS, my copy has been bootlegged from one, complete with tracking issues and multiple gen quality.

God (Ferdy Mayne, Count von Krolock from The Fearless Vampire Killers) and Satan (Tony Giorgio, The Godfather) ride a train, discussing the fate of three people while a band makes a music video. If you’re ready to watch three movies get edited into one and ready to check your brains at the station, then you’re ready for Night Train to Terror.

A portmanteau made up of one unfinished and two previously released movies, this is one strange bit of 1980’s video store craziness. The train is doomed to go off the tracks, so God and Satan play for the souls of not just the band, but the people in the stories that follow.

In The Case of Harry Billings, John Phillip Law (Danger: Diabolik!) has been manipulated into working for the spare body parts black market. This was a film called Harry that was never finished until it was put into this film, although it was later released on VHS as Scream Your Head Off.

The Case of Gretta Connors concerns a carnival girl turned porn star who is in a suicide club and in love with her Hollywood producer old man husband and young boytoy. This was later released as 1983’s Death Wish Club. If you want one movie where giant beetles fly around and kill people who get sexually excited by death…

Finally, we have The Case of Claire Hansen, in which a surgeon battles Satan with the help of an old man who survived the Holocaust and Cameron Mitchell. Oh yeah — Richard Moll plays her husband and his hair changes throughout the story. If this all sounds familiar, it’s because we already watched and shared this movie. It’s the batshit crazy film known as The Nightmare Never Ends.

All of these films are linked together by writer Philip Yordan, who history has told us was merely a front for blacklisted writers, with his lone Oscar for Broken Lance truly belonging to Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

I don’t know if this review can prepare you for the sheer mania that this film has in store for you. Nothing in it makes sense, to the point where you’re unsure as to whether that’s it’s a David Lynch style movie or just plain ineptitude. There has never been a movie like this before or since and that’s no hyperbole.

Vinegar Syndrome released a DVD/blu-ray combo of this and it’s packed with extras, including an interview with producer/director Jay Schlossberg-Cohen and assistant editor Wayne Schmidt, as well as the full version of Gretta.

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