Sunday, October 16, 2022

they killed kenny.

Just found out that they've remade this.

It surely is the end of days.

Terror Train (1980).
Dir: Roger Spottiswoode.
Cast: Ben Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Derek MacKinnon, DD Winters, Hart Bochner, Howard Busgang, Timothy Webber, Anthony Sherwood, Sandee Currie and David Copperfield.

Have you ever shoveled any coal?

It's New Years Eve 1980 and the students of the Harold Shipman Medical School are enjoying one of those drunken and rowdy fraternity parties that seem to be a constant in this kinda movie.

As ever, the frat leader 'Doc' Manley (Die Hard's Ellis himself, Bochner) has a plan to play an oh so funny jape on the class geek, the bowl haired and sweat stained  Kenny Hampson (MacKinnon, best known for playing a drag queen in
Helene Klodawsky's Family Motel - poor sod), even going as far as coercing his reluctant girlfriend Alana (Curtis, nuff said) to join in.

Ooooh the rotter.

Jamie Lee Curtis catches a glimpse of her future...

The prank, for what it is, involves Alana luring Kenny into a darkened bedroom with the promise of a 'the sex' but as soon as he removes his clothes and jumps on the bed Doc will flick the lights on to reveal not Alana lying waiting for him but an old ladies corpse.

Is it just me that thinks that this wont end well?

You too eh?

Then you wont be surprised to find that poor old Kenny is slightly traumatized by this turn of events and ends up in a psychiatric hospital, dribbling on the pillows and swimming in his own piss.

If that wasn't enough someone stole his coat after the party.


Anyway, jump forward three years and the same folk are about to celebrate their graduation by holding a fancy dress party aboard a train.

A train of terror no doubt.

All of Doc's gang are present, including token comedy Jew Ed (actor turned teevee exec' Busgang), token black guy Jackson (former Airwolf star and forest Sherwood), Alana's best friend (and token blonde) Mitchy (the very hot Currie) as well as Alana's boyfriend Mo (teevee stalwart Webber), ex-Prince prodigy Vanity and Alana herself.

Obviously there are a few more students on board but frankly we're only interested in the fresh meat.

Also along for the ride (well it can't be for the talent) are Carne (ex-President Johnson) the kindly train conductor and top magician Ken Tavalouris (Copperfield, the rat faced magic one not the bloke from Three of A Kind), who's been hired at great expense to entertain the crowd.

What could possibly go wrong?

Apart from the train crashing off the line under the weight of all the clichés obviously.

"Hey! I'm not saying my wife's fat but she is!" - comedy gold.

Anyway, as you've probably guessed no sooner has the train started it's journey  into the icy wilds than the students responsible for Kenny's incarceration at Shady Nook are murdered one by one with the killer donning the mask and costume of each murder victim in turn.

Kinda like a really mental Mr. Benn.

Just less realistically animatedly.

Thinking about it tho' he can't be that mad seeing as the first person he kills is the uber-annoying Ed, who by this point I felt like pulling thru' the screen and beating him to death myself.

"I'm gonna cut yer throat ya wee fanny!"

Luckily by this point in the proceedings it appears that writer T.Y. Drake has realized how fucking banal and unoriginal the whole thing is and, in a move that makes him look even less confident in the stalk and slash aspect of the movie than the unsuspecting viewer, decides to bolt a totally superfluous subplot about Mo and Alana's romance going sour to the proceedings.

Oh yes and endless scene's of the charisma free zone that is David Copperfield performing increasingly soul destroying sleight-of-hand tricks.

Grim doesn't begin to describe the huge collared rodent-like ones frankly embarrassing attempts to woo Alana with a selection of floating flowers, mind reading bollocks and slightly pervy hand gestures.

I felt dirty after watching his scenes.

Which I ended up re-viewing about six times just to make sure I hadn't imagined them.

Rumour has it that Copperfield is so mortified by his appearance in the movie that he's been known to buy up every copy he can find in order to keep his role in the thing a secret.

Good job then that I'm here to remind him of it.

Tho' saying that I'm willing to sell him my copy if the price is right.

Copperfield's Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 tribute act failed to find it's target audience.

Back to the plot and poor Carne is finding dead bodies left, right and centre whilst Alana has just recalled that Kooky Kenny (when not being conned into fucking corpses obviously) loved performing magic tricks, ergo the magician must be the killer.

Who needs Sherlock Holmes?

Or evidence?

This would be all well and good if the man in question hadn't done a disappearing act of his own after a having a wee chat with his very manly (and oh so familiar) female assistant Brenda.

"Now you see you don't!" David Copperfield sums up his illustrious career.

By this point there are about three folk left alive on the train so Alana reckons that with magic Dave out of the picture it'd be a great time to have a nap.

I know how she feels.

But the real killer is still aboard, staring at our heroine whilst hanging upside down outside the train window.

Which must be really uncomfortable.

Anyway he soon gets bored and breaks in, chasing Alana thru' the train for a bit in order to add some excitement to the ensuing finale, stopping only when they arrive in the baggage car for a little bit of character exposition followed by the killer's big identity reveal.

Which, obviously is Kenny so the director builds up the suspense with an alternative guessing game.

Namely which outfit will he be wearing when he finally confesses.

It's like The Clothes Show hosted by Norman Bates.

Or at least Norman Price from Fireman Sam.

Tho' that would probably be a wee bit more exciting.

And realistic.

"Shite in mah mooth!"

Curtis, obviously wanting the whole thing to stop so she can go home and get on with her career (well she has got Halloween 2 and Trading Places to fit in) apologizes profusely to Kenny whilst blaming Doc (remember him?) for the whole thing.

Kenny tho' is having none of it, preferring to force the star of True Lies to kiss him.

On the lips.

Unfortunately Alana's breath isn't at it's freshest and the smell emanating from her pretty mouth is enough to bring all those buried memories of corpse kinkiness to the fore, sending the poor sod spiraling even deeper into insanity.

Girls can have that effect on you kids, especially the pretty ones like the oft mentioned Cécile Fournier.

In the mad confusion of tears, shame and screaming (things like that never leave you) good old Carne rushes to the rescue and beats  Kenny off with a fireman’s shovel before booting him up the arse and out the open door of the baggage car to his death on the ice below.....


Han and Leia: The pikey years.




From the same tax shelter Hell that gave us HG Wells' The Shape of Things To Come (1979) comes part-time producer and full time Canadian Harold Greenberg's answer to Halloween and, um, Prom Night.

His company, the infamous Astral Films was responsible for probably the greatest movies ever to come out of Canada including the boat based Nazi shocker Death Ship (1980) featuring a scenery chewing turn from man-mountain George Kennedy and the sub Irwin Allen disaster flick City on Fire (1979) as well as the nausea inducing documentary cum freak show Being Different (1981).

He did make amends tho' for giving the late great Bob Clarke the chance to direct the tit obsessed coming of age (and just general cumming) movie Porky's (1982) and by default introducing the world to the charms of the fantastic Kim Cattrall. 

For which we are all eternally grateful.

Kim Cattrall: Ask your dad.

Anyway, let's get back to Terror Train (I know but the quicker we do they quicker I can go to bed) and have a rummage thru' the warmed up coals buried within the movies boiler to see if there is anything at all to recommend it as anything other than a complete waste of time and talent.

Well, Roger (Tomorrow Never Dies, Turner and Hooch) Spottiswoode's direction is, erm, adequate tho' any attempt to build a sense of dread or suspense is effectively scuppered by documentary maker Anne Henderson's blunt scissors and wooden fingered approach to editing plus it's hard to care about a cast (or killer) who spend most of the film masked and drunk, tho' under the circumstances the late, great Sandee Currie (later to be seen in the utterly brilliant Curtains) stands out among the cardboard cut-out characters making Mitchy both likable and sexy (in a kinda late seventies way).

Tunnel or funnel?

Plus if you're really bored (and squint at the screen), she does have a remarkable resemblance to Joy Boushel (but not alas Joy Bryant*) from The Fly remake so you can spend the movies quieter bits imagining they're the same character.

Just me then?

Worth a look?

Absolutely, if only to completely catalog Jamie Lee Curtis' ever changing hairstyles.

And worth showing to your pals?

Well yes but only if you want to start a violent feud with them.

*Because as you can see they both have completely different hairstyles.


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