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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

SCREAM FACTORY APPRECIATION MONTH: Terror Train (1980)




It's still Scream Factory Appreciation Month, and we are winding down to the last couple releases the big guys have put out thus far. Only three more to go and we'll also do a little preview of the upcoming releases from the raiders of the horror fan's wallet. Today we are here to discuss Terror Train. While this has not been one of my favorite horror films over the years, I can tell that after seeing it with the Exhumed Films crowd at their All Aboard for Horror screening featuring Terror Train and Horror Express in a magical locomotive inspired double feature I'm in love. I may have to go out and pick me up that damn Fright Rags T-shirt I'd been eyeing up and trying to budget for (only 1 shirt a fiscal quarter). I wanted to take the time to discuss both viewings since each is a different experience entirely.

I was a kid the first time I watched Terror Train, probably 13. There was no reason for this movie to stand out other than it had an amazing mask or two. I didn't even care that Jamie Lee Curtis was the star. Didn't really seem to matter when I was that age. After all, she was Laurie Strode and Halloween was the better slasher flick. She was hotter in Halloween. It's the better movie. So I waited for the kills, but was unimpressed with the effects or the gore. Barely a boob in the room. I don't think I even really connected the dots to David Copperfield at the time even though I watched him walk through the Great Wall of China. I was ill prepared to appreciate the music or the ambiance, the humor or just how many amazing costumes were used in the film.


Let's advance the clock some twenty years to the present day where my buddy Jude Felton over at the Lair of Filth asks me to join him for a night of train horror. Aside from catching up with Jude and going ape shit talking about the blogosphere and what we were watching, I was excited to see a movie that I could barely remember despite a couple of the iconic masks sticking in my brain. The experience was quite good. The crowd was somewhat responsive, laughing and yelling and clapping though not with as much vigor as an Exhumed Films 24 Hour Horror-thon audience (caffeine and beer really helps that out). It was a great story; one I barely remembered and it was refreshing. Terror Train reminded me what I love about 80's and late 70's slasher pics much in the same way that screening Black Christmas in December made me excited about that subgenre again. You review movies and have a desire to watch EVERY horror movie ever... well... that means you get to partake in some pretty shitty viewing experiences. It can make you jaded. Watching a movie like Terror Train with a responsive audience, the black all turned to blues with age. The dust and the scratches... the streaks... it's like finding out the true meaning of Christmas and/or having your heart throw three sizes.

Scream Factory's Blu-ray print sure is nice. It isn't dust free, but it's clear. The colors aren't washed out. The audio is crystal clear and really allows for an appreciation of this underrated horror movie score. You can't have a dull train whistle in a train horror pic. I love that Scream Factory, for whatever reason it may have happened, allowed for a dustier, less perfect release of this classic. It feels like it was "allowed" to be older than some of the other releases in this cycle. This should knock Blu-haters down a peg when the complain about hi-def formats destroying the aesthetic of film grain.



The special features include a couple interviews with major crew members though no actors. There's a trailer. Some stills. It's a great cover with some damn fine artwork. Compared to the 35mm, washed out, overshown print this is like watching a rainbow on your TV. The only thing it's missing is an audience to help me know when to laugh.



You can pick it up at DiabolkDVD HERE (supporting the little guy is important). Also make sure to "like" Scream Factory over on FaceBook and follow their releases. You can also stop by their website HERE to peruse more titles and get acquainted with their product line and upcoming releases of which there are many. Save your pennies. Start a swear jar. Start a masturbation jar.


-Dr. TERROR
Brief Note about Horror Express on 35mm: Though I haven't watched the Blu-ray I had seen Horror Express before and despite it's all-star cast I wasn't overly impressed. How can a movie fail with Cushing, Lee, Naschy and Savalas at the helm? The 35mm viewing this past Friday night really changed my mind about this B rate picture. Sure the effects are hammed up and no one's on top of their game, but glowing red eyes that melt your brain and make the victim bleed from eyes and mouth and nose... that's great ad a creepy effect at that. It was nice to see it with a fun crowd and the perfect compliment to Terror Train. Both having train whistles near the open. It's like goddamn synchonicity... sort of.


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