Thursday, December 5, 2013

NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR (Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray) - The Portmanteau In the Luggage Compartment on the Non-Stop to Shitsville

Night Train to Terror is a treat for fans of shit cinema. I mean that as a compliment. It is not a movie to be suffered by “film lovers” but rather B movie grime monkeys, the other side of movie goers. The dark and dirty sleazers who love to watch laughable, gore movies filled with gorgeous titties and the most superb continuity errors. But it’s important to remember that there’s a history here. Night Train to Terror wasn’t born of pure shit or rather the intention was a trifecta of three separate films that just didn’t come to fruition separately. It became shit (gorgeous stinking, lovable, huggable poop). The Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray/DVD release creates the perfect dichotomy for a movie of Night Train’s quality. It looks amazing. It’s has some truly special features and is even packaged in its tradition garb without sacrificing one iota of toilet tissue to chance. By the same token, the movie could be screened on the murky bottom of your toilet bowl or presented courtesy of a urinal cake and would be right at home. This movie got the treatment that better films dream of and lesser films humbly understand are not permitted due to their “disasterpiece” qualities. That being said, you should probably just buy this and judge it for yourself. I assure you there’s plenty of goo to bind this peanut butter and fluff (aka fullernutter) movie together.  Beyond Amicus lies a completely different kind of anthology tale; It’s one that might make Freddie Francis cry while it sodomizes his Eggo Waffle just before he eats it but just after the he’s adorned it with syrup (whatever that means).

Synopsis from Vinegar Syndrome:

Aboard a fast moving train bound for Hell, God and Satan decide the fates of three unfortunate mortals. In HARRY, a fiendish killer keeps the horribly mutilated body parts of his countless victims in a diabolical tourture chamber. In GRETTA, a young woman, obsessed with death, takes part in an unspeakable ritual of Russian roulette. Finally in CLAIRE, a young woman and a Holocaust survivor are terrorized by the son of Satan!


The 1980’s were strange times. Consider that Night Train to Terror was not a direct to video release. You will be stunned at that concept after watching it. Not that a 35mm viewing isn’t superb. I had the chance to enjoy Night Train to Terror at Exhumed Films 7th Annual 24 Hour Horror-thon this past October. Prior to their screenings, they do not announce the lineup, so there was no way to know that I was about to get a very unique viewing experience. Chances of anyone screening Night Train to Terror in the near future? Not great. There can’t be many film prints around. The print from the Vinegar Syndrome is restored in 2k from 35mm film elements. I wonder if I had the chance to view some of the source material for this particular release. It wouldn’t be the first time that Exhumed Films gave me that chance.  The big screen did Night Train to Terror justice, the print was great and the audience was in hysterics. I myself stood during the entire performance just outside the auditorium enjoying the mayhem. A few of discussed the general concept of the movie and tried to find a cohesive bond between scenes toward the later half of the movie. We couldn’t find them. It was agreed that the film was better without a solid narrative. Continuity be damned! 

As I stated before this viewing was prior to watching the Vinegar Syndrome release and my only memories of this movie involved seeing it on the wall of my local video store growing up, never renting it (because my parents new that it was questionable). The Vinegar Syndrome release helps to fill in the gaps in both plot and backstory. After you watch the entire movie through once, the next step should be to watch and enjoy the commentary track by The Hysteria Continues. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the podcast responsible for the very informative and hilarious commentary track here’s a brief description from iTunes:

“A podcast dedicated to the most reviled of horror subgenres. – the slasher movie from the people behind Hysteria Lives! And the Bodycount Continues! Reviews, retrospectives and more! Includes some brief strong language and spoilers’
You should definitely enjoy their rather lengthy catalog of podcasts (some 77 items deep and counting). Add them to your iTunes and subscribe NOW!  This commentary track provides some genuine insight into a movie that is completely haphazard. It’s like the stereo instruction manual with dirty language, an obscene phone call to the lost viewer. Worth the price of the disc.

Other features include an interview with Jay Schlossber-Cohen (Producer/Director) and interview with the Assistant Editor, Wayne Schmidt. The DVD includes Gretta aka Death Wish Club (more on that in a second).  The disc includes a theatrical trailer.

Notes: AR 1.85:1, 2k from 35mm film elements. DTS-HD Master Audio.

The whole damn thing  is slammed together from three separate films into a portmanteau with God vs. Satan wraparound story. The three original movies are Cataclysm from 1980, Death Wish Club from 1983 and Scream Your Head Off.  Each tale is clearly disjointed and the number of people claiming the Director credit will assure you as to why you feel downright confused at each twist and turn of every weapon or stop motion animated insect you find lurking on this film. What to expect from the movie itself? Well I don’t want to spoil each story (the synopsis from VS should suffice) but the kills are fantastical, original and funny. As one of the Hysteria Continues fellas puts it, this is somewhat like a precursor to the movie Saw (or at least the Death Wish Club is). Each movie contains a varied level of plot to gore to nudity ratio. It’s not quite the spank film you were looking for in daddy’s boxer drawer, but it’s got plenty to keep your hands and eyeballs occupied. Keep an eye out for the illustrious Richard Moll aka Bull from Night Court and big bad guy from House 2 (yes he’s still alive fellas). I assure you Mel Torme does not show up in his episodes.  Also, cult classic movie star of some of the best worsties, Cameron Mitchell has a lengthy role. The last thing I enjoyed him in was Terror on Tape, so it’s difficult to remember that he was a legitimate cult movie icon beyond the trailer reel. His performance is fantastic and will be appreciated by his fans.

This year Vinegar Syndrome has given me a chance to review some fantastic discs; movies I never could or would  have seen. They provide amazing quality, and this disc is a superior example of how they show horror people and cinema lovers/haters a great time. This is one of their top releases along with Massage Parlor Murders and The Telephone Book. Those are my top three VS favorites. Pick each one up. Love each one.

You can grab your copy of  Night Train to Terror Now! Exhumed Films Horror-thon goers… it’s even better when your eyes aren’t heavy from watching many a movie before. Some of the Exhumed guys run DiabolikDVD and you can try to pick up your copy there and support a solid, small business distributor.

Everyone likes to talk about the band. The endless repeat of that simply catchy and despised lil New Wave/Rock Ditty. Hope I can get the Vaudeville Vampires to cover it someday. 

-Doc Terror

No comments:

Post a Comment