Friends, would you believe that 40 years ago today Terror Train was released to theaters, as well as the fact it marked the third horror film to be released in 1980 that featured Jamie Lee Curtis? While Curtis might have had made her big screen debut in the unexpected box office bonanza that was John Carpenter’s Halloween – 1980 was the year that seemed to cement her role in films as a Scream Queen. Beginning on February 8th she appeared in another John Carpenter film, that underappreciated tale of supernatural revenge – The Fog. Five months later saw Curtis starring in Prom Night – the high school themed slasher – the first in the genre shot in Canada. Then of course on October 3rd of 1980, Curtis starred in Terror Train, which was also shot in Canada – with producer Daniel Grodnik stating on a Scream Factory featurette for the movie that he envisioned the film as being “like Halloween on a train.”
Now for what it might be worth, I was able to see The Fog, Prom Night, as well as Terror Train at the drive-in theater of my youth. Personally I feel that John Carpenter’s 1980 follow-up to Halloween is easily the better film of the trio – having said that though – there is a lot to enjoy about the campy fun of Terror Train.
Personally one of the things I recall the most about watching Terror Train was it was my introduction to the stage magic of David Copperfield. As I understand it, this is the only film or television series where Copperfield plays an actual character, not just as himself. Thanks to the IMDb trivia section for the film, I learned that Copperfield remarked about filming Terror Train:
“Film is a magnifying glass for magic, so I had to be very careful. What you see on screen is exactly what the extras saw during shooting.”
While Terror Train might not be quite as masterful as the likes of Halloween – it does manage to deliver a pretty memorable slasher film. As the central plot is the train is host to a New Year’s Eve costume party – it allows the killer to make use of numerous disguises to not only evade capture once the bodies begin to be found – but get ever closer to the true target… Alana Maxwell (Curtis).
So, here is to 40 years of Terror Train – perhaps since this is the Season for things spooky and scary, you might celebrate the anniversary by giving it a watch tonight?