Night Train to Terror (1985)
Director: Jay Schlossberg-Cohen
Starring: Cameron Mitchell, John Phillip Law & Byron Yordan
Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
By the sight of the 1-sheet poster, most would assumed that Night Train to Terror is another chip off the slasher block from the bitchin’ 1980s. As fitting as it may seem, this is an entirely different beast. When the topic of horror anthologies is brought up, there is a steady list of favorites to choose from such as Creepshow, Trick ‘r Treat and Tales from the Crypt. But, somewhere in the cobwebs lies Night Train to Terror. Presented for the first time on home video and it its original aspect ratio, Vinegar Syndrome bring this horror oddity to your growing collection in a Blu-ray / DVD combo pack. How odd is this flick, you ask? Well, get ready to throw logic out the window and let’s find out...
Night Train to Terror kicks off with God and Satan aboard a train headed to the friary underworld as they decide the fates of three unfortunate souls. In Harry, a killer keeps body parts of his victims in a twisted torture chamber. While, in Gretta, a young woman obsessed with death takes part in a risky game of Russian roulette. Finally, Claire finds a young woman and a Holocaust survivor terrorized by the son of Satan!
There’s much to admire in a film that kicks off with an 80s-centric band playing to the camera while on board a train to Hell. The catchy tune and the lead singer, who looks like a mix of Loverboy and Flashdance, sets the tone for the odd film you are about to witness. The wrap-around segments of God and Satan deciding the fates of each of the victims was a welcome touch that opened the stage for some humorous moments. The film itself is an insane collage of horror presented without too much narrative in mind and a tongue firmly planted in cheek. Demons, dismemberment, nudity and nazis all make entertaining appearances that are provided by a halfway decent cast and a synth-happy score. Night Train to Terror takes lightning speed shifts telling its story while pushing moments of blood and horror leaving you with a “what the hell is going on?” attitude more than once. In addition, the film deserves great praise for their usage of stop-motion effects that are less Harryhausen and more Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure but just as charming and fun. Overall, the film succeeds in throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the viewer in terms of horrific elements while weaving a very “unique” kind of anthology tale. There’s nothing quite like Night Train to Terror and by my calculations, that’s a fantastic thing!
Vinegar Syndrome presents Night Train to Terror for the first time on home video restored in 2K from 35mm elements and in its original 1:85:1 aspect ratio. The film certainly has its fair share of inconsistencies with debris and scratches with colors popping nicely when they can. Skin tones appear natural and detail is quite sharp in close-ups. Grain levels look terrific while blacks can be a hit or miss. It sounds mediocre, but in truth, this film has never looked better and probably never will. Vinegar Syndrome’s treatment is the definitive one for a film that has only seen ratty bootlegs before its release. Consider me satisfied!
Night Train to Terror hurls into your living room courtesy of a 2.0 DTS-HD MA sound mix. Scenes of dialogue are clear and hissing is hardly present while moments of horror and carnage are loud and robust. The score and catchy opening tune impressed my ear drums as they were loud even at a relatively lower volume. Well done!
Vinegar Syndrome presents a healthy dose of supplements that are spread across both the Blu-ray and DVD on this release.
- Interview with Director Jay Schlossberg-Cohen (offered as an audio track over the film)
- The Hysteria Continues Commentary: The bloggers offer plenty of laughs and interesting anecdotes about the film and the players involved.
- Theatrical Trailer
- Gretta: The full-version of The Case of Gretta Conners, a unique and welcome extra as one can see and appreciate the differences from its shorter counterpart found in Night Train to Terror.
- Interview with Assistant Editor Wayne Schmidt (presented as an audio track)
Night Train to Terror is quite unlike any horror anthology you’ve ever seen. The chaotic pace and horrific imagery at every turn will certainly send you for a loop which makes it never boring. Vinegar Syndrome have preserved and presented the film in the best possible manner with a welcome dose of extras that offer as much behind-the-scenes information as possible on this horror oddity. Night Train to Terror is an absurd execution in horror anthologies with enough blood, demons and stop-motion to peak most genre fans’ interest. Looking for logic? We’re all out on Night Train to Terror but that’s exactly where most of the charm comes from.