Night Train to Terror (1985)

Where do forgotten features and abandoned projects go to die?  On something like the NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR if they’re lucky, that’s where! Vinegar Syndrome has restored this bundle of sleazy scraps and released them as a BD/DVD combo pack with some great special features.

God and the Devil ride a doomed train late at night.  They make wagers much like the book of Job but with more boobs involved.  The train is cleverly named the Heavenly Express or Satan’s Cannonball depending on your destination.  A single minded Conductor tries to keep the two VIP passengers on task while a rock band performs the only song they know ad naseum. The song will annoy the everliving hell out of you before its over but still be a catchy little ear worm that will torment you from time to time. 

The first case offered for the two ultimate judges is that of Harry Billings (John Phillip Law) who finds himself in a sanitarium killing young women so the doctors can make their own killing selling the parts off to medical schools.  It drips sleaze as Law and the sadistic orderly Otto (Richard Moll) abuse and murder the nubile “donors.”  This vignette was cobbled together from bits and pieces of a work called SCREAM YOUR HEAD OFF that wasn’t finished until 1992 and then unleashed upon a public who didn’t notice as the vastly different MARILYN ALIVE AND BEHIND.  John Carr decided to finish it by adding Francine York as the captive Marilyn Monroe and a devious sex trade with wealthy oil sheiks.  I doubt it would make much more sense…

After deciding on their disposition comes NIGHT TRAIN’s greatest short offering, “Gretta.”  Gretta Connors (Meredith Hayes) is a young impressionable women who finds herself working for a pornagrapher who is obsessed with her.  Student Glenn Marshall (Rick Barnes) sees her in a film and becomes equally obsessed and decides to make her his.  This brings him into direct conflict with the skeezy George Youngmeyer (Martin Sellers) and the two find themselves battling for her affection.  George is involved in a perverse group known as the Death Club and has gotten Gretta involved as well.  Marshall must join their sick games in which someone usually dies gruesomely while the victim and the other participants presumably get off on it. 

Claire Hansen (Faith Clift) is a young surgeon and a devout Catholic…her husband Harry (Richard Moll…again…)  is a self help guru who’s latest schtick is “God is dead.”  She finds herself in a battle with a ruthless man who always causes pain and suffering throughout history but has never aged a day.  A Holocaust survivor enlists the help of a nameless police lieutenant (Cameron Mitchell) and tries to convince him of Mr. Olivier’s crimes against humanity.  Originally the Lieutenant is dismissive but while investigating through due diligence, he finds that the old man may be right. 

Eat your heart out Ray Harryhausen.  The segments of NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR assault the peeping holes with the worst special effects imaginable.  Clay people get roasted left and right and a horny couple is attacked by a hornet made of Play-Doh.  The prolonged execution of a clay puppet during the Death Club meeting is ridiculous.  Though the effects are laughable the story can save the flick, right?  Wrong.  The story is so disjointed and convoluted from trying to shoehorn the best blood, boobs and sleaze from each feature into a rather brief vignette.  As a result the stories have inconsistencies out the wazoo and characters appear and vanish with no explanation.  They also start up full throttle and end abruptly.  Trust me, I appreciate the tits and grue but the story suffers as much as a member of the Death Club.

Vinegar Syndrome has given this anthology a BD/DVD release, freeing it from the vestiges of VHS hell.  The picture quality is just what can be expected from VinSyn, an unprocessed yet high quality restoration.  It includes a commentary by The Hysteria Continues.  They riff on the film with eager glee.  If MST3K could have had the film they would have had a blast but after all the boobs and blood are cut there would be about 30 minutes or so left…  There is also an interview with the “director” Jay Schlossberg-Cohen or as I like to call him, “the responsible party.”  The real treat is the full 90 minute feature of GRETTA included on the DVD.  That’s right…the Death Club tale in all its wacky glory.  It’s available at Amazon or directly from Vinegar Syndrome.  Check out the trailer below. 

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