Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bad Movies From A to Z: Night Train to Terror

This is pretty much as good as it gets.
The Bad Movies series returns with a vengeance as we take a leak look at the 1985 classic, Night Train to Terror. God help us all.

The movie in a nutshell: God and Satan are on a train, claiming souls of people involved in three different stories.

The story: A poor helpless schmuck endures one of the crappiest movies he's ever seen. Oh wait. That's my story.

The movie consists of three hopelessly truncated movies, edited apparently at random, all wrapped by a cheesy God vs. Satan conversation that appears to take place in Ten Forward on the Enterprise.

Now keep in mind, this is ostensibly a horror movie, so after the title flashes and we see the titular train and hear a scream in the background, we are exposed to the first of many horrors:

How shall I compare thee to Summer's Eve?
a butt-rock band.

Holy crap on a plate, this is so 1985.

Colonel Sanders, meet Count Chocula.Now, as I said, God and Satan are sitting across from each other on the train. As it is nighttime, there are stars visible out the window. But for some reason, most of them are stationary, save for a few that streak by, making it look like they're traveling at warp speed.

The view out the window changes, and our first story begins. A bride and groom are speeding for some reason, and they get in an accident.

Harry Billings, the husband, ends up in a sanitarium. His wife is apparently dead. In short order, he's in for electroshock therapy. In another room, there's a naked lady strapped to a table. No explanation given. Just an excuse to show boobies.

Meanwhile, Richard Moll is some creepy guy named Otto (I think).
Richard Moll in his first of two roles in this movie: Otto the creepy tall guy.
Billings is drugged and sent to a bar, where he pretends to drink shots and flirts with the blonde bartender. Seconds later, she's the next naked lady on a table.

As we find out, the sanitarium in which Billings is incarcerated is operating some kind of body parts ring. They abduct pretty women and strip them for parts.

There's other stuff going on, but this is edited together to shoddily that it's hard to figure out what the hell is happening, especially if you're looking down every few seconds to jot down notes. Basically all you need to know: lots of blood and gore, lots of boobage, and one beheading of a guy who will later be on Night Court.

Then we're back to God and Satan, arguing over who gets the souls involved in the story. I'm getting ready to take notes on the next story to unfold, but before that starts, it's the cheesy band again. Why they are aboard this train (which, Satan notes, will crash in an hour), I have no idea. Maybe because they only have one song that they keep playing over and over.

Hi, my name is Skeeve.Our next story involves a pretty brunette named Gretta Connors, who supplements her budding music career by selling popcorn from a tray at the carnival. Note that she doesn't work at a popcorn booth--she just has a tray of nine or so boxes of popcorn. Some creepy guy walk up to her and says "Little girl, where have you been all my life?"

Instead of racking him in the nards, she just tells him the price of the popcorn. He stuffs money down the front of her top (CLASSY), and he ends up (we are told) leading her into a life of porn and degradation. We learn this through narration rather than actual storytelling, which is how we learn about anything that might move the plot along in the slightest.

How did she get the turkey up there with the bag of oranges?Meanwhile, college graduate and medical student (uh-huh) Glenn Marshall has dropped by his old frat house to grab a beer. The fact they're showing a porno flick is just a coincidence, I'm sure. He probably also reads Playboy for the articles.

Glenn falls in love with Gretta much the way all young people fall in love: he sees her being raped by what appears to be a fur trapper in the porno he and his buddies are watching. Call me a softy, but damn if that doesn't bring a tear to my eye.

Somehow he tracks her down, and in the span of three seconds, they hook up. I think, anyway. I swear to God, I just blinked. Gotta love pacing in truncated movies. Now while they could have used some of the brief running time to add some story elements, they instead fill time with establishing shots of Glenn and Gretta at the carnival, riding various attractions.

Now this pisses off her sugar daddy, George Youngmeyer, the lech who got her into the porn biz. He decides that Glenn needs to be taken out. Any other unsavory type would just shoot him outright or have someone do it for him, but instead, he uses a ridiculously byzantine method that isn't even guaranteed to kill him.

That's right; he brings in Death Club. You'd think rule one of Death Club would be to not talk about Death Club, but when you need to bump a guy off without looking suspicious, I guess you gotta go with what you've got.

The members of the Death Club have faced death and beaten it, so their thrill is to keep tempting death. They do this by participating in variations of Russian roulette.

Turd on a wire.The first one we see involves the dreaded beast, the Mongolian buttworm death beetle (complete with visible wire) that will sting and kill someone at random. Ah, but to give everyone a sporting chance, they leave a window open. The beetle, which resembles a Play-Doh turd with wings, takes flight.

Who will it be?

No one in the room. Instead, it goes outside and stings some random guy who is boning some equally random chick. His face (or an unreasonable papier mache facsimile thereof) swells, and his eye explodes, sending a gout of blood all over his girlfriend's face.


Let's see what's going on back inside the--oh, what the hell? Oh boy.

The next "death game" involves a "computer" that will randomly electrocute one of the players. This whole time, Gretta is dressed like a dude, and for no apparent reason. Even stranger, it appears that Glenn wants nothing to do with her. This will change in about five minutes with no explanation.

I'll be your freakazoid; come on and wind me up.The computer, which reminds me of a cross of H.E.R.B.I.E., Simon, and a pocketful of dumb, whirs as everyone prepares for their possible impending death. Who gets it?

The one black guy. As his headband begins to smolder, he says, "Mr. Marshall, excuse me while I smoke."


Then he is electrocuted to the point that he appears to melt. That's gotta hurt.

Gretta, now looking all girly again, has had enough from Youngmeyer; after telling him off, she says that she and Glenn are to get married the next day. Ookaaaayy....

Alas, a group of bikers attacks them at night while they sleep. Glenn kung-fus as many as he can (putting that med school training to work, right?), but they throw a net over him (!), and both Glenn and Gretta are bound and delivered to Youngmeyer and the Death Club.

Now by this point, you really wonder why Youngmeyer bothers with this elaborate charade. His goons bring Glenn and Gretta at gunpoint. If he has goons with guns, why not just, you know, cap his ass?

In any event, in this room, there's a wrecking ball on a rope, which will swing pendulum-style near a saw blade. Gradually, the rope bearing the ball will be cut. Everyone gets in sleeping bags below it, waiting to see who gets the big squish.

Glenn and Gretta, of course, are not doing this by choice. Is this going to be the thing that gets Glenn out of the way? No. The ball lands on some lady's face. I could make a joke here, but that would be more clever than this movie by at least half. Check it out:

At least we get to see the happy couple finally facing off against Youngmeyer for the last time, right?


We cut back to God and Satan, and the train conductor is asked to finish the story. Greta and Glenn live happily ever after, we are told.


What the crap? They just ended the story right there, and then--oh, sweet raisin danish. It's the band, singing the same frickin song. Again.

You know, not to be overly douchey or anything, but maybe if they'd dispensed with the shite music, they could've included some actual story that might have, you know, made any of this slightly more coherent.

When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way.No, instead, we must endure white people dancing so soullessly that it makes Molly Ringwald's dancing in The Breakfast Club look like freak dancing by comparison. You know, the last time I saw a white guy breakdancing was at a party I went to after fifth-grade graduation. They busted out the cardboard; I begged off, citing a war injury.

Come to think of it, that was 1985. Go figure.

Thankfully, this train wreck (literally) is almost at an end. Just one more story to go: The case of Claire Hansen. We are told she is about to begin a living nightmare that, from the looks of it, apparently involves a barefoot orchestra playing for a bunch of Nazis. Some commander comes in and says that their quota hasn't been met, so he machine-guns the orchestra. Claire wakes up with a start, as does her husband, Charles (also played by Richard Moll, who is billed in this as Charles Moll).

The Nazi commander from Claire's dream is not only alive and well in the present, but he has not aged at all. Some old guy is trying to hunt him down, so he asks for help from Cameron Mitchell, who plays a cop, and, oh my God, this is horrible. The old guy dies at the hands of some demonic creature that may or not be the guy he's looking for--I kinda stopped taking notes by this point. Mr. Olivier, the evil creepy guy, seems to be an immortal who has been an evil bastard for hundreds of years.

Aw, crap, I'm in this movie again?Charles Hansen is some philosopher who has written a book called "God is Dead." Cameron Mitchell (his character wasn't identified as far as I could tell) eventually realizes how evil and creepy the guy is, and a bunch of stuff happens, including some crap claymation in which Hansen is crucified on a clay cross, and it ends with Olivier walking away unscathed.

It's the Great Space Coaster...Now, it's almost time. We see the night train zooming along the track--in daylight--as it hurtles toward its date with destiny. There's a crap explosion with what appears to be stock footage from something. The butt-rock band dies, thankfully, but God and Satan are untouched in their car. They divvy up the souls of those people seen in the movies, and the train rolls along a track to the stars.

The End.

To be fair, this movie appears to be made of three movies chopped down to about 20-25 minutes each. While it's damn near impossible to follow what's going on because they're so drastically edited, I'd be willing to watch these individually in their full-length incarnations; it's possible that they'd make more sense. They'd still not be great movies, but they could be entertaining.

As it is, it feels like I'm watching overlong, hastily cobbled together movie trailers, put together by people who never saw the movies. To their credit, they managed to keep a lot of blood and nudity; in the pre-Internet days when this would have been found on the shelves at the local mom-and-pop video stores, a horrible movie could be redeemed by buckets of blood and flashes of skin. To preteen horror buffs too young to buy Playboy, it was one of the only places you could see nudity--or as we called it, nudititty.

However, in this era, when you can see boobs at the click of a mouse, it's just meh.

I got this movie as part of the Drive-In Movie Classics 50-DVD pack I bought a while back, and it says on the package that this stars Keenan Wynn. I don't know exactly what they were smoking, but I didn't see him in here at all. The only person who looked remotely like Wynn was God, and according to the credits, he was played by "Himself." Satan, by the way, was played by Lu Sifer.

Pause for laughs.

/crickets chirping

Dude looks like a lady.Another part of the problem with this movie was the muddiness of the print, but you know, when you figure I paid maybe 50 cents for each movie, I really can't complain too much.

Should you end up watching this somehow, it would probably seem better if accompanied by a bottle of Night Train.


Probably not.