‘Night Train to Terror’ (1985)

Night Train to Terror (1985)

When searching the Internet for the director of Night Train to Terror, IMDB shows two names listed with a “more” link underneath. For an episodic horror vehicle, it is not necessarily a bad sign. It is a bad sign when five directors are listed and three of their careers end on this movie. Night Train to Terror is one of the most convoluted films I have ever enjoyed watching. With the subtlety of a baseball bat with nails sticking out of it, the film weaves in and out of extreme gore, convoluted plot lines, and claymation sequences of questionable quality and necessity. There are abrupt cuts to things that are hard to relate to the rest of the story and characters appear and disappear without having any bearing on the plot. They even pull the old “sticking a still shot of a character in place of footage” trick that was made famous in Bruce Lee movies produced after his death. It is hard to believe such a wonderful mess exists. It has singularly lowered the bar for what I consider a bad movie. In theory, the film is broken into three macabre stories. In actuality there are about thirty stories in play at any given time. It is so confusing that it never gets boring. It is as if Mario Bava made a movie in a stock footage room with his eyes closed and his ears plugged.

As an example of the stream of consciousness at play here, the third story involves a Holocaust survivor who sees one of his Nazi captors on television reviewing a ballet performance. The alleged Nazi is in his 20s, so nobody believes that the man in question could have been the head of a concentration camp except for a neighbor who happens to be a police officer. The police officer decides to look into it. You would think that this is a fair enough premise for a twenty-minute horror short, but it doesn’t end there. The Nazi turns out to be a demon who takes an interest in a man who is writing a book called “God Is Dead”whose wife is a surgeon who recognizes that the young man is the devil, or a demon, or something, then decides surgically remove his heart, but then he turns into a bigger demon. And the story goes on and on.

While the stories unfold, God (credited as playing himself) and the Devil (played by Lu Sifer) sit on a train overseeing these events. On the train with them is the real abomination, a terrible 80s band plays the same song throughout the movie. As with many 80s movies, the band breaks out into a spontaneous music video, but this video never ends. By the schedule of the movie, the band must have been at it for hours. Oh, and the train, according to the Devil, is about to crash.

The movie is exhausting to think about, but a lot of fun to watch. Occasionally a narrator (not God, which might make some sense) attempts to explain of what you are seeing, but it seldom does more that raise further questions. It is so bad, it bears repeated viewings. I”m sure I will not remember what Avatar was about in three years, but I will for sure still be trying to figure out what the hell is going on in Night Train to Terror. It is without a doubt one of the most confounding narratives ever created. It makes Plan 9 From Outer Space look like Citizen Kane, and is a must see for the psychotronic crowd.