Night Train to Terror
Written by Philip Yordan
Directed by John Carr, Phillip Marshak, Tom McGowan, Jay Schlossberg -Cohen,
and Gregg C. Tallas
The Devil (looking like a third-rate aging vampire) and God (looking like the son of Kenny Rogers and Colonel Sanders--who must have had a recipe for some damn fine chicken!) are sharing a table on a train that leads to nowhere.
No, it's not a parable. It's just plain terrible, which is evident from the get-go as the film opens with a seemingly inexplicable 1980s music video, complete with Olivia Newton John legwarmers, headbands, big hair, and that distinct cheesy sound akin to a Casiotone making sweet love to A Flock of Seagulls.
Anywho, God and Satan work as a framing device to three tales of terror (and I use that word loosely), as they discuss the fates of three separate souls.
The first story is a convoluted mess that would almost be surreal if it didn't try so damned hard to make sense. It has something to do with Harry Billings, a salesman who kills his new wife in a car accident and finds himself in a sanitarium, hypnotic medications, date rape-type drugs, human bodies being sold on the black market, and Bull Shannon from Night Court. At least there's some nudity exactly 5 minutes and 45 seconds in, and a moderate amount of gore.
Tale number two involves carnival worker and aspiring star Greta Connors who falls for the sleazy George Youngmeyer, who puts her in the movies. Porno movies, that is. Young frat brat Glenn Marshall develops an obsession for the starlet which develops into a relationship. Youngmeyer, angered by her betrayal, turns to the secret society of the Death Club for revenge. A claymation revenge, nonetheless. When this fails, he goes for the Dr. Marvin Monroe method, and finally an old school James Bond approach. This time around they upped the nudity and the coherence, but not the level of enjoyment.
The final story follows Claire Hanson, respected surgeon married to Nobel Prize winner James Hansen, and author of the Nietzche-esque "God is Dead". The appearance of a number of individuals with '666' tattooes (i.e., written sloppily in magic marker) isn't enough to change James' philosophy, but it's enough to give Claire some pretty bad nightmares, which lead James to the Ashton Kutcher/David Cassidey/Anti-Christ Superstar lookalike Mr. Oliver--a German war criminal who hasn't aged a day in more than forty years. It's all very spooky. Really it is! And although the nudity is nil, we get even more claymation this time around, in a scene in which they try to pass off an extra from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as a real man.
This is one of those fucked-up, mock-anthology films that is actually comprised of condensed versions of other films (Death Wish Club, Marilyn Alive and Behind Bars, and Cataclysm) that were, at least at the time, unfinished. This becomes painfully evident when you look at the list of directors associated with this mess: Why else would you require five people for this job? It was pretty out of character for God and the Devil to appear in such a low budget cesspool (they are, according to the credits, portrayed by themselves), but at least they drop some great theological ponderings (the Devil has no tears, while God can laugh and cry at the same time). I know this movie has some following as a classic of bad cinema, but this film as a whole was just a bit difficult for me to enjoy. Taken individually, any one of these stories is just plain lame. But combine all three of them together Voltron-style, and what do you get?
Three times the lame.
It's just simple mathematics, really.
Check out the other J's decidedly more-forgiving take on this film over at the Cheap Bin!
"I think this train is coooool!"