This one belongs firmly in the “what the fuck did I just watch?” category – within the first five minutes so much random imagery was shoved in my face it made my head spin. Comprised of a series of vignettes, Night Train to Terror is a disparate assembly of random footage from three movies that couldn’t have less to do with each other let alone make sense of any kind. Imagine a film edited by a blind man with a chainsaw and then glued together with a shitty music video and two old guys droning on at each other. It’s that much of a mess.
Astoundingly, Night Train to Terror has a cavalcade of appearances by people who should have far too much integrity to even have wiped their asses with the respective scripts. Considering the films were directed by a gaggle of nobodies (John Carr, Phillip Marshak, Tom McGowan, Jay Schlossberg-Cohen, and Gregg C. Tallas), the number of genre stalwarts slumming it up here is quite baffling – including but not limited to: Tony Giorgio (The Godfather, Foxy Brown), Ferdy Maine (The Howling II, The Vampire Lovers), John Phillip Law (Barbarella, Danger: Diabolik), Richard Moll (TV’s Night Court, Evilspeak), and Cameron Mitchell (Blood and Black Lace, Without Warning).
The first segment (The Case of Harry Billings) is unfinished footage from a film called Scream Your Head Off, later re-edited into some sort of “illegitimate” version that was released on VHS using any and all production materials the producers could get their greedy mitts on. Director John Carr later decided to finish the film and shot new sequences with a noticeably older John Phillip Law and added Marilyn Monroe into the story (played by Francine York [The Doll Squad, The Centerfold Girls]), releasing it under the moniker Marilyn Alive and Behind Bars. This initial segment of Night Train to Terror far surpasses the other two with the gratuitous gore and full frontal nudity alone. (Marilyn Alive and Behind Bars uses alternate clothed sequences for much of the nudie bits present here and is far lighter on the graphic violence). The story (as far as what’s discernible in Night Train to Terror) involves an asylum that is abducting women and selling their organs, with some guy being hypnotized (via injection!) by some crazy doctor to do her evil bidding (i.e. seducing/drugging unsuspecting ladies to be brought back to the titty asylum). This piece jumps around so much that it’s hard to make heads or tails of most of it – just let it happen and you’ll be treated to a bunch of naked sluts, some pretty satisfying gore/kill sequences and a psychotic Richard Moll with a meat cleaver.
Insert more of that shitty music video, more divine banter, and then we’re on to the second segment (The Case of Gretta Connors). This one is about some slut at a carnival who gets propositioned by some creep and ends up starring in a bunch of porn. Some college guy sees one of her films, falls madly in love with her and tracks her down – much to the chagrin of the porn producer. Suddenly they’re all involved with a group of deviants who gather around a table and take deadly risks for fun. Assembled from segments of a film called Death Wish Club, this segment is pretty fucking awful and by far the worst of the three. The porn slut’s hair changes drastically for no reason from scene to scene, and we’re expected to suffer a bunch of fools basically sitting around a table playing an exotic version of Russian Roulette, only with some stupid stinging beetle from Africa or some such nonsense comprised of some of the absolute worst claymation/stop motion animation I have ever witnessed. Anyway, shit happens and there’s a bit of gore and extremely bad effects (just wait till you see the Jimi Hendrix lookalike get electrocuted) and no discernible story or climax.
Ok give your head a shake, enjoy some really stupid singing and breakdancing from that fucking band and we’re back on. The third and final segment (The Case of Claire Hansen) is plundered from a film called Cataclysm which has a decent premise but is far too ambitious for its own good (and has even WORSE claymation than the last bit). This tale has been so poorly edited that it really makes little sense; what it boils down to is some crusty old codger who survived the holocaust sees some guy on TV who he recognizes as an SS officer from WWII and loses his shit. Naturally, nobody believes it’s the same guy so the codger tries to get rid of him and fails. Soon a police detective gets involved in all this bullshit and discovers that the young Nazi is in fact one of Satan’s demons. There’s some pretty decent gore to look forward to in this one as well, but the claymation crucifixion is likely going to be the highlight. Mere words can’t illustrate how terrible this all is in execution.
Also of note is the soundtrack which is comprised mostly of loud classical music overdubbed into many of the scenes, which makes it feel like you’re watching a cheapie 60s exploitation flick (sans narration) or a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Regardless, it appears to be there to hide the fact that the segments have been hastily edited together and adds a surreal, almost comical aspect to the proceedings. Flight of the Valkyries? Really?Clearly this film was doomed to failure before it even began. The performances are pretty decent considering some of the collective talent but I can’t imagine any of these people being proud of what came of their efforts. Ferdy Maine purportedly even wrote director Jay Schlossberg-Cohen a letter expressing his embarrassment after seeing the final version of the film.
Over the years Night Train to Terror has garnered a solid cult following, but surely this can only be a result of how truly terrible it is. If you must watch it, do so for the sleazy nudity and abundant gore – but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
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