But it’s this overt theatricality that has also won
Terror Train plenty of devotees, and a rightful place as a classic 1980s Canadian slasher. Shout! Fac- tory knows this and has once again done right by fans with this stellar DVD/Blu-ray combo pack featuring insightful interviews with producers Daniel Grodnik and Don Carmody, production de- signer Glenn Bydwell and composer John Mills- Cockell, just a few of the people who helped keep this handsome sleight-of-hand slasher fun firmly on the rails.
PAUL CORUPE Denzel Washington The Devil And
FALLEN (1998) Blu-ray Starring Denzel Washington, John Goodman
and Embeth Davidtz Directed by Gregory Hoblit Written by Nicholas Kazan Warner Bros.
Supernatural mysteries always seem to follow OFF the Rails... on the rails
TERROR TRAIN (1980) DVD/Blu-Ray Starring Ben Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis and Hart Bochner
Directed by Roger Spottiswoode Written by T.Y. Drake Shout! Factory
Jamie Lee Curtis’ post-
Halloween career route took a brief detour into Canada in the early 1980s for a pair of films that ce- mented her scream queen status. After the mostly tame but still successful Prom Night, Curtis hopped onboard the Terror Train, an equally beloved entry that keeps chugging through the slasher formula even as it calls attention to its own contrivances. It’s New Year’s Eve and
Alana Maxwell (Curtis) and her fellow graduating med students have char- tered a train for an elaborate costume party to cel- ebrate. But as the drinks flow and costumed couples slip away to ring in the calendar change in a more intimate setting, the kindly conductor (screen vet Ben Johnson) discovers the body of one of the students – only to have it disappear
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moments later. As more college grads go missing and panic spreads throughout the train, Alana wonders if it’s the work of Kenny (Derek McKin- non), a fellow classmate who, years before, was driven insane by a mean-spirited practical joke. The only thing they know for sure is that the chameleon-like killer seems to adopt the disguise of his latest victim, from Groucho Marx to a Gill-Man to an ugly crone. Set against a snowy,
rural Quebec backdrop, Terror Train is a slickly made, self-consciously the- atrical whodunit slasher that takes its cues from many of the other horror films of the period. As he cranks up the body count, director Roger Spottis- woode (Air America, To- morrow Never Dies) seems less interested in spectac- ular kills than in constant references to artifice and
facades, including unnatural lighting, elaborate costumes and a flamboyant magic show (by a young David Copperfield!). Though the rich pro- duction values keep the story moving full steam ahead, the whole affair occasionally feels false, as though the murdered characters are waiting for their scene to end so they can jump up for a bow.
a formula. A rational protagonist stumbles upon something not of this world, and the more he in- vestigates, the deeper down the rabbit hole he goes until there’s no escape. Meanwhile, the viewer always thinks that he’s got everything fig- ured out, only to be sorely mistaken dur- ing the final reveal – sort of like an adult version of a Scooby- Doo episode. This formula can be done right or horribly wrong, and fortu- nately Fallen nails it. Homicide detec-
tive John Hobbes (Denzel Washington) has just watched the execution of serial killer Edgar Reese, and now he’s looking forward to some much-needed relaxation. The calm doesn’t last very long though, as a copycat killer begins claiming victims throughout the city. However, soon it doesn’t seem to be a copycat at all, and it’s revealed that old Edgar was actually pos- sessed by a demon that has existed for thousands of years by living in human hosts. The entity has the ability to jump from person to person with only a single touch, so anyone could be the fallen angel in disguise. With the help of a local theology pro- fessor (Embeth Davidtz), John hatches a plot to expel the demon permanently – a simple plan that turns out to be not so straightforward, as the hellthing begins to frame him for crimes he didn’t commit and he must now fight to save his family and his soul. Washington certainly brings his A-game to the
role; his convincing portrayal of a rational cop slowly losing his grip on reality is top-notch. John Goodman as Hobbes’ partner and Donald Suther- land as the police chief are both excellent as well.