Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Wow, what a New Year's Eve.  I had a great low-key time and I only hope next year's New Years is this much fun.  I started the day with lunch and a shopping trip with my friend Jamison.  I introduced him to B.D.'s Mongolian Grill at Easton (which he really liked) and then we went to Sur la Table and Williams Sonoma to look at the stuff we want in our fantasy kitchens.  After that I picked up a friend, Patrick, and we grabbed pizza and took it to Clay's house.  We hung out with his friends, ate, played games, and counted down to midnight.  It was perfect.  After that, well, that's all a bit of a blur (that's not to say that I was drunk, cause I didn't have a drop).  I mostly mean it was late and I was tired, so I won't mention it.  But I had a great time, particularly with Patrick, and I hope he did too.  Anyway, I wanted to start the new year (2011, I have to get used to that) with a movie about New Year's Eve and also one that's a bit on the spooky side.  It's got one of America's favorite scream queens and features a plot right out of Agatha Christie.  And, it takes place on a train...and who doesn't love trains?  So all aboard for an old-fashioned 80s slasher romp as we take a ride on the Terror Train.

It is New Year's Eve and the members of Sigma Phi, a pre-med fraternity, are holding a costume party on a train headed across snowy terrain.  However, the situation is not without drama.  Alaina Maxwell is already upset with her boyfriend for not telling her that the host was Doc Manley, the group's prank leader.  She and Doc have been on bad terms since a prank went wrong the year before.  It seems that Doc convinced Alaina to seduce Kenny Hampson, a nerd, and then they pulled a switcheroo on him, having him feel up a corpse instead of Alaina.  Kenny went mad after that and had to be hospitalized.  This drama isn't the worst of their troubles however.  Someone else is on the train.  Someone who is killing off the members of Sigma Phi who were involved in the prank and then using their costumes to get close to other potential victims.  There are several suspects.  Doc, who's knack for pranks may have gone too far, the magician on board, who is mysterious, or perhaps it is Kenny, back for revenge.  Whoever the killer is, they plan to save Alaina for last, which means she will have to fight for her life to survive.

Terror Train is one of those post-Halloween slashers that featured Jamie Lee Curtis and that are considered to be not very good.  I, however, enjoyed the movie for what it was.  A simple slasher movie with a semi-clever premise.  Isolate the kids on a moving train, so that they cannot escape danger but so they also stay mobile, and have them in costumes so that the killer can always be something new.  There are also several good red herrings and twists which help keep the film exciting.  It helps the film seem like an Agatha Christie mystery, which helps to elevate it above the bottom of the barrel films of the time.  Sure, its full of cliche situations and stock characters, but something about the dark train corridors and the ferocity of the killer just makes the whole thing really scary to me.  Jamie Lee also shines in the role of Alaina, giving the character a sense of raw smarts and vulnerability.  Also a surprise is magician David Copperfield who plays the sexy magician who hits on Alaina and whom we aren't sure if he is a danger at all.  He acts well, and is a nice novelty for the film.  The film also isn't too gory, so the squeamish should be able to enjoy it...though it's still R rated for a reason. If you want a good spooky story, you could really enjoy this one.  Go ahead and try it out and if you don't like it, you won't be the first.

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