Night Train to Terror

Night Train to Terror 5Ah, the horror anthology film. For those who feel that one scary story is never enough, there always seem to be plenty of anthology movies to fill the Halloween season. But I dare say, there may be no such film quite as strange as the one we’re looking at today. It’s a film that features three different stories being presented to us by none other than God (Ferdy Mayne) and Satan (Tony Giorgio) as they ride aboard a train with a breakdancing group of 80’s rockers. Read that scenario again if you must, it’s classic! All aboard for 1985’s Night Train to Terror.

Night Train to Terror 2The first segment, “The Case of Harry Billings,” tells the story of Harry (John Phillip Law), who is taken to a sanitarium after his reckless driving causes the death of his bride, and serious injuries to himself, on his wedding day. While there, two doctors (Sharon Ratcliffe & Arthur M. Braham), along with an orderly (Richard Moll from Night Court, credited as Charles Moll), drug poor Harry to do their bidding. Under the doctor’s influence he lures young women back to the hospital where the staff dismember them and sell their body parts.

Night Train to Terror 3The second story is “The Case of Gretta Connors.” It deals with a guy named Glen (Rick Barnes) who seeks out an aspiring pianist turned porn actress named Gretta (Merideth Haze) after he see’s her in a film. The two fall in love, but then he learns that the guy that go her into porn (J. Martin Sellers) has also gotten her involved in a strange club that enjoys experiencing deadly experiences. This includes electrocution, playing with giant poisonous insects, and being bundled up in sleeping bags underneath a wrecking ball with the rope being gradually sliced by a mounted saw blade.

Night Train to Terror 6The last segment, “The Case of Claire Hansen,” deals with a battle against demons. Claire (Faith Clift) is a doctor who believes in God while her author husband James (Richard, er Charles Moll again) has authored a book called God is Dead. Meanwhile, a smooth-talking disciple of Satan named Olivier (Robert Bristol), who literally has goat legs, is trying to take over the world complete with crude stop-motion monsters and demonic nuns. As if all of this wasn’t enough, in between segments God and the Devil argue with each other over the various souls of the characters while the rock band in the next car pound out their tunes.

Night Train to Terror 7This movie must be seen to be believed. I still can’t believe it! The film was written by Philip Yordan…or should I say, Academy Award winning writer Philip Yordan. It’s three segments are actually whittled down versions of three other films written by Yordan…Cataclysm (1980), The Dark Side of Love (1984), and an unfinished film called Scream Your Head Off. It doesn’t take long to figure all this out as each segment features extraordinarily sloppy editing and plenty of head scratching moments. Not a one of the stories makes a lick of sense. At the same time, it’s a little surprising that the film is made up of three different movies considering how consistently awful everything about it is.

Night Train to Terror 4The first segment is the most over-the-top. It delights in excessive nudity, lots of screaming, and gruesome imagery. Though “gruesome” in that cheesy haunted house kind of way. There is a decapitation that must be one of the most unintentionally hilarious moments in movie history. The 2nd segment has its fair share of ridiculousness, as well. One of the weirdest moments features a giant wasp the size of an Air Jordan, crudely brought to life with stop motion animation. This thing stings a guy in the cheek and his whole face explodes. Coming in a close second is the bizarre electrocution scene where a Jimi Hendrix impersonator ends up becoming extra crispy. What both the first and second segments have in common is that neither one has a real ending. They just suddenly stop before there is any resolution and go back to God and the Devil on the train.

Story number three is the longest, taking up the last 45 minutes of the film. It is possibly the most incoherent piece of cinema ever created. As if the stop motion bug wasn’t enough, this segment gives us a poorly animated giant demon who steps on a Play-Doh stunt double filling in for one of the actors. This guy doesn’t have it as bad as Play-Doh Richard Moll does, though. He gets thrown onto a giant cross which explodes on impact.

Night Train to TerrorNight Train to Terror is horrible beyond measure, and I’m so glad I watched it. It tries so hard to be deep, shocking and hip but fails on a colossal level. I laughed like an idiot. I am proud to say that this may now be the absolute worst film I have ever seen…and it is absolutely hilarious!

Forgotten Filmcast Episode 39: The Funhouse

ep_39Halloween is almost here, so we’ve got one more scary episode of the Forgotten Filmcast before the big day arrives. This time, Todd is joined by Bernardo Villela from The Movie Rat to discuss Tobe Hooper’s 1981 film The Funhouse. If carnys freak you out, listen to this one at your own risk.

Download the Show:
iTunes
Podomatic
Your Listen

Show Notes:
The Movie Rat
Bernardo at Twitter
Music Alley

Movies Discussed:
The Funhouse
Rammbock
Invaders from Mars

A-Haunting We Will Go

A Haunting we will go 33In the 1960’s things were starting to wind down for the era of animated short subjects appearing in theaters. The folks at the Looney Tunes were still making an effort, however. That included continuing the tradition of Halloween-themed shorts featuring some of the classic characters. This time Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzalez are up against Witch Hazel in 1966’s A-Haunting We Will Go.

A Haunting we will go 1It’s Halloween night and Daffy Duck’s nephew (he doesn’t get an actual name) is out trick or treating. When he happens upon the home of Witch Hazel he freaks out and hurries home to convince Uncle Daffy that he’s seen a witch. Daffy doesn’t believe it, of course, and sets out to prove his nephew wrong.

A Haunting we will go 2Meanwhile, back at Witch Hazel’s place, the old hag is lamenting the fact that she works too hard and needs a vacation. She decides to head to Hawaii, but first she needs someone to take her place…I guess since it’s Halloween and all. So, she gives some enchanted cheese to Speedy Gonzalez, who happens to live in her wall, which changes him into a copy of the witch. When Daffy shows up, he is greeted by Speedy as the witch and is given a potion which transforms him into the same bizarre form he took in the classic cartoon Duck Amuck. Hazel then returns from Hawaii (talk about a short trip), changes Speedy back, and has some fun of her own with Daffy.

A Haunting we will go 4I’m a huge fan of classic animation, so it pains me to say that this may be one of the absolute worst of the Looney Tunes shorts. It was directed by Robert McKimson, who should’ve known better. To start with, the story is so horribly contrived. I mean, why is having Speedy Gonzalez transformed into the witch a necessary plot point…especially considering that Witch Hazel returns from her blink-and-you’ll-miss-it vacation just a few moments later. Not to mention that the lack of originality with this one is blatant when the mutant Daffy design used in Duck Amuck is recycled. And while I’m ranting, would someone please tell me why in the name of Leon Schlesinger is Daffy Duck wearing Elmer Fudd’s hunter’s cap throughout this short?

A Haunting we will go 5Beyond all this, the animation is just awful. The characters are flat, lifeless and jerky. While there is some nice work in some of the background designs, the characters do not inhabit their environments. At times they seem to be floating on top of the background art. Even Mel Blanc’s voice work is lackluster. Only June Foray’s vocal talents as Witch Hazel are worthy of merit.

It goes without saying that not every animated short Warner Brothers produced is going to be a classic. However, it is particularly sad looking at this one considering when it was released, as the age of theatrical shorts was ending. With output like this, it’s easy to see why.

Recent Warner Archive New Releases

Devil Dogs of the AirI’ve fallen a bit behind on updating the site with new releases from the Warner Archive. So let’s take a short break from the Halloween posts and see what some of the recent releases are. We start with a selection of films starring James Cagney.

- The St. Louis Kid (1934)
– Devil Dogs of the Air (1935)
– The Irish in Us (1935)
– Boy Meets Girl (1938)

We also have a bunch of films returning to DVD after being long out of print…

- Blow-Up (1966)
– The Colossus of Rhodes (1961)
– I Love You, Alice P Toklas! (1968)
– Love in the Afternoon (1957)
– Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941)