Ah, 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.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
This 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.
The 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 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!