Friday, March 23, 2018

Night Train To Terror - Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray Review

Directors: John Carr, Phillip Marshak, Tom McGowan, Jay Schlossberg-Cohen, Gregg C. Tallas
Video: 1:85.1
Studio: Vinegar Syndrome
Region: ALL 
 Discs: 2 (1 Blu-ray, 1 DVD)

As I'm trying to get this site back up to speed, I was looking at some of my old unpublished drafts and I realized I had never actually posted my review of this one despite the fact that it was mostly finished. Which is a shame because this movie rules. And since this movie is included in their sale, it'll currently only cost you $12.50 now through the 26th. So here you go, 4-years later.

Night Train to Terror is a 1985 anthology film that was Frankensteined together using three separate films; Cataclysm from 1980, Death Wish Club (aka Gretta) from 1983 and an unfinished 1981 film called Scream Your Head Off.

The wrap-around story tying the three segments together follows a spooky night porter's walk through an equally spooky train. He passes through a car filled with the most shit-tastic band you can imagine, playing a shit-tastic song called Dance With Me. Before I go on, I should mention that you'll hear this song for roughly 12 minutes throughout the duration of the film, so if you don't like the first 10-seconds of this, you're in trouble. In between each of the story segments we are treated to more footage of this same band playing this same exact song. They cut to these guys 5 times in a 90 minute period and it's still that same song every time. These guys aren't one-hit wonders, they're one song wonders. Never mind hits, these guys never got around to writing a second song.

After exiting the music video portion of the train we find two men, God and Satan sitting at a table having a philosophical discussion. The night porter enters the car and Satan asks him for the time. (Wouldn't you think Satan would just know what time it was? And if not, couldn't he just manifest a watch or something?) After the time check, we then watch three stories unfold as God and Satan decide the fate of these unfortunate souls.

Story the first; John Phillip Law is Harry, a guy who is sent to an insane asylum (are there any other kind of asylums?) for accidentally killing his wife after Carnival of Soulsing his car over a bridge. The story is actually a bit hard to follow on this one, but basically the Thunderbirds-faced Harry uses his marionette-like good looks to lure women back to the asylum, where Otto (Richard Moll, Night Court) strips the women, fondles their naked bits, then hacks their bodies up. Once the bodies are hacked the parts are haphazardly strewn about the inside of a cooler, and eventually some other dudes who aren't important enough to have names show up, sort the parts and illegally sell them to medical schools.

The second story tells the tale of Gretta, a beautiful young carnival worker with musical aspirations who is wooed, and forced into porn by an older man. A guy named Glenn attends a smut party (which is like a circle jerk, only minus the circle and the jerk) and catches a glimpse of Gretta in the night's porno screening. He instantly falls madly in love with her and decides he must track the girl down. Luckily it's not considered stalking if the girl you're stalking finds you attractive, so the two begin a relationship.

This doesn't sit well at all with the gigolo who still considers Gretta his property, so he forces Glenn to join a "death club". A death club is basically a club where the members sit around in a circle and perform various Russian Roulette style games (though they never actually play Russian Roulette). For example, during one of their club meetings the club members lie on the floor in sleeping bags while a 1500 pound ball on a rope spins around a room with a saw slowly cutting the rope on each rotation. Once the ball falls, whoever is under the ball gets to be killed by the ball. That's it. That's the game. And every game they play is like that. Every game ends with a person dying brutally. It's not a very well thought out club, but I assume the membership fees are on the low side.

In the third story, we are introduced to an old Jewish man named Weiss who is convinced that Olivier, the Nazi who killed his family is still alive and well 30 years later. Sure, it's possible for a Nazi to be alive 30 years later, but here's the thing, 30 years after the war, Olivier is still a young man in his 20s, which doesn't make any sense unless of course, he is an immortal servant of Satan. Weiss enlists the help of a professional Nazi Hunter lazy cop (Cameron Mitchell) and published atheist James Hansen (Richard Moll, again) to track Olivier down. When the cop is unable to help Weiss, the old man decides to take matters into his own hands. This is when this movie goes from weird-as-shit to full-on insanity.

On paper, these stories don't sound all that weird but strap in before taking the Night Train To Terror because you have no idea of the madness you're about to be subjected to once you hit the play button.  This was one of my favorite discoveries in years. At no point during this movie was I at all sure what was going to happen from one minute to the next. And somehow, despite the fact that this is comprised of three completely unrelated films directed by three different directors, it works, these stories all seem like they were made to be a part of this anthology. If I didn't know this wasn't a planned anthology, I don't think I would've even realized.

If you're someone who needs their movies to make sense, or you know, be good, then Night Train To Terror will probably drive you insane. However, if you're an adventurous trash fan like myself, looking for somewhere to hurl your own insults and bad jokes you must seek out a copy at once.

Things to watch for:
Satan asks a guy for the time
Extreme Saxophone
Claymation Dismemberment
8 Heads in a Meat Locker
Satanic Surgery

Special Features:
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
 Interview with Producer/Director Jay Schlossberg-Cohen
Interview with Assistant Editor Wayne Schmidt
Commentary by The Hysteria Continues
Theatrical Trailer
Bonus film Gretta (DVD only)

Vinegar Syndrome has done their usual stellar work on this release, as you'll see from the screenshots below, the transfer on this release looks incredible. Although it's listed as an interview, this is actually an audio commentary from Jay Schlossberg-Cohen, and it's very informative about how this oddity came to be. There's also a commentary by The Hysteria Continues team which is always a welcome feature. The DVD included in this combo pack also includes the full version of the film Gretta that the middle portion of Night Train to Terror is lifted from.

As I was going through to make screenshots I ended up with around 70 shots because there is just so much cool shit going on in this movie that I couldn't stop clicking the capture button. The effects range from morbidly grotesque to mind-shatteringly terrible. On more than one occasion a character's death is depicted by Celebrity Death Match level claymation figures. If you can look at these screenshots and not purchase this immediately after, you're a stronger person than me.


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