Terror Train (1980)

terror train poster 1980 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 6/10

Fun switch near the end, Jamie Lee Curtis and Ben Johnson

Dull parts

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Terror Train

Studio:  Astral Bellevue Pathe

Genre(s):  Horror/Seasonal

Release Date(s):  October 3, 1980

MPAA Rating:  R


Groucho? Really…At least I’m Godzilla or something

A group of freshmen from the Sigma Phi fraternity plan a New Year’s Eve prank on a fellow student.  When the stunt goes wrong, tragedy strikes.  Four years later, the freshmen are seniors and preparing for their last New Year’s celebration upon a rented train.  Unfortunately, a killer has made the way onto the train and is picking them off one by one.  As the conductor Carne (Ben Johnson) and one of the perpetrators of the joke named Alana Maxwell (Jamie Lee Curtis) find more and more bodies, the mysterious masked killer could be anyone.

Directed by Roger Spottiswoode, Terror Train was met with negative reviews.  Despite the criticism, the movie has gained a cult following and Jamie Lee Curtis’ success during this period of her career helped keep the film in the eye of horror fans.


Ok…I get it, you’re out to kill me…get in line buddy…

Terror Train is kind of fun in a generic ’70s or ’80s slasher flick.  The movie has enough murders and gore to be fun for fans of the genre, and it does try to do a little different plot with a switcheroo near the end and the mystery killer.  It isn’t great, but it does make more of an effort than many horror films.

Jamie Lee Curtis continues her reign as scream queen in this movie.  With Halloween, Prom Night, and The Fog plus Terror Train, Jamie Lee was a staple around this release.  I do have to admire a good screamer because it isn’t as easy as it seems…especially when trying to make it believable.  Curtis does a great job here and is backed by a nice supporting appearance by Ben Johnson who seems to be slumming it in this film after appearing in such great films like The Last Picture Show (for which he won an Oscar).


Oh David Copperfield, your magic melts my heart!

A rather amusing aspect of this film is the appearance of magician David Copperfield playing a magician for the train party.  A lot of time is spent on tricks and magic in this movie (plus defining the difference) and it is fitting that the ’80’s biggest named magician would appear.  Despite having made the Statue of Liberty disappear, he can’t save this movie from stumbling a number of places and at points becoming dull.

Terror Train is one of those movies that isn’t horrible, but at the same time isn’t great.  I think some of the criticism of the film when it was released were a bit harsh, but had some legitimacy.  The movie still is fun for horror fans and the twist ending is a bit fun and done decently.  I kind of wonder if there was a planned sequel due to the ending, but if there was, it never developed.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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