Directed by Roger Spottiswoode
Jamie Lee Curtis, David Copperfield, Ben Johnson, Hart Bochner, Derek McKinnon, Sandee Currie, Timothy Webber
IMDb 5.9/10 Rotten Tomatoes 33% Metacritic NO DATA
This is another classic horror movie from the start of the slasher genre era. Jamie Lee Curtis, though she hates slasher films and isn’t into horror at all, took full advantage of the opportunities horror films afforded her and she capitalized on it.
In this film, she is enlisted to help play a prank on a fellow college student. He’s not one of the jocks or popular kids at all and while pledging a fraternity, the brothers take great enjoyment in humiliating this pledge, along with many others.
The joke is supposed to be a simple (yet disgusting) prank. On New Year’s Eve, the upperclassmen in the frat put a corpse in a bed, a rotting corpse, mind you. Then, Alana (played by Curtis) is supposed to hide behind the bed and entice Kenny (McKinnon) to kiss her…HER being the corpse. Now, Alana doesn’t know that a dead body is in the bed. She thinks it’s another college student or a mannequin or something.
The ones perpetrating this horrible joke are Mo and Doc. Mo and Alana are somewhat dating; I think they have different views of what their relationship really is. Doc is dating a girl named Michelle but, everyone calls her Mitchy and Doc seems less than committed, as does Mitchy. I guess they have an understanding about their relationship. Mitchy and Alana are best friends. Doc is an asshole. He doesn’t think much of anyone, except himself. Mo is quite the putz too, if I do say so myself.
The prank goes the way they intended and then goes horribly wrong. Kenny is so distraught afterwards, he is committed to a psychiatric facility. The rest of them just go on with their lives.
Three years later, they have another party for New Year’s. This one is on a train. They’ve got the whole train to themselves and are all geared up for a fabulous evening of costumes, drinking, sex and partying. Sounds like typical college kids, right?
Well, while they are on the train, those involved in the prank start to die. The killer has snuck onto the train and with each kill grows more and more brazen. He even changes costumes a couple of times, taking the costumes of his victims, in order to be able to glide through the crowd with no questions asked.
Eventually, Mo is dead, along with Mitchy and some others. Doc and Alana think they figure out who the killer is…the random magician that they didn’t hire who conveniently showed up on the train and did a few shows. They also figure out that the magician may very well be Kenny. With this realization Alana informs Doc that she went to see him after he was hospitalized. She says the staff wouldn’t let her see him and that he killed someone…all due to their ridiculous prank. While searching for the magician (Copperfield) and his assistant, Doc tries to hide by locking himself in a room. Unfortunately, the killer is in the room and he soon kills Doc.
Soon, Alana and the killer come face to face. It is confirmed that it’s Kenny and well, Kenny is holding a grudge. He gets ahold of Alana and during a short conversation, she tries to tell him how sorry she is for what happened with the prank. He doesn’t believe her and angrily forces her to kiss him. When she reluctantly does, it causes Kenny to relive the horrifying experience of the prank and it sends him into a psychotic downward spiral. At this time, one of the train workers comes into the room and beats Kenny down with a shovel (I’m assuming a coal shovel). Kenny loses balance and falls off the train into icy water below the bridge they are traveling over, presumably to his death.
I really enjoyed this movie. Although the story seemed somewhat jutted and choppy, it still came together with a great reveal moment, that I didn’t unveil here in the review. I truly just summed up this time, as there are things I didn’t want to spoil for you.
I am a huge Jamie Lee Curtis fan. I do call her The Scream Queen. She’s just perfect for horror movies, no matter how much she doesn’t like them. And they have made her millions. And rightfully so. She does a great job in this film although, she is not as innocent and clueless as she seemed to be in Halloween. By this time, she’d already made Halloween, Prom Night and The Fog.
The true horror of this film is that douchebags like Mo and Doc actually exist. These two really are pieces of work…or crap…whichever way you want to put it. They both seem to like the idea of having a permanent girlfriend but, also both seem to think that as long as “girlfriend” isn’t in the room, they can do whatever they want…and whoever they want. I can’t say that Mitchy is a fantastic friend either. I mean, at one point she’s consoling Alana about Mo and then later in the movie, she’s sneaking off to a sleeper cabin to have sex with him. (Quick thought: Do NONE of these kids think about all the fluid transfer that is going on here? After all, STD’s and such DID exist in 1980 and WERE known about. Yet these kids are boarding a train with a one-way ticket to a f*%#fest. Yikes! And honestly, it’s not like they are hot, good looking young folks here. You look at Alana and then at Mo and you can’t help but wonder, is she REALLY attracted to this guy??? Him???
Anyways, I can see why this film would get a lot of viewers. It’s a good 1980s slasher flick. I expected a little more blood but, I was still satisfied with what I got. I couldn’t help but notice that Jamie Lee Curtis’ character had a slightly different feel, more experienced maybe…definitely not as much of the perfect virgin like she is portrayed in Halloween. But, still she absolutely has an innocence about her in this film that can’t be denied.
I think this is worth watching at least once. Seeing as how it was made at the height of the slasher era it’s worth seeing once. It is, after all, one of the more iconic early slasher films.