Damn you, Vinegar Syndrome…
You release so many movies that I need to not only see, but also write about in near manic volume. This time around, not only do you have me at a movie that I remember seeing constantly at video stores in the 80s and 90s, but you also have me going all in on an anthology flick. This is new levels of villainy, VS.
But not only that, this week’s feature, Night Train to Terror, is infamously known as being among some of the hammiest and worst cinema could possibly offer. What’s curious is that this movie isn’t without some interesting people. There’s B-Movie awesome guy, Cameron Mitchell. That seems pretty solid. I’ve seen lots of his work. There’s also John Phillip Law. He was in Barbarella. Together, Law and Mitchell were in Space Mutiny! How could this possibly be bad?
Don’t answer that.
This movie is cobbled together like some Frankenstein project from three other movies: 1980’s Cataclysm, 1983’s Death Wish Club (which is packaged under one of its alternate titles, Gretta, with the Vinegar Syndrome release of Night Train to Terror), and 1981’s Scream Your Head Off. I know from the Wikipedia page that this movie is well known for its bad acting and bad editing that bring about continuity errors. Great. The continuity errors is what will make me lose sleep. Oh yeah, sometimes these goddamn movies I watch drive me so crazy that I become a tad obsessive with them and continuity errors is a definite trigger for that in me.
Oh well. I’m sure my day job won’t mind if I call in for the 134th time due to manic obsessive continuity disorder, otherwise known as MY LIFE.
Alright, so here we go. The movie begins with our titular night train headed toward terror screaming (kind of literally actually) down the track and, holy fuckballs do we get smacked with the 80s right out of the gate. Like the 1980s decided to break into our house, ties us to our chair and then smacked us in the face with its dick. Just… Just look.
See? Anyway, there’s a guy who looks a lot like Benson at the beginning of the movie. He’s the conductor on this train. What’s cut out is him going into a room and talking to this old guy in a white tux and another old guy in a black tux sitting at a malfunctioning Centipede arcade table that all the cool Pizza Huts had back then. Guess who these assholes are. Just guess. Here, let me give you visual reference:
Yup… It’s Anthony Hopkins and Robert Forster… Er, I mean God and the Devil. They are the framing mechanism for our anthology. I’m guessing they will be wagering this or that and collecting souls, etc. You see, the train wrecks at dawn. But I guess God is cool with this. Satan is all about it, naturally.
So after some small talk about whether or not the Devil could ever return to heaven to sit at God’s side once again, and some faux-intellectual crap concerning the nature of good and evil, blah blah blah, we see God and the Satan literally turn to the window of the train and watch it like a TV as the first story begins. This one features John Phillip Law. Harry (Law) is a newlywed, but he and his bride had a terrible wreck that killed her and lands him in the asylum where he meets his hot doctor.
A shitty voice over introduces this like an episode of The Twilight Zone. Harry is a hard drinkin’, car drivin’, lady lovin’ jerk. The doc leaves his room and goes into the room next to his where there’s just a random naked lady strapped to a gurney. Then it cuts to Harry getting electroshock therapy before it cuts again to a couple asking for a phone to use but one of them gets killed. Now Harry is under hypnosis and a different doctor than the hot lady tells him to use this tablet to knock someone out and he’s at a bar.
What the fuck is happening in this movie? Eight minutes in and I want to use the Scanners head explosion gif to help illustrate how I feel.
Okay, Harry is at church now. As for the naked lady on the gurney earlier? Richard Moll came in and killed her. Oh yeah, Richard Moll is in this movie too. At church, Harry slips the tablet that one doctor gave him into this hot blonde babe’s communion wine. Cut to she’s naked on a gurney and he’s apologizing to her. When a guy comes looking for her, she’s all vegged out.
Smash cut to a diner where a brunette babe is getting a roofied drink. Smash cut to her at the hospital being chased by Moll. She finds a woman who hanged herself before being cleavered by Moll. Then Harry wakes up from a dream and he’s possibly fucking the hot doctor lady? Elsewhere, Richard Moll straps another babe in a bikini to a bed.
I know what you’re thinking right now. I know you probably think that Geoff’s off his meds again. No movie could ever possibly be this disjointed or this completely fucked. Well, let me tell you, I AM off my meds, but this movie is completely fucked as well. Like it’s a cadence of John Phillip Law doing something or experiencing a fucking weirdo thing, followed by Richard Moll torturing a babe, followed by Law doing or experiencing something fucked, followed by Moll cutting up a babe. Rinse. Repeat.
This is not a movie. Yes, I know this was a movie that was cobbled together by cutting up three other movies, but it’s not even competent. It is impossible to make a movie in this manner. Godfrey Ho was able to take half of a movie, and film new shit to fill out the other half and actually try to make a movie – maybe not so coherent, but it kind of fit together in some sort of way. This…? This is serious cockamamie bullfuck.
You wanna know what the deal is here? So this hospital abducts people, cuts them up, and sells the body parts to medical schools all over the world. Doctors get rich. Hot lady doctor betrays the old man doctor and drugs and lobotomizes him. Harry, says he wants to return to his normal life. He’s going to escape and free the captive girls. old man doctor ultimately gets revenge on doctor lady and Law and Moll fight. Satan collects the two doctors while Harry gets a sentence of 100 years in purgatory.
You know what I realized? If you were to take one of my B-Movie Enema articles and film it, it would be like this movie. That said, THAT IS NOT HOW YOU MAKE A FUCKING MOVIE. Again, yes, this is a movie made from cut up bits of multiple movies, but fuuuuuck. They squished a full length movie into like 18 minutes with very little explanation for the missing connective tissue that made the other movie compelling.
Fucking Christ… there are still two more movies.
Alright, so here we are with movie number two – the story of Greta Connors. Satan really likes her. I can see why. She’s one hot popcorn girl…? Fuck. I’m left with making lewd comments about some hot babe selling popcorn.
Greta is a small town girl who wanted to be a musician, but this guy basically took advantage of her. Instead of making her a movie star, he turned her into a porn star. A college guy who went to the frat watching one of her stag films falls in love with her. He tracks Greta down and they fall in love.
Please let that be the end of this segment…FUCK.
No, sadly, it is not the end of this segment. We get montages of college guy and Greta going to the fair, doing lovey dovey things and I’m left thinking that this montage is still fucking here, but they are going to cut the fuck out of this movie into an unrecognizable mish mash of dickcock.
George is the guy who took advantage of Greta and plans to fuck over her and her lover boy, Glenn. To do so, he takes them to “The Death Club”. This place is where George and some other weirdos like to play games that might might help them experience death. You know, like Russian Roulette, or fucking about with this fucking thing:
I’m going to… Hmmm… I’ll try to be as completely honest and succinct with my feeling when I watch this segment. *Ahem*
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?!?
Seriously. What the fuck am I watching. You think, “Oh this is kind of nice. This has narration. This has a sweet little love story about a college kid and his porno girlfriend. It has this flying stop-motion bug. A-whaaaaa? When you think that’s about as weird as it gets, the bug gets out, stings a guy on the face while he is fucking his girlfriend causing his face to rupture all over the girl. But then Prince and the Revolution start playing with a fucking torture machine…
Until he melts into a dog turd.
Greta is all like, “Fuck you, creep!” to the old man who keeps fucking about with her life. She tells him she’s out and she’s going to marry Glen the next day. However, they get captured by the murder club and forced to play with a wrecking ball. Luckily, the ball smashes in a different lady’s head. God gets to keep Glen and Greta. And everything wraps up real nice and tidy and quick-like.
What’s really unfortunate about that is that the Greta segment was far superior to the confusing mashed potatoes of horrible that the first segment was. It had narration. It had enough of something to root for with the characters. It wasn’t that bad. In fact, I would like to watch the original Gretta movie – even with that dumb bug thing. However, it felt like this part was the quickest and shortest. That’s no way to make me like your movie, movie.
We move to the third segment which is all about Claire Hansen. Naturally, it has Nazis…
Ugh… Why did it have to be these guys?
Apparently Claire has nightmares about these Nazi dudes and this one in particular who is an SS officer and a real scary dude. Basically, he looks like a vampire. He’s seen on the television in the present by this old Jewish man who survived the holocaust and he looks the same.
Fuck. I just figured it out, didn’t I? Vampire Nazi? Some sort of undead Nazi? Shit.
Good news, though, Cameron Fuckin’ Mitchell is here as a police lieutenant that the old Jewish man goes to try to get help from. Mitchell goes to help the old man, but he doesn’t believe the Nazi is the same guy as they saw that evening. We get some good Cameron Mitchell line delivery and this only makes me wish there was some sort of Cameron Mitchell and William Shatner über-movie out there that would have let them just be themselves and kick a bunch of ass all over the place.
The old man goes to kill the Nazi himself only to run afoul of some fucking crazy ass monsters! With vampire teeth. God-fucking-dammit… Vampire Nazis. I hate that I already know what the twist is.
Meanwhile, Claire’s husband is Richard Moll. Jesus… The poor guy was in two of these fucking messes. He makes a public statement about how he discovered God never existed. He declares a society must be built upon the notion that there was never any type of higher power – that God is dead.
Aw, shit… Somebody call the Newsboys. And then make some christploitation movies, stat! Oh… Looks like they already did!
Whew… Crisis averted. Monster Nazi was watching with his cabal of babes. A strange bearded man comes to Richard Moll to warn he is going to Hell if he keeps up this business. He reveals a “666” tattoo that the old man had seared onto his abdomen when he was killed. He insists that the devil is coming and he is only trying to help them.
At a real hoppin’ disco, Cameron Mitchell continues to follow and watch the Nazi vampire dude. The bad guy sets his sights on a waitress at the disco. He takes her home and before they are going to play hide the skin flute, he reveals his cloven hoof. Okay, maybe this Nazi isn’t a vampire, but maybe the Devil? But isn’t the Devil watching and judging? Are there two devils? Is this like Ghosts ‘N Goblins and there is a Satan and The Devil?
Oh whatever. Some guy from the disco waits for the babe to come back from the Nazi’s house. When she gets dumped out of a limo, he goes to see what’s up. He gets killed by a claymation monster. I’m not kidding. Not only is he killed by a monster made of claymation awesomeness, but he also turns into a little Play-Doh man so they can have a wide shot of both him and the creature that steps on him and squishes him.
I can’t make this shit up if I tried. No shit… The movie turns into an episode of Moral Orel for about 15 seconds. But remember that part in which that Hansen dude (Moll) was writing about God being dead and shit? Well, his wife receives a box from a priest, made from wood that came from the real cross that our main man Jeez was crucified on, to get that Nazi scumfucker’s heart and lock it away.
Meanwhile, the homeless monk guy who was trying to protect the Hansens earlier goes to take on the Devil and gets his ass handed to him by Ishtar and drug to Hell by a weird spider monster thing. These are things I just typed.
Ugh… We’re just barely gonna make it across this finish line, boys and girls. I’m exhausted from all the weird contortions this movie is making my face do. So Cameron Mitchell and his cop partner are getting closer to figuring out the mystery of the devil Nazi. The partner is killed by gas and when Cameron Mitchell tries to get the guy out of the car, it apparently blows up? Are they both dead? Is Cameron Mitchell, the best thing about this fuck heap of a movie dead?
Meanwhile, devil Nazi and Hansen square off. Devil Nazi says he should join them, eat some peanut butter sandwiches, drink some Jolt cola and be cool. Hansen is all like, “Nah, I have a peanut allergy.” In a totally appropriate response, devil Nazi turns into a claymation figure, which also causes Richard Moll to turn into some sort of Gumby creature and gets burned on a cross. Now it’s time for Mrs. Hansen to SPRING INTO ACTION! She hits devil Nazi with her car and she takes him to a hospital where she plans to cut his fucking heart out and put it in the Jesus Box.
However… While she is operating on the heart, a student or her assistant or someone (I swear we haven’t seen this person before and I don’t know what you tell this person to end up helping you cut a demon heart out of an ancient Nazi, but I digress), is overcome with the urge to stab the fuck out of the guy’s chest cavity. Shit goes crazy but Dr. Hansen gets that fucking heart and locks it away, but just a moment too late as the devil Nazi takes over her assistant’s body and kills Claire.
So evil wins I guess!
Additionally, it’s dawn now and it’s time for the train to wreck and kill the 80s band filming a music video or just doing music video things to no one in particular. Me personally, this band is annoying as all get out so I hope they die. Throw them to the fucking pits of Hell. Yeah, the train wrecks and everyone dies. But they just rock out for all eternity thanks to the Big G Man showing them pity and grace. The movie ends with the train continuing on for all eternity in the stars.
Hmmm… Harumpf… Mmm… Ahem… I see. Let me see if I can put this in terms as succinct as I made that question when I was really confused earlier during the first segment…
Fuck you, movie!
Ahhh… That actually felt pretty good. That was therapeutic in ways I can barely put into words. To be perfectly honest, segments two and three has some interesting shit in there. Yet, still, they are both truncated. There is much more left to make a story out of than the first segment with all the cuckoo bananas asylum slaughterhouse shit. That seemed like a way more complicated story that can’t just be butchered like that (pun totally intended).
Whatever. I’m glad I’m through this. I’m not swearing off anthologies forever. There are plenty of competent anthology movies out there. Hell, even Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders, a movie that basically does the same thing as Night Train to Terror, is a bunch more coherent. Next time, I’ll look at a legit anthology that was actually designed to be as such.
But not next week. Next week, I’m gonna go back to the Zombie well. Come back next week and we’ll talk to follow up to my previously covered Zombie with the appropriately titled Zombie 3…
Wait. What? Oh fuck it, I’ll explain it next week.