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Since the entirety of October is officially Halloween this year (shut up, you!), we at Psycho Drive-In have decided to attempt to fill the month with thirty-one recommendations for horror-related movies, comics, books, TV shows, toys, games, and everything in-between. It’s gonna be a grab-bag of goodies we feel you should be exposed to, whether you like it or not! But don’t expect your standard suggestions for Halloween fun, we’re digging into some stuff that we love in the hopes that you might make this October a little bit weirder than usual.

Weirder in a good way. Not like what’s going on outside in the hellscape of 2020.

Halloween is coming up, so I’ll bet you wanna be scared, right?

I don’t mean the kind of scared that comes from turning on the news, going on Facebook, or watching a presidential debate. For fuck’s sake, no. I mean the fun kind of scared. You know, like when some possibly undead killer in a mask is coming after you with a machete, or a demonic shape begins to form under the sheets while you’re trying to sleep.

Well, Night Train to Terror has some of those fun things that could scare you. That is, if you could stop laughing long enough to tremble.

Okay, so here’s why you’ve gotta see this movie.

The screen is dark. From out of the darkness, a low bass and violins come slashing, something flashing yellow neon. It’s the movie title, coming at you like . . . oh, like a train (clever, huh?) . . . getting bigger and closer and louder, until you’re a deer in the lights. Then, the scream of the train twists up with the scream of a girl, like someone dying, someone getting killed . . .

You hurl over the train, flying past window after window. The chugging death-wail of the wheels start to give it up to another sound, like the dial being cranked up on a stereo. Like one of those big-ass old boom boxes from the 80s. Mostly because it’s the generic sound of some wailing 80s guitar. Someone raises a shade and reveals a smoky train car of “teenagers” totally rockin’ out in a choreographed kinda way.

For some reason, there’s a band here, and I guess they’re filming a video. Or maybe it just looks like that because it’s 1985. None of these people seem like they’d be hanging out together, like they were all just thrown together in some kinda breakfast club deal. There’s Awkward Bird Girl and Badass Guitar Babe. There’s the Twirlers and that Lita Ford looking chick on the drums. There’s John Hughes Preppy Guy Who Would In No Way Ever Be Playing Guitar. 

And there’s the lead singer, Headband Dude.

He’s a rainbow of mismatched colors and styles, flailing about like a drunken frat boy. He might be Richard Simmons’ possibly non-gay nephew, cuz he’s got that kinda energy and those kinda moves. His back is to the camera until, in several quick cuts, he spins around to start singing:

“Daddy’s in the dining room, sortin’ through the news,

Mama’s at the shopping mall, buyin’ new shoes.

Everybody’s got somethin’ to do, everybody but you . . .”

Wait, what?

I thought this was a horror movie.

All the other “kids” start piling around Headband Dude, since he’s obviously ground zero for all the coolness. There’s lots of the White People Head-Nod Dance going on. Everyone looks like they’ve been doing coke, especially that girl in red who’s hanging all over Headband Dude.

“Come on and dance with me, dance with me,

Come on and dance with me, dance with me . . .”

What the hell am I watching?

Then the porter makes his way methodically up the center of all this, the only calm amidst a frenzied teenage dance orgy. He appears in the doorway of a cabin occupied by two old men. They look like an anorexic Santa Claus and someone from the less restrained side of Bela Lugosi’s family tree. Turns out, they are God and the Devil, and they’re trying to sort out who gets to keep the souls of a variety of people. It’s a kind of morality tale, you see, a horror movie version of the Job story.

I guess.

Satan says God created human beings to suffer. God says he made them for enjoyment. Watching this movie, I’d have to say it’s a little bit of both.

From here we cut to a screen behind them. The first of three stories starts to play, which is when you realize that you’re watching an anthology. Uh, kinda. The whole movie is a series of almost-feature films that were cut up and squeezed together to make . . . well, whatever this is. Because none of the stories makes sense either together or on their own, while the wager in the “train” part of the movie doesn’t really come together either. But it all doesn’t come together in a nonsensical clusterfuck of fun.

The first story has John Phillip Law, who was in Death Rides A Pale Horse (1967), appeared as the angel Pygar in Barbarella (1968), and snagged the title role in the action flick Danger: Diabolik (1968). He once played Sinbad, and an exorcist, then had a role on the soap opera The Young and the Restless. Well, now he gets to have a knock-down-drag-out with Bull from Night Court. Other than that, good luck figuring out what the hell he’s doing in this story. There’s a lotta naked chicks getting tortured by Bull, though, so if you’re into heaving breasts splattered with blood . . .

The second story is something about a couple who decides to hang out with some kinda death club. Not as many boobs, but there’s a really cool fake-ass demon wasp. I’m not sure why it’s there. I’m not sure anyone knows why it’s there, but it totally cock-blocks some horny teenager who has nothing to do with the couple or the death club.

The third chunk of this trifecta of terror starts out with Nazis. No, not the kind you saw on the Republican National Convention, but they don’t make much sense here either. Apparently one of them is the Devil . . . even though the Devil is supposedly on the train with God (and looks nothing like the guy in the other story) . . . and some old concentration camp survivor has recognized him. So he hires this detective to . . . fuck if I know. But the gumshoe is played by Cameron Mitchell. If you don’t know the name, look him up; he was only in about seven million movies.

Well, there’s stop-motion demon-thing, a bunch of really splattery gunshots, a defunct monk who looks like Rasputin, and Bull from Night Court again (this time playing some kinda God-is-dead writer). I’ve seen this movie three times now and still have absolutely no idea what the hell is happening. It’s just a total bad movie wonderland that’s a blast to watch while sensorially impaired.

In between each story, though, that’s where you’ll find your reason to watch. Because that band from the opening of the movie . . . they appear again each time, and each time they’re still singing that song. No, it’s not a good song. But goddamn it’s a catchy song. It will get in your head and take possession of your soul.     

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