Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jamie Lee Curtis as Jamie Lee Curtis in....

Today I decided it was high time i watch another good old fashioned slasher. A look through my netflix instant queue, (which, in my opinion, has every slasher movie that netflix offers and is worthy of viewing on it,) i decided on a movie that immediately followed Friday the Thirteenth part one, a movie that many consider to be one of the first of THE low budget slasher craze--Terror Train.

It's pretty easy to tell that this is right after Friday the Thirteenth, and I'd say it's probably still riding on Jamie Lee's success in Halloween. There isn't too much about it that makes it special, but it certainly has its moments.

So it's your pretty standard prank goes wrong at a frat graduation party and the victim exacts revenge on the tricky jokesters/murderers (Wait, what?) Anyways, it all started freshmen year when Doc whatever was hazing somebody or something, (its kinda foggy,) and he tries to get Jamie Lee to sleep with him or something(the kid he was hazing.) However, it turns out that the kid has some sort of strange disorder that makes him kill people, then look at his hands really freaky, then spin around a lot.
I don't know if you can tell, but this is a dude spinning around with no explanation

Cut to four years later, and we have Jamie Lee and best friend, and their boyfriends, on a train with the rest of...(the fraternity? the school?) having a...costume party? on New Years?
Yeah, they didn't give too much explanation as to why everyone was celebrating like Halloween when it was not, but i guess it was a pretty practical move. One of the coolest things about this movie is that the killer, (guys, the killer is the kid from the beginning who kills people, sorry for the spoilers,) takes the costume of whomever he kills. So you never really know if the guy you're randomly trying to have sex with to get revenge on your boyfriend is your old buddy Jack, or a psycho in a lizard suit
Either way, he's wearing a lizard suit, and you shouldn't try to seduce him
I guess the reason it was New Years instead of Halloween was so, A) they wouldn't be so obvious about coasting off of the movie Halloween, which Jamie Lee was in just two short years ago, and B) so it could be less than zero degrees outside. The other fear factor in this movie is that, even once they find out there's a killer on the train, (after an impressively quick fourty five minutes,) they can't get off the train, because for some reason they're in the arctic in December.

My other favorite part about this film is the Ahab. (Quick literary lesson my friends! I learned the other day that the technical term for an Ahab is a deus ex machina, or machine of the gods. Yay!) The adults in this film are pretty stereotypical--it consists of two sort of hillbilly characters who swear that railroad travel is coming back, and one conductor, our honorable Ahab, who is sort of going for a...Hitchcockian kind of character? 
In any case, he's pretty badass, if you will, and he's the one to find out that somebody's doin' some killin' on this here train. Everytime he sees a dead body, he goes "Mhyyy gohhd" all oldpersonish and it's just fantastic. When he tells Jamie Lee that her best friend is dead, the following conversation between them ensues:

JL-Who would do that to her?
Conductor-Probably some kid. Messed up on dope. Alchohol....
JL-I know these people. They wouldn't do this.
Conductor-Yeah, of course not. Probably some nut just snuck on the train.
Jamie's reassured face
Aside from those two features, it was pretty formulaic and uninteresting. David Copperfield was in it for some reason, probably because some director decided to make a movie with David Copperfield in it and formulated the entire story around him. Unfortunately, because of the lighting on trains at night, the whole movie was ill-lit, and it was constantly hard to tell what was going on. Special effects were too simple to be really ridiculous, but not very well done...

Oh Mitchy! How'd you get that lipstick all over your teeth?
The ending was bizzare, even though the climax all happened and i'm pretty sure Jamie Lee killed like three people in presumed self defense, there were at least five minutes until she actually confronted the killer, during which everyone kinda chilled out and assumed the killer was dead, and Jamie Lee kept jumping around like a schizophrenic homeless man. The confrontation though, was really very good, and there was a more emotional attachment between killer and survivor girl that a plot usually sets up for. It had a nice repeat of the beginning where the killer spins around a lot for no apparent reason. 
Oh my god, my hands! These were here last time I killed somebody!
But the meat of the matter is, i had two general slasher movie realizations.
One little one is about comic relief. The comic relief in this one was a dude named Charlie, and i loved him a lot. He was Jamie Lee's best friend, and comforted her when her boyfriend was sleeping with some other girl, and did impressions of some senator that i don't know about because i wasn't born, let alone aware of politics, in 1980. And even though i knew he was the comic relief, because he had a funny hat and smiled a lot, he wasn't actually funny. Not even a little bit. He was happy, he made me happy, but he didn't make me laugh out loud. And this is the case in a lot of movies--you know who the comic relief is, you know they're gonna get killed, but they're not actually funny at all.

Realization two, that a major theme is graduation parties. This is the case in Graduation day, (duh,) House on Sorority Row, this one, Rosemary's Killer, Final Destination, and I'm sure plenty of others. This is a real sting for teenagers like myself that movies like these are aimed at. I'm graduating at the end of this school year, and everyone's psyched. It's a pretty big deal, needless to say. Imagine you're in a slasher movie, and you've just gotten through four years of high school or college without getting killed. You had sex and did drugs all the time--but you made it anyways! You even have that one friend who stayed a virgin and got good grades! So you're partyin' it up like never before--but suddenly something snaps. Is it that you're partyin' has just breached the edge of what the local serial killers will tolerate? Is it because that kid you accidentally lit on fire your sophomore year just now is getting out of the hospital? Or is it because the forces of death are just so cruel that they waited until you thought you were out of the woods, out of the dark, into the light, and then BANG! You get a pickaxe in the throat? 
Well, my friends, the answer is that the director knows what you're afraid of. They want to get you where you're safe, where you feel the most invincible, and teenagers must feel no more invincible than when they graduate. The biggest threat of their tiny lives is gone--they can't not graduate now, they can't not get into college now, the threat of all their most severe punishments is essentially gone. Goals have been reached. You got what you wanted out of high school. You even got away with that crazy prank that left that one kid permanently disfigured. 

Also, is this guys jedi cloak knitted?