Jamie Lee Curtis was just 19 when she made her big screen debut as Last Girl Laurie Strode in John Carpenter’s classic horror Halloween (1978). Now 63 and with a long career to brag about, Curtis is considered Hollywood royalty and has made a name for herself as one of horror’s most iconic Scream Queens: a title she coincidentally shares with his mother, psychology actress Janet Leigh.
Despite this legacy, Curtis’ appearance in two post-horrorsHalloween easily glides the radar; these films, both released in 1980, aretrain of terror and prom night. Both slashers with teenage victims, these later horrors might revel in gore and gore like Carpenter’s classic, but that’s where the similarities end. contrary to Halloween, which spawned its own franchise and several remakes, train of terror and prom night flopped with critics and audiences. And a look at them explains why.
The directorial debut of Roger Spottiswoode train of terror follows a group of teenage friends whose prank on a clumsy promise comes back to haunt them. Here, Curtis plays Alana, a band member who plays a central role in the prank. At the behest of the sadistic Doc (Hart Bochner), Alana lures victim Kenny (Derek McKinnon) into a bedroom where he is shocked to find the dismembered corpse of an old lady.
Three years later, the group celebrates the New Year with a costume party on a train. It is revealed that Kenny was institutionalized after the hazing, although his whereabouts are unknown now. As the revelers distract themselves with sex and magic, Kenny reappears to kill the friends one by one, and by alternating between flirting and masking his victims, he manages to do so for a painful 80 minutes.
As many critics have argued, train of terror didn’t need to be that long, and since it is, the movie could have done a better job of building suspense. Although the identity of the killer is kept secret until the end, it is abundantly clear that Kenny is the terror on the train. He’s the only character with a motive, and his staging of revenge – especially the decapitating bodies – is far from subtle as it references his own trauma. Moreover, the setting of the film is far from ideal. While the idea of being stuck on a train with a crazed killer is terrifying, the novelty of this concept wears off very quickly, and seeing the same scenes over and over again leaves audiences feeling as smothered as can be. train of terrorThe passengers.
by Paul Lynch prom night follows a killer determined to avenge the death of a young girl who was bullied by her classmates. In this film, Curtis plays Kim, the deceased girl’s older sister. Although it seems like a minor role, Kim is at the center of prom night as the prom queen who is tied to the bullies and, ultimately, the killer as well. Regarding the first, Kim is dating one of them, and another is her best friend. Of course, Kim doesn’t know what happened so many years ago: that these people helped her sister scare to death in a game of hide and seek. And as such, she can’t understand why a crazed maniac would target them on the anniversary of her sister’s death, nothing less.
With its prom backdrop and central theme of revenge, many have compared the film to a “watered down Carrie.” And that’s a pretty accurate description. Much less scary than Carrie, prom night is also less innovative as it regurgitates horror tropes without bringing anything new to the table. Like train of terror, the killer is pretty obvious too. Audiences only have to pay attention to who off-screen during the murders to figure this one out.
Even if, for better or for worse, prom night has more fun times than train of terror. Besides the overly dramatic acting – a requisite for any 80s horror – the sleazy rebel Lou (David Mucci) provides laughs, as does Curtis herself when, as Kim, she fights with her boyfriend Prom King Nick (Casey Stevens) at Zazza’s “Tonight is Prom Night” Paul. Is this sequence moved? Yes. Is that a bit corny? Yes too. But three minutes of this prom is better than 90 minutes of this prom night.
train of terror is available to watch on Shudder, and prom night is available to watch on Hulu.
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