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night train to terror



Actually saw this awful anthology in a theater back in 1985 when it was first released. It finds God (Ferdy Mayne) and The Devil (Tony Giorgio) on a train fated to crash at dawn, competing for the souls of three individuals. This sets up three stories that determines who gets their souls. The first is The Case of Harry Billings which finds Harry (John Phillip Law) taken to a sinister insane asylum where he is made to lure beautiful women there for nefarious purposes. The second is The Case of Greta Connors which tells the tale of a wannabe actress, Greta (Meredith Haze), who is rescued from life as a porn star by a young man (J. Martin Sellers), only to find herself and her lover in a death cult. Final tale is The Case of  Claire Hansen, which finds devout Catholic Claire (Faith Clift) getting mixed up in apocalyptic evil doings along with her atheist, author husband (Richard Moll). Framing segments also feature a band performing the same song over and over on the ill-fated train, for whatever reason.

Flick is culled together from three separate full length movies, and with the framing segments, has five directors credited to it…,Jay Schlossberg-Cohen, John Carr, Phillip Marshak, Tom McGowan and Gregg C. Tallas. Ironically, all three films were written by Philip Yordan and he receives sole writing credit for this one, too. While it might not be fair to speak for the films this is edited down from, unless you’ve seen them, but what we do see of them isn’t good. As for Night Train, it is a terrible movie from the acting to the FX and sometimes hilariously so, though not enough to make it fun. It can also be tedious at only 98 minutes, the stories barely follow a narrative structure and even some veteran actors, like Cameron Mitchell and John Philip Law deliver terrible performances. When surrounded by friends, it was a hoot to watch it in it’s awfulness back in the day, but revisiting it from the couch streaming on Tubi, not so much. It’s simply a bad movie in every way and most likely someone’s attempt to get back money spent on the three turkeys it’s edited down from. It has gained some cult status, over the years, but not sure it deserves it. It’s really just that bad.

In conclusion, Night Train To Terror might have some 80s nostalgia and some personal nostalgia, too, but it is simply an awful anthology cut together from what appears to be three equally terrible movies. The FX, dialogue, sets and acting are almost all bargain basement and only Ferdy Mayne and Tony Giorgio as God and The Devil, respectively, offer anything noteworthy to the audience, as the two actors do play their parts effectively well. At least the dialogue between them was interesting and fairly well written. A simply dreadful anthology and not in a good way.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 1 and 1/2 (out of 4) train signals!

night train to terror rating





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Silent Scream (1979) (full review HERE) is a late 70s/early 80s slasher flick that actually began production before Halloween was released and started the whole 80s slasher craze. Production woes stalled it’s release till 1979, where it quite possibly benefited from the success of Carpenter’s classic. The film has earned a following in it’s own right and is currently available in a special edition blu-ray from Scorpion Releasing.

Four college students may have made a fatal room renting mistake in 1979’s Silent Scream!


As for the disc itself….

The high definition transfer of this cult classic slasher looks really good, especially for a low budget film made over 40 years ago. The colors are vibrant and the picture clear, with little wear visible from the original inter-positive source. The film is presented in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio with a 1080 high definition transfer. The sound options give you a choice between DTS 5.1 or DTS 2.0, the latter sounding better if you don’t have a surround sound system.

Now on to the extras….

There are some very nice and informative extras on this disc! This special edition contains three featurettes which include interviews with writers Jim and Ken Wheat along with star Rebecca Balding. Scream of Success:30 Years Later and Silent Scream: The Original Script both feature all three guests, not only talking about the making of the film, but the extensive reshoots and rewrites after the film was initially thought to be unreleasable. The Wheat Brothers: A Look Back has the two sibling writers talking about their careers and how they became involved in the project. There is also a short interview with star Balding discussing this flick and The Boogens. The next extra was bittersweet. It’s the last interview with director Denny Harris conducted over the phone and only days before he passed away. One can tell he is not well, but still passionate and proud of his work. There is also a TV spot, some radio spots, the theatrical trailer and some audio commentary; one track with the Wheats and Balding, and another with legendary horror icon Barbara Steele, which is exclusive to this Blu-ray. Some fun extras!


In the Engels’ attic closet, no one can hear you scream as pretty Scotty (Rebecca Balding) finds out.


Silent Scream is a cult classic slasher that is a good example of the way these flicks were made after Halloween and before Friday the 13th upped the ante and made 80s slashers more about gore and kills than suspense and atmosphere. It’s not perfect and it’s production problems caused it to be re-written with a large portion re-shot before it’s eventual release. All these years later, thanks to Scorpion Releasing, it’s now getting the restoration and treatment it deserves.

-MonsterZero NJ



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(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

1979 slasher flick finds pretty college student Scotty (The Boogens’ Rebecca Balding), renting a room in the house of the strange Mrs. Engels (Lily Munster herself, Yvonne DeCarlo) and her equally weird son Mason (Brad Rearden). She is there with three other students, Doris (Juli Andelman), Peter (John Widelock) and Jack (Steve Doubet). Soon her roommates start to be gruesomely murdered, one buy one and Scotty may be next. Is the mysterious person sequestered away in the Engels’ attic responsible…or is it someone else?

Flick is directed by Denny Harris with a script by Wallace E. Bennett, along with Ken and Jim Wheat. The film actually started filming a year before Halloween was released, but production woes and major rewrites and reshoots postponed it’s release until 1979. Coming out a year later, the film may have benefited from the success of Carpenter’s slasher hit and Silent Scream became a hit in it’s own right. The film follows a popular slasher plot-line whereas folks are staying in a spooky old house, with some strange owners and a hidden secret stalking the unsuspecting guests. The body count is rather small, as Friday the 13th was still a few months away and would soon make larger body counts part of the formula. The kills are bloody but simple and the pace is moderate, as with most slasher flicks of the early 80s. As per the traditional format, there are some fun, though not unexpected reveals in the last act and it does have some unsettling moments. It’s not very scary, but can be very atmospheric, especially with the old house setting and some effective villains in the Engels.

The cast range from good to simply adequate. Balding makes a solid heroine as Scotty and Steve Doubet makes for a satisfactory hero/love interest as Jack. Veteran Yvonne DeCarlo is creepy as Mrs. Engels, Brad Rearden is effective as her odd son Mason and the legendary Barbara Steele is also disturbing as Victoria, Engels’ demented daughter. Juli Andelman and John Widelock overact a bit as Doris and Peter, while Cameron Mitchell and Avery Schreiber are doing by-the-numbers work as a pair of cops investigating the deaths. Overall, the cast works well enough.

In conclusion, this is a decent enough slasher and one that benefits a lot now from nostalgia. It’s a fun watch and is a good example of the post Halloween, early 80s slashers in terms of body count, pacing and kills, before Friday the 13th came along and upped the ante. The cast work well enough, with Balding making a solid final girl and DeCarlo, Rearden and Steele making a spooky trio as the off-kilter Engels family. There are some amusing reveals and a couple of spooky and disturbing moments. A cult classic in most horror circles, and deservedly so, as a good example of the low budget slashers of this time period.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) carving knives.












MAJOR SPOILER WARNING! In order to properly compare these two films, I have to give DETAILED SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen Without Warning or Predator, there are MASSIVE SPOILERS BELOW for each film. You have been warned!


Last time around I compared the similarities in David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows and John Carpenter’s Halloween (link here). Now, I’d like to have a little fun comparing the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic Predator and Without Warning, a B-movie sci-fi/horror with a very similar plot that predates Predator by seven years. So, how does 1980’s Without Warning measure up to 1987’s Predator? Read on to find out!

(Click on the highlighted movie titles to go to the full length reviews and on the photos to enlarge them!)


Greydon Clark’s cult favorite Without Warning tells the story of a group of teens who go up to a mountain lake to party in an area that has been staked out as a hunting ground by an alien being, hunting humans for sport. The surviving teens’ only hope is a local hunter named Joe Taylor (Jack Palance) whose own hunting skills make him a worthy adversary for the extraterrestrial big game hunter. This pits hunter vs. hunter in a battle for survival.

Directed by John McTiernan, Predator tells the tale of a group of special ops commandos who are dropped on a rescue mission into a section of the South American jungle that has been staked out as a hunting ground by an alien being, hunting humans for sport. As his squad dwindles, it’s up to team leader Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to use his every skill as a solider to try and stop this big game hunter from another world. This pits hunter vs. soldier in a battle for survival.

Except for some story details, the similarities in the basic plot are quite obvious between the two.



The alien hunter of the low budget Without Warning is a modest looking creature made by make-up FX legend Rick Baker and played by the late Kevin Peter Hall who was 7′ 3″ tall. The creature stalks it’s prey day or night and it’s only weapons are star-fish shaped creatures that it throws at it’s victims. These little buggers latch on to prey with their pointy fangs and finish them off by digging their tentacles deep under the victim’s skin. When wounded, the creature seems to be able to heal itself with a mere touch of it’s own hand, though, doesn’t really seem to feel pain anyway. It keeps the bodies of it’s victims, temporarily in an old shed, to keep as trophies…or possibly food. The creature is malicious and has no sense of honor and will attack basically anyone, whether they can defend themselves or not. The creature growls but never speaks.

The alien hunter of the larger budgeted Predator is a now iconic movie monster made by make-up FX legend Stan Winston and is also played by the late Kevin Peter Hall, who became a film icon himself for portraying such roles. The Predator hunts it’s victims day and night using a cloaking device to remain hidden. Once it has it’s prey in sight, the better equipt hunter uses a variety of retractable blades and laser weaponry to finish off it’s victims. When wounded, the predator has some impressive self-surgery skills to mend it’s wounds and keep on going, though, it does seem to feel pain and can be hurt. It keeps it’s prey’s skulls as trophies and leaves skinned bodies hanging around to evoke fear in potential game. It is a fair creature, that seems to like a challenge and will only attack prey that is armed and can put up a fight and defend itself. The creature doesn’t outright speak, but communicates by mimicking voices and phrases it’s heard.

While budget advantages make our Predator far more effective than the simply designed hunter of Without Warning, in terms of character, The Predator uses far more technology and weaponry than his 1980 counterpart and seems far more susceptible to pain and injury. Though in terms of the type of hunting they do, The Predator likes a challenge and only attacks armed prey, while Without Warning‘s alien hunter will attack anyone whether they are armed or not…though there is subtle implication that it does not consider children fair game.



Without Warning has both a hero, our local hunter Joe Taylor (Jack Palance) and a final girl, Sandy (Tarah Nutter). Joe is a bit of a recluse who has lived in the mountain area setting all his life. He’s a hunter who lives off the land and runs the small town’s only gas station. He seems to keep to himself, but has a strong sense of nobility and when the creature sets his sights on the helpless teens, Joe takes up his hunting rifle and takes on the alien invader who’s hunting on the local man’s turf. Final girl Sandy is a sweet girl brought on the lake excursion by her friend Beth (Lynn Thell) as a blind date for her boyfriend Tom’s (David Caruso) bud, Greg (Christopher S. Nelson). She’s sweet and timid, but does rise above being a damsel in distress, when placed in the middle of the life and death struggle between the hunters from different worlds.

Predator has a hero and a final girl (technically, the only girl), too. Our hero is Dutch, the leader of an elite black operative’s team played by action icon Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is a highly skilled soldier and when faced with a creature more powerful and far better armed, Dutch must use every skill he has to outwit his alien adversary that is slaughtering his men. Our final girl is Anna (Elpidia Carrillo), a rebel soldier captured by Dutch’s team that has encountered the creature before. While she is a soldier, the film never let’s her rise about being a captive damsel as Arnie takes center stage for a one on one climactic confrontation with The Predator.

Joe and Dutch are from two different worlds (figuratively), but are the best at what they do in their respective ways of life. It’s in our ladies that there is a bit of a difference. Ironically, while she’s the far more timid character, Sandy gets to show a bit more moxie than Anna who is actually a resistance fighter, but never given a chance to show it in the film.



Here there are equal parts similarities and differences. Without Warning takes place in a rural mountain area, here in the U.S., surrounding a lake. There is a very small town located in it, but the alien creature seems to track and kill anyone that enters the surrounding woods only. The fact that the locals are unaware of it’s existence, except for crazy army vet Sarge (Martin Landau), it would seem that the creature avoids the town and only enters to pursue prey that has gotten away.

Predator takes place in the thick jungles of South America where there is a lot of military conflict going on between government soldiers and rebels with clandestine U.S. and Russian support on the opposite sides. The Predator not only uses the conflict to mask it’s presence, but to provide it with abundant and heavily armed targets to prey on. It’s also implied that the creature prefers the heat.

While both aliens hunt in remote, dense areas, Without Warning‘s hunter seems to prefer a quieter, less traveled place to secretly hunt while The Predator prefers it’s remote jungle to be a hotbed of chaotic activity and fighting, to cover up it’s big game hunt and provide a numerous selection of aggressive and armed adversaries to prey upon.



The opening scenes for both movies are effective in their own way but vastly different.

Without Warningin 80s horror fashion, starts us off right away with the slaughter of an argumentative father and son (movie vet Cameron Mitchell and former child actor Darby Hinton) on a hunting trip. It establishes right away that there is something wrong in these woods and opens the flick with some blood, gore and a good glimpse at the star fish-like creatures our hunter uses. It sets the stage for what’s to come.

Predator opens with a quite different approach. It introduces us to Dutch and his team and then their insertion into the jungle. It takes a while for the film to start letting us know that there is something wrong here and quite sometime before we begin to realize that there is something otherworldly lurking in the trees. The air of mystery works very well at pulling us in and keeping us interested.

Both openings work in setting us up for what is to come, starting us off with an atmosphere of fear and foreboding. One film does it by showing it’s bloody hand right away, while the other, by keeping us in the dark as to what exactly isn’t right with the situation.



Both films end with a bang, thought one is intentional, the other a final F*&K YOU from a defeated opponent.

After a cat and mouse chase in the woods, Without Warning has Joe Taylor rigging explosives to the shack where the alien is storing it’s trophies. When the alien returns, Joe sacrifices himself to lure the alien close enough for Sandy to blast it. The creature…and Joe…go up in a ball of flame.

The Predator, on the other hand activates a self-destruct device after being mortally wounded by Dutch during a vicious battle. Dutch barely escapes the conflagration as the alien hunter laughs at the prospect of having the last…well, laugh.

Both endings are dramatic and provide fireworks, but obviously Predator’s budget and star provide far more action than the very low budgeted Without Warning. Joe Taylor and the alien trade a few shots before the explosion and destruction of the shack and an obvious alien dummy. Predator treats us to a last act cat and mouse game between Dutch and The Predator before a brutal physical encounter which has the alien game hunter coming up short and detonating the surrounding jungle to take his victorious opponent with it. Either way, both films have their alien critter going boom.



The similarities in these two flicks are extremely obvious. The biggest difference is that Without Warning is a very low budget B-Movie horror flick that plays more like a slasher movie while Predator is a big budgeted studio action film with a major star and gives us one of the screen’s most iconic monsters. Predator’s budget gives us much bigger and more extravagant action while Without Warning works with what it’s got and gives us a flick more like the slasher/horror flicks of it’s time…and it did come first. Greydon Clark was a fairly successful exploitation filmmaker (Satan’s Cheerleaders) while Predator’s John McTiernan would go on to become a renown action movie director with the classics Die Hard and The Hunt For Red October under his belt. Without Warning can’t compete with Predator for action or it’s make-up and gore effects, but does splatter the red stuff frequently and while it’s costume is much simpler, the alien does have some personality and menace. Kevin Peter Hall gave both creatures a presence and while Without Warning does’t have a big marquee name like Arnold, it does have long-time veteran actors like Palance and Landau (along with fellow vets Cameron Mitchell and Neville Brand) to ham it up just enough to make the proceedings fun. Two very similar movies made at different times and at different ends of the filmmaking spectrum, but both provide their own brand of entertainment in their own way. One is now a cult classic and the other a bonafide action movie classic. Win win for us!


-MonsterZero NJ