Before MST3K there was … The Texas 27 Film Vault!
Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of this neglected cult show from the mid-1980’s with the 6th review in a series where exact broadcast dates can be determined. My research through VERY old newspapers, my interviews with the show’s co-star and co-creator Randy Clower plus emails and comments from my fellow fans of the program are helping us piece together bits and pieces of the show’s history. Keep those Texas 27 Film Vault memories coming, ladies and gentlemen.
ORIGINALLY BROADCAST: Saturday December 27th, 1986 from 10:30pm to 1:00am.
EXTRAS: Randy Clower and Richard Malmos, as machine-gun toting Film Vault Technicians First Class and members of the fictional Film Vault Corps (“the few, the proud, the sarcastic”) had two and a half hours to work with each week. Interviews with figures like Vincent Price, Ben Johnson and others were featured and the movies being shown and mocked were often preceded by episodes of old Republic serials like Radar Men from the Moon and others.
SERIAL: For this episode the movie was preceded by a chapter of Mysterious Doctor Satan, about a mad scientist trying to conquer the world with a very goofy- looking robot. Another extra was Randy and Richard’s “3-D interview” with Ben Johnson, whom they had interviewed at his ranch earlier in the year. Johnson also appeared in the episode’s film.
HOST SEGMENTS: Outside of the Ben Johnson bit the most memorable Host Segment Randy and Richard did during this New Year’s-themed horror film was a bit where, as Midnight Dallas Time approached, they staged a countdown and then a raucous celebration of the arrival of … December 28th, 1986. Ken “Tex” Miller, Joe “The Hypnotic Eye” Riley and other Film Vault Corps members joined in the festivities in a great example of the wry humor of this pre-MST3K program.
TERROR TRAIN (1980) – A New Year’s Eve slasher film set on a train carrying a load of partying passengers who plan to ring in the New Year in each time zone of the United States. As required by law at the time, Jamie Lee Curtis starred since it was a slasher flick with a seasonal theme. (Look under the Federal Halloween, Halloween II and Prom Night Act of 1980 if you don’t believe me)
A few years earlier Curtis and her college buddies played an initiation trick on a freshman by tricking him into bed with a female corpse. The guy had a nervous breakdown from the ugly near-necrophiliac experience (like sleeping with Barbra Streisand must feel) and is supposedly still in a mental hospital because of it.
Curtis and company are among the partiers on the Auld Lang Syne Express mentioned above and a ridiculously costumed slasher (guess who) begins knocking off her college friends as the train rolls across the countryside. Veteran actor Ben Johnson plays the heroic Train Conductor standing in for Dr Loomis in this flick and David Copperfield himself plays a professional magician … and is utterly unconvincing, oddly enough. Viewers are forced to endure Copperfield’s act which is trite and boring but it makes Terror Train one of the Big Four horror film turkeys that use pointless magician’s acts as filler. (The other three being The Body Shop, Boardinghouse and Funhouse.)
Viewers can also look out for a young Vanity, still going by D.D. Williams, but she doesn’t get to do much in the movie.
This New Year’s baby has not aged well and is fun to laugh at because of the ubiquitous cliches, dull death scenes, lack of logic and its Sleepaway Camp style twist ending. The scene where the killer’s costume makes him look like a crazed Gene Shalit is a lot of fun, too. If Terror Train had been a huge hit maybe we would have gotten other slasher films with titles like Fear Bus and Apprehension Subway. Probably not.
IN THE NEAR FUTURE BALLADEER’S BLOG WILL PRESENT MORE TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT MILESTONES. Be here to share the Film Vault Corp’s mission of “safeguarding America’s schlock-culture heritage”.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFO ON THIS SHOW – https://glitternight.com/texas-27-film-vault/
© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.