This steam locomotive is hurtling along the tracks in the dead of night, carrying its passengers to their destination which may have more finality than they anticipated. A rock band is playing the same song over and over in one of the carriages, accompanied by an enthusiastically prancing dance troupe, but as all this goes on the conductor passes through them towards one of the compartments which holds two men facing one another across the table. One calls himself Mr Satan (Tony Giorgio) and the other God (Ferdy Mayne), so obviously they have a lot to discuss, nothing less than the fate of mankind. They will observe three stories to have them make up their minds before the journey ends...
It may be difficult to believe, but Night Train to Terror was released into cinemas briefly in the nineteen-eighties, in spite of it looking like prime last cassette in the rental shop material for its ninety minute running time: imagine buying a ticket to this one and how you would have felt emerging from the auditorium. However, as bad as this was, it was quite spectacularly baffling into the bargain, just the thing to lodge in the mind of the unwary, and so it was that this misbegotten exercise in wringing some cash out of three separate but underperforming movies gathered a small cult, mainly from those who could not quite believe either what they were watching, or that someone had the gall to release it as a legitimate film.
God and (Mr) Satan settle down to view three films in condensed, re-edited forms occasionally with added footage, as it was evident someone knew stop frame animation among the crew and they were intent on showing off their skills. The first film was unfinished, aside from a bootleg (or two) that attempted to join it all together in spite of unshot footage, and detailed an insane asylum which messed with its patients to the extent of cutting them up and selling their body parts to... well, that bit wasn't entirely clear, as indeed not much else was with a structure the word "disjointed" didn't quite do justice to. It came across more like a random selection of highlights, mostly with gore or nudity, and featuring John Phillip Law and Richard Moll as the only recognisable names.
Thus taken aback by what we were asked to accept, this ploughed ahead into insanity with bits and peices of a work that actually had a proper release under such titles as Death Wish Club and The Dark Side to Love, though now it's more available as Gretta, who happened to be the main character (Merideth Haze) luring a man called Glen (Rick Barnes) into the clutches of a group who play suicide games. The most memorable part of this was included, where the group wire themselves up to an electric current and see who gets fried first, the results of which were quite bizarrely bloody, though as with the opening segment the actual storyline was so obscure as to be unfathomable thanks to the ruthless paring down to a twenty minute section.
The final part was better known, though far from a well-recalled blockbuster, again a horror under titles such as Cataclysm or The Nightmare Never Ends, and indeed in at least three variations, this included. Even in its feature length version it was difficult to follow, so you can imagine what a forty minute edit looks like, apparently keeping everything with a special effect to throw sops to an audience possibly getting rather irate by this point, and no wonder on the umpteenth reprise of that none more eighties song in the carriage outside. Cameron Mitchell was in that part as a cop, Mark Lawrence as an investigator of Nazis, and both realising there's a relic from World War II on the losing side who may be making a demonic comeback. This mishmash was penned by Philip Yordan, who had enjoyed an Oscar-winning career in the heyday of the studio system yet now was slumming it scripting any old horror he could to keep the wolf from the door; from some angles he was crafting a body of work in the eighties quite unlike anyone else at the time. Not good, no, but singular, which can be enough.