Tubi’s remake of Terror Train is yet another in a long line of bland, pointless and forgettable horror remakes that are nothing more than lazy, uninspired recycled knock-offs that unlike John Carpenter’s The Thing, don’t enhance the original vision or material in any way.
Tubi’s Terror Train has no unique style, no different point of view to call its own. Except for the ending, it is as dull as watching Arnie Cunningham do body work on Christine.
Around these parts, the obscure Terror Train had a cult following. Partly because the film was made here in Canada, partly because it starred up and coming scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis and partly because a local television station used to air it every New Year’s Eve. The original film was directed by Roger Spottiswoode who would go on to helm such movies as Turner & Hooch, Air America and the 007 film Tomorrow Never Dies. Because of that, his film had a level of finesse. This remake has none of that mostly because the production so cheap and so too is the talent on display. It shows in the final product which pales in comparison to the original.
The story remains pretty much the same except the remake takes place on Halloween not New Year’s Eve. Years after a prank goes wrong, as they often do in eighties horror movies, a group of college students party on a moving train while a vengeful, costume-swapping serial killer bumps them off one by one. What the makers of this film decided to do was rewrite all of the dialogue so it is much, much worse especially when delivered by a cast that overall don’t have much of a resume and the work they have done is mostly in Canadian television. The only standout is comedy icon Mary Walsh as the conductor Carne best known for her work on This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
And because it is 2022 the producers feel the need to swap the identities of many of the characters (such as Carne who was originally played by Ben Johnson) for no logical or practical reason. That misguided, bewildering mindset probably led to the identity of the killer being changed too. Fans of the original film will immediately notice something is awry as the character is missing from the remake. Yup, they have been totally and utterly scrubbed from the plot again, for no logical or practical reason. The new explanation and reveal is not only not as clever, it is hokey, overworked in the genre and if you really think about it, makes no sense at all when the person has to be switching in and out of costume and roaming the train the entire time. The new ending is just stupid and I would expect a lot more from some of the minds who brought us the stellar Slasher series, if you ignore the awful third season.
The first Terror Train’s kills were not all that bloody with Spottiswoode focusing more on creating tension and suspense in such a confined, claustrophobic space rather than gore. This remake is much bloodier and some of those effects are quite good despite the obviously low budget.
If one isn’t going to add your voice to the mix, expand a story in a good way, add more style and substance, then what is really the point of remaking anything? The few remake stand-outs like Carpenter’s The Thing, Cronenberg’s The Fly, Romero and Savini’s Night of the Living Dead, accomplish all of that and more. They respect and are faithful to the source material while putting a different spin on things. Tubi’s Terror Train has no reason to exist other than to feed the streaming service content beast and as a penny-pinching cash grab that like the other dreadful remakes damages, undermines the brand and pollutes the pool.