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Terror Train on Blu-Ray - a classic gets the HD treatment, but the results are mixed
on October 17, 2012
It can be a challenge to review Blu-ray releases on Amazon. Theater reviews, VHS reviews, DVD reviews, digital copies - they often all end up under the same collection of feedback. I tend to rate the films themselves with the initial star rating, and cover the specifics of the medium I am reviewing in the body of the review. So, considered alongside the other films of the slasher genre, Terror Train is easily 4 star film, in my opinion. If you appreciate 1980s horror and understand the mechanics of film making at the time, this is easily one of the better entries of the period. The Blu-ray from Shout! Factory, is, however, a bit disappointing when considered alongside some of their other recent releases. I would probably give the disc three stars. It is worth buying, but if you are trying to decide between this movie and Shout! Factory's recent releases of The Funhouse, Halloween II or Halloween III, Humanoids from the Deep or Piranha, I would place this title at the back of the pack in terms of overall Blu-ray quality considering all factors. It's a good transfer, but not among their best. . .about three stars out of five.
This transfer features a 5.1 HD surround track. Unfortunately, the track is very front-heavy, with little real surround. A few early scenes have some nice ambient low frequency sound of the train in the background. . .but it isn't consistent. Some scenes have better audio than others. The first half of David Copperfield's on-train magic show has both decent audio and video. This leads to my next point: the video, sadly, is also inconsistent. There is a fair amount of damage to the print that has not been cleaned up. Scratches, blotches, hairs, etc., pass through the image throughout the film. They are heaviest during the first half. Strangely, some scenes seem to have significantly less and appear cleaned up, while others have more. The final half hour or so of the movie is particularly good. There are still a few minor marks here and there, but nothing too serious. It is hard to tell what has been touched up and what has been left alone, but I do have the impression some damage must have been removed, especially late in the movie. Shout! Factory's recent horror Blu-rays seem to be all over the place in terms of the amount of restoration. For example, Halloween III is over corrected, but scratches and other visual flaws are largely removed. Halloween II looks great and was clearly given a lot of attention. . .nor was it over-corrected. Yes, the quality of the print has a large impact as well, but that clearly isn't the only factor, given the types of inconsistencies. Terror Train's print damage appears cleaned up the least of the titles I mentioned, but keep in mind this transfer also retains a much closer look to the original cinema quality (including nice grain) than, for example, Shout! Factory's re-release of Halloween III. In addition to the main feature, there are some nice extras, including an interview with the film's music composer and the original trailer, among others.
I recommend this title, though with this disclaimer: I really wish Shout! Factory would make as much effort with all their releases as they did with the stellar Blu-ray re-release of Halloween II. If consistent their releases will sell better overall and the company will create hosts of loyal buyers who appreciate being able to view and hear these classis at a level not even available during their original run.