Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gender Troubles on the Iron Horse

Well, Terror Train was a bit of a disappointment.  In some ways it is a textbook example of the contention by feminist and gender critics that there is massive gender confusion going on between the killers and "final girls" in slasher movies.  In most slasher movies, there isn't a <ahem> shred of evidence to support this.  The disturbing final meeting between Jamie Lee Curtis and the killer in Terror Train, however, contains enough gender confusion to make those critics pee their pants with delight (either standing up, or sitting down...)  In that last confrontation, it is literally impossible to tell who is male and who is female.  The killer looks completely effeminate and Jamie Lee Curtis, well, you know 'her' story.  The movie itself is not very good and that's a shame because it puts a nice twist on the slasher formula by allowing the killer to wear different costumes throughout the movie which should have made it more difficult to recognize him (or should it be hir?)  The filmmakers fail to capitalize on this enough and instead throw out a red herring that is so obviously a red herring it renders the final thirty minutes of the movie boring.  Of note, however, is the fact that John Alcott was the director of photography on Terror Train.  Alcott was Stanley Kubrick's dp from A Clockwork Orange to The Shining (which really means he was a glorified gaffer as Kubrick was notorious for running his own camera).  What a difference a director makes, however, as Alcott apparently had no say in how to film Terror Train which was tailor made, being set on a train with narrow hallways, for a Kubrickian glide through a symmetric landscape.  Of course, in 1980, Kubrick was putting the finishing touches on a little movie called The Shining.  I'm sure that's why the producers of Terror Train only got Alcott and not his usual director...

Tonight, another movie that tends to provide ammunition for feminists-- He Knows You're Alone

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