EXCL: Terror Train Director Speaks

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Preview of upcoming remake

In a market inundated with remakes and “re-imaginings” of ’70s and ’80s slice ‘n dice entertainment, how does one possibly take the controls of a Terror Train update and steer it through unfamiliar land to make the ride worthwhile? Toss out the original’s story altogether and start over. That’s Gideon Raff’s approach. The writer-director of the upcoming thriller The Killing Floor (hitting DVD in early-’08) was approached by Nu Image to strike up a working relationship, they’re meeting ultimately led to Raff’s commitment to a long-gestating Terror Train redo. But the plot is just one of the many alterations fans of the Jamie Lee Curtis-starring thriller will discover: The film has jettisoned the “Terror” and is now being called Train.

Roger Spottiswoode’s competent original (boasting an appearance by David Copperfield) wove a tale of revenge instigated by a college prank. Curtis starred as one of many students partying it up on New Year’s Eve aboard a train. As this randy lot got drunk and laid, a killer moved amongst them, wearing a variety of masks to off his targets.

Raff, speaking exclusively to Shock via phone from Bulgaria while on the set of Train says his plot has, “nothing to do with the original. I’m a big fan of that film, but this is not a remake, it’s an original screenplay. It’s about a group of American athletes competing in Eastern Europe and they’re supposed to get on a train to continue the competition. And our group of people miss the train ’cause they went partying the night before. They get on a different train to catch up with their teammates and horror ensues. I researched real crimes that happen here in Eastern Europe and based it on that. The way I describe this is as an intelligent horror film. It’s got gore and it’s got the stuff that makes it a horror movie, but it’s also go a clever story people will enjoy.” Even with said departures, has Raff left room any room for an illusionist board his train? “There is no magician,” he laughs. “No…no David Copperfield, that’s very ’80s.”

Thora Birch, coming off of last year’s psychological mind-bender Dark Corners, has hopped on board with co-travelers Derek Magyar (“Enterprise”), Gloria Votsis (Dead of Winter), Kavan Reece (Grizzly Park), and Gideon Emery (Primeval). “Thora’s awesome,” Raff enthuses, a week left of principal photography ahead of him. “She comes prepared to set and loves to do a lot of her own stunts. I’m enjoying working with her.”

He speaks of working on the train with equal excitement, in spite of the limitations one might face when attempting to get coverage within the tight confines of its narrow hallways. “As far as practicality, shooting on a train is very difficult just because, every shot is a long shot. It’s great and gorgeous, but we all get claustrophobic. It helps in creating that suspense of walking in these dark corridors with the emergency lights on. Then again, it also helps the actors and you never know what’s around the corner with all of these weird little things in the train.” The production is utilizing both a fully-functioning train and a few built train cars to meet some specifications called for in the screenplay. “We have this amazing train here in Bulgaria. It has this Orient Express old charm to it – it’s all wood, very narrow long corridors. The train is a character in itself. I did some research, story-wise, and there are things you can and can’t do on a train because it crosses international borders, so the jurisdiction is a little iffy. Also, just the fact that you can’t run away, you can’t escape…”

Source: Ryan Rotten