After Halloween and Prom Night, Jamie Lee Curtis cemented her “scream queen” status with Terror Train, a run-of-the-mill slasher film whose central gimmick is setting its action on a train. In truth, however, this routine horror effort is most notable for featuring a young David Copperfield in a runtime-padding role as a magician wowing the gaggle of twenty-somethings who’ve boarded a locomotive for a party that, perplexingly, seems to be celebrating both college graduation and New Year’s. In his directorial debut, Roger Spottiswoode shoots things in murky, claustrophobic darkness that often results in pure incoherence, while his story can barely even bother plumbing the gender-dynamic tensions at its core. As cruel lothario Doc (Hart Bochner) acts the misogynistic prick to his best friend’s girlfriend Alana (Curtis), a killer – who’s clearly a nerd traumatized (in a pre-credit intro) by one of Doc’s cruel pranks – stalks his former tormenters, a return-of-the-repressed scenario that isn’t even energized by the presence of the inestimable Ben Johnson as the train’s conductor. Though the fiend’s motivations are no mystery, the final revelation regarding his actual whereabouts does mildly develop the male-female conflict at the root of this sexualized tale (and all slasher films). Yet with its interest in third-rate thriller machinations taking precedence over all thematic concerns, Terror Train is a painful sluggish ride, albeit one that recognizes – via a costume-party mask that the killer initially dons – the creepiness of Groucho Marx.