Slumber Party Massacre vs Terror Train: Horror Remake Rumble!

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer

The 80s was a truly spectacular era. The fashion, the music and of course the movies were some of the most memorable and iconic creations of the time, and this is especially so of the slasher horror genre.

We all know the big names that came out of the decade such as Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween (which was late 70s, but I’m still counting it). but even some of the lesser-known-to-general-audiences movies have left their mark on the genre, so much so that more than a few of them have received the reboot treatment.

Today I’m looking at two in particular with both reboots dropping recently, Slumber Party Massacre and Terror Train (2021 and 2022 respectively). Both original films were initially considered to be mediocre, and both have gone on to become cult classics. The Slumber Party Massacre’s unintentional (and intentional) humour as well as its pro-feminist tones creating an early template for horror comedy. Terror Train’s unique setting (a killer on a train during a college costume party) and strange tonal shifts (Magician David Copperfield stars as a – you guessed it – magician, inexplicably performing on said train for the students) as well as leading lady Jamie Lee Curtis, who would go on to becoming one of the genre’s leading Scream Queens, all making for a bizarre but fun slasher. Both movies have been updated for modern audiences, but how do they fare against each other? I figured the best way to judge them was to let these two remakes go head-to-head to see which one was worth a look.

So, grab your Groucho Marx masks and put on your most comfy PJs as we put these two slasher remakes in a stab-for-stab contest in four rounds to see which one comes out on top!

Round #1 Story

Good night, ladies. Umm, what’s up?

Terror Train (2022) is basically a shot for shot remake of the 1980 original as the story beats, characters and location all remain the same, with the only exception being the final reveal. While I give them points for the twist ending, they do rip off another classic slasher, which I won’t name because it would definitely spoil things, so it loses points on originality.

Slumber Party Massacre (2021), which by the way smartly drops the unnecessary “The” in the title, does draw from the 1982 original but instead of following the same script smartly chooses to subvert the laziness of sticking to the exact same story while still bringing the humour that made the first film a cult hit with fans. It also plays up the pro-feminist angle while never being preachy (the Black Christmas remake could take some lessons). Simply put it’s a better, much more cohesive story than I wouldn’t have expected from a movie such as this.

Both movies bring their own changes here and there but it’s SPM that takes the original and elevates it in unpredictable and very refreshing ways.

Winner: Slumber Party Massacre

Score: SPM 1 TT 0

Round #2 Characters

I can’t seem to quit you

Slashers aren’t exactly known for having memorable characters as they rely more on large body counts to bring the fun. But a truly great slasher knows fans will engage more with the movie if the players are developed enough to at least make us care whether they live or bite the big one.

The Terror Train remake has a couple of standouts in the form of lead Robyn Alomar as Alana and Tim Rozon (SurrealEstate) as The Magician. Both manage to take the roles originally played by Jamie Lee Curtis and David Copperfield respectively and make them more than just your average clichéd characters. Even a few of the other players managed to take their thinly written roles and invest enough energy into them to make their demise impactful. It’s just a shame they took everything so seriously. It’s a slasher movie people, have fun with it!

On the opposite end, Slumber Party Massacre has more than just one or two likeable characters and instead gives us a gang of them to get behind. Not only is the entire main cast fun to watch, but the film takes enough time to give them depth so when the second act kicks in and things get serious there’s a sense of real fear and, most importantly, care for their survival.

Winner: Slumber Party Massacre

Score: SPM 2 TT 0

Round #3 The Killer

Anyone seen It? That clown owes me 20 bucks

Kenny Hampson (Terror Train) versus Russ Thorne a.k.a. The Driller Killer (Slumber Party Massacre). And if you’re thinking I’m giving away anything I’m really not as both remakes may have brought back the original antagonists, but they both made the wise decision to add something unexpected to spice things up. Now there’s are twists in the remake of Terror Train and SPM that I can’t go into without spoiling things, so I’m just going to focus on the killers as fans know them.

Hampson may be the only killer in a slasher movie to make as many costume changes as he does. Switching Halloween costumes after every kill is a pretty smart way to keep people guessing (and to get closer to your victims without them being any the wiser) and like a great Marvel villain his reason for doing what he’s doing, while crazy, is still understandable.

Time to drill down to the truth. What? I’m a deranged killer, not an award-winning screenwriter

Then there’s Russ Thorne whose only motivation seems to be his hatred for women and probably erectile disfunction (it would so explain the big ass drill he kills them with). I also have to give props to actor Rob van Vuuren who plays the modern-day version of Thorne. He was so good in the role, with his mannerisms and the way he would speak that at one point early on, I actually thought it was the same actor from the original film, Michael Villella. Huge props my man!

While both killers have unique ways of dispatching their victims, I’m going to give this round to the one I felt was more inventive in his “stalking” techniques. Thorne has the advantage of knowing the area he’s working in, but Kenny Hampson is the one who manages to kill his victims on a moving train full of revelers while avoiding detection. And even Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers would have difficulty pulling that off.

Winner: Terror Train

Score: SPM 2 TT 1

Final Round: Hack and Slash

Worst…party…EVUHR!

When it comes to slashers the more inventive the kills, the better. And in this respect both movies manage to one-up the originals in fun and unique ways.

The original Terror Train had a decent body count with ten kills in all and the OG Slumber Party had 12 (thanks goes to Dead Meat Kill Count for that info). The remakes on the other hand had a bit more and a bit less, with the Train taking down only eight passengers this time around while 13people permanently went to sleep at the Slumber Party Massacre.

But it’s not quantity but quality that counts right? And with that in mind one of these remakes rose higher to the occasion, although I must give both remakes props for choosing practical effects over the much-dreaded CGI.

Wait a minute. I’m black AND a woman in a horror movie? Oh sh-

Terror Train had your typical stabs and sliced throats and only one kill that was truly memorable (a really well-done beheading). But it’s Slumber Party Massacre that takes the blood-filled cake as not only does the Driller Killer live up to his name with some fleshy carpentry work being performed on throats, eyeballs and stomachs, but we also get death by car engine, nail gun and, with a fun call back to Slumber Party Massacre II (1987), a victim being dispatched by electric guitar.

This one was an easy choice for me and, while both films weren’t as gory as I thought they would be, it’s SPM that takes the lead by a mile when it comes to not just its body count but also for the main reason we fans love the slasher genre, the crazy kills!

Winner: Slumber Party Massacre

Final Score: SPM 3 TT 1

Winner: Slumber Party Massacre

There you have it slasher fans, with a score of 3 to 1 Slumber Party Massacre (2021) takes the win as the better remake of these two cult classics. While it’s not a masterpiece or anything, it made smarter choices by not just remaking the same old story but utilising it in fun ways and expanding on the tale while also subverting the standard old tropes that have long gone stale in the genre.

It does lose some steam in the final act and it’s at this point the story almost falls back into the same clichés it fought so hard against in the earlier bits. But I must applaud the genuine level of effort that went into it and even if you’ve never seen the original movie, there’s more than enough here to entertain newcomers and old hats alike.

So that’s the end of this remake rumble. Do you agree with the winner? Disagree? Sound off in the comments. And you can check more great horror content below:

TOP 5 HORROR REMAKES ACTUALLY WORTH WATCHING
TOP 5 HORROR REMAKES/REBOOTS WE WISH WERE NEVER MADE
FREDDY VS JASON VS MICHAEL VS LEATHERFACE: ULTIMATE SLASHER SHOWDOWN

2755F829-2EEC-4A68-B6F7-F963F48C9D92 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

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