Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Horror Express (1973) - ATrain Full Of Weird

Ok, so you start with Hammer Horror stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and throw 'em onto a Trans-Siberian express train with about 60 other people including a Russian Count and Countess, a mad monk who proves as willing to be a zealot for Satan as he is for Christ and a police inspector who is investigating an apparent murder that occurred at the depot just before the train departed. Then, once everyone is safely ensconced on the train which is barreling down the tracks, you unleash an alien entity which can not only jump from body to body, but can kill with a glance while at the same time absorbing the knowledge and memories of its victims. Oh, and for good measure, about two-thirds of the way through, let's let the train stop just long enough for Telly Savalas (yes, really) to march on board as the whip-wielding commander of a group of cossack soldiers with a penchant for simple "if it comes through that door shoot it" type solutions. Mix all of that, along with plenty of deep-red-blood dripping eyeballs, an early-established "anyone can die" atmosphere shoot it in Madrid and then overdub everyone later, and what do you get? Today's film, 1973's Horror Express.

I have to admit, this film is a surprising little gem. In some ways it evokes the sensibilities of some of the best Italian giallo crossed with the aforementioned Hammer period pieces with bits of both whodunnits and zombie films mixed in.. It's certainly not the kind of thing that's going to go down as an all-time classic, but for a film made for $300,000 using sets left over from 1972's Pancho Villa, (reportedly, the producers only had one train car to actually work with, so they had to shoot all of the scenes that were to take place in say, the dining car, at one time and then redress it as one of the sleeper cars, shoot all of the scenes that were to take place there, then redress it as another car, etc.), and a star (Cushing) who was just getting over the death of his much-beloved wife and nearly backed out as shooting was just beginning, it actually works quite well.

Here's a short scene:

And the Skinny:
Title: Horror Express
Release Date: 1973
Running Time: 90min
Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee
Directed by: Eugenio Martin
Produced by: Bernard Gordon, Gregorio Sacristan

Horror Express is available to watch or download for free here
It's also available to purchase on DVD from Amazon: Horror Express (1973) [Remastered Edition].

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian


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