HORROR EXPRESS (1972)

-
Horror Express Cover All aboard. Come now. Come now. Get you're asses in gear and clamber on for the following 90 minute movie made in 1972. It will depart quite soon, all thanks to the Director: Eugenio Martín; plus his Actors: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, with Telly Savalas. Quickly. Jump on. Or else you might miss the ride. Choo-Choo!


Horror Express


THE STORY:
I say, Professor Saxton (Christopher Lee). Are you seriously trying to accuse me for the death of the baggage man? But why? Was I the idiot who excavated a two thousand year old mummified creature from China and then stuck it into a crate? What's more, did I have anything to do with loading this said same crate onto a train without anyone being none the wiser?

No. That wasn't me, that was you, wasn't it? The only thing I did wrong was ask the baggage man to look inside your crate because you were being so secretive about it. But hey! How was I supposed to know that the creature was still alive or what you were playing at? Or are you forgetting about how you behaved in front of those Russian dignitaries, as well as that mad monk called Father Pujardov (Alberto de Mendoza)?

Still. Let's not worry about any of this for the moment, shall we? Let us just sit down and have a nice cup of tea and wait for your... err... thing... or whatever you want to call it... to kill someone else. Then again, that's most probably why what next transpires begins anew once you say to me, 'Quickly, Doctor Wells (Peter Cushing). The creature is dead yet living in another persons body'. As eyes down for a full house - no creature was stirring, not even a mouse -- Captain Kazan (Telly Savalas) and his men fight off against the devil - and at the end of the day, a train veers off because it's not on the level.

BOOOM!




THE REVIEW:
Essentially 'Horror Express' is one of those films where a devious explorer unwittingly unleashes a pre-historic beast upon a train, and then tries his best to rectify matters with some help from one of his old friends. Granted, it's not the most original premise as premises go. Yet what it is, dear reader, is a very solid and thrilling adventure that's jam packed with mannered performances, a fairly intriguing plot, plus a cast of characters that were a mixed bag to say the least.
  
Horror Express DVD Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, with Telly Savalas
Well, on the one hand you had actors such as Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, who were both able to give their respective roles some sort of depth and dimensionality in spite of their narrow confines. Whilst on the other hand the rest of the cast were made up of cartoon-like portrayals of mad-monks, sneaky inspectors, and very pretty looking Russian ladies who didn't seem to have the same depth Peter and Christopher had.

Now on similar lines I best mention that I wished I saw a lot more of Telly Savalas' character too. You see, when he eventually did show up about twenty minutes before the end of this flick -- yes, twenty minutes -- in no uncertain terms he certainly made his presence known in a very bold and brash fashion. From my perspective I viewed his role as a counterpoint to Peter's and Christopher's. Instead to him cooling the situation down he did the reverse and heated it up. In fact, he heated it up so-so much, as I said before, I would have preferred to see more Telly and less of some of the other cast members.   

Having said that though, on the flip side of things these slight dips were more than made up for by the gruesome monster effects on offer. Cause I have to admit, the piercing devilish eyes of the main villain -- whoever it may have been at the time -- did add a very sinister visual nuance to what could have been a very tried and tested creature.

What's more, I have to applaud Arnaud d'Usseau and Julian Zimet for writing a fairly provocative back-story for the creatures. I mean, let's face it. An origin which amalgamates both pre-historic and science-fiction based elements, and then bestows this onto a beast with the ability to siphon off memories for its own self-preservation, will always be a very captivating origin in my book.    


Horror Express Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, with Telly Savalas


Horror Express Film Poster Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, with Telly Savalas
Anyway. By now I'm sure you got the basic impression of what I thought about this fairly fine film. Although the good was the good the bad was also bad. And let's not forget, my friends, you also have to weigh up the following filmic-facts. Ha! (1) 'Granada Films' first screened this $300 thousand dollar production at the 'Catalonian International Film Festival', on the 30th of September, 1972. (2) For marketing reasons this project was entitled 'The Possessor' in America, and internationally it was given the name, 'Panic in the Trans-Siberian Train'. (3) The majority of this movie was shot at 'Estudios Madrid 70', Daganzo, as well as on location within the Spanish city of Navacerrada. (4) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, was, 'Your Non Stop Ride to Hell Boards at 8PM'. (5) According to those in the know, this thriller received cult status because it was frequently aired on television throughout the seventies and eighties. (6) If you've seen the 1972 Clint Walker and Telly Savalas comedy bio-pic, 'Pancho Villa', you might have noticed that this adventure used exactly the same train interiors and model miniatures. (7) Peter Cushing almost backed out of this project because he felt it was too soon after his wife's death. Thankfully, though, Christopher Lee managed to persuade him to stay on by reminiscing about their previous collaborations together. (8) After this flick dived head first into the tunnel, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing starred in the horror-mystery, 'Nothing but the Night', where as Telly Savalas starred in the thriller, 'Scenes from a Murder'.


Horror Express Vintage 1972 Film Poster Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, with Telly Savalas


Overall I'd say the 'Horror Express' is a very captivating and thrilling film for its time. Most of the performances were generally up to par. The special effects on show were very visually stimulating. And even though the story-line was one we've all seen before, as push comes to shove it's still worth a watch for any of you horror fans out there.

Nuff said.

THE RATING: B+