Horror Express (1972)

Movie Title: Horror Express

Year Released: 1972

Rated: R

Runtime: 1h 28m

Genre: Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Director: Eugenio Martín

Writer: Arnaud d'Usseau and Julian Zimet

Starring: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Alberto de Mendoza, Silvia Tortosa, Julio Peña, Telly Savalas, Víctor Israel, Ángel del Pozo, Helga Liné, Alice Reinheart, José Jaspe, George Rigaud, Faith Clift, Juan Olaguivel,

Review: A renowned anthropologist Sir Alexander Saxton (Christopher Lee) boards the Trans-Siberian Express with a strange crate of cargo in tow - the frozen remains of primitive ape-man that could very well be the missing link. Unbeknownst to Saxton, and the rest of the passenger, especially his rival (Peter Cushing), his scientific find is actually host to a hostile alien lifeform that can possess any passenger, absorb their minds, and kill any one that stands in its way. Can these confined commuters keep from falling victim to this confounding creature or will Hammer Horror heavyweights Lee and Cushing team up and put and end to this evil on the Horror Express? Hey, what's Kojak doing on this train?!

I grew up on seeing bits and piece of Horror Express throughout my childhood. It was a staple of late night TV broadcasts. I had never seen it from soup to nuts until recently and I must say... it is truly one of the most interesting, creative, entertaining, thrilling, and wild science fiction-horror combos ever put on film.

First off, it is without a doubt the best pairing of horror icons Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. They work so well together and really get to work together here sans fangs, crucifixes, or stakes in the heart. They play rivals and get to exchange fun banter and insults. Then they must put aside their professorial prejudices and join forces to derail this evil entities plans. And this was Cushing's first role after his wife had passed away. He was very apprehensive about the job, but Lee was a class act and helped Cushing to grieve and keep him in good spirits as they worked on the production. What a great friend!

Next, the story is just so bonkers! The missing link is found. It awakens and begins to stalk passengers, absorbs their minds, leaving their brains as smooth as a baby's butt, kills some of them, and inhabits new host bodies while chugging along on the Trans-Siberian Express. And then Telly Savalas and his Cossack soldiers board the train, chew some scenery and battle the beast! It's all kinds of awesome!

The production was a rather low budget affair, but the train cars are wonderfully designed, the creature effects are creepy, and the white-eyed and bloody-teared victims of the creature are unique, startling, and will send shivers up and down your spine whenever you see it - and you see it quite a bit. Plus, the train miniatures are expertly crafted. I didn't know until I did a little research that the footage of the train traveling through the snow-covered exteriors is actually miniatures. I had no idea, and even on Blu-Ray I still couldn't tell. Take that, CGI! Oh, and the music score by John Cacavas is haunting and the right kind of moody for this kind of story. You'll surly be humming the theme by the end of the movie.

Horror Express is a terrifying travelogue that is not to be missed. Whether you are fans of Lee, Cushing, Telly "Who Loves Ya, Baby?" Savalas, trains, missing links, evil body-hopping alien forces, and claustrophobic craziness that will make you even more uncertain about boarding the Amtrak.

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: According to director Eugenio Martín, most of Telly Savalas's dialogue and performance was improvised.


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