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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Take A Ride On The Horror Express



As I continue my nostalgic look at horror movies this week, the movie Horror Express popped into my mind after watching Horror Hotel I am sure that I am not the only horror fan that believes that Christopher Lee is a genius and maybe, I should just turn this week into Christopher Lee month here on The Ringmaster’s Realm.


To me, Horror Express is necessary for all fans of classic horror. Starring Lee and Peter Cushing, it is a great example of the quality horror movies that graced the screen during the 1970s, plus the movie helps cement Lee and Cushing as one of the greatest acting duos in the history of cinema. Their work together is simply amazing. More importantly, this classic has a lot more to offer than just good acting. It is a fascinating story that delivers a perfect combination of scares and good old-fashioned amount of scares and ambiance with the setting on an old train making it the perfect setting for the film.

Plot / Synopsis

Professor Alexander Saxton (Lee) is an anthropologist returning home to Europe via the Trans-Siberian Railway bringing with him a 'fossil' in a crate. The 'fossil' is the frozen remains of a primitive humanoid creature, which Saxton is sure is the missing link in the evolutionary chain. Also on board is Dr. Wells (Cushing), another Briton and a colleague of Saxton's.


Mysterious deaths occur even before the train sets out. A known thief is found dead on the platform after having looked into the crate, bleeding from his eyes, which have turned blank and white. A slightly unbalanced monk (a Rasputin-esque figure, played by the Argentine actor Alberto de Mendoza), who acts as a spiritual advisor to the Count and Countess waiting to board the train, claims that the crate is evil. Saxton is eager to keep his find a secret from everyone, especially Dr. Wells, but Wells pays the baggage man to look into the crate. When he does, he is also killed by the glowing red gaze of the creature, which escapes the confines of its crate. The murders continue while the humanoid fossil haunts the moving train, the victims found with blank white eyes, and an autopsy leads Wells and his assistant to hypothesize that the brains of the victims are being drained of memories and knowledge. When the fossil is gunned down by Inspector Mirov, an authority in charge of the train, the threat seems to have been vanquished. However, Saxton and Wells discover images embedded in liquid inside the eye of the dead fossil, images that reveal a prehistoric Earth, as well as a view of the Earth from outer space. They deduce that the real threat is a formless alien creature that was simply inhabiting the body of the fossil, and that it has now transferred itself to the Inspector. The monk senses the evil presence inside of the Inspector and pledges allegiance to it, considering it Satan.


When news of the murders on the train is wired to Siberian authorities, the train is stopped and an intimidating Cossack named Captain Kazan (Telly Savalas) boards with a small group of his men. Kazan believes the train is housing rebels and is only convinced of the alien's existence when Mirov is discovered to be the creature, due to his glowing eyes, and is shot down. Before Mirov dies the alien transfers itself into the monk. The passengers flee to the caboose while the monk murders Kazan and his men by draining them of their minds.


Saxton rescues the Countess from the creature, but it resurrects all of its victims as white-eyed zombies. The zombies chase Saxton and the Countess back to the caboose, where the others are waiting. As they desperately work to detach the caboose from the rest of the train, the Russian government sends a telegraph to the next station ahead instructing them to send the train over a cliff. The operators follow this order, believing that they may be at war. Just as the surviving passengers manage to separate themselves from the rest of the train, it goes crashing over the cliff exploding below. The caboose rolls to a safe stop precariously near the edge, where the survivors watch the fire consume the train and the unnatural inhabitants within it.


In the end, Horror Express remains one of the best in the era. Yes, there are signs of a limited budget and some of it may be a bit campy. However, in the end it is an original and imaginative film, which remains a necessary staple for all horror movie fans to experience.




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2 comments:

  1. I mostly read negative reviews of this, but I saw it recently and really enjoyed it. Corny as hell, but still very entertaining.

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  2. Once again, you've come up with a couple of names that just make my heart race. Freaking Peter Cushing has been in how many horror movies? Too many to even think about. And Christopher Lee? Again the number of films is incredible.
    I can't remember the name of the Vampire series they were always both in... do you remember?

    I'm so glad I found your blog!

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