Horror Express (1973)

Article #1700 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-9-2005
Posting Date: 4-8-2006
Directed by Eugenio Martin
Featuring Chrisopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Alberto de Mendoza

A fossil of an ape-man discovered in Manchuria is being shipped across Siberia in a crate on a train. Concern rises when strange deaths begin occurring in the vicinity of the crate.

I really like the use of the train in this movie. The very image of this monstrous metal machine barreling forward through the wilderness along with the thundering sound of the locomotive and the blast of the horn is enough to put you on edge. It’s a very appropriate image to go with the movie, as the story itself is very well-paced, moves forward with an inexorable speed, and is never dull. It’s also peopled with interesting characters (especially the monk played by Alberto de Mendoza whose obsession with the creature is distinctly unhealthy), and features fine performances from Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. There are a few problems; the movie can’t really decide if the threat is supernatural or extraterrestrial (if the latter, why all the stuff about the cross?), it’s not consistent in how possession affects people physically, and the performance by Telly Savalas (who only appears during the last twenty minutes of the movie) is more strange than effective. Still, it looks wonderful, and the sets and exteriors (purchased cheaply after they were built for NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRIA) give the movie a real sense of atmosphere. It’s definitely worth catching.


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