HORROR EXPRESS. 1972. DIRECTED BY EUGENIO MARTIN. STARRING CHRISTOPHER LEE, PETER CUSHING, ALBERTO DE MENDOZA AND TELLY SAVALAS. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
I love most horror or murder mystery films set on trains. SHERLOCK HOLMES: TERROR BY NIGHT is one. MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is another. HORROR EXPRESS is a fine example of the genre.
It stars Christopher Lee as the sternly forbidding Professor Alexander Saxton, a famous English anthropologist, and Peter Cushing as his friendly rival and fellow ‘Fellow’ of the Royal Geological Society, Dr. Wells. Yes, yes, I know I used the word ‘fellow’ twice. I had no choice. Honest…
The two lads are travelling aboard the Trans-Siberian train from China to Moscow as part of their long journey back to Europe. Professor Saxton is not travelling alone. He is bringing with him a fossil he picked up in a cave in Manchuria, but this ain’t no itty-bitty piece of rock, baby.
It’s a full-on ape-like humanoid creature that the Professor hopes might be the missing link in human evolution. What he doesn’t bargain for, however, is that it is a highly-sophisticated being from another galaxy that starts killing people even before the train pulls out of the station. Not only that, but it wipes the memories and information from the brains of the victims, leaving their eyeballs disturbingly white, and absorbs it all itself…
There’s great fun as the creature runs amok on the Orient-Express, sorry, the Trans-Siberian train from China to Moscow, hopping from host to host and leaving a trail of white-eyeballed corpses in its’ wake. A hard-ass Cossack law-man by the name of Captain Kazan boards the train and starts throwing his not inconsiderable weight around, but even he comes a cropper in the face of the creature’s malice and cunning.
The race is on to find out which of the terrified passengers is playing host to The Thing From Another Planet. At one point the creature is being housed in the body of a monk called Father Pujardov who’s a dead ringer for Rasputin the Mad Monk. While Christopher Lee is training a gun on him, Pujardov offers Professor Saxton all kinds of delicious goodies like the cure for disease and the benefit of its’ superior technological knowledge if he will only let him/it live.
So, is the handsome Professor Saxton tempted by the creature’s offer, or does he give that sneaky shape-shifter what’s coming to him…? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing make an excellent double act as always and they’re so properly English it hurts. ‘We’re British, you know…!’
Telly Savalas is strangely attractive as Captain Kazan, in his red Cossack coat with the black fur trim. The special effects, while probably a wee bit dated now, are fun and enjoyable to watch. The setting, ie, the train itself, is plush and luxurious and the whole idea of an evil being that jumps from host to host and therefore could be housed in any of the characters is exciting. It reminds me of John Carpenter’s superb horror film, THE THING.
HORROR EXPRESS is a pretty good watch too. You could do a lot worse than to choose it for your evening’s viewing, I’m telling you. A lot, lot worse.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at: