Thursday, September 1, 2011

HORROR EXPRESS (Eugenio Martin, 1973, Spain)

From the mountains a madness is recovered and released, a vitreous humour on the Trans-Siberian Express. That sentence is actually more interesting than the film itself, as director Eugenio Martin’s debacle assaults and insults with a barely cohesive script and unintelligible internal logic.

Professor Saxton transports a well preserved hominid fossil upon the isolated railway. The gangly fossil is corrupted by an alien intelligence and it comes to life, murdering by absorbing thoughts through its eyes, leeching the life force from any living creature. The victims bleed from their orifices and are left vacant, their cranial convolutions now eroded like a smooth river stone. The entity jumps from victim to victim and the passengers become paranoid, unable to discern a human from the inhuman. But the story becomes frighteningly illogical as the Detective, when possessed, sports the withered hand of the fossil; or those killed by the being can now be reanimated as zombies; or the monk who suddenly casts aside his faith to follow “Satan”; or the ability to see images of the past in a creature’s eye (not the alien’s eye mind you, but the fossil’s...how could fragile tissue remain preserved even in the Russian cold for two million years?); or the final transmission to derail the train; or the fact that the Russians would build a railroad the ended on the edge of a cliff (as absurd as a self-destruct mechanism in a space ship).

Though there are some neat ideas, the film stutters and stalls in every scene, muting tension and suspense by showing the audience the mystery before allowing it to unfold dramatically. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are respectable (as always) but Telly Savalas is as incoherent as his accent, detracting from the ensemble. The HORROR EXPRESS is derailed by its director’s incompetence.

Final Grade: (D)

4 comments:

Rob said...

As inane as this movie is....I have a soft spot for it. Taken as purely a "horror film" and remembering the time period in which it was released, it contains some pretty creepy images and scenes. The monk with the bleeding eye sockets, the half-seen glimpses of the "beast" in the crate, the train passengers becoming shambling zombies, Telly Savalas in what looks like a woman's red overcoat! I also quite enjoy some of the dialogue (Inspector Mirov: The two of you together. That's fine. But what if one of you is the monster?
Dr. Wells: Monster? We're British, you know.)

Much like another Cushing film, The Creeping Flesh....if you think too hard (or...at ALL!), the movie makes no sense. But I still enjoy it for the goofy horror film that it is.

Rick29 said...

It doesn't all make sense, but I have a soft spot for HORROR EXPRESS as well--primarily because of the setting (few horror pics set on trains) and the cast.

Alex DeLarge said...

I like THE CREEPING FLESH much better as Freddie Francis is a competent director though it doesn't have the production values of a classic Hammer flick!

This film is really a mess but has it's fun moments especially with Lee and Cushing. I like the stop-motion dinosaurs and the riptide Lovecraftian dread, but it ccould have been so much better. I will probably buy when released on blu-ray because I try to collect every film with the aforementioned dynamic due.

Will said...

They used to show this movie quite often in the 70s on local TV here in NYC. I watched it every time it was on