Not only is this a somewhat timely movie, but I am actually looking forward to this movie. Now a lot of the movies in the “Chilling Classics” box set have not exactly been some of the best viewing experiences. However, this movie has a decent amount of star power in it so it could be pretty good. Besides the fact that this is the first movie with Christopher Lee that I have reviewed since his death, I get a chance to watch him in a movie with Peter Cushing that does not involve vampires. Add Telly Savalas to the mix, and let’s just say that I have a good deal of hope in today’s movie, Horror Express,
The plot: During an archaeological dig in China in 1906, Professor Alexander Saxton discovers the frozen body of a primitive humanoid. Believing it to be the “missing link”, he packs the body into a crate and has it sent to London via the Trans-Siberian Express. While Saxton is trying to get his ticket, he meets with fellow scientist and rival Dr. Wells, who is also travelling on the train. Meanwhile, a thief tries to break into the crate but he is later found dead, with his eyes completely white to the point he is mistaken for being blind. Father Pujardov, a monk travelling on the train, claims the contents of the crate are evil, but Saxton scoffs and claims that his warnings are rubbish. That night, Dr. Wells bribes one of the porters to try and see what is in the crate, but it is too dark for him to see clearly so he goes to grab a lantern. While he is gone, the creature manages to pick the lock surrounding the crate and then kills the porter. When the porter is found missing, the engineer summons Saxton to the baggage area and demands that he open the crate. When he refuses, the engineer has one of his guards open it, only to discover that the porter’s body is inside and the creature is missing. Dr. Wells and his associate examine the corpse and discover that all of the memories have been sucked out of the brain. When a spy is killed by the creature, it goes after Dr. Wells, but he is saved when Police Inspector Mirov shoots the creature. Saxton and Wells examine the fluid from the creature’s eyes and discover that not only has it retained the image of Inspector Mirov, but also images of prehistoric Earth, as well as a view of the planet from space. Countess Irina Petrovski views the fluid and invites Father Pujardov to see it but Father Pujardov, believing the eye to be the eye of Satan, steals the eye. As the search for Pujardov commences, Pujardov sees Mirov, now possessed by the creature, kill Dr. Well’s associate, Miss Jones, and pledges his loyalty to the creature. Saxton sends a telegraph to the Russian authorities, resulting in Captain Kazan, a Cossack officer, and his men boarding the train at the next station to locate thre killer, Saxton exposes Mirov to be the creature’s new host, and Kazan and his men shoot Mirov, but the entity enter into Pujardov’s body and he kills Kazan, his men, and others. The remaining passengers flee to the caboose and try to uncouple the car from the rest of the train but Pujardov resurrects the bodies of the dead passengers to stop them. Meanwhile, a telegraph is sent to the switching station to have the train switched to a dead end track so it can be destroyed when it goes over the cliff. Saxton and Wells manage to uncouple the caboose from the train before the train goes over the cliff, Saxton, Wells, and the Countess look over the edge of the cliff as the train crashes and fire consumes the wreckage and the creatures inside it.
Horror Express received with mixed reviews from the critics, earning a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Being a Spanish film, it was filmed without most of the sounds, but they would be dubbed in later. According to the director, the movie did not do very well in Spain, but did much better in countries where the audience was more familiar to low-budget horror movies, such as Great Britain, the United States, and Australia.
This was a decent movie but I will admit that it got a bit confusing towards the end. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing were both really good, and their familiarity with each other showed. I was a little disappointed with Telly Savalas’ performance, mainly his lack of any real accent for his character. I think the story was ok but would have been better if it was just left as a reanimated humanoid killing people instead of adding the whole “alien intelligence” aspect in the film. The filming was pretty good. I really liked the lighting in the movie where it would be dark when the creature attacks, to help with the fact that the creature preferred the dark. A good classic movie with some great stars and definitely worth watching if you love those classic 70’s horror films.
Rating: 3 out of 5