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Pardon my enthusiasm but Horror Express really is a must see for all fans
classic horror. It simply is one of the best horror movies made in the
seventies and I can't think of many aspects about it that are negative.
First of all it stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. There.that should
already be enough as a recommendation. These gentlemen are one THE
duo in horror ever and they didn't do their finest work just for Hammer
Studio's exclusively. And the fun doesn't stop with these two icons.Horror
Express also stars Telly `Kojak' Savalas in a delightful role. It's
actually a shame that his screentime is rather limited because he manages
impress as much as Lee and Cushing. He clearly enjoyed playing Captain
Kazan and he makes the most of his performance.
But Horror Express has a lot more to offer than just good acting. It's a powerful and fascinating story that delivers a good old fashioned amount of scares and atmosphere. The entire story takes place on a old train which is the ideal setting for a film like this. The old and noisy carriages create a unique atmosphere of claustrophobia and the `nowhere to run'-element is used to the max. The plotline itself surprisingly good and it keeps you alert during the entire movie. This is also thanks to the several other, interesting topics that are included in the movie like anthropology, religion and the evolution-theory. Sure, the entire screenplay is illogical and the plot contains as many holes as a small Swiss cheese but - seriously - who cares. I prefer this kind of silly inspiration and creativity a million times over the horror crap they make nowadays !! Horror Express is - simply put - a must see ! I'd even say it's essential viewing if you're looking for the highlights in the genre. It's original, creepy ( even pretty bloody and violent ), it contains enough humor to moderate things and most of all.it's very entertaining. Climb on board and find yourself a seat.Horror Express is one movie you won't regret watching !!
The first halve of this movie is pretty standard seventies horror stuff
like featured in most of the old Hammer movies. The second halve
however really surprised and impressed me. I loved it!
I really love old-horror movies with both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in it. In this movie they are better than ever together. Their acting is superb and so is the rest of the cast even though it is a bit strange that almost all of the Russians are played by Spanish people. Telly Savalas also shows up in a fun role. Savalas is probably best known for portraying Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the James Bond movie "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" but he also played in classics like: "Cape Fear" (1962), "Kelly's Heroes", "Capricorn One" and "The Dirty Dozen". It's wonderful to see such fine acting in one movie because normally mainly it are just only Cushing and Lee who are the only good actors in a movie like this.
Also this movie is actually scary and gory and it has a really good atmosphere. It starts like some kind of monster movie like "Creature From the Black Lagoon" but the second halve of the movie is more like a Zombie movie like "Lifeforce" (which is an underrated horror classic in my opinion with a great soundtrack). A combination that worked really well for me.
The story stays simple and of course ridicules but it still is better than 90% of the other movies from the same genre and it actually goes deeper in trying to explain some of the things.
In my opinion a real horror classic!
Judged on its own terms--as a 70s ghoul movie--this film should be rated a
10 out of 10! The plot is well-structured and tightly directed, and contains
lots of great elements: 1906 setting, fancy trans-Siberian train ride, a
ghoul, a mad monk, alien theorizing a-la-X-files, zombie soldiers stalking,
Peter Cushing sawing the top of somebody's head off, a beautiful spy,
eyeballs in a dish, a beautiful Polish Countess, and, believe it or not,
it's all very cohesive! That's an admirable achievement
And the acting is great. The Monk is a scene-stealer. Christopher Lee gets to play a testy, priggish Edwardian scientist, and he does it very well. Cushing's character plays off Lee's stodginess as a laid-back deal-maker(yes, he actually smiles and cracks jokes)These two performances prove that Lee and Cushing were both gifted and versatile actors. Telly Savalas arrives for the final act, and proceeds to strut around and chew up the scenery on a level that would make Rod Steiger or Al Pacino jealous. This movie is one of the best of its type. Yes, in the first two minutes you can see signs of a limited budget, and yes, the microscope scene is ludicrous, but in a way, on the level of imagination and poetic license, it's pure genius.
Corrections: a certain "Dik" offered this information while commenting:
1. "An Italian film".(It's a Spanish/UK production) 2. "Lee plays an American Scientist"(the first thing you hear in the movie is Lee saying he is part of the ROYAL Archeological Society, and there's also a lengthy exchange about his character's Englishness: "Queen Victoria, crumpets, Shakespeare"...etc.(The commentator actually goes on about how Lee's portrayal of an American reflects how foreigners view Americans. Well...there's a little problem with that idea, isn't there?)
Picture a frozen ape man discovered by a British archeologist and scientist at the turn of the century, and being placed aboard a Trans-Siberian railway from China to Russia..and you have the beginning of Horror Express. Christopher Lee plays the man who finds this fossil, as he calls it, which turns out to be so much more. The film itself is beautiful as we see this elegant train traveling across snow-covered terrain(actually filmed in Spain). The cast of characters aboard are of equal interest. Peter Cushing plays a scientist named Dr. Wells. For Cushing, this is a fine performance of a scientist less hypnotized by the ethic of science and more worldly. He bribes officials to get train tickets, has a baggage man drill holes in Professor Saxton's(Lee's) discovery, flirts with both his manly lady assistant and a beautiful stow-a-way, and in general seems less serious than many of his former roles. Nice to see him occasionally smile. Lee's professor is quite typical of Lee, burly, officious, obnoxious, and willful. Both Cushing and Lee are extraordinary and sights to behold as they waltz through the script of finding the creature which is wiping the minds of various peoples. The rest of the cast is also very good with a Rasputin-like monk stealing scene after scene. Horror Express is fast-paced action, inventive science fiction, gory thrills, and chilling horror. Indeed it is worth a look!
This was a very enjoyable movie. The story--about a body hopping alien
loose aboard the trans-Siberian railroad in 1906--is like a dry run for
all those X-Files to come, not to mention FALLEN. If you crossed the
X-Files with Murder on The Orient Express you'd come close what is on
display here. I really wasn't expecting much from this movie and maybe
that is why i was so pleasantly surprised. Peter Cushing and
Christopher Lee--given a rare chance to play allies instead of
enemies--rise to the occasion and deliver spot-on performances that are
filled with an infectious wit and good humor. And the incomparable
TELLY SAVALAS--in what is really only a glorified cameo--makes the most
of his opportunity--arrogantly strutting thru the train swilling vodka
and chewing on the scenery with delight.The director shows a real flair
for developing an atmosphere of paranoia and fear and the screenplay
is, quite simply, completely bonkers! The feverish pacing keeps
everything hurtling forward with an hysterical abandon and a fine (if
perhaps at the time, unwitting)comic edge.
If you are a fan of The X files, Agatha Christie murder mysteries, Brit horror icons Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, or just like movies set in Siberia featuring the dessicated remains of body hopping alien parasites--then HORROR EXPRESS is the film for you! Enjoy!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've noticed that some people refer to this movie as "obscure", which baffles me because I used to watch it all the time on television in the 70s & early 80s, back when it was still fun to watch late-nite TV (before the dawn of the infomercial). For a number of years, all you had to do was turn on the TV after midnight and eventually you'd catch "Horror Express".
Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing play two "distinguished gentlemen" at odds with a nasty frozen "fossil" that Chris picked up in the far East and is now taking back to Europe on the Trans-Siberian Express. The fossil, a half man/half ape Neanderthal that he believes may be the missing link, thaws out and becomes surprisingly animated. The creature begins attacking and murdering the passengers, draining them of their brain contents through their eyes, which turn white and bleed. Later, the fossil is shot down and "killed", and it's only then that we learn the true threat: a formless, extraterrestrial "intelligence" that can inhabit living bodies by entering through the eyes. The "brain sucking" allows it to absorb the intelligence of its victim, resulting in a cunning (and seemingly unstoppable) adversary.
"Horror Express" has got a wonderful European atmosphere to it, in the tradition of the best 70s genre films, and it is a real treat for those who appreciate this kind of thing. Although it's a low-budget Spanish production, it's almost on par with the best of the Hammer productions. The presence of Lee and Cushing might actually make you think it's Hammer, but when Telly Savalas shows up to keep order on the train, you'll know it's not.
The sets are weird and appropriately eerie. It's not quite as claustrophobic as a real train might be, the cars look a little too wide and a little too opulent. However, the miniature shots of the train are not all that bad for a low budget film. The movie does manage to be genuinely chilling in some places, especially the climax of the film that gives us an undead army of bleeding, white-eyed victims. Only a few campy sequences hold it back from being a real classic (the textbook drawings that are supposed to pass for real-life images they find in the creature's eyeball, for one). But so little to complain about in a film so delicious. Definitely worth your time, especially late late at night!
A sadly neglected and underrated horror story. Every avid fan of either Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing should see it! Consider the setting; a trainload of passengers on the Transsiberian Express, with no way to go -trapped with a spooky prehistoric monster! It has a feel of low-budget italian productions, but it's not enough to spoil the great atmosphere of this old-fashioned fright night. And how many times do you get to see Cushing and Lee on the same side, battling the same foe? The climax, which resembles a zombie-movie could very well be the scariest in the history of all on-screen train rides!
An intriguing idea of a "spirit" of pure evil with the ability to jump from body to body aboard a trans-siberian train. Well done considering budget constraints, and claustrophobic. Lee and Cushing are fine, but it's Telly Savales who chews the scenery to good effect. He is an unexpected treat as a bullying cossack officer and good counterpoint to Lee and Cushing as civilized gentlemen. Don't expect a slick Hollywood production and you won't be disappointed. I watched this on late night TV spookfests everytime it was on during the late 70s and saw something new each time. It's something like a cross between Hammer and Argento, and a little bit of Corman, too.
This movie sets itself a modest purpose: to keep us entertained for one
and a half hours. It succeeds brilliantly, as long as we allow it to
succeed, that is, as long as we are willing and eager to be
This is one of only two thrillers that I know of, in which almost the entire story takes place on board a train: the other is Murder on the Orient Express. The setting works very well in both movies, but I found Horror Express to be more satisfying. At the beginning, as the cast of characters got settled in the train, I got settled in my chair, eager for the journey to start. During the journey, there is enough suspense to keep the viewer interested, but nobody (except the very young or the very sensitive) needs to worry about being scared, or grossed out by gore. I must admit to not having paid too close attention to the plot, but this probably contributes to the enjoyment, and it means that I can enjoy seeing it again.
In short, this movie is jolly good fun as long as you are not too demanding in terms of plot or character development. One of my favorite horror movies.
Horror Express - Ingredients: A missing link unearthed from its icy tomb; an isolated train journey through snow-swept China and Russia; a mad monk; murder; startling discoveries and twists; a dash of comedy. Also add Christopher Lee; Peter Cushing; Telly Savalas. Place into pot and mix well, then prepare for one suspense thrilled journey. You will not be disappointed!
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