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This movie is well worth at least one look:yes,it is a variation
(rip-off)of Last house,but it does have a few surprises and arguably,a
stronger theme than Last House;there is a definite anti fascist ,left
leaning sensibility to this film,underlying its more European take on
the "Us and them "idea behind Last house.
Firstly,its really well made.If you've seen Lado's Gialli ,you'll know hes no hack,but he sets scenes really well.The scenes on the train have a insular,outward looking feel,as though you are really trapped inside looking at the world flowing by the windows.
Thematically,the two films are VERY similar;two ultra middle class girls (more worldly than their square parents know)get involved with two scumbags,Blackie and er...his junkie friend (cant remember his name).Sorry,THREE scumbags,as Macha Merill,middle class but a deviant,joins in as the two girls are trapped on an overnight train,en route to a family Christmas.Rape,torment,and retribution follow,as you damn well expect.
Anyway,its not as brutal as last house.The rape and revenge stuff is strong (enough for it to be banned here,anyway)but its quite a dark film nonetheless:its very influenced by Pasolini.Hence,the middle class are twisted deviants who exploit the working class to get their fun.Its Macha Merill who is the real villain here,not Blackie,enjoying the twisted stuff to fulfill her libertinism,as the ending (no spoilers)reveals.Shes good in this film,too.
The bad?the theme song is awful.Seriously.I played this on my laptop and at first I thought the speakers had melted,the singer warbles so much.Awful.I hope Morricone had nothing to do with it.The actings so-so,I liked Blackie anyway.Cute Irene Miracle is one of the girls.The parent figures are really dull...and the Dads a doctor!How blatant is that!
I dug the humour of the film too:in one scene in the train a young priest notices that the rummy old Cardinal is slyly winking at him;he turns to another priest who says "Oh its just a nervous tic".But in the best scene,Blackie discovers a carriage full of old ex-Nazis singing a fascist marching song(the film is set in Germany and Italy).He sneaks in and shouts "Heil Hitler" to which all the old chaps jump up and shout "Heil" in response.I liked it anyway.i think it reveals a lot about the films idea that perversion is always under the surface,in the most respectable of places.
This is one of the few nasties I never tracked down on copied VHS,so its great to see it so pristine and clear.It could easily get released now in the UK;but they would probably cut the scene where Merill gets raped and enjoys it,totally taboo for the BBFC,especially in a non art-house flick (total hypocrisy of course)as they did with House on the edge of the Park.The scene with the knife would get axed as well,if you see the film you'll understand.All readers in Countries where people can make up their own mind,check it out now!
N.B has now been released with an uncut 18 certificate by shameless in the UK. What a dunce I sound like now...
I couldn't sleep last night, so I decided to dig up something to watch. Being in the holiday spirit, I wanted to watch something I haven't seen on Christmas. I got sick from the 24 hour marathon of A CHRISTMAS STORY, so I found this little doozy of a picture in my vaults. Bottom line - I liked it. It blatantly rips-off THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, but this film took more time in getting to know the characters, and the German-Austrian-Italian locations are gorgeous. Blackie (the guy from SUSPIRIA), and his pal hop a train bound to Italy for Christmas and violate two young girls with a psychopathic woman (creepily played by Macha Meril from Argento's PROFONDO ROSSO). Afterwards the trio unknowingly run into the parents of one of the girls ala finale LAST HOUSE. I had an extremely difficult time finding this movie, I don't think it was ever released in the United States; the copy I had was Dutch subtitled. If you can obtain this film, I recommend it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Two young girls travel by train at Christmas time, little knowing it
will be a ride filled with horror.
Aldo Lado's Night Train Murders is at times very difficult to digest. As with most Italian movies of this period, the film takes a while to get started, with many fill up scenes that aren't of much interest but once it gets going the film makes a strong impact. The scene where the two girls get molested is a pretty tough viewing experience. Lado stretches the scene to almost unbearable length, displaying such inhuman and immoral tendencies you can't help but be disgusted. The final violent confrontation between the distraught father and the violators becomes not only justifiable but wholly satisfactory.
The film's intercutting between the normal goings on in the lives of the father and mother of one of the girls and what's happening to them on board the train makes a strong impact as well. Lado is purposely trying his best to make the events even more unbearable and sad and it works very well. The script is also philosophical to some extent, displaying grounded ideas about the human nature and it's incapability of letting go of some it's animal instincts and it's refusal to be controlled. An immoral and inhuman tendency cannot be distinguished easily and it's visual display here comes from the socialite who's actually the worst of the violators while the two punks are more visible just by how they look and act (not to mention the one who becomes involved but is also the most "moral" one as he contributes to the end justice).
While not an intellectual powerhouse the film does boast some very strong visuals and hugely effective scenes of the worst mankind has to offer. It makes an impact, but it's not very enjoyable to watch.
Taut thriller from director Aldo Lado.
Frequent criticism that "nothing happens" in the film's first forty-five minutes is rubbish. The film takes its time to establish what finally becomes a very nasty situation for two teenage girls (Marina Bertie and Irene Miracle). The suspense builds slowly as the villains, impeccably played by Flavio Bucci and Gianfranco De Grassi, are introduced and the predicament of the women is unfurled.
The production values are top notch and the spare Ennio Morricone score is utlized for maximum effect. A haunting but melodic Demmis Roussos song, "A Flower Is All You Need", is a perfect, ironic bookend to the film's grim developments.
Lado directs with a sure, intuitive, practised hand. He conjures a very uncomfortable atmosphere and tightens the tension with sharp cutting, ultra-moody interior lighting and excellent direction of the actors.
Macha Meril plays a female passenger who allows herself to be corrupted by the villains. Lado uses her to explore the nature of evil and the fascination of horror. Meril's performance is exemplary for she renders her highly disturbing character with great authenticity.
The centrepiece of the film is a sequence featuring the rape and killing of one of the girls. Although the scene is reasonably brutal, much of the violence is suggested. A shot of one of the women being thrown off the train into a river is strangely beautiful.
Comparisons with LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT's plot structure are to be expected. Technically, the film is much more accomplished than LAST HOUSE, but LAST HOUSE, as a work of pure terror, is more confronting on a pure gut level.
NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS is a film of subtle power and horror, and it leaves one feeling uneasy (which can only be a good thing).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS (or any of the other half dozen titles it's been
released under) is a solid, suspenseful thriller which was inspired, by
the filmmakers' own admission, by Wes Craven's LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.
Two young girls, on the way to Italy to spend Christmas with one girl's parents, find themselves trapped in a train compartment with a sadistic upper class woman and two low-life thugs, who perform various humiliating and cruel acts on them. Meanwhile, at the younger, virginal girl's parents' villa, a Christmas party is taking place, and the parents are blissfully unaware of the girls' predicament.
The finale, in which the threesome wind up at the parents' house during which time the parents discover who they are and enact bloody revenge, is lifted right out of LAST HOUSE. There are some interesting differences in the torture sequences, however.
Firstly, the threesome only kill one of the girls, and accidentally at that.
Frustrated by his inability to break the virginal girl's hymen while attempting to rape her, the heroin-addicted thug attempts to cut it open with his knife. When he hesitates, the woman shoves the knife in herself, causing the girl to hemorrhage and bleed to death. It is one of the more harrowing and disturbing acts of sexual violence I've seen depicted on film.
The other girl (played by Irene Miracle, who would go on to star in Dario Argento's INFERNO and Alan Parker's MIDNIGHT EXPRESS) quietly accepts her abuse in order to protect herself. She even allows herself to be raped by a peeping tom, who is invited into the compartment by the threesome.
Her death is quite a surprise, as she attempts to flee and is pursued by the two thugs. Eventually she locks herself in the lavatory, and climbs out the window and flings herself to her death as the duo try to break in. He death is almost a mirror image of Sandra Cassel's death in LAST HOUSE. While Cassel finally gives in to her fate and allows herself to be shot down, Miracle refuses to allow herself to be killed by her attackers, choosing to take her own life instead.
Miracle, whose first movie role this was, proves to be a real trooper, spending her final fifteen minutes of screen time with no pants or underwear on, including the scenes in which she is chased and leaps off the train. Her exposed lower half helps to hit home the level of both the violation that has been inflicted upon her, as well as her desperation in escaping, as she never even seems to notice she's nude from the waist down. In a more Hollywood-ized movie, her character would have taken the time to cover herself.
The killers' horror at having killed the one girl, as well as their shock in seeing Miracle fling herself onto the rocks by the track shows that they are by no means killers, but mischievous crooks who have taken things too far. This reflects the killers' brief disgust at their own actions in LAST HOUSE, but the difference is that in LAST HOUSE the gang are killers by nature, whereas in NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS, they are not.
I felt more sympathy toward the thugs here when the father brutally kills them both, then in LAST HOUSE. The death of the heroin-addicted thug is excruciating, as he is repeatedly stabbed, slashed and beaten to a pulp. After the other has been pursued and killed like a wild animal with a shotgun, the upper class lady, who has orchestrated the whole ordeal, convinces the father she was at the mercy of the pair of thugs, and winds up getting away with her crimes.
On its own, NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS is a well-paced, intense and atmospheric thriller. It has giallo overtones, but also has a gritty realism that clashes with the more surreal stylization. Recommended for fans of grindhouse and exploitation movies.
basically a remake of last house but set on a train. it starts out with an ear bending demis roussos song 'a flower is all you need' which is worryingly catchy. we see 2 girls going home for christmas on a train but they didn't count on there being a depraved macha merrill and 2 psycho guys sharing the train. inevitably after doing their dirty business the bad guys end up at the home of the 2 girls as guests of their parents. this film has a nasty line in violence and is actually well worth checking out.
Macha Meril, as "The Lady On The Train" is the star of this seasonal, fun
for all ages, thriller.
Yes, it rehashes the plot from "Last House On The Left" but it's done effectively and brutally. Lisa and Margaret don't stand a chance against Blackie, Curly and beautiful, sexy Lady. I particularly like the inventive use of the phallic knife. The final third of the film, where the killers meet the victim's parents is predictably implausible but gratifying nonetheless.
Demis Rusos' epic song which accompanies the opening and closing credits is wonderfully insensitive and inappropriate.
I'd love to see this on Christmas Day television.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
SPOILERS AHEAD ... Aldo Lado is mostly famous for his giallos, Short Night
of the Glass Dolls and Who Saw Her Die, but during a period when such
thrillers were produced in abundance, Lado also made the little exploitation
sleazefest, Don't Ride on Late Night Trains. Abandoning the influential
style sparked by the success of Dario Argento's The Bird with the Crystal
Plumage, Lado tried imitating another genre filmmaker; Wes Craven. Don't
Ride on Late Night Trains duplicates The Last House in the Left (1972)
almost entirely. What is incredible about this film is that it features a
host of Dario Argento collaborators, including a score by the prolific Ennio
Blacky and Curly (the former is Flavio Bucci, who played Daniel' in Suspiria) rob and beat a Santa Clause before heading to the train station and escaping onto the Trans-Europe Express. There they meet a psychotic sexually repressed lady passenger (Macha Meril, who played Helga Ulman' in Profondo Rosso). Then we are introduced to another two passengers on the train: Ragazza and Margaret (the latter is Irene Miracle, Rose Elliot' in Inferno). These school-friends are two young but not so innocent girls, joking playfully about smoking cigarettes and boyfriends, travelling home to spend Christmas with Margaret's parents. A bomb warning causes the girls to dismount and leap onto to a different train. Unfortunately for them, in pursuit are Blacky, Curly and the repressed lady passenger, who seems to be more sadistic than her male companions. As soon as the sleazy group corner and trap the girls in a dark cabin on what seems to be an empty carriage, matters get out of hand and the violation escalates; the psycho lady forces the girls to relate their sexual experiences which excites Curly, a heroine-addict; he rapes Ragazza then angrily stabs her between the legs with a switch blade for being too tight'; Margaret, fearing the same treatment, leaps from the train, her body crashing into hillside rocks etc.
Following in the Last House on the Left' tradition, the villains then unsuspectingly fall into the hands of one of the girl's parents. The plot device here is more plausible than in Wes's film: they have stolen the girl's tickets and are required to get off at the designated stop. Stepping from the train, the crazy lady injures her ankle. The countryside station is almost deserted, only a couple, Giulio and Lisa, awaiting their daughter and friend's arrival can help them. They invite the group back to their home so the lady may recuperate (the father by the way is Enrico Maria Salero, Inspector Morosini' in Bird with the Crystal Plumage). In Wes Craven's classic the clue was the girl's necklace found around Junior's' neck, here we have Curly wearing a turquoise tie that the mother knows was bought as a Christmas gift for Giulio. The father goes to return to the station, but is stopped by Margaret's friend (Dalila Di Lazzaro, who played the headmistress' in Phenomena). She tells him she received a phone call from Margaret before her friend boarded an earlier train due to a bomb scare. The clues mount and the film ends in Last House style with parents attacking their daughter's murderers. Of course there are more similarities between this and Craven's film; the father in both films is a doctor; the parents both prepare a party, here for Christmas, in Last House for Mary's birthday; gratuitous chattering about anarchy' and social decline'; a composed man twisted by revenge etc.
I've related a lot of plot details here, but if you've seen The Last House on the Left, I'm sure you wouldn't get many surprises. Don't Ride on Late Night Trains is still worth a look if you can track it down and is superior to the similar Terror Express (Ferdinando Baldi, 1980. The British VHS release featured a SPECIAL NOTE: This film may contain sequences liable to cause distress to viewers with a nervous disposition', followed by Voted the `Best Late Night Horror Film' 1978' on the back of its video sleeve. However who conducted this vote remains a total mystery.
Director Aldo Lado leaps on board the LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT bandwagon with
this entry. Craven's story is reprised but this time set on a train, and
the nastiness is upped GREATLY. The sexual violence is presented in a far
more ambiguous light in this movie, and there are several extremely morally
dubious scenes of so called "porno rape"- where the female victims actually
begin to ENJOY their assault half-way through. Couple this with the fact
that the female criminal was politely discussing philosophy with other
passengers before her rape transformed her into an evil murderess (implying
that "all women need is a good f**k") and you can probably see that this
film is extremely morally contentious and misogynistic. Similar to
Deodato's HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK, the morality on display here seems
almost alien in these enlightened PC times.
LATE NIGHT TRAINS works both positively and negatively. The positives are that by choosing a train to set this tale upon, Lado has allowed a deep-rooted claustrophobia to become a main feature of the film. In the context of a story like this, it should work well, but in many cases the cinematography just doesn't make the best use of the situation. The darkness and grimeyness works well but could have been played on to a much greater extent. Also, the plot is extremely contrived and relies on ridiculous coincidence (the girls changing trains half way through their journey, the old man who walks in on the assault accidently breaking off the door handle to the next carriage, etc) and the characters are left undeveloped, as pointed out earlier. In the latter case this almost ADDS to the atmosphere of the film, though. The tone is one of absolute inevitability and nihilism. Unfortunately, the acting throughout is very poor, especially from the male protagonists- their lethargic performances pale in comparison to those by David Hess in his "psycho" roles. There is a Morricone score too, but not a particularly fitting or good one in my opinion.
This is certainly an interesting film. Despite there being good points and bad points, the sleaziness certainly keeps you watching. Once again it is a case of the outrageous misogyny having to be overlooked in order to enjoy this. LATE NIGHT TRAINS remains banned in the UK and this certainly won't change any time soon. There is little gore but the themes themselves are explicit enough to upset the BBFC.
Of course this film is sleazy and all that, but the revealing dialogue amongst the rich forgives much of that. I've given it a "ten" somewhat out of spite and in order to raise the overall vote. I do however honor the attempt of criticizing the rich and wealthy in exploitive cinema. It's a 'smuggler' as Scorsese would put it. Worth the effort of seeing it.
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