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Clive Barker's more sanguinary inclinations are paid tribute here
through a hulking golem, a malevolent meat merchant in his dapper best,
named Mahogany (Vinnie Jones) who smashes, eviscerates and cleaves
through unsuspecting commuters on the last train home. Adapted from
Barker's seminal anthology, "Books of Blood", the similarly named "The
Midnight Meat Train" is more than just an opportunity for some
sophomoric snickering over its title but one of Barker's most revered
short stories about a supernatural serial killer that ekes out
fascination, fear and obsession from a lone photographer, Leon Kaufman
(Bradley Cooper) stumbling upon the butcher's late night deliveries.
Director Ryuhei Kitamura (of "Versus" and "Azumi" fame) offers up one of the year's most brutally alluring gore fests in his American debut. With the gritty and detailed hard-edge of early 70s horror films (why, hello there Lucio Fulci!), his flair for CGI augmented visuals and the intense seduction of experimental camera-work in a cinematic environment so increasingly sanitised of actual visceral terror, Kitamura refreshes the genre's ability to unsettle and provoke audiences and jolt jaded horror enthusiasts out of their PG-13 apathy.
Kitamura works with a modest but shrewd sense of space in the decaying subway, the claustrophobic train and the creeping gloom of the city. There's a certain simpatico between Barker's distinctive tone and Kitamura's balls-to-the-wall film-making that compliments each other to the benefit of the film's atmospheric resilience. The unvarnished horrors cooked down deep in the gallows of the tunnels, plunged into darkness form the basis of Kaufman's terrible fixation on the disappearing passengers and that indescribably malicious man who stalks the shadows. Mahogany is the film's myth, the legend of The Butcher. Prepossessing the exactitude of traits essential to the character, Jones has the nasty glint in the eye, the mysterious swagger of indestructibility and the imperative of consuming evil, as well as having the benefit of looking like the quiet guy in the corner of the bar who could take out an entire gang of hoodlums without spilling his drink.
Kitamura's modulation of the material's emotional stakes and his slow-burn style of ratcheting up tension gives the story further layers to plunge into, not withstanding Cooper's unlikely presence as the film's corruptible protagonist. Jeff Buhler's screenplay from Barker's 25-year-old story is uneven at times but keeps an atmospheric dread of hopelessness. Supporting characters include Kaufman's wife (Leslie Bibb), a counterpoint to the man's wavering sanity and a threadbare characterisation of his good-humoured pal Jurgis (Roger Bart) who stands to represent Kaufman's humanity. But even if these emotional contrasts don't work, the film itself is a tidy and effective meta-slasher that resonates beyond corporeal carnage. Kitamura's subtextual ingenuity is shown through macabre imagery of animal carcasses hanging off meat hooks as Mahogany tenderises, disembowels and stores his victims just like the morsels of flesh they are.
Clive Barker's fantastical and mad blend of visceral shocks and profoundly unsettling explorations of worlds coexisting and buried deep within the one we think we understand has become an important component of our contemporary literary and filmic universes. While "The Midnight Meat Train" never hits the spasms of metaphysical despairs in "Hellraiser" or the diabolical mind-warps of "Candyman", this is forthright horror simple, powerful and unadulterated.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this movie just now at a local discount theater, and I certainly
can't say that I wanted my dollar back. The worst thing a horror film
can be is boring, and Midnight Meat Train is never dull. Neither is it
quite as exciting or tense as would be ideal, but you take what you can
Based on Clive Barker's classic short story, the film is about photographer Leon (Bradley Cooper), who wants to capture on film the "true" New York City. He has to sell photos of crimes and accidents to tabloids for money, though. He is given a meeting with a legendary art dealer (Brooke Shields), and accepts her advice to explore individual places more closely, in hopes of finding the image that impresses her and gets him a break in the art world.
He ends up encountering strange doings during late-night subway rides, and becomes obsessed with a silent, severe butcher (Vinnie Jones) who bludgeons passengers to death on a regular basis.
The movie works mainly because of its director. Ryuhei Kitamura might be the best visual stylist working in the horror genre. The scenes of suspense, intrigue, and horror are all inventively shot, while never distracting from what's actually going on. His timing of scares, however, could use some work. Jeff Buhler's script has quality dialog, good pacing, and is generally efficient.
The greatest weakness of the film is its lead actor. Cooper lacks the charisma and intensity necessary to involve the audience fully in Leon's descent into the underworld.
But I said before, it is never boring. The time passes easily, blood flows freely, but only when it needs to, and it is a joy to look out. It deserved a much wider and better promoted release, and is certainly worth seeking out.
Mahogany (Vinnie Jones) is big bad butcher, whose weapon of choice is a
mallet and an ice hook. Day after day, night after night he takes the 2
am train to hell, where unsuspecting passengers are massacred and then
hung up like dead meat.
Leon (Bradley Cooper) is an up and coming photograph, who is trying to make it critically, but so far his work has been unable to break it. His biggest fan and believer is his beautiful fiancée Maya (Leslie Bibb). One chance session in the subway changes the direction of his life. First he photographs a model being harassed by some thugs and after saving her from them takes a picture of her entering the 2 am train...
Clive Barker has really been prolific with all the horror he has caused come to life on the big screen. It is enough to mention that his stories was the backbone of such classics as Hellraiser or Candyman. That said he has also been raped as a horror writer with atrocities such as Rawhead Rex.
This movie doesn't hit the highs or the lows, but I must say it was pretty decent and definitely one of the best genre movies I have seen lately. No matter has essentially idiotic the plot I have to say it did cut loose of the copycat phase in horror cinema we are currently at. It had a certain freshness to it not only in the way it was told, but also in subject matter itself. I won't go as far as to say it was breakthrough original, but it was darn intriguing all the way through.
I normally rate a good horror movie based on gut feeling. The moment you can't wait to know what will happen at the end of the movie or in the next scene for that matter and at the same time you have to fight with yourself to continue watching - that lets you know this horror flick is actually pretty good.
Definitely full of flaws and the graphic gore isn't my kind of horror meal. Acting was great and tech credits all round were superb. Ryûhei Kitamura deserves accolades for this horror movie. Maybe not a classic, but given the far fetched material he had to work with it is a triumph.
A great movie i must say. Its been a long time there comes a movie that hits you in head. I mean literally. This is perhaps the most under-rated horror movies of the 2008. The reason might be the gruesome violence and the nature of it. Surely this is not for the faint of heart. The movie has a great storyline and the more you see you more you are involved within and you have to see the ending. I won;t comment much on the story. You have to see it to believe it. But i will say that it is not to be missed. and trust me you will think twice travelling in subway at midnight after watching this great piece of horror genre.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Wow, how bad can it get. This was seriously bad. Not in terms of the
gore - which was mainly laughable CGI - but in acting, atmosphere and
The story was dreadful - the character arc of the main lead was a total joke. Within a few nights of stalking Vinnie Jones, he starts to become 'haunted' to the point of crying when photographing his girlfriend. Um... are all New York photographers this childish, suggestible and weak? His character development had absolutely no justification or point whatsoever - and by the very end you'll be laughing out loud at the utterly predictable, and totally absurd twist his character takes.
The gory moments were clearly just a weak, low-self-esteemed effort to jump onto the modern MTV style gore wagon - all cgi, blood yet no real emotion whatsoever. These parts were unintentionally funny - and distracting by their self-consciousness - wacky camera angles etc.
Overall this film commits the crime of blowing another potential idea. What could have had atmosphere (until the stupid monsters at the end) is ruined in favour of 'look at me'style self-conscious directing. This film wasn't made for and audience - it was made for a CV - a deeply selfish motive.
Given that this month's the Lunar Seventh Month where the Chinese
believe that spirits roam our world as their month long vacation from
purgatory, my friend has so far kept this running joke about my
unfortunate bumping into them given I spend my journey home on late
night buses and trains. The Midnight Meat Train, as the title suggests,
tells of the last train in the system where passengers inexplicably
disappears, and I thought that Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura
managed to put a somewhat refreshing spin to the entire slasher and
torture porn genre.
Based on a short story by horror Meister Clive Barker, the story in parts looked like horror thrillers with recognizable moments like those in The Terminator, Shutter, and of course, Jeepers Creepers. If I were to have to take the last train, I definitely wouldn't want to bump into Vinny's sharp dressed Mahogany, a character who is almost like any other Vinny Jones character of being the muscle-man. Here, he's a butcher with a penchant of waiting for the last train, and armed with nothing more than knives, meat hooks and his personal favourite, a meat tenderizer, he proceeds to chop up unsuspecting victims as the train seem to speed off into the unknown.
And there's where the story becomes intriguing, as it poses a lot of questions and doesn't provide you with any clear answers, until much later. You have to endure a slow buildup of Leon the photographer (Bradley Cooper) who in his quest to take the perfect picture for an exhibition, chances upon Mahogany and follows him for that Kodak moment. His girlfriend Maya (Leslie Bibb) and best friend Jurgis (Roger Bart) also get into the fray, and soon life for all three will be irrevocably changed. The payload for the movie comes at the back, and my, it's as satisfying a wrap as it can be, though again for those already familiar with some of the mentioned films, you'll more or less expect things to be done the way they did.
As mentioned earlier, what was a refreshing spin, was how direct and to the point the acts of violence got, without dragging the scenes out with needless, extended cries of mercy or lingering on gratuitous scenes of gore and blood, which torture porn flicks seem to continuous bog their movies with, that it becomes boring (Yes, I think you can sense that I'm already de-sensitized to such scenes). Rather than trying to craft creative ways to die in order to go one up against other movies that came before it, The Midnight Meat Train really went back to basics and simplicity, where killing blows are delivered swiftly, before proceeding with dismemberment.
While it is disturbing in itself, the distributors decided to shield local audiences from such violence and gore, and hence we got a censored M18 rated version, instead of full regalia under the R21 rating. The cuts were jarring enough, but in all fairness the quality of the movie cannot be judged by just how those scenes were removed with a butcher's knife. Going by detailed descriptions of the level of graphic violence contained in the movie, it seemed that we suffered from having a lot cut off.
The movie also boasted some really effective scenes of tension, and the anticipation of ill will especially with Vinny Jones looming nearby. The last time I remembered watching a major action sequence involving trains was in Batman Begins, and given that it has to live up to titular expectations, audiences were treated to some incredible all-out action scenes set in and around the train, with some really energetic camera movement and angles to complement the action on screen.
But technicalities aside, what really worked and will possibly elevate this film to cult status, will be portrayal and fleshing out the character of Mahogany as the no-nonsense and swift executioner, adding to the list of memorable villains to have graced the screen amongst the likes of the Freddies, Jasons and the Michael Myers of the cinematic world.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Where to start. The film started out pretty well, but after the 30 min
mark i caught myself watching the clock. The horror at the start of the
film was good but then the story kicked in. It just got stupider and
stupider as time ticked by.
The actors gave an average performance in this movie however, i got a bit bored of Vinny Jones constant scowling in the film.
As the film dragged on, and take my word for it, it dragged on, it just got more and more far fetched.
*** SPOILER ALERT *** SPOILER ALERT *** SPOILER ALERT *** Just when i thought the film could not get any worse, towards the end loads if skeleton looking monsters turned up, just to eat the dead people which made no sense at all. It turned out to be some sort of flesh eating cult and the good guys die at the end. The ending in fact just made me laugh at how bad it was. Once the lead role disposes of Vinny Jones, he becomes the new killer.
In closing, this film made Creep look like the best horror film ever made. I gave it 1 star because the female lead did a pretty good job but even she could not save this train wreck of a movie!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
That was the funniest line in the movie, and sadly the movie is just
OK. I was upset when I heard that Lions Gate was going to dump this
flick on DVD. I even wrote Joe Drake an email pleading that it get a
regular release. (he's probably laughing at me right now) I stood in
line with a butt load of folks to see the midnight screening last night
at the Nuart in Los Angeles. I stood next to the director. I was
standing near the writer too (who seemed either drunk or stoned when he
first walked in, but then, maybe that's just how he is on the regular).
I was excited. This was the one time it would play in a theater near
I saw it.
A couple of problems for me.
1. Pacing. There seemed to be scenes that slowed the story down and derailed the momentum. I wanted to feel like the protagonist was spiraling into a world that he should not have knowledge of, and yet he is drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Perhaps more editing. Especially the love scenes.
2. The Girlfriend. Men, please stop making women in your movies cliché, shrill and annoying. There were forced love scenes and quite frankly, the actress added to the slow pacing. She should've been proactive and supportive of the leads journey into hell. And do we need to see women falling down while running away YET AGAIN?! Conflict is essential in a story, but it should be natural conflict that pushes the story forward, not contrived and coming off as nagging. Every time she came on screen I just waited for her to get off screen to get our guy back into the story. Side note, I thought Brooke Shields should've been the chick. She was great. Cold. Calculating. The type that would push her man further into the pit. That's the woman the lead needed, and he got the stereotypical girly-girl. Boo!!!! 3. The Butcher. He was creepy, but I felt that we shouldn't have seen him fully until halfway through the movie. The scary moments in any film is the fear of not knowing. In this movie we got glimpses of the Butcher, creating tension and fear for Kaufman. But soon after we see him fully as a regular human who kills people, it moved from horror into a slasher-suspense movie. It should've been more than that. The supernatural element should've been pushed more with The Butcher. The short story presented something epic and ancient in scope. The Butcher was a necessary job that had to be done to keep The City running. Once the film became a simple slasher-gore fest (which is not bad in any movie as long as the story works with it and we care about the leads), the Butcher just became a run-of-the-mill serial killer, no different than Jason, Michael Meyers or Freddy Fruger. Those guys did their killings for revenge. The Butcher has to kill to keep order in the human world. Just like ancient Greeks and Romans and other cultures that made human sacrifices to appease the Gods, an offering if you will.
That was the reveal in the short story. In the movie, he just kills for some nasty monsters we barely see at the end. Bad! The Butcher had noble work to do. Nasty work yes, (like any butcher in real life who kills the meat for society to consume. Most people eat burgers and steaks without thinking about what has to be done to the animals that provide that great meal. Please, go visit a slaughterhouse.)but it must be done for the rest of us to survive. This movie missed that point at the end.
4. Some of the kill sequences were just there to see how cool the CGI effects could be done. It stopped being scary to becoming typical Eli Roth/Saw 3-5 schlock. How many cool ways can we kill a person? Horror, to me anyway, should be horrific, not funny. Once it becomes funny at the expense of not really scaring people, then you've lost me. Granted, one of the funniest lines in the movie was when the subway train conductor tells Kaufman (after the train has ended its run) "Please, step away from the meat." The humor is surreal and it works at that moment because of the banality of the line. The conductor could've been saying, "Please step away from the ramp/shoe/dog etc". The conductor has a job to do, and so does the Butcher, so please step away from our work. Classic.
All that said, the movie is a mixed bag. I'd be curious to see what Clive Barker had to say. The film looks great, nice atmosphere, set design etc. I might've recast the two leads, but I'm glad I got to see it in a theater. I had the opportunity to get a real movie experience with the film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
20 years ago Clive Barker was the second biggest name in the world of
horror behind Stephen King . Weave World topped the fiction best
sellers in Britain and HELLRAISER was a big box office hit both sides
of the Atlantic . The 1990s saw a dip in his fortunes however starting
with the disappointing cinema receipts of NIGHTBREED . Film adaptations
such as CANDYMAN didn't fare any better and by the end of the decade it
was becoming clear that the HELLRAISER franchise was ruining the
original's reputation rather than enhancing it and by the time SAINT
SINNER came along I was left thinking HELLRAISER might have been a
fluke on the part of Barker rather than the sign of a horror genius .
Thankfully THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN rescues Barker's reputation somewhat
, though sadly it's no HELLRAISER
TMMT is based on a short story lasting 24 pages from the author's BOOKS OF BLOOD . This leaves screenwriter Jeff Buhler the slight problem of expanding it in to a 100 page screenplay . This he manages for the most part and he manages to capture the fear that people can experience sitting on a tubeway train alone at an ungodly hour . Unfortunately he forgets to expand upon the fact that people are going missing on a certain route . One disappeared passenger makes front page news because it sets up the story for protagonist Leon but previous and subsequent disappearances never seem to be referred to . Of course the police detective is part of the conspiracy but it'd need more than one police chief to keep the disappearances secret , especially when the aforementioned disappearance makes the front page
Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura does manage to bring a feeling of claustrophobic dread to the story and the sound mix is superb . Sound mix is one of the more underrated aspects of film making in something like a horror film where sudden noises causes people to jump out of their seat it's very important . The cinematography is dark and grim which is very appropriate for this type of film . It certainly gives the TMMT and a film like this benefits from a gloomy atmosphere . The film's greatest benefit though is Vinnie Jones as Mahogany , the silent serial killer who is murdering the passengers for their flesh
The big problem that Buhler and Kitamura bring is the pay off . In the original story the demonic creatures living at the end of the line serve a " Superbeast " - a giant monster predating mankind . If you stop to think about it such a creature needs human servants because it can't go in to the city to find flesh to feed upon . It also implies that the demonic creatures were once human . Here however there's no Superbeast and the demons just appear without any explanation who they are or what their motives are which seems to have confused everyone who hasn't read Barker's short story . They have my sympathy because up till this point the film is very involving and certainly one of the best horror films to feature an underground station
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was a terrible film. There was no story line whatsoever. To top it all off, when they couldn't explain the blood and gore (the only good part) ... they threw in a few aliens! I hate when directors (or whatever) run out of ideas and then blame the aliens! Watch this film if you like. But don't say I didn't warn you. Two things: How could Vinny say "welcome" when he didn't have a tongue? Its a pity Mr Jones didn't have a bigger role. Second thing that bugged me, why were we shown Vinny Jones' boils and him cutting them off and putting them into blue liquid, then these have no further role. Why not? I don't like to be shown something and that has nothing to do with the story line whatsoever. In short. Bad story. I wouldn't waste my time - wish I'd have watched Mirrors instead.
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