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Horror Express (1972) March 27, 2012

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Movies.
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Well, here’s something that turned out to be better than I thought it would. Granted, a Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee horrorfest about a prehistoric monster killing people aboard a Siberian train is something you just KNOW is gonna be a good’un, but for a ’70s low budget dubfest, this one moved along well & effectively.

Lee plays a scientist in 1906 on a Siberian fossil hunt who crates a frozen ancient ape & takes it for a train ride to Moscow (since Disneyland didn’t exist yet). Cushing, a rival scientist, takes the same train and can’t help but poke his nose into Lee’s business. As you might expect, the ancient ape thaws and returns to life, and little by little we learn what’s really going on.

While at first I expected more of a slasher-movie type formula of some ancient apeman monster picking off passengers one by one, things quickly got much more interesting and somewhat less predictable when the plot takes a turn more along the lines of The Thing (especially aspects of John Carpener’s later remake of The Thing, which has to be partially inspired by this movie), throwing in some elements of Night of the Living Dead and even the old movie-of-the-week Satan’s Triangle. Add a crazy Rasputin-esque priest who looks way too much like Richard Lewis and Telly Savalas a scenery-chewing abusive cossack! What’s not to like? All that was missing could be Frank Nelson as the wise cracking conductor and possibly Tor Johnson as the Tsar. But you can’t have everything.

I’ll admit that the beginning of the film reminded me of some of those Benny Hill el-cheapo-movie bits with some odd dubbing (the entire movie was done in Spain, with the English vocals dubbed in later), but once the story got going I liked it more and more. There’s even plenty of gratuitous eyeball and brain gore interspersed with jokes about the British.

Thumbs up!

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