Man, is my heart not in reviewing today’s Killtoberfest entry, Horror Express. (Not to be confused with the much more entertaining Whore Express.)
It wasn’t a good movie, but kicking it doesn’t feel good (it felt great for The Cottage, though, fuck that movie). I watched Horror Express because the person who recommended it had me at “Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee fight a monster on a train,” but in retrospect the movie was never going to measure up to the picture in my head when I read that. For one thing, in my head the monster was a big ol’ tentacled Lovecraftian beast, not a demon-infested early hominid. For another, the movie in my head featured a fistfight on top of the speeding train, which, come on, how do you not write that in? That’s a gimme.
Actually the movie reminded me of a proto-The Thing (Carpenter’s version). The demon could be in anyone on the train, and Cushing and Lee have to science/detect their way to figuring out who. Meanwhile bodies keep piling up in the baggage car (you’d think they’d learn to stop going in there) and Telly Savalas shows up eventually for no goddamn reason. It drags on for way too long and never really makes much sense.
So it wasn’t good, but it wasn’t all that fun, either. I would charitably say it was just really, really dumb, pretty much the whole way through and with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I got suckered, I admit it. Don’t watch this and we’ll all just move on with our lives.
And I know it’s an old movie, 1972, but that’s no excuse whatsoever. The Godfather was ’72. Deliverance. Last House on the Left. In fact, Horror Express feels like a hold-over from the 50s, like a Hammer knockoff that didn’t find release for a few decades. Horror was marching in the same direction as the rest of cinema–toward the personal and the realistic, toward bleakness and nihilism, toward the horror of individual evil and the violence of culture clashes. Horror Express is as much a throwback as the frozen ape in Lee’s crate, and like it, should never have been dug up.