Wednesday, February 20, 2019

HORROR EXPRESS (1972) Blu-ray review

Horror Express (1972) d. Eugenio Martín (UK/Spain) (84 min)

Renowned anthropologist Prof. Alexander Saxton (Christopher Lee) boards the Trans-Siberian Express in China with a crate containing the frozen remains of a primitive humanoid which he believes to be the missing link in human evolution. The truth, however, proves to be far more complex, as the not-dead-yet cargo begins to exert its will over the passengers, sucking their brains dry and gaining their knowledge, leaving a trail of lifeless, white-eyed husks in its wake! That’s only the tip of the proverbial Iceberg of Weirdness (there is a proverb about that, right?) as Saxton and fellow passengers Dr. Wells (Peter Cushing), Countess Petrovska (Silvia Tortosa), Inspector Mirov (Julio Peña), and the sexy, mysterious Natasha (Helga Liné) attempt to contain the prehistoric menace before they reach Moscow.

Also released as Panic on the Trans-Siberian, this handsomely mounted production presents a decidedly unique spin on resurrected corpses, with brain-boiling, mind-melting results, courtesy of a smashing international cast that also includes Sergio Martino mainstay Alberto de Mendoza (Case of the Scorpion’s Tale) as a Rasputin-like mad monk Father Pujardov and a pre-Kojak Telly Savalas showing up in the final reel as a loose-cannon Cossack army captain.

Teaming up for their third 1972 release, Lee and Cushing are in tip-top form (despite Cushing still being deep in mourning for his recently deceased wife Helen) and the minimal but effective special effects (love the creature’s inexplicable glowing red eyes) sell the hokum admirably. But what really sets Horror Express apart is how it manages to blend the tropes of at least a half-dozen subgenres (zombies, body-snatching, extraterrestrial menace, murder mystery, etc.) while still remaining its own curious and wildly entertaining beast.

Trivia: The impressive miniature locomotive and train compartment sets (or set, since by all reports they just had the one which was redressed ad infinitum) are rumored to have been inherited from Pancho Villa (released the same year, also directed by Martín and starring Savalas), which had in turn been passed down from 1971’s Oscar-winning Nicholas and Alexandra.

(*ported over from Severin Films’ 2011 Blu-ray release )

Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

Original Uncompressed mono audio

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

NEW audio commentary with Stephen Jones and Kim Newman

NEW “Ticket to Die” An Appreciation by author Steve Haberman (9 min)

NEW “Night Train to Nowhere” Filmmaker Ted Newsom discusses the film and producer Bernard Gordon (15 min)

*Introduction to the film by film journalist and Horror Express super-fan Chris Alexander (7 min)

*Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express - archival interview with director Eugenio Martin (14 min)

*Notes from the Blacklist – archival interview (2005) with producer Bernard Gordon on working in Hollywood during the McCarthy Era (30 min)

*Telly and Me - an interview with composer John Cacavas (8 min)

*Original Theatrical Trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully-illustrated collector's booklet with new writing by Adam Scovell

Horror Express is available now on Blu-ray from Arrow Films through MVD Visual and can be ordered HERE:


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