Horror Express is a 1972 Spanish/British science fiction/horror film. It stars Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Telly Savalas in a wild story of alien intelligence, cossacks, and stiff upper lipped Brits. But is it any good? Well, read on, Fiends…
In 1906, Professor Saxon boards a train in Siberia. With him is a frozen creature he believes to be the “missing link” between man and ape. The creature reanimates, and is discovered to be host to an alien intelligence. The alien can transfer from person to person, and reanimate the dead as zombies.
The passengers and crew must try to stop the alien before it reaches a Moscow. But their task is complicated by a mad priest who worships the alien. Add in a bunch of crazy cossacks who join the train, and you have a recipe for chaos and death!
Compared to many of it’s contemporaries, Horror Express features a fairly unique plot. In the early 70s, horror was moving into a more realistic phase. As such, Horror Express was a bit of a throwback to the “monster movies” of the 50s & 60s. In a nod to contemporary genre standards, the film is relatively gory.
Shot in Spain, and utilising some amazingly good miniatures, the film looks really rather good. The enclosed train sets help create a really claustrophobic mood. And the turn of the century setting adds a layer of gothicness to the sets. There is a lot of wood panelling, and plush furniture on display. \The cinematography is largely excellent, helping maintain the films mood well. Audio is as you would expect from the time, being mono, but well recorded. There is some clear dubbing into English where Spanish actors have been used, but this never grates.
Given the lead talent involved, the film is naturally well acted. It makes a pleasant change to see Cushing and Lee teaming up as the heroes. And Telly Savalas gets to chew the scenery in a rip-roaring performance as the Cossack Captain. The remainder of the cast aquit themsleves well.
In many ways, Horror Express can be seen as a link between the 1950s version of The Thing, and John Carpenters version from 1982. The alien jumping bodies device, and the who is the alien premise are certainly very similar.
Arrow Video have done a fine job with this set. The film itself has been remastered in HD from the original elements. And it looks superb. Far, far better than any prior version of the film released. The disc also contains the following extras:
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Brand new audio commentary with Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
- Introduction to the film by film journalist and Horror Express super-fan Chris Alexander
- Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express – an interview with director Eugenio Martin
- Notes from the Blacklist – Horror Express producer Bernard Gordon on working in Hollywood during the McCarthy Era
- Telly and Me – an interview with composer John Cacavas
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
Horror Express: The Verdict
If you enjoy the old Hammer/Tigon/Amicus horror films, then Horror Express is perfect for you. It bridges the gap between the old Hammer guard, and the newer 1970s take on the genre brilliantly. And who can resist Cushing and Lee together in a film?
5/5 Fiends. Essential for any horror fan.
Buy Horror Express: https://arrowfilms.com/product-detail/horror-express-blu-ray/FCD1834