Our editor-in-chief Nate Yapp is proud to have contributed to the new book Hidden Horror: A Celebration of 101 Underrated and Overlooked Fright Flicks, edited by Aaron Christensen. Another contributors include Anthony Timpone, B.J. Colangelo, Dave Alexander, Classic-Horror.com's own Robert C. Ring and John W. Bowen. Pick up a copy today from Amazon.com!
Horror Express (1973)
I’m somewhat pleased that Nate asked me to do this review because I got to watch this film. I‘ve had it on DVD for a couple years now and I haven‘t had the opportunity to view it. I have just finished viewing it and found that it’s quite a fun little flick.
I should probably start off by saying that if Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee weren’t in this film, it would have been horrible. The premise of the movie is laughable. Chris Lee’s character discovers what he thinks is “the missing link” to mankind. He takes it home with him on the train (I wonder if he had to pay extra as that is not a standard carry-on crate.).
Also on the train is his chief rival, who is played by Peter Cushing. To make a long story short, the Link gets loose and starts killing people on the train, so naturally they decide to kill him. After the beast is dead, the strange murders continue. Now the two rival scientists have to work together to stop the creature from killing. The end of the movie is most amusing (you Lionel train fans will enjoy it). This film isn’t chilling, frightening, scary, horrifying, or any other euphemism for “terror”, but still pleasing. Not bad, for a little flick.
The script itself wasn’t too bad, but the acting (Lee and Cushing excluded) was pretty horrendous. Fortunately, the Deadly Duo’s acting prowess is superb enough to negate most of the other actors mis-contributions to the scenes. Some parts of the film are so ridiculous (like the microscope scene), but it kind of adds a “cheesy in a good way” connotation to the movie. So many lapses of logic occur in the flick (like no one thinking of stopping the train or jumping off when there’s a killing beast loose on the train), but it’s good fun.
I do have to give some snaps to my two boys, Cushing and Lee. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; they made this film. The script was average, the directing was so-so, but it was their screen presence that made this film into a fun way to spend an hour and some change, instead of a torturous ordeal worse than seeing Valentine in slow motion. It seems regardless of how hideous a film is, those two can make it infinitely better (Star Wars Episode II - I rest my case.)
I couldn’t classify this as a must see, but it's not a bad choice. Modern horror fans will probably be a little more indifferent to it, but it would please fans of the Hammer film era. This should be required viewing for all Chris Lee and Peter Cushing completeists. I do agree that this is a nice rental for a lazy afternoon or evening. At best, you’ll find it a delightful little film and at absolute worse, you’ll get some laughs out of the toy train barreling off the cliff. Can’t really lose there, huh?