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HORROR EXPRESS
Blu-ray / DVD. Severin Films.

Horror ExpressHorror Express hasn’t always had the best of times of DVD, with several releases taken from a dubious ‘public domain’ print being notable for their shoddiness. So this new edition from Severin is very welcome, especially as it’s been remastered from an original master that comes complete with Spanish titles (presenting the film under the rather more sophisticated title Panico en el Transiebriano).

This British / Spanish co-production stars Christopher Lee as Alexander Saxton, a rather stuffy and paranoid archaeologist who has discovered a missing link frozen in China and is transporting it back to England. Joining him on the train journey is Dr Wells (Peter Cushing), a colleague and possible rival, as well as the usual number of shifty characters and red herrings that are found on all movie train journeys. When a would-be thief is found dead on the platform before the train leaves, his eyes burned out, it’s clear that this will be an eventful trip, and sure enough, as the creature thaws it, it returns to life and starts offing several crew members. The monster itself is soon shot dead, but by then it’s become clear that this is, in fact, an alien presence that is capable of transferring from body to body, and is desperate to absorb the knowledge and equipment to help it get back home.

Horror ExpressA deft mix of horror, science fiction, mystery and rollicking adventure, Horror Express mixes some gruesome moments with plenty of humour, smart ideas, and sterling performances – the oft-teamed Cushing and Lee are for once, on the same side, and make a great double act, bouncing ludicrous dialogue and snappy one-liners off each other – it’s clear they were having fun here. Telly Savalas pops up towards the end as a power-crazed Cossack and almost threatens to derail the film, but eventually his presence begins to work and helps things reach a satisfyingly thrilling conclusion.

Smartly directed by Eugenio Martin, Horror Express fully deserves its reputation as one of the best genre films of the 1970s, and this new blu-ray / DVD double pack certainly does it justice. The film looks and sounds better than ever – a little too good in parts, as the limitations of a couple of make-up and miniature effects are exposed quite harshly – and comes complete with video interviews with Martin, producer Bernard Gordon (talking more about the Hollywood anti-communist blacklist that he fell foul of) and soundtrack composer John Cavacas, as well as a 1973 audio interview with Cushing, taken from a live public event (sadly unidentified) that runs as a commentary track.


DAVID FLINT

BUY IT NOW (USA)

 

 

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