Of all the genres, horror is probably the one that produces the MOST films that become guilty pleasures for viewers. I have quite a few bad horror movies that I like- though not necessarily publicly. “Horror Express” is one such film.
An anthropologist finds a humanoid creature frozen with the Siberian ice, and decides to transport it home via train thinking that he’s found the legendary “Missing Link”. What he and those around him soon discovered is that the Professor has unwittingly brought death onto the train.
“Horror Express” was filmed on a budget of $300,000.00, and featured the miniature train and sets from Eugenio Martin’s previous film, “Pancho Villa”. It is also worth nothing that Peter Cushing almost walked off the set of this film due to his grief over the recent loss of his wife. It was only through discussing their previous films with Christopher Lee that Cushing decided to remain with the film.
This film has often been compared to- or mistaken for a, Hammer Horror Films. This is actually pretty easy to see. The style of the sets are lavish and reminiscent of the early Dracula films. The way the blood looks hand painted on, rather than actually dribbling out of the orifices also reminded me of the way the blood would look on Dracula’s chin. To top it all off, it has Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing- the two stars most people associate with the famous Hammer films. That similarity is probably part of the reason I have a soft spot for this slightly cheesy movie.
The story may not be the strongest, but it is sufficient to provide a starting point for an entertaining night. There are certain things that aren’t exactly consistant from plot element to plot element- such as why one person “possessed” by the creature would have an arm like the creature, while the next host wouldn’t. I would’ve liked a little more continuity in that sort of thing.
If you’re looking for a cool monster effects… this may not be the movie for you. Due to the budget, the monster consisted of a hairy arm, a icky decayed head… and glowing red eyes. There isn’t much gore either if you’re hungry for that too. I will say though that the smooth brain was sufficiently silly enough to be entertaining.
The main strength of Horror Express is in its cast. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee hand in great performances as Dr. Wells, and Professor Saxton and show why they were such a great team in the classic Dracula series. Julian Halevy was beautiful as the Countess. I have to say that Telly Savalas chewed the scenery wonderfully as the Cossack commander. I couldn’t help but smile when he’d deliver lines like, “But the devil must fear an honest Cossack…” I felt, however that Alberto de Mendoza as the Rasputin-like monk stole the show in his scenes.
While this movie is quite flawed in some respects, it’s still enjoyable enough to become one of my guilty pleasures…