Horror Express Retro Horror Review: Christopher Lee, Creepshow Tribute

Peter Cushing and Telly Savalas in a heated Horror Express moment.

Peter Cushing and Telly Savalas in a Horror Express moment.
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Last week, Shudderof hit anthology series Horror show aired its second final season, “Night of the Living Late Show,” starring a character obsessed with an almost 50-year-old movie titled Horror Express. It’s a real movie – and a really entertaining movie at that. If you’ve never seen it, now is a great time.

Horror Express is a B-movie without any aspiration to be anything else, directed by a Spanish production company, released in 1972, and reinforced by a cast that contains two horror superstars (Christopher lee and Peter Cushing, together outside Hammer for once) and a number of extravagant performances (by Telly Savalas, Alberto de Mendoza and Julio Peña). It also has the curiosity factor of being loosely adapted from Who’s there?, the John W. Campbell of 1938 news that also inspired the years 1951 The thing from another world and 1982 The thing, as well as the 2011 Thing prequel. And, well, this is the story of a ‘missing link’ specimen thawing and reviving aboard the Trans-Siberian Express from Shanghai to Moscow, circa 1906 … releasing an alien life form with the ability to jump into different human hosts.

It takes a while, of course. The first third of the film is mostly made up of scientist Sir Alexander Saxton (Lee) strenuously trying to keep his discovery – which he says will help prove evolution exists – a secret from everyone on the train, especially from his professional rival, Dr. Wells (Cushing), who is immediately so curious that he pays a porter to peek into the carefully locked cash register. Others on board include unofficial Inspector Mirov (Peña), tweedy academic Yevtushenko (Ángel del Pozo), a glamorous spy (Helga Liné) and a colorful entourage that includes Count Petrovski (George Rigaud), who recently invented a new cutting-edge model. type of steel; his much younger wife, Irina (Silvia Tortosa); and Pujardov (from Mendoza), the suspected Rasputin monk who travels with them.


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Any long-distance train travel with this eccentric group would likely spark some conflict, but nothing says “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” like a rampaging monster with red, glowing eyes. His coolest thing is sucking up all the knowledge from each victim, leaving their eyes completely white and their brains – as Dr Wells finds out when he does a little dissection on board –completely smooth. We finally learn that the alien, stranded on Earth since the days of the dinosaurs, just wants to get hell out of the planet ASAP. Fortunately, this trans-Siberian express journey contains several genius scientists and someone who invented a metal that can withstand very high temperatures … the kind of thing you would need if you wanted to, say, build a spatialship.

Horror Express is pretty straightforward, all in all, but it has a few layers. It’s a creature characteristic, but it’s also a big part of the plot genre on a train, and it leaves time for science versus religion debates while playing out its more awkward sci-fi elements with a straight face, for most. Although the monster is starting to take control of the bodies of the characters we have come to know – you can tell who is “the thing” because their eyes glow red in the dark, and sometimes a human hand remains very hairy and primitive. looking like a monkey – it’s hard do not to get him what he needs so he can get back to space.

the Horror Express tribute to Horror showThe season finale introduced Simon (Justin Long), a man so fond of the film that he builds an immersive device that allows him to virtually enter the film. While he is delighted to interact with Lee and Cushing, his main interest is the beautiful Countess, played by Hannah Fierman so that Tortosa’s limited scenes in the actual film can be expanded. As you can imagine, this poses problems in the already strained marriage of Simon and his exasperated wife (The right place‘s D’Arcy Carden) has his own encounter with the train alien before coming up with a delightfully creative revenge strategy.

Simon (Justin Long) gets on the Horror Express during the Creepshow season finale.

Simon (Justin Long) rides in Horror Express on the Horror show final season.
Picture: Curtis Baker / Shudder

Simon’s exciting quest in Horror Express ends before the movie gets to the best part, however, which comes nearly an hour away, just when you think it’s all going to be screaming and exhausted chic passengers as the alien sneaks into each car. Though he turns out to be utterly useless when it comes to battling monsters, Captain Kazan (Savales) – summoned aboard by a desperate crew after it becomes clear that a mass murderer is in the midst of ‘them – is an absolute champion of vodka, barking orders, being a swaggering asshole, and devouring every piece of the landscape in its all too brief screen time. Horror Express Would still be fun without it, but the performance is so satisfying and obnoxious that it elevates a low budget horror flick with a few interesting things in the realm of a bona fide cult classic.

Horror Express is available for rent through Amazon Prime; Horror show seasons one and two are now streaming on Shudder.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Horror Express is streaming on Shudder, which is incorrect. io9 regrets the error.

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