Horror Express (1972)
Stars: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Telly Savalas
Director: Eugenio Martin
Producer: Bernard Gordon, Gregorio Sacristan
Writer: Arnaud d'Usseau, Julian Zimet (as Julian Halevy)
Horror film fan favorites Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are back together again in 1972’s Horror Express, a tale of prehistoric terror set aboard a moving train. Unfortunately for both veterans stars, the proming premise of the film quickly dintegrates into a confung mishmash of too many plot twists and characters too strange to believe.There just comes a point in any film when too many plot twists spoil the overall effect. Horror Express began with an interesting premise, the idea of a captive population speeding through a wasteland with a killer creature on board – something that would be repeated years later in films such as Alien. But when the film tries to incorporate dozens of different dangling plot lines and move across film genres, it becomes far too much for the premise – and the actors – to hold. Moving the film’s villain from the prehistoric era, to modern monsters, to something as far from its beginning as the earth from the sun is a bit much to ask any viewer to believe. Adding in the strange count and countess, and their stranger still cleric friend, it’s as though filmmakers were not quite sure what they wanted to do with the film at all.
Cushing and Lee are, of course, brilliant in their roles. They play the part of scientific rivals to perfection – not surpring, nce so many of their films had paired the two on oppote ends of a stake to the heart. It’s unfortunate that the plot had to take such a nosedive and mar a relatively solidly shared career line. Telly Savalas is a uselessly extravagant addition, helping the trainwreck of an ending along its way toward demise.
Overall, it is an interesting film, though not one of the best. Perhaps better viewed not for the usual perks of a horror movie, but as an example of what not to do.
One bright spot did come in a chuckle-worthy line of dialogue, shared between Cushing and Julio Peña, who played Mirov, a police inspector aboard the train:
Mirov: What if one of you is the monster?
Dr. Wells: Monster? We're British, you know.