BRAINS, TRAINS & EXTRA-TERRESTRIALS! [30-4-2011]
HORROR EXPRESS (1972)
This movie is the reason popcorn was invented.
It starts out like a cut price Indiana Jones, with Christopher Lee trooping through the mountains. Once the action shifts to the train it turns into a monster movie, with the resurrected ice man sneaking around and draining the brains of a bunch of minor characters. Once the ice man is dead, the movie becomes a Sherlock Holmes-style murder mystery as Lee and co-star Peter Cushing realize the alien killer is hiding among the passengers.
Smart enough to keep the funky action coming, the filmmakers outdo themselves at the finale by adding yet another ingredient to the mix, a group of antagonists even more bizarre and dangerous than the body-snatching alien - Siberian Cossacks!
To top it all off, their leader is played by everyone's favorite slaphead Telly Savalas. Bald, dressed in a blood red uniform, and gargling vodka like mouthwash, Savalas' Colonel Kazan is great fun. More interested in drinkin' and whorin' than investigating, Kazan manages to be both ridiculous and entertaining. Just like the movie.
However it's not long before the movie shifts genres again, turning into a full-on zombie onslaught for the slam-bang finale.
I've tried to refrain from revealing key plot points, but I'm honestly not sure what the plot to this movie is. It veers from one crazy scene to the next, with the only motive being to keep it entertaining. At a slick 84 minutes long, the film is fast and furious, packed with all the action and eye candy you'd expect from a 70s B-movie, but without all the slow exposition and character bits.
Not to say the movie doesn't have some depth. It's just refreshing to see filmmakers who know how to establish characters quickly and economically without the eye-rollingly stilted attempts at backstory found in more recent genre pics.
If you've ever wanted to see Chris Lee in a sword fight with zombified Cossacks, this is the film for you!