Horror Express: Christopher Lee 2003 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing were “the best of screen enemies” (to quote Lee). So it’s entertaining to see them in a different kind of movie, such as “Horror Express,” a somewhat hokey horror movie that is made up for by some excellent performances and pervasive creepiness. You’ll never look at a fossil quite the same way again.
Professor Saxton (Christopher Lee) uncovers a frozen ape-man in northern China, and has it crated and loaded on the Trans-Siberian Express. But after his colleague Dr. Wells (Peter Cushing) bribes the baggage man to peek inside, the baggage man is found dead, with bloody white eyes—and the fossil is gone. More people fall prey to the creature before it’s fatally shot by a Russian police officer.
But it soon becomes apparent that the creature may be dead—but whatever was inside it has just moved on to its next host. Wells and Saxton try to puzzle out what they are dealing with, while a mad monk (Alberto de Mendoza) tries to help the possessed officer, believing him to be Satan. To top things off, a force of Cossack soldiers have arrived to deal with the threat…
“Horror Express” is one of those movies that would normally be B-grade all around—capable, but nothing really memorable. The plot about a bodysnatching, memory-sucking alien is kinda hokey. But it’s the presentation that makes it really interesting, with Lee and Cushing as a pair of scientists, and a sense of mystery around what the creature really is.
And it all takes place in the confines of a train, which gives the movie a claustrophobic feeling, as well as making it seem a bit like a horror version of “Murder on the Orient Express.” The dialogue ranges from silly (“There’s a stink of hell on this train!”) to slyly satirical (“But what if one of you is the monster?” “Monster? We’re BRITISH, you know!”).
Lee and Cushing are the bright spots in here, as the uptight, scientific-minded Saxton and the friendly Wells, who keeps rubbing Saxton the wrong way. It’s interesting to see them as allies (“friends” would be pushing it), and the the two actors give plenty of little details to their strong performances. Dracula and Van Helsing, they ain’t. And Telly Savalas shows up briefly as a swaggering, likable Cossack captain.
The Diamond Entertainment copy I saw was not in great condition—it was rather blurry and dull-sounding. Just not very good, especially since better copies are available for not much more money from Geneon/Pioneer.
“Horror Express” is basically a B-movie with the usual weak and solid moments, but some grade-A talent making it worthwhile. Enjoyably spooky.