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Horror Express / Panico en el Transiberiano
Zombie Express to Hell / Panic in the Trans-Siberian Train

UK / Spain 1972
produced by
Bernard Gordon for Benmar Productions/Granada Films
directed by Eugenio Martin (as Gene Martin)
starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Telly Savalas, Alberto de Mandoza, Silvia Tortosa, Julio Pena, Ángel del Pozo, Helga Liné, Georges Rigaud, Alice Reinheart, Victor Israel, Juan Olaguivel, Vicente Roca, Barta Barri, José Marco, José Canalejas
story by Eugenio Martin (as Gene Martin, screenplay by Arnaud d'Usseau, Juan Zimet, music by John Cacavas, special effects by Pablo Pérez

review by
Mike Haberfelner


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In Manchuria, Doctor Saxton (Christopher Lee) has excavated a fossil he believes to be the Missing Link, and he plans to take it to Europe by the Trans Siberian Express ... which might not be such a good idea in the first place since many a sinister character ride on the train, including fellow scientist doctor Wells (Peter Cushing) - who is just too dead curious about Saxton's fossil - and his assistant Miss Jones (Alice Reinheart), mad monk Pujardov (Alberto de Mendoza) - who claims the fossil is possessed by the devil -, international spy Natasha (Helga Liné), inspector Mirov (Julio Pena) - who suspects just about everybody of a major crime -, and Count Petrovski (Georges Rigaud) and his wife (Silvia Tortosa). And as if this assortment of characters ranging from the nosey to the dangerous wasn't enough, it soon becomes clear the fossil is not even really dead, so when Wells bribes a luggage worker (Victor Israel) to take a peek at the fossil, it proves to be not only not dead, but also deadly, as, in order to break free from the crate it's kept in, it kills the poor man ... When a few more passengers on the train die too, inspector Mirov decides to have Wells do an autopsy on one of the corpses ... and Wells finds out that the creature actually sucks out its victims' braincells, and all knowledge with it - which would mean it's a really fast learner.

Soon though Mirov manages to corner the monster and shoot it ... End of story? Hardly.

While Wells and Saxton perform an autopsy on the monster and find images engraved on it's retina, including one proving that it actually came to earth from outer space, it becomes clear (to the audience) that the monster, when cornered, transferred its mind into Mirov, and is now continuing its killing spree as the police inspector. To shed light upon the sinister goings-on aboard the express, Kozak general Kazan (Telly Savalas) and his soldiers decide to embark on the train in Siberia, and soon Kazan finds out the human identity of the monster and shoots Mirov ... unfortunately to little avail, since the monster has taken precautions and transferred its mind to the mad monk, and as him he brutally slaughters Kazan and his Kozaks. Now it's up to Saxton and Wells to rectify the situation - but are they even up to it?

 

Sure, Horror Express spins a very trashy yarn riddled with clichés that has been told a good hundred times before ... and at the same time it's a surprisingly entertaining film, as director Eugenio Martin tells his tale in a wonderfully light-footed way, and he and the entire cast seem to have their tongues firmly in cheek (especially Telly Savalas in his charismatic but brief appearance), also helped by some sharp and poignant dialogue (e.g.  "If you continue behaving like this, I'll send you to Siberia." - "Mylady, I live in Siberia." or "What if one of you is the monster?" - "Monster? We're British you know."), making this a really funny ride. Now normally I'd label films with a similar premise and story "guilty pleasure" - but thanks to its unusual approach, this one's so good it's just that, a pleasure.

 

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

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directed by
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written by
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starring
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