4 Shots From 4 Train-Set Horror Films: Horror Express, Terror Train, The Midnight Meat Train, Howl

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Earlier today, I reviewed Terror Train, a horror film set on a train.  There’s actually be quite a few horror films set on trains.  In fact, there’s been so many that’s it’s the topic of today’s 4 Shots from 4 Films!

4 Shots From 4 Train-Set Horror Films

Horror Express (1972, dir by Eugenio Martin)

Terror Train (1980, dir by Roger Spottiswoode)

The Midnight Meat Train (2008, dir by Ryuhei Kitamura)

Howl (2015, dir by Paul Hyett)


Christopher Lee, R.I.P.


The picture above is Christopher Lee in the 1998 film Jinnah.  In this epic biopic, Lee played Muhammad Ali Jinniah, the founder of modern Pakistan.  Up until yesterday, I had never heard of Jinnah but, after news of Lee’s death broke, Jinnah was frequently cited as being Lee’s personal favorite of his many roles and films.

Consider that.  Christopher Lee began his film career in the 1940s and he worked steadily up until his death.  He played Dracula.  He played The Man with the Golden Gun.  Christopher Lee appeared, with his future best friend Peter Cushing, in Laurence Olivier’s Oscar-winning Hamlet.  He played Seurat in John Huston’s Moulin Rouge.  He appeared in both The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogies.  He appeared in several films for Tim Burton.  He even had a small role in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo.  He appeared in two Star Wars prequels.  He appeared in the original Wicker Man (and reportedly considered it to be his favorite of his many horror films).  He appeared in Oscar winners and box office hits.  And, out of all that, Christopher Lee’s personal favorite was Jinnah, a film that most people have never heard about.

Unless, of course, you live in Pakistan.  When I did a google search on Christopher Lee, I came across several Pakistani news sources that announced: “Christopher Lee, star of Jinnah, has died.”

And really, that somehow seems appropriate.  Christopher Lee was the epitome of an international film star.  He worked for Hammer in the UK.  He worked with Jess Franco in Spain and Mario Bava in Italy.  He appeared in several movies in the United States.  And, in Pakistan, he played Jinnah.  And I haven’t seen Jinnah but I imagine he was probably as great in that role as he was in every other role that I saw him play.  Over the course of his long career, Christopher Lee appeared in many good films but he also appeared in his share of bad ones.  But Christopher Lee was always great.

It really is hard to know where to begin with Christopher Lee.  Though his death was announced on Thursday, I haven’t gotten around to writing this tribute until Friday.  Admittedly, when I first heard that Lee had passed away, I was on a romantic mini-vacation and had promised myself that I would avoid, as much as possible, getting online for two days.  But, even more than for those personal reasons, I hesitated because I just did not know where to start when it came to talking about Christopher Lee.  He was one of those figures who overwhelmed by his very existence.

We all know that Christopher Lee was a great and iconic actor.  And I imagine that a lot of our readers know that Lee had a wonderfully idiosyncratic musical career, releasing his first heavy metal album when he was in his 80s.  Did you know that Lee also served heroically during World War II and, after the war ended, helped to track down fleeing Nazi war criminals?  Did you know that it has been speculated that Lee may have served as one of the role models for James Bond?  (Ian Fleming was a cousin of Lee’s and even tried to convince Lee to play Dr. No in the first Bond film.)  Christopher Lee lived an amazing life, both on and off the screen.

But, whenever one reads about Christopher Lee and his career or watches an interview with the man, the thing that always comes across is that, for someone who played so many evil characters, Christopher Lee appeared to be one the nicest men that you could ever hope to meet.  Somehow, it was never a shock to learn that his best friend was his frequent screen nemesis, Peter Cushing.

Christopher Lee is one of those great actors who we assumed would always be here.  The world of cinema will be a sadder world without him.

Legends together

Legends together

Here is a list of Christopher Lee films that we’ve reviewed here on the Shattered Lens.  Admittedly, not all of these reviews focus on Lee but they do provide a hint of the man’s versatility:

  1. Airport ’77
  2. Dark Shadows
  3. Dracula A.D. 1972
  4. Dracula Has Risen From The Grave
  5. Dracula, Prince of Darkness
  6. Hercules in the Haunted World
  7. The Hobbit
  8. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
  9. Horror Express
  10. The Horror of Dracula
  11. Hugo
  12. Jocks
  13. The Man With The Golden Gun
  14. The Satanic Rites of Dracula
  15. Scars of Dracula
  16. Scream and Scream Again
  17. Season of the Witch
  18. Starship Invasions
  19. Taste The Blood of Dracula
  20. The Wicker Tree

Sir Christopher Lee was 93 years old and he lived those 9 decades in the best way possible.  As long as there are film lovers, he will never be forgotten.

Quickie Horror Review: Horror Express (dir. Eugenio Martin)

In some places it’s already Halloween but here on the West Coast it is still a few more hours til the best night of the year arrives.

There was one film when I was really young which scared the hell out of me and when I think about it now I have to say that it probably will still cause me to lose hours of sleep over it. It’s a horror/sci-fi film from Spain and released in 1972. Horror Express was directed by Spanish filmmaker Eugenio Martin and starred two titans of the gothic horror scene of the 60’s and 70’s in Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. It also starred Telly Savalas in quite the creepy and sadistic role as a Cossack captain.

When the film was made the horror genre scene was still hanging onto the gothic  aesthetics of the very popular Hammer Films which dominated the genre from the 60’s and into the early 70’s. While the Herschel Gordon Lewis bloodsplatter exploitation films and Romero’s own Night of the Living Dead was the beginning of the move to more violent and gory films that would see it’s gain strength in the 70’s this film from Spain was unique in that it tried to do have that Hammer Films look in addition to some gory work (though still tame to what would arrive years later).

Horror Express was all about a Transsiberian express train on the way back to Europe with some Russian royalty on-board and a particular anthropological find stored on-board the baggage car. The scientist who found the specimen was played by Christopher Lee with Peter Cushing his colleague and fellow researcher. Through Lee’s character Saxton trying vainly to keep the finding secret from everyone the specimen suddenly becomes aware and soon begins the wreak deadly havoc on the passengers on-board.

The film shares some clear similarities to the Joseph W. Campbell, Jr. scifi novella Who Goes There? which also was the direct inspiration for John Carpenter’s The Thing a decade later. One thing about this film which remained terrifying was how it treated the victims of the entity that awoke from within the specimen. I would say that the zombie-like state the dead victims returned in makes for some of the more terrifying images from horror films during the early 70’s that didn’t rely too much on gore and extreme violence. It’s these scenes of the white-eyed zombies shambling from train car to train car as they’re being controlled by entity that struck me as one of the most horrifying thing I’ve ever seen. It didn’t help that I was 8 years-old at the time. But even now decades later I still get a strong, visceral reaction to that scene whenever I get an urge to re-watch Horror Express.

It’s a horror/sci-fi film which has lapsed into public domain and thus makes it easy for anyone who don’t want to spend some money to buy the DVD release. It’s a fitting fillm to help usher in 2011’s Halloween and it’s also one of the last great gothic horror films of the era before the arrival of the Wes Craven’s, John Carpenter’s and Tobe Hooper’s.