The Horror Honeys: Saturday Creature Feature with Suzanne!

Saturday Creature Feature with Suzanne!

Horror Express (1972)

Anyone with a decent knowledge of horror cinema knows who Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are. If not, please never speak to me again. However, it may surprise some that this pair made 22 movies together and, while not all of them are horror, I’ve spent the last couple of decades collecting all of them. One of the first films I saw them in is Horror Express. This is another vivid memory of sitting on the floor, a foot from the TV, at my grandparents’ house, transfixed at the Technicolor horror in front of me.

Lee stars as Sir Alexander Saxton, an anthropologist, who discovers a creature he believes to be the evolutionary missing link. Saxton is bringing his find back to Europe via railway. Safely tucked away in a triple locked crate, a notorious thief attempts to steal the contents and is subsequently discovered dead. Cause of death is unknown, but he is found bleeding from his eyes, which have turned completely white.

Once aboard the train, more similar deaths occur and all signs point to the mysterious crate. Saxton and his colleague, Dr. Wells (Cushing), set about to find answers. What they discover through half-assed autopsies (although all they do is cut the skull open) is the knowledge of the victim has been completely erased. They find the monster and kill it, but the murders continue. Who or what is behind these bizarre murders? Will anyone make it off the train alive?! Was the creature really human or something… else?

Yes sir, you're in for a classic when these two shake hands!
Horror Express is not a Hammer film, but who cares? It stars two of my favorite old men, whose characters actually get to work as a team, rather than try to kill each other, although Saxton and Wells do have a bit of a professional rivalry. That contention provides a bit of humor without turning the film into an unintentional comedy.

Cushing gets the best lines in the film. Toward the climax, when they have decided no one must be left alone, the inspector on the train questions why Wells and Saxton are together, considering their involvement and that one of them could be the monster. Wells responds with, “Monster? We’re British, you know.” Probably funnier in the context of the film, but I had a laugh.

That is a snazzy outfit, Telly.
Of course, when I did some research on the production I discovered this was shot right after Cushing’s beloved wife Helen passed away, a loss he never got over. He initially decided he could not do the film as he was still grieving, but Christopher Lee, his longtime friend, convinced him it would be good for him. *sniff* I’m not crying. I’ve just got something in my eye.

How do we get in the middle of that sexy Brit sandwich?
Telly Savalas, who gets pretty impressive billing, makes a glorified cameo as a Cossack, Captain Kazan, and overacts like only he can!

I have to say, after watching this again recently, it’s is a pretty decent film, considering the low budget and production issues. It’s a monster movie, but uses supernatural and sci-fi elements in a very creative way. Even the special effects, which are minimal, don’t cross the line into ridiculous save a few exterior shot miniatures.

Sadly, Horror Express is not available on Amazon or Netflix for streaming, but it is available on DVD and blu ray. I have both and the blu transfer is fantastic. It’s worth a buy.

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