Horror Express (1973)- Eugenio Martin

DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies brings me another alien menace, and this time seems to transplant it into a horror version of Murder on the Orient Express. But who better to confront the terror than two British horror legends and experts, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing (with an appearance by Telly Savalas?

Christopher Lee is Sir Alexander Saxton who is travelling via train across the continent with his recovered cargo, a strange fossil that seems part man and part ape. Also travelling on the train are spies, royalty, a priest who looks like he used Rasputin as his fashion adviser and Peter Cushing’s Dr. Wells.

The fossil elicits a lot of interest, and many of the crew attempt to take a peek at it, unfortunately, it’s not as deceased as everyone thought, and soon is free of its container, and absorbing the knowledge and brain power of each person it stalks and kills.

As our heroes pool their resources to study the mounting number of victims as well as the creature itself, they learn of its alien origin, its abilities, and must find a way to stop it before the train reaches its destination.

Despite the gravitas the both Cushing and Lee bring to their roles, and the actual halfway decent creature design, the film is a little too restrained, and definitely not as fun as it could be given the location and subject matter.

Still the pair hold the attention, even if the film itself falters, and the science doesn’t even get off the starting block. The film is based loosely on the very familiar story of Who Goes There? a title you may not recognise but the film’s it inspired you will definitely know… The Thing From Another World, and The Thing. While not credited, you can very much see that it serves as a bit of a launching place.

I personally find the behind the scenes stuff much more interesting, how Lee convinced Cushing to stay on the project, reminding him of all their previous work together. Cushing was mourning the loss of his wife, something he did until the end of his days, and Lee helped his dear friend cope and deal on a daily, and nightly basis.

So while the film may not be gangbusters, it’s of note simply for the compassion one person can have for another, to keep them engaged, working, safe and loved.

That’s nice.

But don’t worry, there’s more menaces to come as I explore more of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies. Why not pick up a copy for yourself, and find something monstrous to watch tonight?

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