Released in 1972 under the international title Panic on the Trans-Siberian Express, this effective horror thriller is now regarded as one of the better European horror films of the 1970s, aided immeasurably by the casting ... more »of horror icons Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Set at the turn of the 20th century, the story begins in China when the arrogant British Professor Saxton (played by Lee) boards the Trans-Siberian Express with a mysterious crate containing a body that he claims is the missing link in human evolution. What he doesn't know is that his ancient discovery is still alive--a monster with glowing red eyes that stare into the eyes of its victims, boiling their brains and absorbing their intelligence, turning them into zombies possessed by the creature's evolving personality! Pretty soon even Telly Savalas (as a power-mad Cossack) is raving among the train full of zombies, and it's up to Lee and rival anthropologist Cushing to destroy them... or die! There's a surplus of thrills and chills in this sharp, fast-paced Spanish-British production, made at a time when suspense and clever writing were still valued over graphic gore and special effects. --Jeff Shannon« less
"I'd long been a fan of this film: It's quite unique and has a very European avant-garde feel to it. It has a quite dark and foreboding ambiance to it that is chilling.However, The quality of the DVD transfer is awful! The picture is muddy and fuzzy and there are fuzzy scanlines present. The colour is much more washed out than it should be. I recently taped this film from TV and the picture quality was much better, even on VHS! Sharper detail, richer colour. However, this is obviously a budget DVD and until someone decides to release a cleaned up widescreen version (and this is crying out for a collectors edition) , it's a choice between this and the VHS! The format can do much better than this."
Great movie, weak DVD.
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Horror Express is one of my favorite movies -- it has a great cast, an interesting script, and a bit of humor to keep things entertaining. Having just purchased a DVD drive, I couldn't resist buying the DVD release. I don't regret my purchase, but the disc could have been a lot better. The film is only available on the disk in a panned and scanned format, and overall the print doesn't look much better than the one shown on TV fairly frequently. The disc's only extras are a few screens of text on the cast. If you haven't seen this film, it's worth seeing, especially if you enjoy British horror, but if you have seen it already, this disc isn't too spectacular an addition to your collection."
Train leaving on Track Five for Anaheim, Azusa and Cucamonga
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 08/31/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Horror Express (1974), aka Panic in the Trans-Siberian Train, stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in one of their many collaborations on film (22, in fact) and is certainly an interesting mix of science fiction and horror, providing a lot more than I would have expected, given this particular version comes from Image Entertainment's Euroshock Collection. I've never been a really big fan of European horror, specifically from the period of the late sixties through the late 80's, as I've found it more often than not a little too visceral, i.e. gory, for my tastes. I can understand the appeal to those who love that kind of thing, but I've felt extreme violence can work just as well, if not better, if it's implied, rather than shown, given that the director is any good at his/her craft. My imagination is a whole lot scarier than anything I've ever seen on screen, but I digress...
This Spanish production, directed by Eugeno Martin, takes place in the early 20th century, and begins with Professor Alexander Saxton (Lee), an anthropologist, finding an ancient frozen man-beast somewhere in Manchuria, I think...anyway, he crates it up for transport and future study back in his native England, and proceeds to take it with him on the Trans-Siberian Express, where he meets an acquaintance in Dr, Wells (Cushing), and his assistant whose name I forget but she reminded me a lot of that creepy little troll woman from Poltergeist (1982). As they embark on their journey by train across the frozen tundra, murdered victims begin popping up. The method of their deaths is particularly strange, as they don't seem to have been killed by any conventional methods, and their eyes always appear opaque, with a bit of blood emanating from their various facial orifices, eyes, nose, mouth, etc. It's soon learned that Professor Saxton's discovery, a seemingly fossilized creature, has come back to life, and is the cause of the deaths. The exact nature of the creature may surprise you (maybe not, as I think some have already give it away). What are its' motives?
I actually enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would. I was put off by thoughts of it being a European horror film, my reasons already explained, but I gave it a chance as I really enjoy Lee and Cushing, and having them together is a real bonus. That's not to say every film they been in separately or together is a winner, but this is certainly better than average (if you want to see some real stinkers, check out The Bloody Judge (1970) or the Fu Manchu films of the late 60's. They gained a little from his appearance in them, but not much.) The overall story had a plot, and it did manage to follow it quite well. If you are a fan of early 50's sci-fi, you will probably see a lot of commonalities in this film compared to some of those, one more famous one in particular, finally released to DVD by Warner Brothers in late 2003. The European horror elements (blood!) come in the form of blood emanating from the victim's eyes, nose, and mouth during the process of being killed, and isn't as graphic as I would have thought (no entrails being ate up and such, but there is a little brain exploration as various victims suffer the indignity of an autopsy in the baggage car of the train). The real reason to see this film is for Lee and Cushing, as they can often take trash and spin gold. That's not to say this movie would have been trash without them, as I think it's pretty solid, but their appearances make selling this Spanish production certainly a lot easier in the international market. And let's not forget Telly Salavas (Who loves ya, baby?). He appears as Captain Kazan, a brutal, ruthless Cossack who boards the train with his troops in order to investigate the murders. His screen time is limited, which is too bad, as he had one of the more interesting roles, but what he lacks in time on the screen he makes up for in a memorable performance.
I did feel a little awkwardness in the plot as some elements seemed to be tied in and together in fairly flimsy fashion, and particularly elements arose a bit too conveniently for my tastes, but these issues were pretty minor in the context of the film. The special effects were actually pretty good. The use of miniatures to show the train moving on looked quaint (for better or for worse) and gave a certain charm to the film. The claustrophobic nature of nearly the entire film being shot on sets meant to be the interior of the train helped keep the tension throughout, as escape into the vast, frozen wasteland was not a possibility. Also, the elegance of the interiors, specifically the first class cars, played nicely against the horror of the creature originally stuck riding in the baggage car (I thought maybe he was just looking for space in the first class compartments, but his greed was so much more). The creature itself really wasn't that frightening to me, but then I think years of horror films and such have desensitized my reactions to such stimuli. It did remind me of a dirtier, unkempt Grinch, with matted and mottled fur.
The wide screen print used for this DVD does show a good number of flaws, mainly scratches and signs of lack of preservation. It's not too bad, and doesn't hinder one's ability to watch, but every now and again you may be taken out of the film but an obtrusive defect. Not much in the form of special features, but this version does have the option of watching the film with only the music and sound effects, no dialog...very odd...there's extensive liner notes on the case flap worth reading for historical info on the film.
Imaginative variation on THE THING theme
Ray K. Sibul | Morris, MN USA | 04/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An imaginative and entertaining variation on THE THING theme, beautifully played out on the Trans-Siberian Express. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are standouts, aided by an impressive character-driven supporting cast. Especially noteworthy are Angel Del Pozo as the monk and Julio Pena as the inspector. Don't let the flickering glare of the locomotive lights in the beginning credits fool you into thinking that you purchased a poor print. The power of light and darkness will play a significant role in the film, but fortunately without the eyestrain associated with the gimmicky beginning credits. HORROR EXPRESS has for a long time been a public domain item, with poor copies floating all over the place. But Geneon (Pioneer) has given us an almost flawless print of this respected Euro horror title at a very low price. The images are clear and stable, the colors sharp and clean, the sound full and strong. In fact, Geneon's high quality DVD print of HORROR EXPRESS is worth having, even if you already own a copy of this tremendous film in lesser condition. I welcome this DVD release with 5 resounding cheers! It is always such a genuine pleasure to find good quality with a lower price tag."
Good Film, Decent DVD
paradine22 | West Point, CA United States | 10/29/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is for the Image Entertainment(more expensive)DVD, not the Caligula which I understand is cheaper but of very inferior quality. Decided no need to repeat that frustration. This print is not brand new razor perfect, but it is a 35mm transfer, as sharp as I've seen of this film and certainly worth owning. LBX is fine, as this film was only in 1.66:1 anyway. Cushing and Lee are a delight in one of their best teamings ever, and certainly one of the best international horror films of this period. This is definitely a +++ for the collection!! firstname.lastname@example.org"