Horror Express (Pánico en el Transiberio, 1972)

UK Arrow Video Blu-ray edition

Text below written 2020-03-05


When this is written in February of 2020 the Spanish legendary filmmaker Eugenio Martín (born in 1925) is still alive, according to Wikipedia.
IMDB says he has directed 31 films between 1955 and 1987 and among them many were Paella westerns, as Requiem para el Gringo or
Requiem for Gringo (Duel in the Eclipse/Requiem für Django) and you can read about this one on my Cult & Classics page 2.
But, he also made the very atmospheric horror Una vela para el Diablo (A Candle for the Devil) in 1973 - read about this one on my Horror page 2
but unfortunately only in Swedish, about repressed sexuality, bigotry and murder in a spanish country village.
A Candle for the Devil is very underrated and unjustly obscure, in fact it's one of my Spanish Golden Era all time favourites.

Horror Express is top notch, an absolute classic. It looks sensational due to the cinematography by Alejandro Ulloa and even though a low budget
the special effects, the spare sets, the clothes look great. Part of a train and miniatyre sets was used cleverly, mostly, and everything was shot in
Madrid. The snowy plains seen in the film was done, i suppose, the same way as David Lean's colossal Dr. Zjivago was done, it's not snow but
some calcium or other powder. And, the best thing about this film is not, i think, the relaxed acting from Lee & Cushing duo, the over the top
eccentric act Telly Savalas pulls off or the beauty of Silvia Tortosa, but - the great and clever story Eugenio Martín came up with.
The very interesting and surprising Sci-Fi angle he adds to this Creature loose on a Train horror movie.

Reversible sleeve

In the intro we get to see Sir Alexander Saxton (Christopher Lee) lead an expedition into a mountain range in Szechuan, China, where he finds a
creature frozen into a block of ice. Nest, we're on the Trans-Siberian Express and the creature is contained into a crate to be taken to London.
But, the creature wakes up, escapes from his box and starts to kill and brainjump to the people on the train, the crew and the passengers.
Sir Alexander and Dr. Wells (Peter Cushing) tries to come up with an idea of how to stop the 2 million year old beast.
Among the passengers there are the Count and Countess Petrovski (George Rigaud and the beautiful Silvia Tortosa), the crazed monk Pujardov
(a great Alberto De Mendoza, i thought it was Paul Naschy at first) and the police Inspector Mirov (Julio Peña, also very good) and at the ending
in a guest role Telly Savalas has great fun in the role as an eccentric Cossack policeman

The Gorgeous Silvia Eulalia Catalina Tortosa López

In the extras audio commentary by duo i.a. Kim Newman only one thing is sure, he won't mention any beautiful woman, and the lovely Silvia
Tortosa as countess Irina Petrovska is totally ignored, but maybe Helga Line (in a small role) as the spy Natasha are mentioned.
I've only seen Catalan actress Silvia (b.1947) in 3 films, this 1972 one, in 1991 TV movie El Caso de Carmen Broto, and in Amando De Ossorio's
1973 delightful trash-horror classic Las Garras de Lorelei as teacher Ackerman.
She's a popular Spanish TV actress and has mainly played in TV series, but with a career stretching back to the 1960's she has acted in some
movies too, in a handful of horrors and crime movies. Besides the above mentioned also in the obscure and seldom seen 1977 Paul Naschy crime
thriller "The Frenchman's Orchard", in a Carlos Aured 1983 thriller "El enigma del yate" and in a trashy 1988 Jess Franco action thriller

Silvia Tortosa in 1991 TV movie (read more about this film on my Cult & Classics page 1)

The film is presented in 1.66:1 widescreen with an english mono audio with english subtitles, region B.
Extras: Audio commentary by Kim Newman and Stephen Jones, Ticket to Die: filmmaker Steve Haberman (8 minutes, 2018), Night Train to Nowhere:
filmmaker Ted Newsom on the blacklisted producer Bernard Gordon (15 minutes, 2018), Murder on the Trans-Siberian express: Archival interview
with director Eugenio Martin (13 minutes, 2011), Notes from the Blacklist: Archival 2005 interview with producer Bernard Gordon (30 minutes),
Telly and Me: interview with composer John Cacavas (18 minutes, Severin 2011), theatrical trailer

 

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