Horror Express – Spain/UK, 1972

‘A non-stop ride to Hell!!’

Horror Express – aka Pánico en el Transiberiano (“Panic on the Trans-Siberian Express”) – is a 1972 British-Spanish science fiction horror feature film directed by Eugenio Martin (A Candle for the Devil; Supernatural), produced by Bernard Gordon and written by Arnaud d’Usseau and Julian Zimet.

The Scotia International production stars Christopher LeePeter Cushing, Telly Savalas (Lisa and the Devil), Alberto de Mendoza and Silvia Tortosa (The Lorely’s Grasp).

In order to cash-in on the early 80s horror movie boom, the film was re-released in the US by New Century Pictures as The Possessor.

On February 11, 2019, Horror Express is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video. The special features are:

Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Original Uncompressed mono audio
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Brand new audio commentary with Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
• Introduction to the film by film journalist and Horror Express super-fan Chris Alexander
• Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express – an interview with director Eugenio Martin
• Notes from the Blacklist – Horror Express producer Bernard Gordon on working in Hollywood during the McCarthy Era
• Telly and Me – an interview with composer John Cacavas
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
• Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet with new writing by Adam Scovell

Plot:

In 1906, Professor Alexander Saxton (Christopher Lee), an English anthropologist, is returning to Europe by the Trans-Siberian Express from Manchuria to Moscow. With him is a crate containing the frozen remains of a primitive humanoid creature that he discovered in a cave in Manchuria. He hopes it is a missing link in human evolution. Doctor Wells (Peter Cushing), Saxton’s rival and Royal Society colleague, is also onboard but travelling separately.

A long-haired and bearded monk (Alberto de Mendoza), the spiritual advisor to a Polish Count and Countess who are also waiting to board the train, proclaims the contents of the crate to be evil. Saxton furiously dismisses this as superstition.

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Saxton’s eagerness to keep his scientific find secret arouses the suspicion of Doctor Wells, who bribes a porter (Victor Israel) to investigate the crate. The porter is killed by the ape-like creature within, which then escapes the crate by picking the lock…

Reviews:

Horror Express is directed in an appro­pri­ately full-throttle style by Eugenio Martin, who main­tains a white-knuckle pace that deploys both adven­ture movie tac­tics and hor­ror atmos­phere with con­fi­dence.  Some scenes mix both, the best being a scene where the crea­ture takes on a bunch of sol­diers in a dark­ened train car.” Schlockmania!

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” …a grisly and macabre slice of sci-fi horror with a pretty steep body count for the day with no less than 15 by my count. At only and hour and a half the film’s well-plotted structure keeps the momentum moving forward with thrilling twists and turns, there’s no point at which the story becomes stagnant, it’s a finely paced film.” McBastard’s Mausoleum

“Severin’s packed this with a wealth of bonus features, too; among them are an introduction from Fango editor Chris Alexander, who recounts his early 80s experience with the film on VHS (nostalgia hounds will eat this up), a conversation with composer Cacavas, a new interview with Martin (who discusses the conception and production of the film and even tosses in some nice anecdotes involving Cushing and Lee), a 30 minute interview with producer Bernard Gordon on his days as a blacklisted Hollywood writer, and the film’s theatrical trailer.” Brett Gallman, Oh, the Horror!

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Buy X-Cert 2Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

” … gets away with its unlikely story with the fast speed of the action and nicely humorous passages such as Lee and Cushing, accused of being callous monsters, protesting “But we are English!”.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror 

Choice dialogue: 

“There’s a stink of Hell on this train.”

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Cast and characters:

  • Christopher Lee … Professor Sir Alexander Saxton
  • Peter Cushing … Dr. Wells
  • Alberto de Mendoza … Father Pujardov
  • Telly Savalas … Captain Kazan
  • Julio Peña … Inspector Mirov
  • Silvia Tortosa … Countess Irina Petrovski
  • Ángel del Pozo … Yevtushenko
  • Helga Liné … Natasha
  • Alice Reinheart … Miss Jones
  • José Jaspe … Conductor Konev
  • George Rigaud … Count Marion Petrovski
  • Víctor Israel … Maletero – the Baggage Man
  • Faith Clift … American Passenger (credited as Faith Swift)
  • Juan Olaguivel … the Creature (credited as Juan Olaguibel)
  • Barta Barri … First Telegraphist

Image credits: Temple of Schlock

Poster image at the top is artwork for a proposed British poster by Tom Chantrell

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