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Horror Express Reviews

At least as much science fiction as horror, HORROR EXPRESS has become a favorite in both genres and deservedly so. It's fast-paced, inventive, and wholly entertaining. Lee, an explorer and anthropologist, has discovered the frozen body of the evolutionary "missing link" in China and is transporting it on the Trans-Siberian Express, circa 1906. En route the ape-man defrosts and reveals himself as an alien that came to Earth in prehistoric times to claim the planet. The alien is able to absorb the intellect of human beings merely by gazing at them. Unfortunately, the process boils the brain of the victims, causing their eyes to turn white and bleed, and turns them into zombies. The alien is also able to switch bodies, taking on the identity of anyone who suits him. Soon the alien is creeping around the train possessing most of the passengers (including a small army of Cossacks led by Savalas in a desperate attempt to gather enough knowledge to build a spacecraft to get home in. Eventually Lee and his rival, Cushing, team up to defeat the marauding alien. Directed with considerable flair by Martin, HORROR EXPRESS is a truly unique little film that combines horror, sci-fi, an Agatha Christie-type mystery situation, and a DOCTOR ZHIVAGO/NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA-like setting (there's even a Rasputin character). In fact, it was because of NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA (1971) that the film was made at all. Producer Gordon owned the model train used in the 1971 film and wanted to get the maximum use out of the expensive prop. Lee and Cushing contribute typically enthusiastic performances here, and their roles are spiced with plenty of wit and humor--usually at their expense--while Savalas is delightfully hammy as the arrogant Cossack. Also worth noting is the haunting musical score by Cacavas, which in the finest Ennio Morricone tradition) contains a memorable whistled theme.