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December 2, 2012

Movie Review: Horror Express (Blu-ray/ DVD Combo)

There a have been many prolific duos in film history: Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, Pryor and Wilder, Freidman and Lewis,  are just a few that  come to mind when I think off total magic when the parties come together. In the horror realm, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are tops with their amazing camaraderie in some of the Hammer Productions (Dracula: Prince of Darkness, Horror of Dracula) they've teamed up in.

Severin Films has released the movie Horror Express from Spanish director Eugenio Martin in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack starring the legendary actors.  It may just be time to finally put away all those shitty public domain releases, use them as coasters and crack this baby open.

When a prehistoric ape-like creature is discovered in a chunk of ice in Manchuria, Dr Wells (Peter Cushing) and Professor Saxton (Christopher Lee) sees it to take the creature and study their new find. The men most move the creature from its habitat and the best way seems to be by train. The gentleman accompany the frozen creature on a train via the trans-Siberian express, and well, let's just say the monster doesn't stay frozen too long.

Curious folk start dropping dead with eyes looking like golf balls and blood gushing from the sockets when the melted creature makes eye contact with them. Of course, it's up to the boys to figure out how to take care of this mess. In the meantime, Dr. Wells open the skulls (in surprisingly gruesome manner) of the victims to find out exactly how they died. Horror Express is really a good time with it's creepy atmosphere and the genius of Cushing and Lee. Telly Savalas drops in as Captain Kazan to eat up every moment he's on screen. The actor also adds plenty of humor to his role.

The Blu-ray, to my eyes looks the best it's ever been. With that said it's not perfect as you will see some wear on the materials that I can only assume could not be fixed because of the scarceness of any solid master. The restoration is just fine; the colors are bright and the blemishes are kept to a minimum as the movie gets going. Severin obviously put much effort into making Horror Express look as good as possible, and it shows.

The extras department is pretty stacked. You get an introduction by Fangoria's Chris Alexander, an interview with the late Cushing from 1973, producer Bernard Gordon is on hand to discuss the McCarthy era and being unfairly black-listed, Composer John Cacavas reminisces about is time spent with Telly Savalas and finally an on camera interview with the director of Horror Express, Eugenio Martin.

The interview with Eugenio Martin and the detail filed introduction by Alexander were the most enjoyable to watch. It was very interesting to hear and very sad at the same time about Cushing lost his wife at the time but because he's a professional and didn't want to let anyone down he did the film. This makes me respect Cushing that much more. The class of Lee and other performers are also discussed.

This release of the Horror Express is a winner. Horror Express is not only a ghoulish delight with its occasional Grand Guignol moments, it also contains some amusing performances by some of the all time greats - Lee, Cushing and Savalas. Not to be missed! Highly Recommended.

(Blu-ray screencaps provided by Rock! Shock! Pop!

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