Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Alberto De Mendoza
Arnaud D'Usseau, Julian Zimet
First released in 1972, Horror Express captured the CEC Medal at the Sitges-Catalonian International Film Festival, Horror Express has long been a prized yet strangely unembraced 70's horror classic. It's a film that everyone seems to love, yet it's never really gotten its due with the exception of a Severin Films release a few years back that had more than its share of technical flaws yet likely represented the film's finest home video release.
Fortunately, Arrow Films has now come out and outdone everyone with its special edition version of the film that tops the Severin release in virtually every possible way despite lacking the prized Peter Cushing interview that would likely have been a must for Cushing fans.
In the film, horror icons Cushing and Christopher Lee play rival anthropologists at the turn-of-the-century who are transporting a frozen "missing link" aboard the Trans-Siberian Express. It's not particularly surprising when something goes wrong and this missing link thaws out, escapes, and goes on a seriously maniacal spree and turns its victims into the undead. It's up to our anthropologists to stop this 2,000,000 year old monster, the passenger zombies it creates, and an equally maniacal Cossack officer (Telly Savalas).
Penned by a pair of Hollywood's blacklisted writers and directed by Eugenio Martin, Horror Express breezily moves along with an easy to view running time of 87 minutes and with a pace of action that keeps you involved from beginning to end. The Hammer team of Cushing and Lee is tremendously effective here, though Cushing's performance a bit unusually subdued likely owing to the period in his life when the film was made being that of a grief-filled time upon the death of his wife. Telly Savalas oozes machismo, while the entire cast nails just the right tone to make this all work beautifully.
The packaging from Arrow Films is absolutely top notch, easily surpassing that of Severin Films. Featuring a 2k restoration and a nearly impeccable transfer, Horror Express truly comes alive and makes you realize why audiences fell in love with it when it was released in the 70's. Alberto de Mendoza is a hoot as a maniacal monk, while the original score by John Cacavas is absolutely awesome.
Horror Express includes a wealth of extras including:
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- 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
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet with new writing by Adam Scovell
For more information or to purchase this special edition Blu-ray, visit the Arrow Films website linked to in the credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic