11 February 2016
An enjoyable film with great leading actors. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing lead he cast with Telly Savalas making a brief but strong turn towards the conclusion.
Dr Wells (Christopher Lee) finds a frozen Neanderthal man while on an expedition. Boxed up and ready to transport it’s bundled onto a train and kept locked up on a China to Russia trans-Siberian journey. Prof. Saxton (Cushing) is also a man of science and a fellow passenger on the train. He pays the luggage guard to take a peak inside the locked box to validate Dr Well’s claims and this is where the horror starts. Instead of being a Neanderthal man instead it’s some kid of alien entity which can absorb the life force and memories of anybody it wants to and in doing so can take on their shape. So how do you stop a shape shifting, life stealing alien when you are confined to a train? Well, that’s exactly what Dr Wells and Prof Saxton have to do, while at the same time dealing with the other train passengers who range from eccentric snobs to a Rasputin like mad monk.
This is a truly cult classic film in which Lee and Cushing silkily navigate the script. The plot is original and there truly is tension evident even years after the film was released. It’s a (John Carpenter) “The Thing” style film at least 10 years before the Carpenter classic, and what is more amazing is that all the action and story takes place in the confinement of a train. The plot, while being enjoyable and tense, pitches religion against science while dealing with something that neither can explain fully. The camera work is really good for the time of production and John Cacavas score is chilling and fits perfectly. Although I have mentioned Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing the other stand out name is of course Telly Savalas, his inclusion is powerful and commanding but I’d was left wondering why he only featured at the climax of the film rather than earlier, either way his appearance signals a potential end to the troubles faced by the passengers. Freddy Francis has done a great job in directing this and I recommend it to anyone who likes a fun, tense, roller coaster of horror. 7 out of 10.