The Angry Red Planet, 1959. 6.5/10

From the Golden age of sci-fi, Angry Red Planet hits all the targets for this genre. A returning spaceship from a Mars mission, a skeleton crew (an amnesiac woman, and a dying man), a flashback narration of the mission to–a literal red planet. Oh, yes, and some cool monsters. Featuring the only giant amoeba in outer space, as far as I know.

The full crew consists of Dr. Iris Ryan (Nora Hayden), Colonel Tom O’Bannion (Gerald Mohr);, Professor Theodore Gettel (Les Tremayne), and Warrant Officer Sam Jacobs (Jack Kruschen). There’s a bunch of medical staff on hand, as well as base officers, and operatives, but no one stands out amongst them. Don Osmond provides the voices for the the narrator, the newscaster, and an alien.

We start with the array of wooden actors meeting to discuss the probable loss of the Mars spacecraft. But, with tons of some guys (some in uniform, some in sports or plaid shirts) manning controls, they successfully reignite its engines. The following night, it lands in one piece. The top guys wait anxiously, “The hell with radiation! Let’s go!” After all, they’ve got to save “the girl” (Iris).

And the Colonel, with a green slimy growth on one arm. Iris seems to have forgotten what happened on the mission. “Why don’t you start at the beginning…” So, she does–begin a flashback, that is. We see the rocket launch and the crew settle in.

Approaching Mars, they dodge a cherry-red meteor. The colors are super-sharp. Staring out a viewport, Tom tells Iris “I’d like to explore your dark alley” huh? Well, she’d opened the door by quiping that space made Broadway look like a dark alley. His flirty talk already needs a tune-up.

On the other hand, Iris has occasion to splash on some fragrance, in between serving rations and dusting. At last they’re about to land. By some wizardry (actually stock footage) the rocket has changed its look. Sam wants to be the first to greet the Martians.

Oddly, the sky has changed from bright red to pale blue. Iris is all set; she’s got her purse! (equipment, hopefully). Gettel thinks the absence of movement on the surface might be intentional. They suit-up. At this point Iris sees an alien face in a porthole (looks a little like the Creature From The Black Lagoon).

Back to the present, Iris wakes up screamingr, and then recalls the incident that frightened her. Onward to the flashback. Of course, the guys don’t see the alien; and the atmosphere is bright red again. The Martian landscape is a sort of cartoonish Kool-Aid red. It’s almost three dimensional. Anyway, they have a sort of raygun for heavy weapons.

They mess with the abundant flora. Iris sees what looks like an enormous Venus Fly Trap. Of course it is…a Martian Fly Trap? The raygun dispatches it. Thankfully, they make for the ship. Gettel has the only intelligent comments–he thinks they’re being watched. They’ve only seen plants, where are the critters?

As is usual in this sort of movie, they’ve lost contact with Earth. Tom has this constant leering grin; what an annoying hep-cat. Next day they roll out again and explore. First problem is a gigantic insect-like rat. Gettel is trapped by it; just as it looks like he’s only going to answer roll-call from a Ouija board, the others drive it off using all their weapons.

As a three-eyed creature watches, they slink back to the ship. Gettel convinces Tom to cut the mission short; they attempt to take off, but no go. They figure a “force field” holds them down. With an expectation of finding the Emerald City, they decide to traverse the lake they’d seen the day before. Indeed a magnificent (though cartoonish) cityscape is what they see looming on the horizon.

Interrupting this utopian sight is a giant amoeba surfacing in front of them. They get back to shore in time, but it’s in hot, gooey pursuit. Sam is slurped up before he gets back inside the ship. Tom was slimed by the amoeba, which surrounds the ship. The other creature (it’s the three-eyed guy that appeared in the window earlier) is chilling nearby.

Iris has the idea of electrocuting the thing through the outer hull; assuming the inner hull is insulated, this makes logical sense. So, the necessarily adjustments are made; Gettel gives it the juice. It works, as it melts like hot jello.

Its at this point that the Martian voice warns them to mind their own business. Gettel is dying from a stroke, brought on by exertion and stress. Well, we’re down to Iris, and the slimed-up Tom. Maybe that’s his comeuppance for being such a jerk.

Anyway, having split the crazy Martian scene, Iris feels sad. What a survivor! Ok, we’re back from her flashback. She wants to remember everything the alien said. The docs have gleaned enough from her info on the amoeba to figure that Tom’s ‘infection’ is progressive. Hey, they could electrocute him, that’d kill it…

Iris, now fit as a fiddle, is in her lab gear, working to save Tom. I’m not so off-base, as they do to plan to apply select amounts of electrical shock to the afflicted area. Now, we even get the tape of the alien “Do as you will with your own…but do not return…unbidden.” Ok, bro, just chill. A last look at the red planet from space. The end.

I remember this being much better when I saw it as a kid; I know, I was a kid. But my enjoyment with most movies, especially from the classic sci-fi era, are remarkably unaffected by time. I figured out why. We didn’t have a color TV in the mid-’60s. Seeing the lurid effects of that wretched red-tinted Martian landscape really brings it down.

The color and the fact that much of it is simplistic props or drawnings makes it look doubly unreal. Not so different from an hallucinogenic effect (more 1969 than 1959). The otherworldly sense is the pay-off in this sort of movie–weird is good, but we shouldn’t have to squint to get a look.

What does peep out of this tangy Martian landscape are the monsters. And they’re all pretty good; presumably the three-eyed guy is the intelligent alien (the one sending the message). It would’ve been more interesting if he’d really been a character, instead of just appearing at a distance. Direct interaction with aliens usually adds something to the plot. Otherwise, we’ve just got a bunch of people wandering about waiting to get attacked.

The rat/crab thing is pretty nasty, and the amoeba gives the word ‘monster’ a new image and interpretation. So much for the organic special effects; the technological stuff works fine too. The control panels and screens, both on the ship and on the ground, are suitibly complex and sophisticated-looking. Even the raygun looks formidable.

So, we’ve got an interesting premise, pretty good pacing, and (red tint excepted, even though it can’t be ignored) some cool special effects. That leaves…acting to consider. Or, it would, had there been more than broad attempts at stereotypes in these performances. I could excuse the input of the on-the- ground personnel, as those folks are peripheral anyway.

It’s the main characters that disappoint. Mohr is set-up with about the most disgusting misogynist role possible; in short, he’s a creep. Hayden is pressed right into her nurturing/housekeeper role; I guess it’s a big deal that they let “the girl” come along anyway. Yes, it’s 1959, but rarely does such stuff get so blatant; some of Mohr’s lines would be groaners even in a bar scene.

Kruschen is the handy, but obnoxious guy from Brooklyn. Nothing wrong with types, but these two guys show no nuance, and don’t get an inch outside their characters’ boxes. Actually, Iris does do more than make coffee and get attacked; the amoeba destruction concept was her idea. No one questions her judgement about that or anything else. Plus, she’s the only one to return in one (human) piece.

Tremayne actually isn’t bad; the best of a bad lot. His input almost adds a psychological dimension to the Martians; the concept of the planet’s stillness being intentional is interesting. Clearly there’s more going on than the monster attacks; the force field and the alien’s warning, for example, are on a different plane than the Martian fly-trap.

The instinctive and the intelligent life forms are seemingly disconnected; is the three-eyed Martian also endangered by the ‘wildlife’? We never get to find out. Also, if the alien intelligence is so hostile, why wait until the crew lands to send the warning?

There’s good stuff here; the pacing keeps us wondering what’s next, the flashback is handled well, and there’s enough inner logic for the plot to maintain suspension of disbelief. Angry Red Planet had the potential to follow the truly beguiling Forbidden Planet (1956), but had little of the earlier film’s sophistication. 6.5/10.

Fiend Without A Face, 1958. 6.5/10

Right in the cockpit of ’50s sci-fi, Fiend involves a creature concocted somehow through a dose of nuclear energy. A device in play is that the creature’s “face” isn’t revealed until the latter part of the film (it starts out invisible). The fun begins when a rogue scientist (aren’t they always up to something?) taps into the nuclear power–intended for the nearby military base for its radar–to enhance his experiments on the subconscious. Sounds dangerous, but in a cool way.

On deck for this movie are Marshall Thompson, Kynaston Reeves, Kim Parker, Stanley Master, Terry Killburn, James Dyrenforth, Robert MacKenzie, and Peter Madden. Thompson is the base commander Major Cummings, Reeves is our scientist Prof. Salvage, Killburn is Captain Chester, and Parker is Barbara, Walgate’s assistant. Dyrenforth is the town’s mayor, and MacKenzie is Howard Gibbons.

We start with a sentry at a military base who see some suspicious stuff whiz across the sky. When he goes to investigate, there’s a bunch of oozy gooey whatever in a clearing, along with a dead guy. Thompson has to figure out how the man died. No autopsy possible; locals have whisked the body away.

Pesky locals–don’t they get that the nearby nuclear reactor isn’t a bomb? The Army has a point in that an autopsy would show if radiation was involved or not. The victim’s diary isn’t much help. Barbara is only slightly perturbed about her brother’s death; she has it in her to find the Captain amusing.

At the command tower, something funny is happening on the radar screen (Siberia giving us dirty looks?) There’s a power fade; that is, the reactor needs to be spooled up so their equipment will work better. Something’s draining the power off. Well, it was just a test anyway, all that fuss for nothing.

“Our beloved Jack” is lowered into his grave just as there’s a B-47 flyover, drowning out the funeral oratory. Meanwhile, on a nearby farm, what looks like an incredibly huge mole tunnel is rapidly closing in on a farmer’s wife–she’s strangled by invisible stuff (not murderous moles). The old guy tries to pitchfork it, but it gets him too. Sounds like a pig, actually.

Well, what is it? Not radioactivity! The brass is worried though “it will be tough if the town turns against us.” Well, at last we get an autopsy–the brain and spinal cord are missing, a “mental vampire” at work? Which burrows like a mole, sounds like a pig, but is invisible. Time for the Major to make a house call on Barbara. What’s this lying about? “The Principles of Thought Control, by R. E. Walgate,” her boss’s book that is.

Hmm. Stop right there. Suppose Walgate is using nuclear energy to jump-start his thought control experiments? All the evidence is there: dead folks piling up with their brains missing. That doesn’t explain the invisible whatever it is.

Anyway, the Major gets his comeuppance from Howard. No “tom-catting” around here (Howard’s the town constable, not exactly Barbara’s chaperone). Next step for the Army is to sleuth Walgate’s repertoire. Ominously, we here the invisible critter stalking the Mayor. Sure enough, he gets it too. Does he have a big brain or something. “It’s the atomic fallout!” cry some locals.

Time for vigilante action–they think a wigged-out GI is the murderer. Ok, but how do they know where to look for it? At the base, here’s the dope on Walgate: “a cross between Robinson Crusoe and Einstein.” Describes most scientists in sci-fi movies. The erstwhile unwelcome Major comes calling on the elusive Walgate.

“It’s just ignorance!” These townspeople…he means, four deaths? well. They talk about the look of the first victim’s (Barbara’s brother’s) face after he died. Outdoors, the posse is restless. We hear the wumf-wumf of the creature. (Now I can place it’s crawling sound as similar to that of the invisible creature in 1956’s Forbidden Planet.)

Gibbons has had the misfortune to wander into the gooey clearing in the forest. Bradley gets the deputy mayor, Melville, to summon a council meeting. The Colonel and Major are called in on it. Again, they testify that radiation is innocent of all wrongdoing. They also dismiss the “mad GI” theory. Gibbons crashes the meeting.

Groaning with real horror, he looks like rubber jello. The Major is going to do a cemetery inspection. Down in a crypt he finds the partly open coffin with one of the victims inside. Of course, the Major gets locked in the crypt. A secret passageway? The Captain is worried about the Major; Barbara tells him about the cemetery.

They hear him pounding from down in the crypt. Rescued. They go to see Walgate. “Man can create power from thought… [impossible you say?] …maybe with atomic power…” And why was Walgate down in the crypt–the dummy had left his pipe there? Time for Walgate to have a fit.

The brass agrees to shut the nuclear plant down. Uh–oh, the “rods” have been destroyed; can’t shut down the power. Ok, finally Walgate levels with the military guys about his thought experiments. Something about detaching thoughts to make them “entities.”

So we get via flashback Walgate doing stuff in his lab (absurdly, Barbara didn’t even know that he had a lab). An electrical storm gives him enough of an energy boost: viola! He can move objects. Conveniently, the nuclear plant proves to be a more reliable power source. He can now give “life, and mobility” to his thought projections.

He realizes that he’s created a “fiend.” That is, he finds he can’t control the wayward thoughts. Using the military’s terminology, he’s talking about having created a “mental vampire.” Ok, but there’s an environmental angle: the nuclear plant, and therefore it’s energy, is inherently “evil.” Thus the destructive bent of the thing(s).

The doctor thinks the evil is actually in Walgate’s mind. Sounds plausible. Well, scratch another guy, the ol’ Fiend is breaking in. Kind of a hum-drum barricading scene. Anticipation builds though, as the ‘entities’ might become visible, thanks to the escalating power level.

Great: we see–brains with spinal cords; scorpion-like things with heads and tails. They are pretty creepy. The solution is to blow up the control room at the plant. A too-long scene ensues, with the main characters holed up in Walgate’s house under siege by the creatures. Outside, the Major hi-tails it to the plant.

Needless to say, the brain creatures quickly up and die as soon as the control room blows up. The end. Why the power plant itself doesn’t go off is a mystery.

This could’ve been better. There’s lots of potential, but problems everywhere: the premise, the pacing, the logic (merely the suspension of disbelief), some of the scenes… What’s the point of keeping the creatures invisible for most of the movie?

In Forbidden Planet, which also doesn’t reveal its critter until late in the game, it hardly matters; that film is loaded with special effects. But Fiend Without A Face has nothing else tangibly monstrous going on, except Gibbons’ hideous fate.

Had all the victims ended up like him, it would’ve been both more horrific and truer to the thought-control concept. That is, the victims might’ve become so many pod people (ala 1956’s Invasion Of The Body Snatchers).

There’s a false sense of isolation when the creatures actually appear. Who cares about a handful of people stuck in a house? There’s a military base nearby with, presumably, more than a few soldiers on hand (we see both fighters and bombers as well). Certainly, a low budget movie can’t have cities destroyed or bases attacked, but a truly isolated setting can give a small group or community a palpable sense of danger.

The most notable example of an isolated community in danger–1951’s The Thing–uses little more than some prefabricated buildings for most of its very chilling scenes. Or the ‘giant bug’ movies (Them!, Tarantula, The Giant Scorpion), most of which used the desert (and its small towns) to generate their creatures.

What’s interesting here is that there’s a quasi-horror aspect alongside the sci-fi. Walgate is after all something of a latter-day Dr. Frankenstein trying to animate thoughts (“mental vampire” is an apt phrase). The graveyard scene wouldn’t be out of place in any vampire movie. Plus, we even have superstitious townspeople.

All of those trappings are more or less wasted, or there impact diluted, by the nuclear power plant/military base settings. That sets up some needless duplication; if lightning (again a Frankenstein-like horror touch) works initially for Walgate’s energy source, who needs nuclear energy? The entire rationale for the base, the radar, is not really figured into the plot.

I’d rather have some alien presence (detected by the radar) cause the Fiend to appear, or just junk all that stuff, give us Wingate conjuring his thoughts into their grotesque existence to run amok in the sticks somewhere. And so the townspeople band together to exterminate the little buggers. As it is, the plots needlessly complex. The pay-off just doesn’t offer much; the weak ending really hurts.

Fiend Without A Face isn’t bad, it’s just not very good. 6.5/10

Horror Express, 1972. 9.5/10

Veteran horror duo Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing star as scientists (Sir Alexander Saxton and Dr. Wells) who try and bring a prehistoric Siberian mummified corpse back to England for study. Purported to be a ‘missing link’ (or an extraterrestrial), the corpse gets a big choo-choo on ride across pre-Revolutionary Russia.

The similarities to 1951’s The Thing are notable–a weird frozen being found in a bleak wintry area, an isolated community (a train here instead of a remote military post), and a series of strange happenings as the newcomer thaws out. As the plot thickens, as it certainly does, we get some trappings of 1956’s seminal Invasion of the Body Snatchers as well.

In supporting roles are Alberto de Mendoza, Silvia Tortosa, Julio Pena, Angel del Pozo, Telly Savalas, and Helga Line. de Mendoza is a Rasputin-like monk, Pujardov; Tortosa and Rigaud are the Countess and Count Petrovska/Petrovski, Line is Natasha, del Pozo is an engineer, Yevtushenko; Pena is Inspector Mirov, Savalas is Cossack captain Kazar. Not to mention the creature himself (Juan Olaguivel).

One advantage of these later (post ’60s) horror/sci-fi films is the use of color. We start of in an icy cave–best place to start this kind of movie–and, just like that, our explorers find ye old skeletal cave inhabitant. This is a swift opening: the thing is carted off, and, soon back in civilization. Saxton and Wells meet up at the Peking (Beijing) train station; Saxton has booked a berth, so to speak, for his new souvenier.

Seeing Saxton, Wells introduces him to his assistant, Miss Jones (Alice Reinheart). “He dabbles in fossils and bones.” Ok, that settles that. Out by the tracks, a sneaky but unlucky thief messes with the lock on the corpses’ crate; just like that, the interloper is dead, with wigged-out eyes. Saxton has a great aside when a priest intones over the victim that God be merciful of his soul–“not that he deserves it.”

The priest is none other than Pujardov; showing Saxton the corpse, he goes on about the presence of evil…but the crate is duly loaded on the train. Once ensconced aboard, Saxton has a peek to see if the fossil is comfy. The two Englishmen make the Countess’s acquaintance; she thinks highly of their country “Queen Victoria, crumpets, and Shakespeare…”

Another scientist introduces himself, Yevtushenko. Wells wants a sneak peek at the fossil. Both Sexton and Wells converge at the same compartment; the Countess has some sort of issue…meanwhile, in the baggage car, the bribed worker pries open the fossil’s viewing panel. He’s blase about what he sees, and walks away.

The fossil slithers around, and, somehow finds an Allan wrench to open the lock. When the worker looks again, he falls dead, blood pouring out of his eyes. The Count and Countess are counseled by the priest that the lady shouldn’t keep a meeting with Wells and Saxton; you know those foreigners.

In between scenes, we get a panorama of the train hurtling across the frozen tundra. There’s a meeting in the baggage car; what happened to the baggage guy? Konev is detailed to open the tell-tale crate with an ax. The guy is in the crate–but not the two-million-year-old ex-fossil. It’s officially alive. Well, let’s not panic the passengers.

Man! It has no manners–looming like a creep over two sleeping little kids. A soldier who’s searching for it gets ambushed. All the victims get the bloody ping-pong ball eyes. The Countess rebuffs her over-eager dinner guest, the engineer Yevtushenko. Wells gets roused by an Mirov–they need a doctor “What are the symptoms?” Uhh… “He’s dead!” Ohh, I only do autopsies after dessert. No, Wells has to jump in right now.

For some reason, the consensus is that the thing has escaped the train. This is the well-established we’re-out-of-danger-now false sense of security ploy. So far the plot has kept pace with the train, so to speak. Stuff happens quickly and continuously–excellent.

Let’s get to the autopsy. The Countess drops in on Saxton. Geez, “that ‘box of bones’ could’ve solved the riddles of science!” he tells her. He admits that the creature is responsible for the killings, but basically doesn’t care. Back at the operating table they determine the corpse’s brain has altered somehow–it’s memory removed “like chalk erased from a blackboard.” But the thing hasn’t finished with the corpse yet.

Stupidly, Natasha goes into the notorious baggageroom–to check the safe–unbeknownest to her, the thing watches. But then it gets her; too late! She made eye contact. Gross! Dr. Wells comes calling, a bit late in the game; but the thing is still there. Wells almost loses an arm, but help arrives–Inspector Mirov–and the cop plugs our bad boy a couple of times.

We see it full length for the first time. The red eyeball mesmerizes Mirov, but he gets his wits back; they find the corpse of Natasha. A cunning complication is that, since we now know that Natasha was a (anti-Czarist) spy, the brain absorbing power of the creature thing might raise security issues (not so much as a motive, but inadvertently).

“What was the creature looking for?” muses Mirov. It seems that the Count is into rare gems…somewhat explaining Natasha getting into the safe (?). “Satan lives!” Insists the priest. But now an autopsy on the possibly dead creature. It seems its visual memory is stored in that red eye. Then they see prehistoric critters in there. Pretty good long-term memory; even of the earth as seen from space. So the thing is an alien too? The priest is taken aback, but he ascribes it to a memory of creation.

Doesn’t this just get more interesting? Pujardov recalls that Satan was banished from heaven shortly after creation…not sure how that explains anything, but, good point. The Inspector is offered a bribe for the historic eye. And what a pun: “I see,” he says; revealing, presumably through his contact with the creature, that he’s morphing into a creature himself.

Miss Jones is his first victim. Playing sycophant, the priest offers the eye to Mirov. He tells the holy man he’s not worth killing anyway, and nonchalantly chucks the eye in the stove. Mirov refuses to stop the train, and starts getting weird with the staff. The priest, seeing which way the wind’s blowing, again offers to help the turncoat Inspector.

He’s still undiscovered by everyone else. Aha! Now the train’s gonna stop. Here’s Kazar about ready to intercept it. Back on the train, Mirov asks the engineer about the feasibility of space travel. If Mirov is essentially a creature in training, wouldn’t he already know this prehistoric stuff? More speculation ensues. How about this? The thing is both an alien (who possessed primitive-Joe millions of years ago) and also a corpse.

This is great. The beast was the “host…[now]..It’s someone on the train.” This is Bodysnatchers-style ‘who is the alien’ paranoia. One thing’s for sure–the priest has literally gone to the dark side. The Cossacks board the train as soon as it squeeks to a halt. Kazar greets them warmly: “peasants!” An American lady fingers the Inspector as the bad guy. Everyone’s under arrest, in any case. For good measure, the priest has “the evil eye.”

“Beware the wrath of Satan!” Even so, Kazar beats him almost to death. He notices though, that Mirov is still in charge. Sure enough, the Inspector freaks up the room with his red googly eyes (the lights having gone dim). Taken aback, Kazar is unable to stop Mirov. Even the priest comes back around.

Another great line as Wells try to intervene on behalf of the priest/monk: “what if he’s innocent?!” [Kazar has given orders to shoot anyone in the adjoining room where Mirov and Pujardov are holed up]. Kazar responds derisively, “Ahh!, we got lots of innocent monks!” Filling the compartment with lead doesn’t help at all; both alien-infected guys attack the fearful Cossacks. Even Kazar falls victim.

Now what? Pujardov comes for coffee? He doesn’t ask for a refill–he just kills everyone in the room except the Countess. Confronted by Saxton, the ex-priest confesses: I’m a form of energy, occupying this shell [body].” Yes, from another galaxy. Not just in that one fossil, but apparently everywhere back in the ancient times.

Very Satan-like, he offers Sexton unheard of powers to let him go. Just for fun, he ressurrects most of the corpses into compliant zombies. Realistically (really) the good guys retreat to the uninfected part of the train and attempt to uncouple it. The zombies come on eerily. Moscow says to kill everyone on board.

Meaning that the train is diverted to a dead end line that crashes spectacularly off a cliff. Except for the thankfully-decoupled last car, which shudders to a halt just short of the chasm, good guys intact. End of alien zombies. The end.

This was indeed a Horror Express! A wild ride, and unhesitatingly exciting. Suspension of disbelief wasn’t difficult; despite the dual horror/sci-fi origin of the creature. As I’ve noted in other reviews, many films set 100 or more years ago have a bit of twilight left around from a more superstitious era (regarding the wonders of science no less than those of the supernatural). The effect is to round the jagged edges of some of the more fantastic elements.

Once we end up in the 1920s, explanations have to get laid on thick to help plausibility. At any rate, Horror Express uses just enough explication to give us drama instead of a merely surreal dream. The performances are interesting and very complimentary.

Savalas and de Mendoza are easily the most interesting characters. Lee and Cushing are somewhat lost in this cluster of fools, nuts, and ‘peasants.’ More curious is that there’s zero romance; which begs the question–should there be? No. One great thing about the alien possession device is that we can have good bad guys and bad good guys. Obviously, that makes character development somewhat meaningless.

Yet, what of the two outlandish guys–Kazar and Pujardov? They’re both relics of an almost mythic tradition (even by 1906 standards). But, putting aside their ‘recruitment’ to the alien side, can we really judge them? It’s fitting that the best quip in the movie is delivered by the Cossack regarding the priest. Indeed, there’s something quaint about both of them, and something dangerous too. Saxton himself, for all of his gentlemently air is nonetheless a bit amoral.

The best thing about this movie is the simplicity of the plot, and the near absolute focus on its progress. Yes, Savalas hijacks things unexpectedly, but even his larger-than-life character gets absorbed into the zombie population. The deft way that Horror Express begins and ends could not be improved on.

If you want to escape for a while into a spooky, exotic roller-coaster ride, this will do it. The only question is–how many nightmares will you have of hurtling through Siberia with a trainload of alien zombies, only to crash in a fiery heap? 9.5 out of 10.