Two young women are travelling by train to spend Christmas at one of their parent’s house. They never make it to their destination. They are instead terrorized, humiliated, abused, sexually molested and eventually killed by two thugs and a mysterious seemingly well to do older woman. The criminals think they have gotten away with it until they find themselves at the parent’s house and find mercy is in very short supply…
If this sounds at all similar to a little Wes Craven film from 1977 called Last House on the Left, you would be bang on the money. Night Train Murders is essentially the Italian Last House. Much like its inspiration, Night Train Murders (also known as Late Night Trains and Last Stop on the Night Train) also got caught up in the Video Nasties scare of the early 1980s. Luckily (or unluckily, from a notoriety perspective) Night Train Murders was never successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, while Last House on the Left was. Which is somewhat surprising (and just proves how ridiculous the criteria for prosecution was) as both films are just as grim, unsettling and just plain nasty as each other. I don’t mean that as a criticism (or as a slight to the Last House purists out there!) as a film with such a subject matter should be unpleasant and difficult to watch at times, it doesn’t make it any less of a good, even dare I say entertaining, well-made film.
A long time ago, on one of my older posts, I ranted about how I would never watch the Rob Zombie remake of Halloween, as I knew I would hate it. Which is in hindsight, a stupid thing to say. I don’t even have the excuse of it being the arrogance of youth as I was in my 30’s at the time. I was just being a twat really. I just assumed since Halloween could never be bettered, his version would be sacrilege so why bother? At that point I had never seen any Rob Zombie films. Fast forward to now and I have seen them all. More than once. My boyfriend is a massive fan and he introduced me to them. I now consider myself very much on side with regards to Rob Zombie. House of 1000 Corpses and Devils Rejects are lovingly crafted 1970’s exploitation film homages (It also turns out myself and Mr Zombie share a massive love of the Marx Brothers).
In 2012 Zombie released Lords of Salem, to, it has to be said, muted indifference. Many of his hardcore fans dismissed it as being too boring, weird and a massive side step from his previous efforts while casual and/or non fans thought it also too weird and and that Zombie wore his influences on his sleeve too much at the expense of the film. And then of course, seeing as this is the internet, there were the subsection of devotees who set up camp on various forums just to sneer “you just didn’t get it” at anyone with a passing remark that bordered on criticism or confusion. Lords of Salem is very different from House of 1000Corpses and Devils Rejects, and unlike those two films I feel it may require more than once watch to fully grasp the story, especially if folk were expecting another sleazy, gory jaunt in the style of the Firefly family. The problem is intriguing people enough on the first watch to make them want to revisit it.
After 1972’s Last House on the Left director Wes Craven didn’t make a horror film for five years, perhaps drained by filming the unrelentingly grim Last House and the controversy that followed it. In 1977 he returned to the horror genre with The Hills Have Eyes. This, while still certainly grim in places, doesn’t reach the dizzy heights of depravity that Last House achieved, and is more re-watchable for it, in my opinion.
The Carter family, led by Big Bob (Russ Grieve) and Ethel (Virginia Vincent) are heading to California with their family and two dogs in tow. To celebrate their silver wedding, they were gifted a silver mine by an Aunt and wish to visit it en route. Big Bob is a retired policeman of a take no nonsense sort of nature. Therefore, he of course ignores the warnings of the grizzled old Gas Station owner Fred (Robert Steadman) that the area is a no go area that is used by the government for air craft tests. They might of pay heed to his warnings of course, if he has just said ‘Seriously, don’t go that way, that way be a family of deranged cannibalistic madman’ but grizzled old Gas Station owners in horror films always go for the more mysterious approach.