Newest Review: ... minimal, the suggestion of what happens is disturbing. So, I do recommend it - but only to fans of horror. The DVD is available from play... more
Video nasty or not?
Night Train Murders (DVD)
Member Name: sunmeilan
Night Train Murders (DVD)
Advantages: Compelling story, creepy
Disadvantages: Some poor acting, subject matter horrific
I added this to my Tesco.com rental list after reading a review. By the time it plopped through my door a few weeks later, I had forgotten all about it. A little Internet research prior to watching left me wondering exactly what I had left myself in for. Banned as a video nasty when it was made back in the seventies, the subject matter of the film includes rape and murder - not a topic I would usually choose to watch - I enjoy the occasional horror, but not when it involves sex. However, now it has been released in the UK by Shameless, I like to think I will give most things a go and so sat down to watch, with some trepidation.
Much to my relief, I found the film much less graphic than I expected; so much so that I wondered if I was watching a doctored film. Apparently this is the uncut version though. There is some nudity, but really very little. The film is basically cut into two thirds, the first and last of which are fairly tame. It is the middle third where things really begin to get nasty. However, there is surprisingly little gore - it is more what we don't see and the idea of what is happening that is creepy. Even the sex scenes are obviously simulated and done fully clothed. One of my reasons for concern about this film was that I had thought that the girls were going to be seen to enjoy what happens to them - I was pleased to see that this was very far from the truth.
Without wanting to give away too much of the plot, I will say that the two reprobates and their female friend do get their come-uppance at the end. I am not a supporter of members of the public taking the law into their own hands; however, in this case, I was delighted with how the film ends. What happens to the girls is horrific and I was relieved to see that some form of justice was attained.
The standard of acting throughout the film is very varied. I thought the two girls, played by Irene Miracle and Laura D'Angelo, were really good. Their terror at what is happening to them is palpable. During the first third of the film we see how young and innocent they are, as well as finding out about their families and how much they are loved. I am not used to such character development in horror films - usually the victims are made out to be as bad as the protagonists - but not so here. I thought they did a really good job.
I was much less impressed by the two reprobates, played by Flavio Bucci and Gianfranco de Grassi, and their female accomplice, played by Macha Meril. The first two just didn't give a very natural performance, they both seemed to be trying too hard to be evil, and it came over as being rather laughable. I had a similar problem with Macha Meril - her acting was wooden and not very credible. However, her cold, callous attitude to the girls made me absolutely seethe, so she must have been doing something right.
The film was well directed by Aldo Lado. The scenes on the train, because they were taking place in a confined space, were very claustrophobic, which gave a terrific feeling of unease. Initially, the carriage is lit by candlelight, but once this is blown out, the close-ups of the girl's faces in particular are in shades of blue, which again added to the sense of eeriness. I wouldn't say it was beautiful, because the subject matter precludes this, but it is definitely eye-catching.
Apart from the horrible story line and some poor acting, another disadvantage is that the synching between what the actors were saying and what I was hearing was out by a bit - probably less than a second, but it was enough to be annoying. At first, I thought the film was dubbed, but it was in English - it was just that the timing was slightly out. This, along with the wooden acting, was quite off-putting at times. Not enough to make me want to switch off though.
Finally, in the first shots of the film and then as the end credits roll, there is the terrible music - A Flower's All You Need, sung by Demis Roussos. I didn't like him when he was popular, with his kaftans and high whiny voice, and I most certainly don't like him now. I'm not sure why the song was chosen - perhaps as a comparison between the innocent life of the girls and the horror that awaits them - but I found it creepy and annoying. That is a fairly minor complaint though - and only takes up a small part of the film.
On the whole, I enjoyed this film - if that is the right word for a horror. It certainly brought out deep feelings in me - mainly anger at the woman on the train. I have always enjoyed thrillers and crime fiction, and in a way, that is exactly what this film is - except that it is not the police who are hunting down the criminals. It is certainly nothing like as graphic as I expected - certainly when compared to some of the more violent films that are out there today. However, it still isn't a film that I would recommend to anyone - I think you need a strong stomach, because although the gore is minimal, the suggestion of what happens is disturbing. So, I do recommend it - but only to fans of horror.
The DVD is available from play.com for £7.99.
Running time: 94 minutes
Summary: Not as nasty as I expected