Horror Express starts with a monster-in-a-box being loaded onto a Trans-Siberian express type train, with messrs Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee taking a keen interest! With that kind of set up, surely it would have been technically impossible for this not to be a great film. And Horror Express does not disappoint.
The wonderful thing about the Cushing and Lee characters is that they’re both exactly how I’d imagine them to be in real life. Lee is very straight-laced, stern, humourless and quite ruthless whereas Cushing is slightly mischevious and playful. Both are of course, absolute gentlemen and thoroughly, utterly, British!
Sequels are obviously the spawn of Satan himself, but I would have loved to see these characters pit their wits against each other again. Perhaps on different modes of transport – train, cruise liner, zeppelin…rickshaw, the possibilities are endless.
Another great thing about Horror Express is the number of baddies to look out for. A marvellous Rasputin-like monk. The police detective who starts acting strangely. And Telly Savalas (in an extended cameo as the leader of a gang of Cossacks) who boards the train, punches Peter Cushing in the knackers and steals the show before (slight spoiler) dying.
Horror Express looks and feels like Hammer film – the inclusion of Lee and Cushing obviously helps a great deal – but it’s not, it’s actually a Spanish production, directed by Eugenio Martin, who had just finished Pancho Villa. And must have stopped Telly Savalas heading back to the U.S. somehow… anyway, it’s a classic - Cushing and Lee, mad monks, monsters in boxes, rampaging Cossacks all in a confined space…Horror Express is a one-way Super Saturday Saver ticket to horror heaven!