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|Category||Horror||Main Menu Audio
Scene Selection Animation
Christopher Lee Filmography
Christopher Lee Biography
Notes - Credits
Howling III Trailer
Pterodactyl Woman From Beverly Hills Trailer
|Running Time||87:42 Minutes|
Sonart Music Vision
Alberto de Mendoza
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 224 Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.66:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.66:1||
|Subtitles||None||Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
From what I can gather, the evil creature in Horror Express is a malevolent force from outer space (is there any other kind?) that can use other living things as a host, learning the skills of these living things by sucking out their brain. For example, after the monster kills the thief, it finds itself with the ability to pick locks. This feature has always been a hallmark of good horror movie villains, although it was getting a little silly by the time the third Nightmare On Elm Street film arrived. The end result of this monster's feature, however, is that it has no physical presence of its own, which can be something of a hindrance when you're trying to immerse yourself in the story.
Other important characters include a Russian monk by the name of Mirov (Julio Peña), and a Tsarist Russian military officer known as Captain Kazak (Telly Savalas). Ultimately, however, the best reason to see the film is Peter Cushing's performance, since he was quite literally the king of the B-grade horror movie. The model train effects are ordinary at best, and there's no way that this film will ever compare with John Carpenter's 1982 production of The Thing, but viewing the film without the expectation of seriousness yields pleasant results. Telly Savalas looks no different to when he performed as Ernst Stavro Blofeld in On Her Majesty's Secret Service a few years earlier, and he definitely deserves a mention in the Over-Actors' Hall Of Fame.
Overall, I enjoyed Horror Express as a B-movie that never took itself too seriously, which puts it ahead of most teen-market slashers that have hit the market in recent years. The pacing is somewhat slow, and the story development is a little haphazard at times, but the end results are worth watching. However, I believe you may wish to consider sourcing the film from somewhere other than Region 4.
The video transfer is presented in its correct theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced.
The sharpness of this transfer is just barely enough for the film to make sense, but quite below the standards that DVD is demonstrably capable of achieving with much older films. The shadow detail is adequate, but nothing to rave about. Low-level noise seems to be a minor issue at times in this transfer, with the black sections of the image looking slightly grey at times.
The colour saturation is dull and washed out, partly due to the technical limitations of the cinematography, but also because of the transfer in places. At times, a specific hue will gain some saturation in comparison to the rest of the transfer, but overall, the effect is much like watching a VHS cassette that has been played a few dozen times too many. Dot crawl is frequently present in the image, occasionally combining with slight instances of colour bleed for a distracting effect.
MPEG artefacts were not a serious problem in this transfer, but one instance of what looked like posterization occurs at 14:18, when a woman enters the luggage compartment and the skin of her face loses any semblance of tonal separation. The opening credits may have suffered from the Gibb effect into the bargain, but this section of the transfer was so lacking in resolution that the credits probably would have been unreadable anyway. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some telecine wobble and aliasing that was never too distracting. Film artefacts consisted of numerous nicks and scratches on the picture, and reel change markings at 36:48 and 56:58.
There is only one soundtrack on this DVD: the original English dialogue, encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 with a bitrate of 224 kilobits per second. A Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack could have done the job just as well, but we'll ignore this complaint for the time being. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand throughout the feature, and there are no discernible problems with audio sync.
The score music in this film is credited to John Cacavas, and is intermittently present, usually when a revelation is made about the nature of the creature or its behaviour. It does an excellent job of maintaining the B-grade horror feel of the film, but that is really about it. Most of the time, you could really blink and miss the score music.
In spite of my amplifier's claims that this is a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack with the centre and rears matrixed into the soundfield, there is no surround or even stereo activity in this soundtrack at all. Again, this is a gross waste of the soundtrack's format, especially given that encoding the soundtrack to use only the centre channel would have been a more effective option. The subwoofer was similarly silent throughout the film.
The video quality is acceptable, just barely.
The audio quality is a waste of good channels and bits.
The extras are minimal.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Amplification||Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|