DID YOU READ

“Horror Express” is old school spooky fun

“Horror Express” is old school spooky fun (photo)

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26 minutes and 30 seconds.

That’s the exact moment I fell in love with “Horror Express,” the 1972 horror film that’s new this week on Blu-ray. That’s when Peter Cushing finally confronts Christopher Lee about the possessed fossil he’s brought on the Trans-Siberian Express. This frozen prehistoric ape man, discovered by Lee in a Manchurian cave, should be long dead and locked inside an enormous trunk. Somehow it manages to thaw itself out, escape, and go on a killing spree. Confronted with the empty trunk and the evidence of a murder, Cushing delivers this whopper of a line: “Are you telling me that an ape that lived 2 million years ago got out of that crate, killed the baggage man and put him in there, then locked everything up neat and tidy and got away?” To which Lee replies, “YES I AM! It’s alive! It MUST be!”

Yes, it must be. There’s no other explanation than the fossil came to life and started killing people! It MUST be! C’mon: that’s got to be one of the most ridiculous exchanges of dialogue in movie history, and yet it’s delivered with such absolute conviction by Cushing and Lee. That is textbook great acting: the ability to deliver hilariously bad dialogue without cracking a smile.

“Horror Express” has a lot of great acting, and just the right mix of camp and creeps. It’s a silly movie, but it’s genuinely scary at times too. The design of that ape man is spooky as all get out, as is the way it leaves its victims bleeding from blank, pupil-less eyes. I also got a big kick — and a good amount of chills — from the big autopsy scene, where Cushing systematically cuts open a victim’s skull to find — gasp!! — their brain’s all smooth! I hate it when that happens.

The film is sort of the original “Snakes on a Plane,” only instead of a plane it’s a train and instead of snakes it’s one very pissed off prehistoric ape man (who’s also harboring a dark secret — because God knows if this movie was just about a prehistoric ape man, that would be boring!). You don’t get Samuel L. Jackson mothereffing it up, but you do get Hammer horror legends Lee and Cushing bickering like an old married couple. Admittedly, Lee tersely barking “I have had it with these motherfucking ape men on this motherfucking train!” would have been better. But that’s just me being greedy.

The plot is an obvious variation of “Who Goes There?” or “The Thing From Another World.” Eventually — SPOILER ALERT! — the ape man is revealed to be the host of the real killer, an alien consciousness that’s been trapped inside this fossil for several millennia. As the ape is killed, the alien jumps into the body of a police inspector, who continues the killing spree. Inexplicably, he also gains one hairy ape man hand; even more inexplicably, no one seems to notice or suspect the guy with the furry paw (he keeps his hand in his pocket most of the time to avoid arousing suspicion which works surprisingly well). That whole device is kind of stupid, but there are clever elements of the screenplay. The movie frames the mystery surrounding the ape man’s rampage as a debate between Lee, the man of science, and a monk, who believes the killings are a religious sign. Then the monk decides the ape man must be Satan himself, cast out from heaven lo those many years ago, and denounces his faith in order to worship his new, dark master.

Before it’s over, “Horror Express” even squeezes in a Telly Savalas cameo (playing a grumpy Cossack!) and a chase scene with zombies, since the alien discovers it can reanimate its victims and turns them into undead slaves. Given the slightly dickish way Lee rejects the curiosity of anyone who suspects trouble from his trunk full of fossilized evil, I’m surprised “Horror Express”‘ ending is as upbeat and happy as it is. But I guess by that point enough people had been slaughtered in the name of our entertainment; might as well send the people out on a little bit of a high note.

Yes, that must be it. It MUST be!

“Horror Express” is now available in a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack. If you see it, let us know what you think, tell us in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.

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It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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