East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Killer fossils on a train


Some movies remain with us for a long time.
I caught the trailer for Horror Express in 1972, and later saw the movie in some seaside drive-in.
I was around 12 or thereabouts.
Horror Express.
Featuring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Telly Savalas.
A Spanish movie set on the Trans-Siberian.


And yet, here I am, thirtyfive years later, a paleontologist writing a blog about my obsession for the East and the Silk Road and pulp writing and all the rest, and all of a sudden I remember…

. a movie set in the early 20th century
. on the Trans-Siberian
. featuring a paleontologist as one of the main characters
. featuring a killer fossil (!!)
. with a nice lovecraftian twist

Horror ExpressIs it any wonder I still love this cheap oldie?

The plot in a nutshell: Professor Saxton (Lee) thinks he found the missing link in a cave in Manchuria (or in Szechwan – the script is not certain), and he’s travelling from Shanghai to Moscow and parts west with the fossil in a box.
But the creature is not so dead after all, and as the train travels through the night and snow, it escapes from the crate and starts killing the train passengers and feeding on their memories.
An unlikely alliance is struck between Saxton, his friend/adversary Prof. Wells (Cushing) and warlord Captain Kazan (Savalas) to find a solution before it’s too late.

HorrorExpress7With its ancient alien parasite working its way up the evolutionary ladder during strange aeons, and its increasing body count, Horror Express is not a highly sophisticated entertainment, and yet it delivers the goods: when I was a kid it caused me long sleepless nights (I was messing with fossils, after all!) and today it is 90 minutes of good pulpy fun on a rainy afternoon.
The chemistry between Cushing and Lee is simply marvellous as ever.
And Telly Savalas is a cheerfully sinister killer.
The Countess is hot – and we cheer for Saxton’s idea of saving her life, no matter what.
All in all, a nice entertainment.

The movie is in the public domain, and can be seen through YouTube on variously found online.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

7 thoughts on “Killer fossils on a train

  1. My first comment here. ^^
    So, what can I say? I didn’t know this movie. Tragic, my fault. But right now I have a long night in front of me, and I think that watching at Horror Express is a very good way to spend it.


  2. A must see for any fans of Cushing and Lee and indeed an entertaining flick,one of my favourites of that period.


  3. A great movie and a must see for every Cushing and Lee fans.


  4. I’m in! This is the kind of movie that got me hooked from the first minute to the last.



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