BLU-RAY REVIEW – NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS
Director: Aldo Lado
Starring: Flavio Bucci, Macha Meril, Marina Berti, Irene Miracle
Runtime: 94 Minutes
Company: Blue Underground
Video: 1.85:1 – 16:9 – 1080p – MPEG4 AVC
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
I’m a stranger to Last House on the Left and it’s subsequently endless knockoffs. Being a cinephile that caters more towards horror and genre films, it’s odd that I’ve never sat to down to experience said films (although I own them) myself. Night Train Murders is a film made solely to cash in on Wes Craven’s 1972 shocker, itself a pseudo knockoff as it’s borrows heavily from Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring. Whereas Last House and the films that followed goals where to disgust, Night Train Murders switches it up by being sharp and professional, with it’s fair share of nasty moments.
We’re introduced to Lisa (Laura De’Angelo) & Margaret (Irene Miracle - Inferno), two young friends who are Italy bound, opting to take a cheap overnight train instead of an airplane, to see family for Christmas. Their train attracts Blackie (Flavio Bucci) & Curly (Gianfranco De Grassi), two lanky trouble making punks who hitch a ride on the train to avoid being arrested. The duo set their sights on Lisa & Margaret, who manage to slip their grasp after being annoyingly pestered. Blackie finds a new woman to prey on with a beautiful passenger (Macha Meril - Deep Red) who he follows into the bathroom and sexually advances on. Shockingly the seemingly high class woman enjoys it and indulges completely. After a bomb scare, Lisa and Margaret transfer to another train where they find a short lived solace. Blackie and Curly have sneakily boarded with the aforementioned woman, who turns out to be quite depraved. They shack up with the unaccompanied minors, leading to a night full of sexual violation that results in bloody vengeance.
Although it’s only my first time viewing this film, I’d label Night Train Murders as a vastly underrated and under-seen classic. It’s a film that shouldn’t work as well as it does since it’s plot has been rehashed and used countless times throughout the years. You have the young girls, the vicious assailants and the vengeful family. Those characters are key ingredients but also standard which more than often leads to predictability. As the finale chugs along, although foreseeable, you can’t help but smile. Night Train Murders has it’s share of expected moments but the tone, characters and overall nastiness makes it an entirely other beast.
Director Aldo Lado completely switches up archetypes by making a woman more evil than a pack of men. Macha Meril’s character is beautiful, high class and seemingly innocent on the outside. Inside, she’s rotten and essentially the central villain, showing her true form as a sexual psycho masochist after Blackie’s impromptu bathroom molesting. After the adolescent torturing spirals into something even more darker than Blackie and Curly anticipated, even they seemed shocked! Seeing a woman commit and enforce such heinous acts is refreshing and unique for the films production era. Sex, age and appearance has no substance when it comes to evil.
Irene Miracle and Laura De’Angelo own their performances, when the sadistic bullying begins it’s wholly convincing and unnerving. Bucci & De Grassi are definitely as sleazy as they come, wielding knives, shooting drugs and coping a feel whenever they can. The culminating atmosphere is thick and largely sleazy, with a truly depressing 2nd act that feels like a sweaty nightmare. Adding to the dread is Ennio Morricone’s waning score that is used as a siren of death. All technical aspects make this film quite sharp and proficient which goes beyond expectations. Night Train Murders is a grimy European outing that deserves far more attention and notoriety than most staples of the genre.
Video: Blue Underground’s track record of bringing Euro titles to Blu-ray stateside has been met with a few missteps. Luckily, Night Train Murders HD debut is quite fabulous and one of the labels finest transfers. The film’s 1080p boost certainly benefits interior shots and at nighttime. Specifically, inside the train car where it’s bathed in a moody blue light that emanates deep rich colors. Detail is significantly strong throughout with only a couple scenes that lean towards the soft side. All and all this is an excellent transfer without any worrisome hiccups.
Audio: A sole DTS-HD Mono track is included featuring an English dub that is quite serviceable. It’s nowhere near as punctual or alive as it could be but never disappoints. The provided English dub at first is a bit jarring but doesn’t distract. Not sure if the films native audio track even exists or Blue Underground simply couldn’t locate it, I’d sure love to hear it. Ennio Morricone’s whiny harmonica score is finely recreated here with zero distortion.
Interview – “Riding The Train”: Director Aldo Lado chats about Night Train Murders, discussing the films production, casting process and overall style. Lado admits the initial inspiration came from his Producer who had just seen Last House on the Left and wanted to create a similar genre film with European sensibilities. Aldo also talks about the intentional character manipulation, to show that even seemingly respectable people can hid their evil behind a proverbial mask. It’s an informative interview filled with great behind the scenes anecdotes.
Trailers: An American (titled here The Last Stop on the Night Train) & International trailer are included. Both are particularly long and spoil the film, best to watch these after viewing the film.
Radio Spots: Two :30 second radio spot are included as well containing a entertaining voice over that’s more interested in puns than the films plot.
Still Gallery: A slew of posters, stills, lobby cards and ad mats are included, most interesting to see is the various titles the film used across the one sheets. The New House on the Left, Last Stop on the Night Train, Night Train and even the horrendously blunt Last House – Part II!