Saturday, 21 March 2009
ALL ABOARD THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN
DON'T RIDE ON LATE NIGHT TRAINS has long proved to be particularly sound advice, as far as Horror Cinema is concerned. DEATH LINE, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and CREEP all serve as stern warnings of the perils that may lurk beneath the streets of our capital city. My own experiences of London's famous underground system have normally been stress-free, with the tube serving as a convenient way of getting back to my hotel after an enjoyable evening out. Indeed, Paul Weller's Jam anthem - 'Down In The Tube Station At Midnight' - rarely entered my head during the customary route from The South Bank through to Goodge Street. One night in particular, I made this fairly short journey alone, and a lot later than usual. Upon alighting at Goodge Street, I began to walk along the platform and up to the lifts and encountered not a soul (living nor dead) until I got out onto Tottenham Court Road. 3 or 4 nerve-wracking minutes, during which my mind began to replay scenes from the aforementioned films, while Weller's lyrics reminded me of the sort of shit that goes down in the midnight hour.
Now, we have another film set below the city streets, and a fresh set of nightmares to endure.
Based on Clive Barker's 1984 short story, THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN is set in Los Angeles where a photographer (Leon, played by Bradley Cooper) becomes obsessed with tracking down a serial killer who is butchering late-night passengers on subway trains. Encouraged to further his career by capturing the savage heart of the city, Leon takes shots of a gang mugging a lone female and compels her assailants to flee, pointing out the presence of CCTV cameras. Next day, Leon discovers the girl has gone missing, and decides to pursue the disappearances of other tube travellers. Soon, it appears that the mysterious Mahogany (Vinnie Jones) is behind the gradual increase in missing persons, and Leon must take a perilous journey which could well terminate in death.
Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN made me sit up and take notice like no other film since Roth's HOSTEL(s). Here, we have old school style which reminds us of what Horror Cinema can do when a decent script is married to solid directorial values and bolstered by several winning performances. Cooper is better than good as the ambulance chasing lensman who s-l-o-w-l-y gets under the skin of what may be a centurion serial killer, while Leslie Bibb runs with the task of portraying a resourceful heroine who finds her own increasing involvement may propel her to a bloody end. Vinnie Jones? Well, he's considerably more violent here than he was on the football pitch, and makes for a beautifully drawn (almost) silent psycho, delivering deadly stares and transforming murderous intent into absolute bloody carnage.
Thanks to unforgivable studio neglect, most of us have had to catch this film on DVD. I rented the Blu-ray and can unreservedly recommend a purchase. There is heavy grain at times, but lighting and colour usually reflect the grim subject matter, with steely interior shots and standout crimson reds making this an unspectacular but complimentary transfer.
Maybe you should make this film your next stop?