Stuffy British anthropologist Sir Alexander Saxton (Lee) discovers the mummified remains of what appears to be a primitive human in a Manchurian cave. With hopes of this find-of-the-century providing some insight on the missing link in human evolution, Saxton packs the body into a wooden crate and hops onto the Trans-Siberian Express from China to Moscow. Before boarding the train however, a Chinese thief attempts to pick the crate's lock, and is found dead just moments later with his eyes completely white. The discovery also catches the eye of Saxton's friendly rival Dr. Wells (Cushing), who pays a baggage handler to cut a hole in the box so he can sneak a peek. The porter is too found dead soon after, and the crate empty. With the beast now loose aboard a moving train, it isn't long until the bodies start to pile up. Saxton and Wells are on the case, but the commotion also catches the attention of Inspector Mirov (Julio Pena), Polish countess Irina (Silvia Tortosa) and crazy Orthodox monk Father Pujardov (Robert DeNiro lookalike Alberto de Mendoza).
It's a strange but enticing mixture of Agatha Christie and The Thing from Another World. The discovery that their foe is actually a body-hopping alien capable of devouring memories and knowledge with each kill allows for some whodunnit fun to be had in between the many gory moments, and gives the film a strange sci-fi kick that, while completely ridiculous, adds something different to an otherwise straight-forward monster flick. The special effects have also aged rather well. It isn't scary, but the sight of corpses frozen in shock with their eyes rolled to the back of their heads makes for a rather creepy sight, and graphic scenes of surgical procedures means that Martin's picture has a welcome nasty edge that helps it to distance itself from Hammer's campier gore. You can pick the film apart, but Horror Express is simply outrageously entertaining and never lets up. Once the horror starts, each scene seems to want to double-down on what came before, even introducing Telly Savalas late on as an intimidating, vodka-swilling Cossack officer named Captain Kazan. A must-see for any fans of European horror from the Lee/Cushing era.
Directed by: Eugenio Martín
Starring: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Alberto de Mendoza, Silvia Tortosa, Julio Peña, Telly Savalas