Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jay's Review: Train

A better-than-average Goreno reviewed for dvdsnapshot. This one's a pleasant surprise.


Touring Eastern Europe with her college wrestling team, Alex (Thora Birch) attends a debauched late-night party that causes Alex and several teammates to miss their train to Odessa. Her coach is furious, but a mysterious woman offers the coach and wrestlers a ride on an alternate train. The coach agrees, and the athletes, exhausted and hung over, gratefully climb aboard. But the train harbors a deadly secret, and for Alex and her fellow passengers, a blood-soaked nightmare is just beginning.

The probable American target audience for Train probably isn't going to have much experience with traveling by them. It's a far more European and old-school method of travel. That sense of the alien comes in handily when watching this film, originally supposed to be a remake of Terror Train. It morphed into something significantly more akin to Hostel on wheels.

Near the beginning of the film the lead character stops and frowns at a train. One can assume it's part of setting up a sense of dread having more to do with Xenophobia than anything really ominous. Stupid American college students and their coach wind up missing their scheduled train and hook a ride on a second one that turns out to be a rolling abattoir. From the creepy woman who invites them to a pair of grimy, sleazy "conductors" and a burn victim passenger, Train is less than a love letter to the Eastern Europeans. Thankfully, they quickly show their true, creepy colors lest we think there may be anyone nice on the entire continent.

As the American students make their first impression on most of the passengers when one runs through the dining car in only a jock strap, it's really kind of hard to fault them for the gory organ harvesting that follows. The killing starts quickly and stays grotesque, so torture porn fans are going to be delighted with this one. Skin is sliced off and eyeballs plucked in graphic detail. In fact things move so quickly that at the halfway mark most of the protagonists are out for the count. Thora Birch is talented enough to keep the second half of the film grounded and the atmosphere is tense throughout. Train is well-photographed but in many places the cinematography is so dark you can barely make anything out. For some of the gore scenes, that's almost a blessing.


This disc features trailers for Frontier(s), Captivity, the third After Dark Horrorfest 8 Films To Die For III collection, a set of Ghost House Pictures titles,, and Train is presented in Widescreen with English and Spanish Subtitles. Audio is offered in English 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital. There's a behind-the-scenes featurette that clocks in at nearly 14 minutes.


"Torture Porn" isn't everyone's cup of tea, and the Xenophobia runs thick in Train to boot, but on the whole, it's a satisfying and very nasty story of, shall we say, "medical capitalism" in post-Soviet Russia. Not for the kids, the squeamish, or the optimistic, this is 94 surprisingly well-done minutes for the Gorehounds who don't mind a little hopelessness to their travelogues.


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