Sunday, December 8, 2013

Night Train Murders (A Shitmas Post from Slashers, Starlets, and Sleaze)

Holidays are hell.  It's a scientifically provable fact.  You have to put up with people you don't like and some times even people who don't know who the hell you are.  The weather is shit and you have to blow your cash on empty platitudes and call them “gifts.”  Your father-in-law knows you put zero thought into that tie tack you bought and had that tight little Macy's babe gift wrap so you would have to put as little effort into it as possible, so why frigging pretend it means something?  And God help you poor bastards whose family or significant others have decided that relatives should descend on your home like an unstoppable mongoloid horde.  No, I don't mean mongol... People you don't even like are pissing on your floor, stealing your towels and cookware and doing who knows what on your sheets.  Sure the shit came from Target, Wal Mart, or even the flea market but it's your shit, not theirs. Oh and that tie tack wasn't enough of a tribute for Genghis, because somehow he spilled cranberry sauce on the wall of your den.  The worst though...yes, worse than all the shit I've already mentioned, is the ritual of packing stuff up and traveling like a gypsy from house to house for the holidays.  The lucky ones will perhaps die or become comatose in transit.  The real lucky ones get to sit at home and start drinking, preferably on November 15th and won't stop until January 2nd.  This flick I'm about to take a look at is about some of the unlucky ones that have to go through the trip and all the shit that comes with it...along with rape and murder.  Time to join a couple of Eurobabes on the NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS.

This film is about holiday homecomings.  It's Christmas time in Europe and all the coeds are trying to get back home.  Margaret (Irene Miracle) and Lisa (Laura D'Angelo) are heading south to Italy to holiday at Lisa's parent's home during their semester break.  The opening strains of Demis Roussos and Ennio Morricone's A Flower Is  All You Need evoke a false atmosphere at the opening of Aldo Lado's NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS.  If the film is unfamiliar to some under that title then they may want to dig through the pile of titles it was released as at one point or another: LAST STOP ON THE NIGHT TRAIN, LAST HOUSE—PART II, TORTURE TRAIN, XMAS MASSACRE, THE NEW HOUSE ON THE LEFT, SECOND HOUSE ON THE LEFT, and DON'T RIDE ON LATE NIGHT TRAINS among others...  If you can't tell from the titles the film has something to do with a train and maybe LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT...just maybe. In 1960 Ingmar Bergman caught lightning in a jar with THE VIRGIN SPRING and Wes Craven unleashed it in 1972's LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.  This film is like an echo of the thunder clap of its predecessors.  Not as shocking but ominous and threatening nonetheless.

Blackie and Curly are a couple of thugs with seeming anarchistic leanings.  Much like a couple of young droods they go about stealing and mugging their way through life.  After beating a Santa in Munich's shopping district they hop the same train our unlucky lasses happen to be on.  Also on board is an unnamed Lady (Macha Meril) of comfortable station.  The woman is older than Lisa and Margaret and proves to be a total freak.  She carries around pornographic photos and surprises Blackie when a potential rape turns into something consensual and unnerving.  While watching I was thinking that Amtrack must not have anything on this.

Lisa's father and mother, Giulio (Enrico Maria Salerno) and Laura Stradi (Marina Berti) host a Christmas Eve dinner party while they are on the verge of divorce.  Their guests arrive they and their friends have a lively discussion on the roots of violence in society.  The guests lay blame at the feet of society while Giulio considers it must be boredom.  He informs his friends that he is not entirely sure because he is not a violent person.  Interspersed with the footage of the Christmas dinner is the ever growing depravity of which Lady and the thugs are subjugating the young women.  Lisa's parents dance as she is raped and then stabbed between her legs with a knife at the urging of Lady.  She sits bleeding to death as soft music plays over the scene.  Her attackers watching the men remorseful while Lady watches smiling and bemused.  She then accuses Lisa of pretending to be dead as she beats her corpse.  Margaret escapes, sans pants after having been raped by a passerby, and leaps out of the moving train falling to her death instead of facing further torture.  Shots of the beautiful Italian countryside are sullied by the Margaret's broken body.  The Stradi's meet the train and instead of picking up their daughter they end up taking the thugs and their Lady back to their home as Lady continues to string together lies.  As the clues come filtering in and the Stradi's put them together the grieving Giulio's convictions of nonviolence waver as his need for vengeance and closure take over sending him into a rampage the likes of which the hardened thugs have never seen.  

The stars are mostly genre stalwarts, many of which have or will work with none other than Dario Argento, from the lovely Irene Miracle to the dependable Enrico Maria Salerno.  The acting is top notch with the thugs giving over the top performances worthy of any young droods.  DEEP RED's Macha Meril gives an absolutely chilling performance as the oddly disaffected yet profoundly perverted nameless “Lady.”  The score is classic Morricone and helps move the story along as much as the dialogue or action.  If you like your holidays with a touch of bloody and brutal revenge then NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS may be for you.  Merry Shitmas!

- Mack
 Slashers, Starlets, and Sleaze ( )

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