The book that John has written is one in which we accompany him as he explores Why? Why this film? Why has it stayed with him? Why does it so draw him now? And will it stand up to youthful remembrance?

If you know John Connolly’s writing, you perhaps might know what to expect, it is warm, it is funny, it is thoughtful, and it is surprising.

What John delivers in this book, is something quite moving. In looking back at this seemingly insignificant little exploitation film that found it’s cast and crew by quite the strangest ripples of the butterfly effect, he manages to touch on something universal, something that lies at the very heart of why Electric Dreamhouse, and the Midnight Movie Monographs, came to be: the way small strange movies find their way in to our hearts; mark us in ways their makers could never possibly foresee. The way these small strange movies can change our lives . . . because they’re Art.

Series Editor: Neil Snowdon

Cover Art & Design: Neil Snowdon & David Chatton Barker



Professor Alexander Saxton (Christopher Lee) is an anthropologist returning home to Europe via the Trans-Siberian Railway. He brings with him a large crate containing the prize from his expedition to the Himilayas: the frozen remains of a primitive humanoid creature, which Saxton is sure is the missing link in the evolutionary chain. Also on board is Dr. Wells (Peter Cushing), another Englishman and a colleague of Saxton's.

Mysterious deaths occur even before the train sets out. A known thief is found dead on the platform after having looked into the crate. His corpse is discovered bleeding from the eyes, which have turned blank and white. A slightly unbalanced monk named Pujardov (a Rasputin-esque figure, played by the Argentine actor Alberto de Mendoza), claims that the crate is evil. Pujardov is the spiritual adviser for Count Maryan Petrovski (George Rigaud) and his wife, Irina (Silvia Tortosa), and he tries to demonstrate to them that the crate is an omen of evil: in a bizarre rationalization, he claims that where there is evil, there is no place for the sign of the cross, and a piece of chalk fails to make the marking of the cross on the side of the crate. Saxton dismisses it as a trick and discredits the monk.

Saxton is eager to keep his find a secret from everyone, especially Dr. Wells, but Wells pays the baggage man to look into the crate when everyone is gone and tell him what's inside. Later, the man does this and is also killed by the creature, which possesses a glowing red eye. After gazing at the red eye, the man's eyes begin to bleed and turn white until he falls down dead. The ape-man quickly picks the lock of the crate just like the Chinese thief did back at the beginning of the train's voyage. The creature leaves the crate and places the baggage man's corpse inside instead; the others discover it later and Saxton is forced to come clean about his discovery. Inspector Mirov (Julio Peña) represents authority on the train, and he tries to keep the news of the death quiet among the passengers, while simultaneously searching for the creature.

A beautiful woman insinuates herself into Dr. Wells' compartment; she is Natasha (Helga Liné), and she uses her feminine charm to convince Wells she is a lady in distress. In reality she is a jewel thief intent on stealing the Countess's jewels from the train's safe. She is recognized by Yevtushenko (Ángel del Pozo), a prominent engineer who knows he has seen her before. Wells dines with the both of them in the dining car, but Mirov summons him and his assistant, Miss Jones (Alice Reinheart) to perform an autopsy on the baggage man. When they remove the top of his skull, they find that his brain is strangely smooth; Wells concludes that the brain has somehow been "drained" of all knowledge and memory. Later, when he sees a boiled fish with a white eye, he decides that this is the reason the eyes of the victims turn white; the memories and information are absorbed through the eyes, causing this reaction.

The fossil continues to haunt the train and kills two guards, eventually overcoming Natasha when she sneaks into the dark baggage compartment and attempts to steal the jewels from the safe. Wells happens upon the murder scene and the fossil tries to attack him, but it is gunned down by Inspector Mirov, who stares at the creature and then collapses into unconsciousness.

In an strange experiment, Saxton and Wells discover images embedded in liquid inside the eye of the dead fossil, images that reveal a prehistoric Earth, as well as a view of the Earth from outer space. They deduce that the real threat is a formless alien creature that was simply inhabiting the body of the fossil, and that it has now transferred itself to someone else on board the train. These fears are confirmed when Miss Jones is found dead in the baggage compartment, attacked by the Inspector and drained of her brain, her eyes white and bleeding. The monk senses the evil presence inside of the Inspector and pledges allegiance to it, considering it Satan. Yevtushenko becomes a victim, too, when the creature learns that he has studied the laws of physics and theories of space travel.

When news of the murders on the train is wired to Siberian authorities, the train is stopped and an intimidating cossack named Captain Kazan (Telly Savalas) boards with a small group of his men. Mirov is discovered to be the creature and is shot down, but not before the alien presence transfers itself to the monk. The passengers all retreat to the caboose, while the monk murders Kazan and his men by draining them of their brains.

The creature attacks Count Petrovski, who is knowledgeable of the formula for creating steel; the creature intends to escape Earth by building a vehicle using the combined knowledge of the intelligent men it has absorbed. When it threatens the Countess, Saxton arrives and confronts it with a rifle and a powerful light, which renders its deadly red eyes temporarily ineffective. Playing for time, the creature tempts Saxton by revealing that it came to Earth millions of years ago and was accidentally left behind by its own kind; it is a formless energy that has survived over all the years by transferring itself to each form of life that has evolved over time. As such, it possesses all of the knowledge that Saxton so desperately wants. It offers to help him cure disease and end hunger, but Saxton decides that it cannot be left alive. Realizing that Saxton cannot be bargained with, it resurrects all of its victims as white-eyed zombies. The zombies chase Saxton and the Countess back to the caboose, where the others are waiting. As they desperately work to detach the caboose from the rest of the train, Russia sends a telegraph to the next station ahead that they are to send the train over a cliff. The operators follow this order, thinking that they may be at war. Just as the surviving passengers manage to separate themselves from the rest of the train, it goes crashing over the cliff into a fiery explosion below. The caboose rolls to a safe stop precariously near the edge, where the survivors watch the fire consume the train and the unnatural inhabitants within it.

Horror Express (1972) originally titled Pánico en el Transiberiano

SOURCE: IMDb (accessed 10/08/2018)


©2018 John Connolly


PS Publishing

LE (500) DJ SD HB - 160 pages - 01/10/2018 (UK) - ISBN: 9781786364098