Review: Night Train Murders
Blu-ray: Night Train Murders (1975)
Two young girls, Margaret (Irene Miracle) and Lisa (Laura D’Angelo) are travelling by train from Germany to Italy to stay with Lisa’s family for Christmas. Also on the train are Blackie (Flavio Bucci) and Curly (Gianfranco De Grassi), who attempt to hide from the ticket collector. At first the girls innocently flirt with the men, until they become uncomfortable. A ‘mysterious’ nameless woman (Macha Méril) is also onboard the train, she joins the two men in terrorising the girls. Back in Italy, Lisa’s parents (who have martial problems) wait for the girls to return home.
I originally balked at being the one to review Night Train Murders, having written at length over the last 15 years about its predecessor Wes Craven’s ‘The Last House on the Left’ I felt that pretty much all you have to say about any rape/revenge film has been said a million times. However, it’s a bit of a no-brainer that out of all of us at 60 Minutes With, being the sole woman, only I could review it. The problem is, how does a woman review a film that makes for such uncomfortable viewing? I’m not an out-and-out feminist, even so, one has to ask whether films like this have a place in society, are they too explicit, not just what’s portrayed onscreen, but also the very idea of misogyny and the abuse of women onscreen by their rape and brutal murder? Of course the answer is yes, they will always have a place as far as I’m concerned, no matter how vile, as informed choice and non-censorship of film is essential.
So, those of you who know nothing of Aldo Lado’s 1975 film, now know it’s basically a rape/murder/revenge film. I dislike giving blow by blow accounts of films (as you may have noticed!) it’s only right that the viewer has a few surprises, so again there’s going to be as few plot spoilers by me as possible!
Made after The Last House on the Left, and not exactly a carbon copy (it IS on a train this time), Night Train Murders follows the same pattern as several films before it, the forced, brutal loss of innocence, the incredulity over a woman being complicit in rape and murder of an innocent, the evilness of men, sex and death, rape, and finally the father/family member taking their revenge.
I could talk endlessly about Ingmar Bergman’s 1960 film The Virgin Spring, which is equally as shocking, just as graphic sexually and probably more honestly brutal in its violence (and a much better film than Night Train Murders). But because of its ‘auteur’ director it’s always going to be held on a pedestal, while films like Night Train Murders can be seen as a bit of titillation or perhaps a completist’s desire to view a ‘Video Nasty’ no matter what the content (knowing what this film is about, who would willingly seek it out, and why would they want to watch it?). However, this isn’t as gory as The Last House on the Left, and despite its content, I didn’t find it as sickening as that film (I vividly remember feeling nauseous on watching ‘Last House’). If anything the overall mood of this film for me is sadness and futility.
I think the problem for me with a film like this is, they tend to be spilt into two camps; the great ones (Irreversible, The Virgin Spring, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The ‘Vengence’ films, Titus (well, I liked it…), I Saw The Devil) and the really questionably shit ones (Straw Dogs (my opinion), Run, Bitch, Run! Yes, even I Spit on Your Grave). So, that begs the question of film-rape as art, and again, so much feminist dialogue has been written about this it could give me (and you) a headache.
So finally, and in essence, to me this film is too similar to Last House, which is itself a cheaper, more ‘titillating’ visceral version of The Virgin Spring (despite there being a strong ‘evil’ female who doesn’t really appear in The Virgin Spring). It’s a very uncomfortable watch, but not so abhorrent to make you switch off.
Having said that, I’ve always been a big fan of Ennio Morricone, but Demis Roussos’ theme song was so trill and high I nearly did turn it off!
I’ve read that there have been some cries of ‘rip off’ with the packaging (and perhaps the content), comparing this release to another well-known company. Personally, you could compare it, but in all honesty there are only so many ways you can produce a Blu-ray/DVD, and 88 Films have produced something not only classy looking, but the extras are great too. The cover artwork is lovely and like their previous release of Eskimo Nell, they’re bringing out some cracking releases that look great, are amazing quality in picture and sound, and have fab extras.
- Available to watch in either English Language or Italian Language with English Subtitles
- Strangers On A (Late Night) Train – An interview with Irene Miracle (An enlightening chat with the lovely Irene Miracle about her start in film, and having breakfast with some very interesting people! She also talks about her role and how she felt making the film).
- Further Adventures In Italy – Irene Miracle tells a Hair-raising story (A funny story involving a bath and shaving!)
- English Language Trailer
- Italian Language Trailer
- Reversible Sleeve with original UK Video Nasty Art
- Includes a Collectible 300gsm Original Poster Post Card
Review by Tina from a disc kindly supplied by 88 Films.