Horror Express (1972 film)

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Scene from Horror Express (1972 film)...

Horror Express, AKA Panic in the Trans-Siberian Train, The Possessor (1972)


"A nightmare of terror traveling aboard the Horror Express!" In 1906, in China, a British anthropologist discovers a frozen prehistoric creature and must transport it to Europe by train.


  • Release Date: 1972
  • Country/Language: UK/Spain, English
  • Genres/Technical: Horror, Sci-fi, Fantasy
  • Setting: 1800s Siberia, Gaslight, Weird West
  • Runtime: 1 hr 28 min
  • Starring: Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing
  • Director: Eugenio Martín
  • Writer: Arnaud d'Usseau (screenplay), Julian Zimet (screenplay)
  • Producer/Production Co: Granada Films, Benmar Productions
  • View Trailer: (link)
  • Full Movie: (link)
  • TVTropes: (link)
  • IMDb page: (link)
  • Wikipedia page: (link)


MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: PG (Violence)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • SS___ (Two Tentacles: Barely Lovecraftian; could be a very loose adaptation)

Essentially an adaptation of "Who Goes There?" (the story that The Thing (1982 franchise) was based on), 1972 film introduces the idea that The Thing was an ancient inspiration for devils or demons.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.


Review Links:

  • Into the Portal Podcast, Episode 116: Film Friday - Horror Express (link)
  • Orphaned Entertainment Podcast, Episode 31: Horror Express (5/5) (link)
  • Video review by Joe Dante at Trailers from Hell (link) - "This is a much more clever and adventurous movie than most pictures in the genre..."
  • Scott Ashlin at 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting (3/5 Stars) (link - "Horror Express is thus a bit like The Asphyx, The Tingler, or some of the more outré H.G. Wells stories, insofar as it takes a flagrantly ludicrous premise, and proceeds from it in complete earnest."
  • Awix at No Chic. Just Geek: (link) - "By the standards of low-budget horror films, though, it looks good and stays fun throughout, and it’s always just a little bit better than you expect it to be – even if by the conclusion (brace yourself) Horror Express is showing distinct signs of running out of steam."
  • Marty McKee at Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot (link) - "The plot by Julian Zimet and Arnaud d’Usseau, who also wrote Psychomania together, is farfetched and the science is dubious, to say the least, but fast-paced direction by Eugenio Martin ... and a thrilling score by John Cacavas ... make Horror Express a very entertaining ride. Do I need to mention the expert thesping by the British dynamic duo at the top of the bill and Telly Savalas’ hammy turn as a crude Cossack? ... Clever twists and dark humor abound in Horror Express, but it’s hard to imagine the film working without its lead tandem of Lee and Cushing."
  • Brent McKnight at Beyond HollywooddotCom (link) - "The characters jump to wild conclusions with no proof or even clues, and everyone simply accepts the outlandish claims, because why the hell not? There are clunky metaphors, and the whole thing is a mishmash of zombie, monster, and religious horror with elements of science fiction. All of this adds up to a schlocky, tacky, raucously entertaining time that I thoroughly enjoyed this from beginning to end. “Horror Express” is a blast."
  • Richard Scheib at the Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review (3/5 Stars) (link) - "Horror Express is not exactly a subtle film, but then it doesn’t need to be and the luridly red-lit eyes of the monster and bleached eyeballs are entertaining in a cheesy sort of way. The film does a reasonable job of drumming up period atmosphere on its meagre budget."
  • Andy Winward at But We're British (5/5) (link) - "I really like Horror Express, it's just really enjoyable. There isn't a dull moment, even with things like the Monks flawed logic it just adds to the entertainment factor."
  • Chris Wood at British Horror Films (link) - "...the entire film is one hugely enjoyable romp which never lets up its speed. You've got a brain-jumping alien parasite, some truly revolting sfx and Cushing and Lee. Think it can't get any better? Prepare for a badly overacting Telly Savalas and an absolutely barking mad last half hour, which involves lots more death and some serious zombie action. ... All of which almost makes up for the worst rushed ending in the history of "oh my god, the money's run out" endings."


 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

An English anthropologist has discovered a frozen monster in the frozen wastes of Manchuria which he believes may be the Missing Link. He brings the creature back to Europe aboard a trans-Siberian express, but during the trip the monster thaws out, its body possessed by a formless extraterrestrial entity perceived by some passengers and mad monk cultists as "Satan" or "Evil", and starts to butcher the passengers one by one, stealing their memories and imitating its victims.


Comments, Trivia, Dedication

Associated Mythos Elements

Keeper Notes

  • Mysterioso: "Moving Horror Express to the Bone Wars of Cope & Marsh is about all that is needed to make it work for the American West, though for extra complications take a few pages/scenes from Breakheart Pass (Alistair MacLean novel, with a 1975 movie staring Charles Bronson based off of it)