NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS (1975) – The Dungeon Review!

Last year I posted my top 10 favourite horror films for each year of the 1970s. When I posted my top ten for 1975 in March 2011 I had not seen Night Train Murders; now this is my second viewing of Aldo Lado’s intense film. I suppose I should mention that Night Train Murders is a blatant rip-off of Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left. Director Aldo Lado actually discusses it in an interview included on the DVDs special features. I’m not going to bust Lado over it since Last House on the Left is basically a modern horror version of Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring written by Ulla Isaksson. So now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s move on to the immensely talented Aldo Lado. Lado is no stranger to my favourite lists; his outstanding Giallo efforts Short Night of Glass Dolls and Who Saw Her Die made my favourite films of 1971 and 1972 respectively. Too bad I hadn’t seen Night Train Murders before making my 1975 list, because it definitely would have made the cut!

Teenagers Lisa and Margaret are travelling together by train to stay with Lisa’s parents for the Christmas holidays. The girls giggle and talk about boys, smoke cigarettes and flirt with a pair of delinquents named Blackie and Curly. Much to their chagrin the girls end up in a train car with Blackie and Curly who have hooked up with an older distinguished looking woman. Blackie and Curly are petty thieves and shit disturbers but nudged on by the mysterious woman they cross a line. How far will they go?

We are given a brief introduction to each of the central characters before the train is boarded. We see the girls interacting with Margaret’s parents as they are getting ready to go to the station. We meet Lisa’s parents on the verge of a divorce but ever so polite to one another. We see Curly and Blackie robbing someone and escaping and than slicing a woman’s fur coat up the back just for laughs. We meet the mystery woman buying a fancy bag from a boutique and saying good-bye to an attractive man before boarding the train. Night Train Murders is well-paced throughout building its story up gradually to its violent climax.

Night Train Murders is a slick-looking film with a wonderfully cloying atmosphere. I dug how Lado moves between scenes of the girl’s on the train and scenes of Lisa’s parents; Professor Giulio Stradi and his unhappy wife Laura. Ennio Morricone’s score is perfect and I particularly enjoyed how he incorporated Curly’s harmonica playing into the music. There are strong performances from the entire cast. Lisa played by Laura D’Angelo and Margaret played by Irene Miracle were likable and natural and had good chemistry making them easy to empathize with. Flavio Bucci and Gianfranco De Grassi who plays Blackie and Curly are a couple of bastards to be sure. Blackie is the more aggressive of the duo and Curly is a harmonica-playing addict who is along for the ride. As obnoxious as these two are I almost felt a little bit of pity for them in the end. The real villain of the film is Macha Méril who plays the lady on the train. In an early scene she is in a crowded train car and reaches for her bag knocking it over and revealing some of its contents. Amoung them are several photographs of naked men and women. It turns out that our attractive well-dressed woman is some what of a pervert, or a nymphomaniac or a government employee; in any case, she is certainly a sociopath. She was an extremely intriguing addition. The finale Lado gives Méril’s character is knowingly frustrating but I loved it! Enrico Maria Salerno and Marina Berti who play Lisa’s parents Giulio and Laura Stradi both do a decent job also.

Night Train Murders has its share of uncomfortable and impressive moments of intensity. The girls are humiliated, violated and brutalized and the scenes are well-executed and horrifying. If you are familiar with the aforementioned Last House on the Left and/or The Virgin Spring than you have probably guessed there is a revenge twist. For everyone else the revenge twist in the films finale is brutal, unforgiving and disheartening. The finale will be sure to irritate some but I thought it was perfect. Night Train Murders is so stylishly presented you almost forget you are watching an exploitation flick. Despite the fact Night Train Murders “borrows” its premise I nonetheless thought it was pretty bloody great! Highly recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Aldo Lado

Starring: Flavio Bucci, Macha Méril, Gianfranco De Grassi, Enrico Maria Salerno, Marina Berti, Franco Fabrizi, Irene Miracle, Laura D’Angelo

8 Responses to “NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS (1975) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. This flick is quite enjoyable even if it is, as you said, nothing original whatsoever. The Virgin Spring is a masterpiece and, although less extreme than Last House On The Left overall, I still find the rape scene in Bergman’s classic to be extremely disheartening moreso than anything in Last House On The Left. Both are excellent films, however. As always, your review is well-written and ever so enjoyable to read.

    • Ingmar Bergman is actually one of my favourite directors; The Virgin Spring is a masterpiece! Absolutely stunning; one of those films that stayed with me for days afterwards.

  2. A first rate rip-off of a rip-off! This comes from a great period in Italian horror/exploitation film history. Really I think most of the genre films from Italy spanning the late 1950’s to the mid to late 1980’s are pretty amazing and entertaining.Aldo Lado is an interesting director. In some ways his terrific Who Saw Her Die anticipates Nicolas Roeg’s excellent Don’t Look Now. For my two cents,there’s nothing wrong with a rip-off or a cliche if they are done with a fresh spin,and Lado certainly does that in Night Train Murders. Another exceptional review,Goregirl!

    • We were just commenting on how influential the early Italian horror was and I follow up with this. Well, let’s face it they did like to “borrow” a lot also. As a matter of fact, I’m just putting together some pictures for a slideshow of Holocaust 2000 – the Italians answer to The Omen! Love that trippy dream sequence! And hey…when they are made as well as Night Train Murders I have no trouble with the borrowing.

      • Borrowing can be very entertaining if it’s done right. For sure,our friends the Italians are no stranger to that area! You can see the American influence even in the Spaghetti Westerns,but they still have their own unique style,as does all cinema from Italy I feel. I will be looking forward to your slideshow of Holocaust 2000,one of several “let’s borrow” from The Omen Spaghetti Horrors!

  3. O M G Gore Girl – I was actually going to post this today… now I had to go with plan b…. : | oh well – excellent write up! For being what it was / is I was really freaked by the, well, what “happens” to the two girls outside of the train…

    • oh no! Don’t not post on my account! That is crazy we were posting this on the same day…I mean of all the random films…and one from 1975 no less! Get out of my head man!

      • HA!! AWESOME!!! I don’t want anyone to think we’re in cahoots – people might talk you know : ) I’ll put mine out tomorrow…

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