Day 13 of 31
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Brooke Shields, Leslie Bibb,Roger Bart Ted Raimi Vinnie Jones. USA. 1h 28m
I was quite happy to see this second renaissance of the British horror guru Clive Barker movies but then remembered how terrible the last wave became… so I didn’t rush out to see anything, but as time went on my curiosity peaked, Clive wasn’t ranting about how his work was being destroyed, and for part of it I think he should have. I managed to pick up Midnight Meat Train and the Books of Blood at the same time and settled down for a Barker Double Bill, starting with the later as it’s the story I remember the least about while reading his anthologies as a teen. The film started well but turned into some kind of day time TV romantic melodrama before remembering that it’s supposed to be a blood thirsty ghostly horror story, it was honestly pathetic, and I gave up for the night, shelving the second film…. So the fateful night arrived, I had nothing new to watch apart from the Midnight Meat Train, at first i was going to just re read the story instead but I gave it a spin and was strangely amused…
Not really starting out with much grit, the film introduces a failed photographer, a man with passion and conviction but just not able to reach that pique in his field. The Struggling artist Leon (Bradley Cooper) snaps away and deals with his refusals in the loving arms of his waitress girlfriend Maya (Leslie Bibb).
One of the blinding feature of the movie was the subway and how the station was portrayed, it reminded me of some random Japanese setting, it was only at this point I bothered to check the cover for details. Holy schit son! Ryuhei Kitamura is amazing when it comes to action films, and I can’t rate Versus (2000) andy higher, can I get an “Amen-10/10”. He has also been pretty successful with other action titles such as No One Lives (2012), and has amazing abilities in the realms of action films, so why take on this slow paced horror,and why turn it into a romantic drama. Every story is open to interpretation and I guess we all like a challenge.
So a lot of this film is filmed at night, Leon is attracted to the dangerous city night life and after meeting the owner of a prominent art gallery he see’s a chance for success and is determined to show the darkest side of humanity, which ends up with him trying to take pictures of gang members and car crashes like a magnet to the macabre. Eventually he starts to get the hang of it, and as his understanding of the dark side increases so does his temperament which is duly noted by his concerned lover.. then he meets Mahogany (Vinnie Jones) a sociopathic serial killer who slaughters all who enter his midnight meat train.
Mahogany spends his days pulling strange lesions off his body, cleaning his tools and waiting for midnight, then he goes to the station and waits for “his” train and its unsuspecting victims, then he lays waste to them using hammers and all sorts of clinical nasties.
I still haven’t re read the story, as it’s still fresh in my mind, but the essence of the words is lost in weight of this movie which is in essence an emotional drama. The horror aspect is short and sweet, there is a some monstrous scenes once the slaughter begins on the trains but the film tries too hard to fluff up the gaps that were in the short story let along trying to make it into a feature length film but it totally fails to fill those gaps with more frights. As a thriller it does hold it’s own and it does have an imaginative way of expanding the story.
Vinnie surprisingly is quite impressive as the hulk like butcher, strangely reminiscent of the Lars, from Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954), and the nightime world that he exists in, has a hyper real atmosphere, but the film is lacking in several ways, but the most disappointing is it’s eagerness to rush to the end of the story for the slightly whimsical ending while avoiding to acknowledge the heavy layers of Barker’s deep mythical dread that is ladled into the original story, instead it tends to lean more towards the urban legend stories of the Subway Butchers. But just for the “Yuppie flying eyeball attack scene” it’s worth a view.
R:Bood of blood (2008), Candyman (1992), Nightbreed (1990) Trans Siberian (2008)
L – Clive Barker Films, Train Flicks,
5s – Bradley Cooper