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(aka "Horror-Sex Im Nachtexpress" or "Terror Express" or "La Ragazza Del Vagone Letto" or "The Girl in the Sleeping Car" )

 

directed by Ferdinando Baldi
Italy 1979

 

TERROR EXPRESS (the film's English title) is as much one of the string of Italian LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT spin-offs/rip-offs as it is derivative of one of the better examples of that trend: Aldo Lado's NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS (aka NEW LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT). It also has the feeling of a sexploitation twist on the seventies disaster movie trend as before the train sets off we are introduced to the microcosm of humanity in short scenes around the train station including a bickering couple milquetoast Mike (Venantino Venantini, THE BEAST IN SPACE) and bitchy Anna (Zora Kerowa, NEW YORK RIPPER), an industrialist who has his assistant purchase porn from a magazine stand for him, a sweet elderly couple on their way to a Swiss clinic, a teenage daughter, her perverted father and clueless mother, a handcuffed convict Peter (Gianluigi Chirizzi, BURIAL GROUND) who has an amicable ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13-type repartee with his police escort, and Giulia (Silvia Dionisio, ANDY WARHOL'S DRACULA) - the titular "girl in the sleeping car" of the Italian title - is a prostitute operating from one of the sleeping cars with the cooperation of the ticket collector. And then come a trio of thugs David (Werner Pocath of MOSQUITO, billed as Paul Werner in the Italian version's credits), Elio (Carlo de Mejo, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, son of Alida Valli), and Phil (Fausto Lombardi, HANNA D., who Americans might recognize as the spokesman for Boboli Pizza Crust on eighties TV) who immediately set about alienating and intimidating their fellow passengers. When proud hooker Giulia refuses David's advances, he and his pals cuff the cop and force the ticket collector to disable the emergency break and lock all the exits from the sleeping and dining cars. They threaten the lives of the rest of the passengers unless Giulia submits to them and the passengers make various attempts to convince Giulia to acquiesce. Pierre, now uncuffed, must find a way to stop the deadly trio before the next stop.

The intruders of TERROR EXPRESS
are no common street hoods; well-dressed and deceptively well-mannered, they are "Valued offspring of degenerated nouveau riches. Fine clothing, good manners, and absolutely empty in the brain department" (and it is perhaps appropriate that Pierre makes that remark rather than the any of the more "respectable" characters). Likewise, most of the terrorized characters are despicable in varying degrees (a father pays Giulia to wear his daughter Elena's silk gown and calls her by that name) while Anna objects to the presence of escorted convict Pierre in the dining car but is amused by the antics of the disruptie trio. After she has been raped by Elio and Phil, her husband attempts to reassert himself on her. Only proud hooker Giulia, political prisoner Pierre, the elderly couple, and the industrialist's personal assistant show any noble qualities. While actress Kerowa (in the disc's documentary) was disappointed with the director and his choices, screenwriter Luigi Montefiori (ANTHROPOPHAGUS himself) felt that Ferdinando Baldi was too classy for the project (Kerowa was told that a literature professor would be directing the film) and his production and post-production choices (including the anesthetizing score of Marcello Giombini) soften the impact of the rape scenes (the sex scenes are quite fleshy and go on for quite a while stopping the plot cold so you're not getting short-changed in the sleaze department, however) as well as the brutality of the thugs' intimidation of the not-so-terrified passengers before the three are dispatched in an ending lacking the resonance of other LAST HOUSE-inspired rape revenge films.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: December 1979 (Italy)

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DVD Review: Camera Obscura (Italian Genre Cinema Collection No. 5) - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Camera Obscura

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:21:27 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.62 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono; German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles English, German, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Camera Obscura

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Introduction by Carlo de Mejo and Zora Kerowa (16:9; 0:29; in Italian with optional English or German subtitles)
• TALES FROM THE RAILS featurette (16:9; 24:29; in Italian with optional English or German subtitles)
• Italian Trailer (16:9; 3:15)
• English Trailer (16:9; 3:16)
• Still Gallery
• Easter Egg (16:9; 1:19)
• Booklet by Christian Keller (in English and German)

DVD Release Date: October 20, 2009
Digipack in slipcase

Chapters 16

 

Comments

Camera Obscura's dual-layer, anamorphic widecreen transfer has been treated to a very high bitrate of 8.62 and looks as good as the Italian elements allow (two brief scenes including a dialogue scene between Venantino Venantini and Zora Kerowa have been restored from an inferior element and the credits have been moved to their correct position at the start of the film but they share the damage as the second restored portion to which they were appended in the master). The rest of the master is not pristine (it has its share of mottled frames and marks) but overall it is a very attractive presentation. One assumes the English dub could not be included due to rights limitations but the Italian and German mono audio tracks are fine as are the optional English and German subtitles for the feature and the extras.

"Tales from the Rails" is a 24 minute featurette with input from actors Zora Kerowa and Carlo De Mejo as well as screenwriter Luigi Montefiori in which they discuss the mostly pleasant shooting experience, their opinions of the fellow cast members, and are all fairly frank about their opinions on the film. The setup also has an option to turn off menu transitions. A 1:19 Easter Egg is composed of three outtakes from the Zora Kerowa part of the "Tales from the Rails" featurette in which the actress' dog disrupts the interview. Christian Keller's liner notes are in German and English. The film was previously released in a non-English-friendly anamorphic edition by Italy's Raro Video missing the restored scenes on Camera Obscura's edition. Packaged in a digi-pack and sturdy slipcase, Camera Obscura's edition is a fine presentation.

 - Eric Cotenas

 



DVD Menus
 

 


Screen Captures


Subtitle sample

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 
Restored footage

 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Camera Obscura

Region 2 - PAL

 




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