One of the interesting things about Halloween being right around the corner is how many horror properties will be in circulation. It won't just be takes on vampire stories, such as The Invitation, or the recent Netflix joint, Day Shift, but scary offerings like the haunted house essence of Barbarian. As expected, fans will also be digging into the archives, with the zombie genre sure to be as popular.
Many will tout 2016's Train to Busan as the gold standard. That's because not only is it an aggressive spin on the undead, but it also worked in a unique concept of them attacking humans on a train in South Korea. However, while Train to Busan is a remarkable, high-octane frightening experience, it still lags behind 1972's Horror Express.
Now, Train to Busan raised the bar in big ways, upgrading what Snowpiercer tried to do in 2013 when it had a civil war break out as a giant locomotive sped around a frozen Earth. Train to Busan, though, painted a deeper picture of survival amid chaos, mixing action with drama as families fought monsters to return to their loved ones. In fact, it's a formula even the action-comedy Bullet Train tried to subvert as assassins feuded on a train in Japan.
But Horror Express is the grandfather of all these movies and features a powerful enemy. It blended substance and style to work in science fiction, horror, drama, romance and mystery. And at the heart of it were horror icons Christoper Lee as Professor Saxton and Peter Cushing as Dr. Wells, taking them away from their Dracula and Frankenstein work years before.
In this case, they had to fight a sinister threat on a train heading from Shanghai to Moscow after a dig. Shockingly, the prehistoric humanoid on board that thawed and escaped wasn't some super-powered caveman -- it was operated by an alien that lived on the planet for centuries. This being quickly embarked on a murder spree, possessing humans and using them to kill. It created a macabre guessing game filled with cynicism and distrust. But what was interesting was how twists kept popping up, with folks even wondering at some point if it was Satan. It turns out that the being was mining folks' minds to gather intelligence to build a spaceship to escape Earth. It even raised an army of zombies at one point, weaponizing its victims to go after the heroes.
That is why a monk onboard, Pujardov, gave himself up as a vessel in another curveball, reminding fans how humanity could be evil. All these elements crafted something dynamic and unpredictable, and while it wasn't as gory, intense or action-packed as Train to Busan, it still worked to create a suffocating feel on the train. This claustrophobic atmosphere and haunting mood gave Horror Express a lot more tension, had fans constantly thinking and truly tested its heroes in a battle that required a lot more brains than brawn. Ultimately, it's way more layered than Train to Busan, reinforcing how mobile terror should be done.