Written by: Michael Den Boer on December 20th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1979
Director: Ferdinando Baldi
Writer: George Eastman
Cast: Silvia Dionisio, Werner Pochath, Zora Kerova, Gianluigi Chirizzi, Carlo De Mejo, Giancarlo Maestri, Fausto Lombardi, Gino Milli, Roberto Caporali, Antonio Maimone, Gianfranca Dionisi, Rita Livesi, Gianfilippo Carcano, Andrea Scotti, Cesare Gelli, Fiammetta Flamini, Venantino Venantini
DVD released: October 20th, 2009
Approximate running time: 82 mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian, Dolby Digital Mono German
Subtitles: English, German
DVD Release: Camera Obscura
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: 23.99 EUR
Synopsis: Three young men terrorize the passengers on a train.
During the 1970’s and early 1980’s Italian cinema churned out handful of “Last House on the Left” clones like Night Train Murders, The Last House on the Beach and House on the Edge of the Park. While on the surface the plot appears to be yet another “Last House on the Left” clone. The end result is something that is closer to A Clockwork Orange. The three young men terrorizing the passengers on the train just like Alex and his droogs commit violent acts that are more impulse driven. During the featurette included with this release writer George Eastman, cites the 1967 film The incident as his main inspiration for Terror Express.
In between moments of shock and sleaze, the plot explores with mixed results the more negative aspects social status. Even though the plot takes a while before it settles into its more salacious content. To its credit it takes just enough time to set up who all the main players are. One area where the film never really clicks is its inability to build tension. It quickly becomes apparent what lies just around the bend. Other Italian films have traveled similar territory with greater effect.
Terror Express was directed by Ferdinando Baldi, who is more known for his work in the Spaghetti Western genre. Directing films like Texas, addio, Forgotten Pistolero and Blindman. Terror Express more than holds its own visually for a film that is primarily confined to one location. The cinematographer on Terror Express was Giuseppe Aquari, whose other notable films include An Angel for Satan and The Killer Reserved Nine Seats.
There are a few performances in the film that go over the top and then some. Luckily this gels with the story at hand. The films standout performance comes from Silvia Dionisio (A Wave of Pleasure), in the role of a prostitute named Giulia. Not only does she sell the sexual allure of her character. She is also very convincing showing her characters more vulnerable side. Another performance of note is Zora Kerova (The New York Ripper). Her character is subjected to the most grueling assault out of all the characters in the film.
Camera Obscura presents Terror Express in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. This transfer has been flagged for progressive playback. Colors look nicely saturated, flesh tones look healthy, black levels fare well and details generally look crisp. There are some instances of source damage that varies in degree. DNR, compression and edge enhancement are kept in check.
This release comes with two audio options, a Dolby Digital Mono Italian and a Dolby Digital Mono German. Removable English and German subtitles have been provided. The English subtitles are easy to follow and error free. Outside of some minor instances of background noise, both audio mixes sound clear and balanced throughout.
Extras for this release include English and Italian language trailers, an image gallery and a collectible booklet with a text piece about that film titled “The Rails Lead to Nowhere”. This text piece is presented in English and German. The main extra included with this release is twenty four minute featurette titled “Tales from the Rails”, which includes interviews with actress Zora Kerova, actor Carlo De Mejo and screenwriter George Eastman. Some of the topics include the origins of the project, how they became involved in this project and they reminisce about the cast director Ferdinando Baldi. All the comments are in Italian and English subtitles have been provided. There is an Easter egg which can be found on the extras menu which is essentially outtakes with Zora Kerova interacting with her dog. This release also comes with multi-lingual menus, English and German. Overall Terror Express gets an exceptional DVD release from Camera Obscura.