Thursday, June 21, 2012

Train Week: Amok Train (1989)

From the director of Iced, Jeff Kwitny, comes one of the most underrated gore movies of the eighties (together with the amazing Spider Labyrinth): Amok Train, also known under the stupid title Beyond the Door III. Produced by our favourite schlockmeister Ovidio G. Assonitis, this co-production between USA, Yugoslavia and Italy delivers everything you would like from a movie: gore, nudity, miniatures and a train! I still only have the old Dragon DVD, but I guess I should buy the US DVD sooner or later - or just pray to Satan to make this be released on blu-ray! That would be awesome, yeah? Oh, the story? Well, as you can hear from the title this fits directly into Ninja Dixon's Train Week and it's probably the most absurd movie of the bunch!

A group of stupid American students goes to Yugoslavia to see some ancient old tradition out in the backwoods. Professor Andromolek (Bo Svenson) welcomes them, but we soon understand that he's not that nice! He's really after one of the girls, who happens to have the sign of the devil on her as a birth mark, and the professor wants her to fornicate with Satan himself to bring antichrist back to the world... or something. Anyway, they manages to escape and jumps aboard a train - the Amok Train! Soon they're getting killed one by one from supernatural powers, all connected with the train! Blood! Gore! Limbs! Gore again!

As you can see Hostel wasn't first with bringing stupid kids into Eastern Europe to be killed in gory fashion. This is the mother of all movies that tries to make us believe that this is the most dangerous part of Europe (it's not, believe me - try Stockholm a Saturday night instead). It's also a great movie. Not when it comes to the story or acting, but the gore! The atmosphere! The locations! Everything is perfection. Most of the movie is set on a dark dirty train and they manages to make it look repulsive and disgusting. The totally over-the-top gore sets the tone for the whole movie and prepare for a lot of latex getting ripped apart, lots of blood and brutal deaths.

I don't wanna sound like teenage gorehound here, but the gore IS fab. Or do teenage gorehounds use the word "fab"? I have no idea, but I love that they actually don't shy away from the creative deaths. They show everything in glorious details and it looks quite nice. Sure, clearly fake heads and stuff like that, but it's graphic and nasty. The scene where the train driver gets his head squeezed off under the train is fantastic, but so is every death here. Fans of miniatures has a lot to see here also. They are cheap and primitive but adds a lot of colour to the almost fairy tale quality of the locations and story. In one insane sequence the train leaves the track and crashes through a forest and into a lake - just to kill two characters! It's excessive silliness but also one of the reasons this movie works so well.

I can't say so much about the acting. Like some of you might have noticed I never been a fan of Bo Svenson. There's something contrived over his acting and he seldom seem happy with what he's doing. Not even here, which is odd because he has a chance to wear a rad goaty, a cape and worship Satan. I would have loved such a job!

The Yugoslavian setting boosts the production value a lot and this movie looks a lot more expensive than it probably was. A very underrated production and one of my favourite train movies. Give it a chance, will ya?


Anonymous said...

"Or do teenage gorehounds use the word "fab"?"

I don´t think so...probably some acronym that will enhance their presence on the internet.

Like LOL, IDK.

"Like some of you might have noticed I never been a fan of Bo Svenson." don´t like, I haven´t seen that many films of him, so I can´t say.

"Give it a chance, will ya?"

Someday I will see it, great review ninja.


BW said...

Been a long while since I saw this one (think I was 14 or so) but I remember being pretty darned impressed and even rather creeped out. Back then I wasn't all that much of a trash gore fan and I was still rather religious, so the mixture of atmosphere, story and gore proved rather unsettling to me. Nowadays I bet I'd just find it awesome though, I ought to find a copy and watch it again. Great review btw!

Ninja Dixon said...

Megatron, this is good silly and bloody fun! Not sure it's something for you, but it has a train! that's enough for me ;)

BW, watch it again! It's really awesome and mega-silly, but the location and over-the-top gore makes it one of a kind. Quite ambitious!

Anonymous said...

Ninja: If I can watch Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995) and Seagals masterpiece, Fire Down Below (1997)(remember he sings in this one) I can probably survive this train film too.


Eric Cotenas said...

The uncut versions are gory fun. The original Columbia VHS and laserdisc snipped out just about every gory highlight for an R-rating (the Japanese VHS was the first uncut version I got to see). Stateside, there's an uncut DVD from Shriek Show/Media Blasters and it is streaming in HD from Netflix courtesy of MGM (opened up to 1.78:1 from 2.35:1).

Ninja Dixon said...

I've been thinking of upgrading my Dragon DVD to the Shriek Show DVD, they both seem to be the same version - except I guess the later has slightly better picture quality.