The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

Filed under: — Darren Seeley on August 16th, 2009 03:08:29 am

Midnight Meat Train Not counting the occasional Hellraiser direct to video film series, it’s been some time since a movie based on a Clive Barker story has cropped up, or should I say chopped up, on the screens. But like other Barker adaptations, The Midnight Meat Train fell victim to a studio system which made a controversial 2008 limited theatrical run. I suspect it will gain a cult following, as it does have not only an involving mystery about it, but also an incredible intensity.

While most of Clive Barker’s creations on cinema have been watered down to some extent (Hellraiser, Candyman) having Ryûhei Kitamura of Versus fame on board would seem like a good kick start in getting a new horror film franchise of the ground. Maybe it is better this way- the visceral impact of over half of the film’s blood soaked gags might lose some luster in follow up films. The need to over explain the films finer minor yet important details could have sabotaged the film’s mystery tone.

Midnight Meat Train It’s a strange situation. On the one hand, some of the intentionally stylish ways victims are dispatched are one too many- there’s a slo-mo shot of a commuter’s eyes popping out, another where a victim’s severed head has a POV shot as it rolls away from her bloody body. Then there’s Mahogany himself, played by Vinnie Jones. Not only does the mass murderer have a method of killing, the enigmatic horror heavy has a pride in his work. Observed by investigative street photographer Leon (Bradley Cooper), Mahogany mutilates the corpses and hangs them on meat hooks -still on the after hours subway train. Mahogany spares Leon’s life for some reason, perhaps to warn him off of going places into where he should not be going. Leon also fears what the subway slayer might do to his girlfriend Maya (Leslie Bibb) when she, caring for him, also decides to play detective. Eventually there is a moment of truth where Leon must have a face-off with Mahogany, and the energy that the film has built up to those moments shines as a true horror highlight.

As far as horror film showdowns, we may have had some classics in Laurie Strode versus Brother Michael in John Carpenter’s Halloween, or a half burned Chucky doll still coming down the hallway in Child’s Play. The machete-meat cleaver-slaughterhouse knife fight on the train in my opinion ranks up there in no holds barred horror adrenaline. As with the best horror films, there’s always a bit of an encore, one more coda. Meat Train may not be for the squeamish, but it gets the job done.

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The Midnight Meat Train

Directed by: Ryûhei Kitamura
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Leslie Bibb, Brooke Shields and Vinnie Jones

rating: 8

author picture Darren Seeley (184 posts)
Fave directors include David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Michael Mann, Anique Faqua, Walter Hill, John Carpenter, John Woo and James Cameron. An aspiring screenwriter, I wrote several spec scripts (platform: Final Draft) that I occasionally submit to contests, Inktip, and workshop through peer review sites like Triggerstreet and Zoetrope. I have attended The Austin Film Festival and Heart Of Screenwriters Conference in 2001 and 2002. CoP marks my third go around as an internet film reviewer of sorts. My previous film hub haunts were 'Dark Universe' and, most notably, 'The Projector Booth'. Location: MI,USA.

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