The Midnight Meat Train

The Midnight Meat Train

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Release Dates

UK Cinema release
October 31st 2008
UK Blu-ray release
August 13th 2009

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    • cockney01

      Jun 23rd 2009, 10:10

      Of all the people not to meet on a train late at night, Vinnie Jones in a bad mood must come close to the top of the list. Hopefully, though, his mood would lighten somewhat with the knowledge that 'TMNMT' is a gem of a movie that may just have given the ex-footballer a proper vehicle for his menacing screen persona. Based on the short story by Clive (Hellraiser) Barker, the movie centres around photographer Leon (Bradley Cooper), who is desperate to break into the big time by photographing what he calls 'the real city' - pictures of everyday people doing everyday things. Told that his photos need to have a bit more edge, Leon follows a gang of thugs into the subway station, where they start to harrass a young lady. Leon calls for them to stop and immediately starts to snap pictures as the gang head in his direction. Pointing out that they've been captured on film, Leon escapes a beating but snaps a couple of pictures of the grateful lady before she steps on the train. Unfortunately for her, she is sharing the train with Mahogany (Jones), a dapper looking butcher who stalks the late night train and kills whoever is left on there in the early hours, using the tools of his day job. The next day, the young lady's picture is in the paper and this gets Bradley intrigued. Leon's potential employer loves the pictures of the gang he has taken and asks for more to put in an exhibition, so he goes back to the subway and waits. He doesn't have to wait long, as the next person to emerge from the station is Mahogany. Noticing that Mahogany is wearing the same ring as a mystery hand who held a door open for the previous night's victim, Leon follows him back to his hotel. Becoming obsessed with Mahogany, Leon then follows him to his workplace, where Mahogany catches Leon spying on him. Leon manages to escape, but his obsession, that is starting to cost him his relationship with his girlfriend Maya (Leslie Bibb), leads him back to the subway that night. Witnessing Mahogany's latest massacre, where he not only kills but removes the eyes, shaves the hair and hangs the bodies on meathooks, Leon passes out, only to awaken hanging from a hook in Mahogany's workplace with a strange emblem carved into his chest and his camera missing. Concerned with what's happening Maya and her friend Jurgis (Roger Bart) go to Mahogany's hotel to try and find Leon's camera, only for Mahogany to return and catch them. Maya escapes, without Jurgis or the camera, and goes to the police to try and convince them what is happening, but does Detective Hadley (Barbara Eve Harris) know more than she is letting on? While this is going on, Leon gets tooled up and heads back to the subway to take on Mahogany one last time, unaware that there may be more to the butcher's crimes than just random killing. Stylishly directed by Japanese director Ryƻhei Kitamura, this movie is a real treat for gore fans. With nods to Sam Raimi (brother Ted even appears in one of the scenes) but with less slapstick, Kitamura has stamped his own mark with some truly remarkable camera work, and although the cgi effects aren't the best, they don't distract from proceedings. If anything, they add to the director's sleek style; keep a watch out for the scene when three city types come up against Mahogany and his meat tenderizer, and prepare to let out a fanboy cheer. The real gore effects are brilliantly done, so much so that those with weak stomachs may consider turning veggie. The pacing of the movie is also excellent, throwing you straight in to the action and not letting up - even the quieter, stalking scenes are as tense as anything seen since Hitchcock. Part of that would be down to Jones' performance as the psychotic Mahogany. Comparable to Arnie in 'The Terminator', it isn't his acting ability that impresses - he only says one word in the whole movie - but it's his overall presence and his ability to fill the screen, indicating that danger isn't far away. Also, the way his body language is so very controlled - again, like Arnie's cyborg killer - is quite remarkable. His cold stare, robot-like turn-of-the-head and understated body movements make for a great performance of one of the more interesting villains of modern horror movies. That isn't to say that there aren't a few bad points. Bradley Cooper is fairly uncharismatic as the equally lame Leon, so it was quite hard to empathise with him, and, with the exception of the always entertaining Roger Bart, the rest of the cast are fairly forgettable. There are also a few loopholes in the plot that don't really explain the bigger picture, so there are a few questions left at the end. Overall, though, 'TMNMT' is one of the most enjoyable horror movies of recent times - gory, funny and, in keeping with Clive Barker tradition, never quite going in one direction, and would probably make a great double feature with Sam Raimi's 'Drag Me To Hell'. It may also make you think twice about who you sit next to on the train!

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