Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Brooke Shields, Ted Raimi, Roger Bart, Peter Jacobson, Vinnie Jones, Bradley Cooper, Leslie Bibb
Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
The Midnight Meat Train. The first time I heard the title, I thought to myself, “Wow! What an ingenious name for a porno! Sign me up!” Then I found out it was based on a Clive Barker story with the great Ryuhei Kitamura at the director’s helm, and I was even more excited! Yeah, it wasn’t porn, but I knew this combination could produce something that would be nothing short of ghastly in its beauty!
Yep, this was going to be a theatrical event that no self-respecting horror fan should miss. Then it happened. Lionsgate released it all right, but strictly to a handful of budget theatres strewn about the country. Um … what?!? So yeah, we drove thirty minutes to a second-run theatre and spent under nine bucks for three tickets. We ended up buying three more just for spite. What a weird move. In any event, the film is finally coming home so let’s take a look at what awaits, shall we?
We meet photographer Leon Kauffman (Cooper) just as he’s trying to get his work noticed. Unfortunately for him, most of his stuff just isn’t cutting the proverbial mustard, and he is advised to pursue subjects that reflect the darker side of life. As a result Leon takes to the subways and inadvertently ends up tracking a serial killer known only as Mahogany (Jones), who stalks the stations late at night. A murderer who doles out the death in the most incredibly violent ways imaginable.
Visually, The Midnight Meat Train could very well be the coolest looking horror film of the year. As expected, Kitamura’s unique eye for the camera, combined with Barker’s gore-soaked lunacy, makes for a truly visceral experience. The storyline, however, nearly derails all the fun as the focus changes from one protagonist to the other as the movie nears its final act. That shouldn’t ruffle your feathers too much, though, as the film’s visuals and seat squirming kills (if you thought they were nuts in the R-rated version, wait till you see them here) will keep you more than smiling and captivated.
In terms of differences between the Blu-ray and the DVD editions, there aren’t any other than the sound and picture quality. As expected, the Blu-ray edition far outshines the DVD version. The colors and the sharpness of detail are unbelievably strong and the lossless, 24-bit, DTS-HD Master Audio track is as aggressive as they come. Turn it up, man, and dig on how — much like the film’s killer — it attacks you from all ends! It’s about as perfect as perfect gets.
How I wish the same could be said for the flick’s bonus material. An audio commentary track with Clive Barker and director Ryuhei Kitamura is without question the true meat of this package, and it is so for one main reason — the crucifixion they give Lionsgate for the mishandling of this movie. Holy shit! There is no sugar coating. There are no niceties. They name names and pull no punches. I applaud the studio for having the gumption to even include this track. Wow. Just wow.
From there we get three short featurettes covering everything from the usual behind-the-scenes stuff to Barker’s work as an artist. The only real fun to be had here is the Mahogany’s Tale featurette. Clocking in at just four minutes long, Vinnie Jones proves that’s more than enough time for him to intimidate the hell out of us! Good stuff!
As a short story in Barker’s Books of Blood, this tale was frightening and lean. As a feature length film it can chug at times, but overall I loved just about every frame. The Midnight Meat Train will take you places you haven’t been in quite some time. Until someone can convince Barker to get back behind the camera himself, this should totally be enough for fans looking to get their fix. Take the ride. Bring a mop. Things get sticky.
4 out of 5
3 out of 5
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