Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Midnight Meat Train (Review)

The Midnight Meat Train

The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura

Every once in a while, Lion's Gate will poop out a movie worth 2 shits under it's horror label.

Fuck Saw V.

The Midnight Meat Train is that movie.

Wow, just a truly awesome-tastic horror gem. Possibly one of the best horror movies of the year.

So what did you need to pull of this feat?

You needed legendary Versus/Alive/Azumi director Ryuhei Kitamura. You needed a short story from horror writer Clive Barker (this little gem was a short from his Books of Blood series), a nifty screenplay by Jeff Buhler and some love from the horror community.

No thanks to Lion's Gate who decided to midnight movie and dollar themed this flick into theatrical oblivion.

But they did put up the loot.

TMMT is going to be a super duper horror cult classic, where it will play at midnight shows because people will WANT to see it. It hits all the right notes, leaving everybody scarred, bruised, sliced and diced and ultimately fuckin dead.

Rock on.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

A photographer hunts down a serial killer. Based on Clive Barker's short story "Midnight Meat Train"

Awesome Review-O-Matic

Leon (Bradley Cooper) is a struggling photographer who wants to caption the essence of a vague metro city. Encouraged by his girlfriend Maya (Leslie Bibb who's quite a hotty) ,his friend Jurgis (Robert Bart) and a gallery artist played by Brooke Shields he ventures out to the city subway system to get gritty photos of life untouched.

We venture with Leon as he unravels the puzzle of a mysterious butcher (Vinnie Jones), who he follows and eventually witnesses the madman as he kills passengers on the train.

Why is he doing this?

Could it be he was bullied when he was young?
A mysterious tape he watched?
Does he want to show his victims that life is meaningful by creating elaborate traps?
Or is it some other bullshit motive?

Nah. It's fuckin fun.

Well he does have a real motive but that's not revealed til the "gotcha" ending. And I'm more than happy that the motive was told to me at the end. It would just have gotten in the way of the awesome scenes of carnage by our crazy butcher killer.

And we get plenty of them. Gorehounds refuckin joice. So many great scenes of slaughter it was horror-gasms one right after another. Decaps here, beheadings over there. Meat hook traumas, ocular traumas, you'd think you were watching fast food nation.

All mega major horror cylinders were hit. So synchronized to perfection. And we have to thank Kitamura and Barker for being on their game on this one.

Let's start with Kitamura. What you loved about Versus, Alive and Azumi are all blended into a liquid shake of horror gooeyness. Offbeat angles, frenzy camera work and hyper kinetic movement are all in play. Scenes are set up like Edward Munch like paintings. A cinematographer's wet dream.

A POV shot of a kill is done so well, I was cheering like I hit a game winning shot.

In the climatic final action sequence, the camera moves from in the subway car, to out of it, then back in all the while still capturing the gory fight.

The film paces nicely, chiming in with dialogue to push the plot but then making the audience engulfed in the suspense. Yes, people get chased, people hide from our dastardly killer. It's all cat and mouse, but most of the scenes Kitamura shows us are the cat totally fucking up the mice.

Poor mice.

Clive Barker's story is cleverly classic Barker. Like a good book, it's all about the buildup until the end where we are given an explanation and an ending that turns everything upside down. I realized what the ending would be 30 minutes in, but it's still pretty mini decent.

But the scene stealer has got to be the menace that is Vinnie Jones. He plays the killer butcher (he's credited as Mahogany) to a tee. A Gump like, suit wearing, leather bag carrying killer who remains SILENT throughout the flick.

His main weapon of choice: a meat pounder and hook.

And boy does he do a lot of fuckin damage with it.

TMMT just reinvigorated my horror adrenaline and cravings. It's by far one of the best horror movies of the year. And the sad part is not a lot of people are going to be able to see this little masterpiece until Lion's Gate releases it on DVD.

But if you get a chance to go to a midnight showing or dollar theatre matinee, support this little gem. It's worth more than a dollar, that's for sure.


Clive Barkers novels and short stories
80s classic horror
Grindhouse horror tinged movies

Gore-ipedia (if you want to be shocked don't read)

Meat hammer trauma
3D Ocular trauma
Meat hook to the balls
Barnacle gooyness
Human butchery
Stab wound to the neck
Knife through the mouth
Gunshot through the eye
Arm decaps
Leg decaps
Gallons of blood
Slicing and dicing

Nude-ipedia (because you like boobies)

A side boob from Leslie Bibb
Some dead victim boobies

WTF moment

That POV kill scene (it was soooooooooo good)

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

I'm blushing. It's so refreshing to see a movie that crosses the line, draws a new line then crosses that one too. I hope Kitamura goes the Takashi Miike route and dabbles making a couple of english language movies.

It's been so long since we had a Clive Barker fueled horror film, I think we now have to support Book of Blood as well.

OK, I'm going to go ahead and fuckin say it. The Midnight Meat Train is one of the Top 5 horror movies of 2008.

Now support this little turd so we can get more of the same.


The Trailer

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  1. One of the top 5?!?

    This movie is, hands down, the best Horror Film of '08!
    [in my opinion, of course] :-)

    I saw it twice in the theatre, and I am going to Chicago, on the 25th, to see it again, with Clive Barker himself - Oh Yeah! :-)

  2. I'm gonna try and see this film on FearNet this weekend. Not a big fan of the title but the movie always looked so good that it intrigued me. I have not read one bad review for this. Should be a fun ride. Great review!

  3. I just read a quick synopsis before eagerly launching this movie on the basis of your recommendation.
    I wonder if the revelation that the featured psychopath only turned out to be Vinnie bloody jones killed the film stone dead for any other british viewers besides myself?
    I must say I wasn't all that gripped by the proceedings up to the aforementioned twat's appearance anyway.

  4. oops, well I'm kinda glad I persevered.Heh.

  5. The Vinnie Jones in this movie doesn't speak which actually makes him more tolerable than the British slang spewing Vinnie Jones we've seen in other movies. He looks utterly menacing which is a good thing but the flick works because of Jones, Kitamura and the story. Plus the gore and splatter are top notch.

  6. Didn't like the movie at all. Monsters. Yeah. Ok. And are we supposed to be surprised at the end when Principal Guy becomes some pseudo-scary subway killer? It was stupid: ''Hey, my boyfriend thinks he's spying on some fucking psychopath, I think I'm gonna break in his appartment to get some proof (to show the I-know-he-kills-people policewomen)!'' Nice. And then the battle in the subway, and the bad guy isn't dead after all, pseudo-punch and blabla. And the POV scene wasn't good. Blood dripping : wooo. Bad movie.

  7. I've heard the anti Midnight Meat Train argument...its like the Paranormal Activity argument too. I just liked this flick. It was a 110% horror movie filled with everything I liked.

  8. I did like Paranormal Activity. Much more original than TMMT. But I agree that the first hammershot with the eyes popping made me go Niiiice. But overall it made me indifferent.
    Anyway, keep up your good work, I'm always looking on your page to find some horror movie.
    And by the way, what did you think of Lars Von Trier's Antichrist?

  9. Camilleespresso -

    The reviews of Antichrist have not been positive. Gratuitous sex scene in the beginning, then old house in the country...something happens.

    I'm not sure if I should see it.

    Did you see it? What did you think?

  10. Nice movie, that really fucks up your brain.
    The plot isnt that of the classic-house-in-the-woods, with the old guy warning everybody and blabla. The horror sets up really smoothly and reaches a climax that haunted me for days. I just couldnt get this image out of my head.
    The dialogues are good, the actors are playing perfectly, the photography is great, and the horror/sex mixture really makes you feel bad, which is a good thing in an horror movie. The film is stuffed with symbolism that isnt always easy to get, but its ok like that. Except for 2 or 3 WTF scenes, overall its a great and original horror movie that you should see for sure, even if you feel you just have been raped when you get out of the theater.

  11. This is an great horror film that I would credit to a solid story by Clive Barker. It's comes off as a very unique slasher flick. Acting is top notch and so are production values. This baby is slick.
    If you like gore, this one's got it in spades (The Killer's favorite weapon is an outsized meat mallet/tenderizer). Very realistic and convincing f/x complete with severe ocular trauma (one of my favorites).
    Although I loved this movie, it kind of runs out of steam with a very unsatisfying ending. I won't give it away, but the ending is far-fetched based on the events preceding it. Kind of silly actually.
    Despite the ending, this one ranks as one of the best slasher movies of all time.