All Aboard The Midnight Meat Train

So, if you didn’t know any better, you might think The Midnight Meat Train was the most anticipated, greatest movie you never heard of. After the movie was bumped from it’s May release date, it was unceremoniously dumped into 102 dollar theaters for two weeks in August. This enraged horror fans, prompting some to start a campaign to show that they won’t stand for this kind of treatment. I’m not entirely sure why this raised their hackles so much, but it did. Maybe it’s because the movie was adapted from a Clive Barker short story. He’s been writing and/or directing the occasional horror movie since 1985, most notably Hellraiser, Nightbreed, and Candyman. Or maybe it was Ryuhei Kitamura, the Japanese director most famous for the zombie actioner Versus. Or maybe it’s just that horror movies have taken such a nosedive lately that they felt chagrined that any movie with a modicum of potential would be treated so poorly.

Unfortunately, horror fans picked the wrong horse to ride to the genre revival party. It’s not that Meat Train is awful, it’s just that it’s pretty bad. It’s probably gotten more notoriety from the small ‘Save the Movie’ campaigns than it would have were it unleashed on the general movie going public. The story about a photographer (Bradley Cooper) who follows a butcher (Vinnie Jones) who happens to murder and butcher his fellow subway passengers has a serious been-there-done-that feel, from the art dealer with a desire for the macabre to the rapid, unexpected epic ending.

Jones does cut an imposing figure as the butcher, but it’s pretty laughable when the much less imposing Cooper is able to hold his own in hand-to-hand combat, especially after seeing Jones use his mallet to both decapitate a woman and hit a man so hard that his eye bursts from it’s socket. Splatter movie fans will no doubt enjoy the early blood-drenched scenes, but there was so much obviously fake CGI blood and gore that it had the look of a made-for-cable movie, which I guess is appropriate since it hit FearNet On Demand soon after it’s minuscule theatrical run.

The movie itself didn’t scare or disgust or disturb me, but the introduction by Clive Barker, that’s another story. He totally creeped me out. Barker looked a little sickly and had this odd pattern to his speech, like the words were dripping out of his mouth. He was earnest in what he said about the movie, but the matter-of-fact way he says the movie will change you was unsettling. The only time my pulse raised once the movie started was when Barker popped back up for an intermission. If the movie had been him reading his short story, I might proclaim it the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.

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