aka LAST STOP ON THE NIGHT TRAIN
aka THE NEW HOUSE ON THE LEFT
aka LAST HOUSE PART II
aka XMAS MASSACRE
(Italy - 1975; US release 1976)
Directed by Aldo Lado. Written by Renato Izzo and Aldo Lado. Cast: Flavio Bucci, Macha Meril, Enrico Maria Salerno, Gianfranco De Grassi, Marina Berti, Franco Fabrizi, Irene Miracle, Laura D'Angelo, Dalila Di Lazzaro, Selan Keray. (Unrated, 94 mins)
Christmas horror movies don't get much more unrelentingly grim, downbeat, and depressing than the film that's come to be known as NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS. Though it fell into relative obscurity until Blue Underground unearthed it on DVD in 2004, it existed under at least a half dozen different titles since its 1975 European release and, courtesy of three different distributors, several runs through American drive-ins and grindhouses from 1976 to 1978. On the surface, it's a pretty blatant ripoff of Wes Craven's 1972 breakthrough THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, itself a loose remake of Ingmar Bergman's 1960 film THE VIRGIN SPRING. Italy was home to a number of LAST HOUSE ripoffs, whether intentional or not, with LAST HOUSE star David Hess called upon to essentially reprise his Krug character in Pasquale Festa Campanile's HITCH-HIKE (1977) and Ruggero Deodato's notorious HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK (1980). In addition to Franco Prosperi's THE LAST HOUSE ON THE BEACH (1978), there was also Mario Bava's 1971 film BAY OF BLOOD, also known as TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE and CARNAGE but also making several stops through the US drive-in circuit throughout the 1970s as LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT PART II.
XMAS MASSACRE. Under any title, NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS is one of the very few examples of a ripoff surpassing the film it's imitating. Director/co-writer Aldo Lado was already an established filmmaker, helming a pair of intriguing gialli with 1971's SHORT NIGHT OF GLASS DOLLS and 1972's WHO SAW HER DIE?, both unusual in the sense that they demonstrate some sociopolitical commentary that would separate Lado from most of his journeyman contemporaries in horror at the time, whether it's GLASS DOLLS' scathing critique of the bourgeois upper class or WHO SAW HER DIE?'s conspiracy of silence among a cabal of high society pedophiles in Venice, while also exploring issues of unhinged clergy that also figured into Lucio Fulci's DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING the same year and in Antonio Bido's later THE BLOODSTAINED SHADOW (1978). NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS shares with LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT the core concept of two teenage girls traveling alone and being raped, tortured, and murdered by repugnant shitbags who will eventually end up in the home of one of the girls' parents, who learn that the girls have been murdered and gradually realize their houseguests are the ones who did it.
|David Hess and others somehow figuring prominently in the
poster art for a movie none of them are even in. And there's no Marcia.
"A Flower's All You Need"), NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS is a masterpiece of its kind, a profoundly unsettling example of the rape/revenge subgenre, one that stays with you for days after and absolutely lives up to the promise of its US trailer: "Don't waste time looking for an ending you can live with."
|NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS opening as LAST HOUSE PART II in
Toledo, OH on June 10, 1977, on a double bill with DON'T OPEN THE
WINDOW, aka THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE