Director – Ryuhei Kitamura
Cast – Bradley Cooper, Vinnie Jones, Leslie Bibb, Brooke Shields, Roger Bart, Barbara Eve Harris, Ted Raimi
Release Year – 2008
Reviewed by John of the Dead
The idea of Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura directing a movie adapted from horror maestro Clive Barker’s short story “The Midnight Meat Train” really baffled me. Would Mr. Kitamura, the guy behind the epic Japanese films Versus and Alive, be able to pull off an American horror film based on a story written by Clive Barker, the genius behind the Hellraiser franchise? Yes! Kitamura knows his stuff, and he never shy’s away from the gore when a film calls for it. Does this film call for it? Well I’ll say this…the “meat” in The Midnight Meat Train is not beef, chicken, pork, fish, turtle, snake, rabbit, ect., you get my drift? Hehe. Although this film has some flaws, this is a pretty good adaptation of the short story by Clive Barker, and is sure to please fans of his cult classic style.
The film follows Leon, played by Bradley Cooper(Rachel McAdams’ jerk boyfriend in Wedding Crashers), as an aspiring New York City photographer looking to shoot and capture “the heart of the city” to display at a career making art function put on by a powerful art figure named Susan Hoff(played by Brooke Shields). In his attempts to capture “the heart of the city” he heads out late each night to capture people going about their daily lives as they make their way home from a hard day’s work. He begins to notice that people who board the late subway train wind up missing without a trace the very next day, except for one man who rides the very same train each night. With the police doing nothing to investigate this, Leon does his own snooping around on the late train and notices the tall, sharp dressed man(Vinnie f*cking Jones!) murder all those onboard the late train with a variety of knives, hooks, and thanks to this film…a now famous meat tenderizer! Leon then becomes obsessed with figuring out how this is happening every night without any police intervention, which draws his pseudo fiancée into the search as well, putting them both in harms way as they come onto a conspiracy no one would ever imagine possible.
Being a fan of the artistic direction of Ryuhei Kitamura, the horrific mind of Clive Barker, and Vinnie Jones providing “the muscle” to whatever role is thrown at him…I knew I would enjoy this film. The dark, grainy look of this film’s cinematography sets the mood for what is going to be a dark, Clive Barkerized(I’m making up words) film that still winds up being a fun ride. Full of brutal gore scenes, Brooke Shields looking as hot as a 43 year old woman can look, Ted Raimi(Sam Raimi’s younger brother) dying a brutal death(just like every other film he is in), and a fight scene between Mahogany(Vinnie Jones’s character) and the famous UFC star Quentin “Rampage” Jackson…this film has it all! I also must state that the “sliding decapitation” scene has to be one of the most original kills I’ve ever seen in a film, seriously!
Despite all of the praise I have unleashed for this film, I did have a few complaints. First and foremost, I was not happy with all of the CGI gore we were shown in this film. Although the gore scenes were pretty darn sweet, I would have much preferred live action gore, and doing so would have gotten this film a higher rating. I also had some problems with the story at dialogue at times, it does tend to get a bit weak which I felt detrimented from the film a little bit. As for the ending…I actually enjoyed the ending. It is somewhat of an “out there” type of ending but I enjoyed how it explained why Mahogany did what he did and even why he never really says a word throughout the film. I found the back story the ending created to be really unique and it definitely had that Clive Barker influence to it. Those who are not fans of his work, will most likely not enjoy the ending…but what can you expect from a film based off one of his stories? Exactly.
Overall, this is a pretty sweet film if you can look past the somewhat weak story and just enjoy the brutality Vinnie Jones brings to the film. As I mentioned earlier, non-fans of Barker’s work may not enjoy the ending, so watch with an open mind!
– I ranked this film #7 in my Top 10 Horror Movies of 2008 post.