Thursday, February 19, 2009

Night Train Murders - L'Ultimo treno della notte (Aldo Lado, 1974)

How I spent my Xmas vacation...

A tale in the true spirit of the holidays, NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS depicts the travels of two teenage girls on a train ride home for Christmas.

Like Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL, the girls learn a lesson --

-- in Scrooge's case, it was "good will to all men" --

-- for the girls in NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS --

-- the lesson is: "trust no one, for they will all rape, genitally mutilate and murder you."

Deceptions and transformations abound. Friendly travelers reveal sexually sadistic, psychopathic natures...

...and one of the girl's outwardly square, socially upstanding mother and father, initially antagonistic towards each other, turn their mutually repressed sexual frustrations outward and transform into remorseless, vengeful killers against those responsible for their daughter's murder.

The very nature of the film is a subterfuge unto itself. Director Aldo Lado claims themes of a deceptively evil bourgeoisie manipulating the lower class into doing it's baneful handiwork --

-- a perfectly acceptable rationalization by an intelligent director who needs to validate his involvement with a project whose commercial intentions demand a copy of Wes Craven's wildly successful LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) for the European market.

He certainly fulfills his chores nicely --

-- the characters are graphically debased and tortured for the lower class audience's entertainment and the bourgeoisie audience is shamed for observing while simultaneously applauding Lado's critical social statement. Job well done.

Of course, Lado's characters aren't the only ones whose innocence and dignity have been desecrated -- the director manages his most ingenious strike against actor and audience alike by transforming the young actresses portraying the tragic victims into full-blown mannequins as both characters are chucked from the moving train by their vicious captors.

At once, an end to the tragic spectacle of savagery for the characters and a literal underscoring of the dehumanization both actresses of said spectacle must endure and live with for the rest of their actual lives.

The gift that keeps on giving.

{This post is part of Arbogast on Film's The One You Might Have Saved Blog-A-Thon}
post © Howard S. Berger & Kevin Marr


Fred said...

You don't post for a year or two, and then come back with not one, but two awesome, Eurotrash cinema classics of dummy death and decapitation. Please, don't make us wait too long for the next one!

Filipe Machado said...

Hi, I'm from Portugal. I've discovered your fantastic blog. My sincere congratulations! I'll return!

Keith said...

I love this film. I hadn't seen it in years, but watched it again a couple of months ago.

The Flying Maciste Brothers said...

Fred -- fear not! we've got a blitzkrieg of tossed laundry and plasticide heading your way in the next few weeks! Please stop by anytime -- love to know what you think!

Filipe -- Bem-vindo! Thanks for the enthusiasm and we can't wait for your return! Love hearing from Destructible Readers from all over the globe! Your blog looks grand as well -- Looks like we'll have to brush up on our Portuguese...

Keith -- thanks for stopping by -- NTM really leaves an indelible stain. One of us Maciste Brodos met the lovely Irene Miracle at Curtis Harrington's pad a few years ago -- wasn't too surprised to find out that she held scant fondness for her Euro film credits... I promptly set her straight. She's quite good in NTM -- and that punim -- facia bella!