‘The Midnight Meat Train’ – Next stop, Vinnie Jones

‘The Midnight Meat Train’ – Next stop, Vinnie Jones

Vinnie Jones stars in The Midnight Meat Train

Add “The Midnight Meat Train” to the list of horror flicks which stopped only briefly in your neighborhood theater.

But that only tells a part of the story.

Some of the better horror movies in recent years have either gone straight to video or made a perfunctory theatrical bow. Meanwhile, clunkers like “The Uninvited” enjoy mass distribution. DVD has been a boon to horror fanatics, with superior titles like “Rogue” and “Eden Lake” emerging as strong titles taking up space at the local Blockbuster.

Now there’s “Midnight Meat Train,” based on a grisly short story by Clive Barker. If you don’t mind gore galore, it’s a helluva ride until the pat ending.

The film, out Feb. 17 on DVD, follows a photographer named Leon (Bradley Cooper) desperate to break through with his art. A local gallery doyenne (Brooke Shields) tells him his work is good … but not good enough, sending Leon back to the city’s mean streets to capture gutsier images.

His treks put him in contact with Mahogany (a perfectly cast Vinnie Jones), a killer who rides the subway trains each night in search of, ahem, fresh meat.

What follows is unrelentingly brutal, but every drop of blood is as delivered with panache. It’s bone bruising entertainment, delivered with the right balance of intensity and character development. Leon’s crumbling relationship with his girlfriend (Leslie Bibb) is vital to us caring about Leon’s fate.

If only “Train’s” final stop was worthy of the rest of its trip. The ending explains plenty, but it doesn’t pack a horrific punch nor does it add to the film’s bleak mood.

Still, “The Midnight Meat Train” is taut, tense entertainment, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

(Photo: Vinnie Jones plays a silent train rider carrying some sharp objects in his briefcase in “The Midnight Meat Train.”)

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Synner_manNo Gravatar February 17, 2009 at 3:14 am

The reason the film was sent to home video, rather than getting a full theatrical release, was the new incoming studio head deciding that he wanted to promote a film under his thumb (“The Strangers”) and bury his predecessor’s projects.

It is a shame for the director, Ryuhei Kitamura. After doing the cult favorite “Versus,” he was heavily courted by Hollywood to come over. A host of high-profile Japanese titles later (including the final Godzilla film), he makes the leap, only to find his film punished over an executive pissing match. Hollywood has a huge habit of bringing over tremendous foreign talent, only to saddle them with minor league talent, generic projects and a ton of studio interference. Those who still manage to pull out a successful film end up on the festival circuit, banished to a small run at the arthouses or tossed straight to disc. It’s remarkable these talentless monkeys that make the decisions still hold their jobs.

RonnNo Gravatar February 17, 2009 at 2:29 pm

the way this film was handled is criminal. i was able to see the film on fearnet. the on demand channel that comcast carries in HD. i thought the film was a solid horror film and probably one of the best Barker adaptations. one interesting story that came out back when it was coming out in theatres was that Lionsgate only released the film in dollar theatres and there was a movement online to get people to buy all the tickets to show the studio that people actually wanted to see it. The commentary track on the dvd and blu-ray that just came out is basicly just Barker and the director bashing the studio for how they handled the film. it is surprising that the studio released it but they probably didn’t notice since they have no interest in supporting the film.

cftotoNo Gravatar February 17, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Good stuff, Ronn and Synner Man … I’m sure horror movies aren’t the only ones pinched by studio dickering (is that a word??) but it really hurt this film. DVD offers a salvation, of sorts, but what message does it send to the young, crafty young horror film when one of the better offerings gets treated so shabbily. What incentive remains for him/her?

SeanNo Gravatar February 19, 2009 at 10:08 pm

This film is definately a must see! The storyline kept me interested in the film. Not to mention the graphic nature; sick! Although I love the genre, horror movies are usually very cliche. However, I think because of this they are very difficult to make. I have no problem with it going straight to DVD. I would most likely be aggravated in a theater with people who lack the appreciation and understanding of a good horror film. Vinnie Jones was a solid choice; I allways enjoy his characters. I think people will be presently suprised.

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