31/31 – Day 8: Midnight Meat Train

Posted: October 8, 2011 by crowbait in Film, Reviews

I enjoy Vinnie Jones. An intimidating monster of a man, he is perfectly cast as Mahogany, the murderous butcher of Midnight Meat Train. He had lines taken away from his character so that he would become an impassive brute, the concept that Jones preferred for the role and one that makes him more frightening and effective.

Based on a short story by Clive Barker, Midnight Meat Train is the story of Leon (Bradley Cooper), a photographer who becomes obsessed with the seedier side of night life in the city. After being told his work lacks a visceral quality he begins to stalk the streets looking for new and more dangerous subject matter for his gallery shows.

On this search he crosses paths with the serial killer who hangs his victims from the handrails in subway cars, butchers them like meat and then they disappear into the tunnels. Leon continues to follow Mahogany, stalking him as the perfect subject for his work rather than trying to turn him in. David’s girlfriend begins to follow him as well and is drawn in to the hunt as Mahogany catches on that he is being pursued and turns his attention back on them. The final showdown not only reveals the story behind Mahogany but also exposes the horrible reason that he delivers fresh corpses into the subway tunnels late at night.

The film features some brutal and over-the-top gore with eyeballs flying out of sockets and rivers of blood spilling across the floors of subway cars. Director Ryuhei Kitamura wears his devotion to Raimi on his sleeve with the director’s brother briefly appearing as a victim of the killer. The humor of Evil Dead splatter is absent here however and the murders, though fanciful, are deadly serious. A score that fills the kill scenes with post-industrial noise completes the mood of gruesome dread.

If you see this movie on DVD, be sure to check out the commentary track with Kitamura and Barker. Midnight Meat Train travelled a rough road to release and, though they don’t name any names, they do explain the trials and tribulations they faced in getting the film through a gauntlet of producer edits and MPAA restrictions.

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