42nd Street Cinema

Night Train Murders (1975)

After previously talking about Deodato's The House on the Edge of the Park (1980), I thought I would discuss another film which also uses a similar premise as Craven's The Last House on the Left (1972).
That is, Aldo Lado's Night Train Murders/The New House on the Left/L'ultimo treno della notte. Lado, already with 2 successful giallo titles under his belt: Short Night of Glass Dolls (1971), Who Saw Her Die (1972), understandably did a good job with the given source material. I don't like to use the term 'rip-off' when referring to Night Train Murders, as with the term comes the definition of a product with poor quality and that isn't how I would want to describe this film.

Starring: Flavio Bucci, Macha Méril, Gianfranco De Grassi, Laura D'Angelo, Irene Miracle, Enrico Maria Salerno and Marina Berti.

Lisa Stradi (D'Angelo) and her cousin Margaret (Miracle) are two sweet & innocent young girls, on a trip to visit family during Christmas break. Blackie (Bucci) and Curly (De Grassi) are two lowlife punks who get their kicks by stealing petty cash and generally causing a disturbance of the peace. The latter of the pairs cross paths with a well dressed woman. Who after a brief 'encounter' in the toilet with Blackie - a pivotal sequence in the development of the narrative, shows her true manipulative skills by coercing the two into brutally raping and murdering the two girls.

Lado initially creates an effectively sustained, comfortable and familiar atmosphere, which gradually becomes more taut as the narrative progresses. Let's face it, we've all caught a late train populated by a couple of unsavory looking characters and have done our best to avoid any form of interaction with them. However, within Night Train Murders, Lado takes the aforementioned scenario to a perversely dark realm, with brutally sustained terrorization and extreme consequences.

Throughout the course of the film, Lado confidently conveys subtle and not so subtle messages of both: political and social commentary. The symbolism of Macha Méril's character's veil represents a mask of respectability often associated with the middle class. Once aboard the train she lifts up the veil, revealing her deviant personality and by exploiting the 'outcast' characters: Blackie and Curly, the woman is able to enact her depraved fantasies. Lado's overt criticism of the middle class feels like a 'good idea at the time', as it never really amounts to anything substantial, so I'm not going to sit here and pretentiously quaff over it any longer.

The eventual payoff with the father's revenge upon the two criminals is satisfying and while it's no where near as graphic by today's standards it still packs a punch. The use of luridly coloured lighting, mixed diegetic and non-diegetic harmonica scoring (similar to Once Upon a Time in The West (1968)) by Morricone; coupled with the biting performances from both the protagonists and antagonists, evoke an abundance of emotional responses from the viewer. Seek it out.


Unknown said...

One of my all time favorite rape/revenge movies--and IMO a better overall film than Last House. Aldo Lado's a pretty underrated director.

R. Sterling Gray said...

I hadnt heard of this one! Thanks for the info. Now I must search.

Nigel M said...

Great write up - and I love that last screenshot- love the stalking segment- Stradi is so cool in his xmas sweater brandishing a shotgun, exploitation gold

Sadako said...

Great review. Have always wanted to check it out, and this is giving me the impetus to do so.

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marshal said...

how i can see movie?

secure tabs said...

I think that "The House on the Edge of the Park" is one of the movies of that year 1975 and I wanted to watch at that time, but my parents did not let me :S

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