Friday, 23 January 2015

Not Just Nightmares In The Film But Also A Nightmare To Watch

As I promised last time, I am going to be talking about a film today. It is a film from either 1992, 1993 or 1995 or 1996 as not all sites seem to agree on the release date and not even the DVD cover states the year. It also goes by two different names and was mentioned by Hugh Grant as the worst of the films he's been in. Whilst this happened in a radio interview in 2002, I have to say that even 12 years later I still believe he's right, despite other flops he might have been in (Nine Months, Did You Hear About The Morgans).

The film has been released under the names Night Train To Venice and Train To Hell, with the first being the most literally accurate given that a lot of the either 72 minutes (as my DVD cover implies) or 98 minutes running time (as implied by Wikipedia) is taken up by views of a train chugging by in the dark and at one point nearing the end of the film you get a fly-through of Venice just for the sake of filling up some more minutes it seems to me. Meanwhile the second more-figurative title is spot on although technically I would think that the Hell started on the train itself.

I was pretty convinced this was going to be scary in the normal sense of the word but it turned out to be rather more disturbing than visually horrific. This is a film which is for the most part set on a night train where an English author of a book about Neo-Nazis is making his way to a supposed publisher in Venice. On the train he not only meets the beautiful Vera and her young daughter but also finds himself bullied by some punks as well as having his mind toyed with by a stranger (Malcolm McDowell) who also seems to be able to tune in to Vera's mind. The mental nightmares that the stranger seems to inflict upon these two new lovers are to be further developed once they reach their destination whereupon having left the horrible trip behind, they find that their troubles seem only to have just started.

I think there might just have been an inkling of a good story before this supposed horror thriller script was filmed. The director and cinematographer have between them managed to come up with the most horrendous type of production I have ever stumbled upon. For were it not for the ridiculous last scene which has Grant (as Martin) saving the little girl Pia in an impossible scenario, they could have made something decent out of the idea of the stranger tuning in to their minds. Further to that, it would have been interesting to see just how it is that their nightmares become reality and how what appear to me to be flashbacks for Vera are linked to the final terrifying scene that takes us back to the start of the film which seems to be the ending after all. Confused? Well, I've watched the whole thing and I still am!

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