I've often complained that many DVD companies have been doing multiple releases of the same title and wishing that they would dig around to find some elusive obscure titles - well, Dragon have certainly been taking heed to folks wishes with some very interesting obscure Euro releases with 'Amok Train' being the latest find in this line. I had never heard of (let alone seen) this film, which does make you worry a bit, and some investigating uncovered that director Jeff Kwitny never did get a decent reception from critics on his minimal output (three films that got met with somewhat unpleasant flacid reaction) - so was I in for a rough ride...
'Amok Train' (as it is known here) is a bizarre movie indeed - the film follows a group of (ahem) American school kids on a trip to Yugoslavia (on a educational trip) where they are escorted by a local professor (and practising satanist) who takes then to a small village of strange bumpkins who like to click stones together and look menacing! These borderline undead locals give the kids some drugged soup, seal them up in some ramshackle huts to trap and set fire to the sleeping kids inside! The huts obviously having been made from the same balsa wood that Anchor Bay used for their Wicker Man box sets are easy enough for the kids to kick their way out of and they soon escape and make their way onto a passing train...and this is where the fun really begins! Sorry yeah, the plot...one of the school kids is a virgin y'see and she's been earmarked to lose her cherry to Satan to help him come back and cause all sorts of chaos...but having escaped onto the passing train, it (the train that is) becomes possessed by evil and goes on a killing spree (yes that's right, the train that is!!)
Yes indeed, I have never ever seen a film like 'Amok Train' - one of the most absurd and head scratchingly inane films ever made, but also one of the most entertaining also. Following the brief aforementioned opening scene, the bulk of the movie takes us on a crazy mix of runaway train disaster movie and gory satanic splatter! Watch as the train derails itself at leisure to chase and kill passing victims (with limbs flying everywhere) only to jump back on the tracks again to carry on with its meaningless mayhem. For the films 90 odd minutes running time I sat slack jawed in disbelief, roaring with laughter when not cheering the occasional great gore scenes (that are delivered with bloody gusto) and had a whale of a time! What makes the film even more bewildering is the high production values that it has throughout, Kwitny's direction is top class throughout, Carlo Cordio's soundtrack hits the spot, the gore effects are lovely and the film has an excellent spooky atmosphere that has a true creepy nightmare feel. The cast deliver a pretty good performance with most kudos going to the lead virgin (who looks seriously hot during the films finale), the satanic professor (who looks uncannily like the mad artist from the TV comedy show 'Spaced'!) and all the village yokels who do a grand job of adding to the films atmosphere looking as creepy as heel (and making me shit scared at the prospect of ever visiting Yugoslavia!)
The disc from Dragon is a solid presentation too - the film is presented (thankfully) in its original widescreen ratio and looks pretty fine considering its obscurity and age. Some dark scenes are a touch grainy (though not too much) and the daylight scenes are strong and bright showing up some of the more scenic and stylish scenes very nicely indeed. There's English and German audio options that are decent enough, with clear burnt on English subtitles for the scenes containing Yugo-dialects (of which there are a few). The disc also contains a great trailer for the film under its old title but don't watch this before hand or you'll ruin some of fun if you've never seen it before. There's also some bio pages so you can see what other productions the guilty parties have been involved also.
'Amok Train' is a delightfully absurd film and a thoroughly enjoyable one to boot - check your brain at the door and enjoy a great retro Euro romp that is a pleasant diversion from all the stuffy nosed horror films around at the moment. I absolutely loved it - check it out!!
Review by Alan Simpson
|Released by Dragon|
|Not Rated - Region 0 PAL|
|Running time - approx 91 mins|
|Ratio - original widescreen|
|Audio - 2.0 English & German|
|Trailer, Bio pages|