MOVIE: The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

For some strange reason, I thought this movie was a remake of a horror flick from the 1970’s.  And one I’d seen and liked, too.  But when I went looking for the original, I couldn’t find anything about it.  So, perhaps I made this up? Or perhaps I was thinking of the Clive Barker short story it’s based on?  Who knows.  And who really cares, more importantly.

The only reason that bit of information matters at all is it’s the reason I hadn’t gotten around to renting this one — horror remakes are 9.9 times out of 10 going to totally suck rocks, so what’s the hurry, right?  I might not have bothered with it at all, in fact, except for one thing:  Bradley Cooper.  In a horror movie?  Huh.  That sounds kinda weird.  I better check this out.  See how it goes.

Oddly enough, it went sort of well, at least in the Coop regard.  In part, I think, because he plays a guy named Leon who is a photojournalist, and not the maniac killer himself (that would’ve been beyond believability, if you ask me — there’s something too wussy about a guy named “Bradley” (or “Leon,” for that matter) for a role like that).

Leon’s job is for a tabloid newspaper in New York City, and he mostly takes his inspiration from a police radio — he hears about a crime and rushes to the scene to snap gory photographs of the victims, see?  Great front-page stuff for a cheesy tabloid paper.  It’s a living, though not the living Leon has always wanted.

When his art-snob buddy gets him an interview with famous gallery owner Susan Hoff (Brooke Shields), though, Leon thinks he may at last have gotten the big break he needs to get out of the lame tabloid biz and into the world of art photography.  He meets with Susan, and is both heartened by her reaction (“Meh, not bad.”) and frustrated by it (“But you need to dig in deeper.”).  To try to come up with a better portfolio — one more likely to impress her — Leon begins wandering around the city at night, photographing the people and places he encounters.

One night, he’s heading back to the subway when he comes across a young woman being tormented by some nasty bad guys.  He breaks up the fight and takes a few dramatic shots while he’s at it.  But the next morning, he’s horrified to discover the girl’s disappeared.  He saw her get on the subway, and then she was never seen again.

He takes his pictures to the police, who at first suspect him.  But when more people start to disappear, and Leon finds himself running into the same strange dude every night someone turns up missing, he starts to get suspicious the man has something to do with it (I can’t remember his actual name so let’s call the strange dude Bullet Tooth Tony — that’s how I always think of Vinnie Jones anyway).

The problem is, Bullet Tooth Tony’s also gotten suspicious that Leon’s on to him.  And the game is suddenly afoot.

The horror part comes in during the “disappearance” scenes.  It turns out Bullet Tooth Tony has the midnight train to himself every night, where he randomly lures people on board and then kills them.   Lots of gore in those scenes, naturally, though almost all of it is so over-the-top to the point it’s hard to feel too traumatized (except maybe for that tongue bit there at the end — yeeshers).

Since we know whodunnit from the start, the question becomes WHY is he dunning it, and, well, the answer is kind of unsatisfying and ridiculous.

It involves lizard people — ’nuff said.

On the whole, the movie itself is fairly ridiculous, though it’s also pretty  well-made and satisfyingly entertaining (you know, if you like these sorts of flicks).  Things get a bit boring there in the middle, but they pick up again in the final act. . . at least until the reptiles show up.

Cooper is always fun to watch, and he’s incredibly sexy with a camera around his neck.  Incredibly.  I’ve always had a weakness for photographers, I must say.  Can’t explain it, not going to bother trying to fight it, either.  Whether or not that makes this one worth a rental is entirely up to you.   I’ve had worse times.  I’ll end this review with a noncommittal shrug:  *shrug*.

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Horror
Cast:  Bradley Cooper, Vinnie Jones, Leslie Bibb, Brooke Shields, Ted Raimi

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6 Responses to “MOVIE: The Midnight Meat Train (2008)”

  1. rhsmith Says:

    Were you by any chance thinking of Raw Meat (1972), aka Deathline?

  2. megwood Says:

    Actually, I think I might’ve been! Because I was definitely thinking Donald Pleasence. And it looks like he was in Raw Meat, right? I’ll rent that one next week and see if it rings any bells.

  3. megwood Says:

    p.s. You RULE, because this has been driving me bonkers!

  4. rhsmith Says:

    I would have liked Midnight Meat Train so much more (or, to be perfectly blunt, some) if Brook Shields’ character had been dragged screaming into the underground, had her tongue ripped out of her head and been hung up like the slunk meat and gutted like a fish. Otherwise, why have her in the movie to begin with?

    Raw Meat is very good. Some years ago I contributed to a roundtable discussion of its merits…

    http://www.videowatchdog.com/home/RoundTable/rawmeat.htm

  5. Liz Says:

    This is another one I saw on the Sy-Fy Channel, so I didn’t know that it was a “real” movie! I thought it was an above-average original TV production. I’m not sure how much was edited out, but they do seem to be leaving more and more “stuff” in to theses movies, so I think I may be on to something.

    I rather liked the movie, although I thought the ending was handled very lamely. It wasn’t that I thought it was a bad concept, I just thought it should have been “fleshed out” (you’ll excuse the pun!) a little. (And I didn’t think the tongue thing was THAT bad – unless it, too, was edited – it did give a little explanation).
    Also didn’t get that it was Bradley Cooper; he’s an actor I haven’t quite figured out yet. And I really didn’t think Brooke Shields was bad!

    I saw “Hostel I and II” on SyFy, and in cases like that, I think it may be the answer for me. It’s people being cruel to other people that really scares me, and is sometimes upsetting. Zombies and vampires and wack-o animals I find more entertaining (like sharks and giant piranhas – and spiders)!

    I also saw a very interesting ghost-story movie, again on SyFy, called “100 Feet.” It starred Famke Jansen, and was about a woman, convicted of murdering her abusive husband (SELF DEFENSE!), and being under house arrest, with an ankle bracelet that sounded an alarm if she moved farther than 100 feet in any direction. The kicker was that the ghost of her dead husband was in the house with her, and proceeded to do all sorts of things to terrorize her. He had also been a policeman, and his ex-partner was the one keeping tabs on Famke. Lots of interesting layers, and good acting. Without “spoiling” the ending (which, IMHO opinion, worked pretty well), you got a little glimpse of what he might have been like before he became so violent. I thought that was a nice touch.

    Anyway, I too, am now interested in this “Raw Meat” movie – although I think my goal will be to compare the two, since I’ll probably already know the dénouement. Also, who is the lead in this film?

    Anyway, good write-up, and good comments!

  6. Mputseng Mpembe Says:

    I love the movie, every scene was enjoyable to watch. and the ending is a total satisfy. i think it has a strong theme that says ‘mind ur own business!’

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