Two young girls travel by train at Christmas time, little knowing it will be a ride filled with horror.
Aldo Lado's Night Train Murders is at times very difficult to digest. As with most Italian movies of this period, the film takes a while to get started, with many fill up scenes that aren't of much interest but once it gets going the film makes a strong impact. The scene where the two girls get molested is a pretty tough viewing experience. Lado stretches the scene to almost unbearable length, displaying such inhuman and immoral tendencies you can't help but be disgusted. The final violent confrontation between the distraught father and the violators becomes not only justifiable but wholly satisfactory.
The film's intercutting between the normal goings on in the lives of the father and mother of one of the girls and what's happening to them on board the train makes a strong impact as well. Lado is purposely trying his best to make the events even more unbearable and sad and it works very well. The script is also philosophical to some extent, displaying grounded ideas about the human nature and it's incapability of letting go of some it's animal instincts and it's refusal to be controlled. An immoral and inhuman tendency cannot be distinguished easily and it's visual display here comes from the socialite who's actually the worst of the violators while the two punks are more visible just by how they look and act (not to mention the one who becomes involved but is also the most "moral" one as he contributes to the end justice).
While not an intellectual powerhouse the film does boast some very strong visuals and hugely effective scenes of the worst mankind has to offer. It makes an impact, but it's not very enjoyable to watch.
Some of Lado’s touches are inexplicable, like his frequent abuse of zoom lenses to focus on some unimportant detail—an extra feeding ducks, say—and others are more inspired, like repeating a phrase in Ennio Morricone’s score through a villain’s harmonica, an echo of Charles Bronson in Once Upon A Time In The West. But between the tiresome cross-cutting between the vicious (yet oddly non-explicit) torture on the train and the dead scenes of the parents waiting, waiting, waiting for the women to arrive, it’s Méril that stands out. Where Craven was content to tar the perpetrators as drug-addled counterculture wastoids, Night Train Murders lays the truly depraved acts at Méril’s feet, suggesting that she, as a member of polite society, can slip the noose while her lowlife companions take the heat. The real loser here, however, is The Last House On The Left, which faces the double indignity of being ripped off and critiqued by the same movie.