D-RAILED ** USA 2018 Dir: Dale Fabrigar. 80 mins
A night of murder, mirth and mayhem is promised on the Halloween Murder Mystery train, a 20th century steam train populated for one night by a bratty adolescent, a flirty waitress and (in the murder-mystery performer section) a budding starlet, a crooked industrialist and an all-purpose eccentric with a twirly moustache. The early signs are not good (roaches in the meals!) and a seemingly genuine outburst of violence between the characters ends with the train crashing into a river, from which point the bickering characters are picked off by a monster.
This odd hybrid of genres starts slow and is undermined by an unlikeable ensemble but does have fun with an old-fashioned man-in-a-suit, toothy, arm-ripping monster (designed by Kyle Thompson) and some fleeting practical gore. Shame there’s not more monster action and less train-set murder mystery stuff, but when the creature is (briefly) on screen there is a twinge of nostalgia for gory 1980’s low-rent Roger Corman productions. The cheap digital FX inevitably stand out, and Lance Henriksen phones in his cameo as a Basil Exposition figure on hand to explain the twist in the last few minutes.
Review by Steven West