The Midnight Meat Train: Take a butcher’s at this!

Riley Riley

A quick word of warning. The Midnight Meat Train is not for the squeamish.

The 2008 horror film, based on a short story by Hellraiser author Clive Barker comes from the same dark corner of the planet that spawned such delights as Hostel and the Saw franchise.

Like them it is genuinely disturbing, with plenty of ‘do I really want to watch this’ moments as characters meet sudden and sticky ends — that’s sticky as in lots of blood and gore.

The Midnight Meat Train follows the exploits of up and coming photographer Leon Kaufman and his unhealthy fixation with the darker side of life.

It’s a journey that takes him into the city subways and into contact with a ruthless, almost robotic serial killer.

A Star Is Born’s Bradley Cooper stars as the hero of this dark tale, while Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrel’s Vinnie Jones turns in the best performance this side of  The Terminator as the psychopathic killer who is known only as Mahogany.

Kaufman begins to push the boundaries after he’s told by an art dealer that his work is good, but that it could be even better.

That he just needs to try a little harder — to go that extra mile.

So the photographer starts wandering the streets of the city in the early hours, looking for suitable subjects — in effect looking for trouble.

And he finds it, on his first sojourn into the subway, when he manages to prevent a gang of thugs from raping a female traveller.

The woman thanks him, but he later learns that she has gone missing, spurring him to take his pics to the police.

The police are surprisingly uninterested, so Kaufman decides to take matters into his own hands, discovering the woman, a professional model, is not the first person to disappear — that it has been happening over a period of many years.

Directed by Japanese Ryuhei Kitamura, The Midnight Meat Train is a first rate thriller, at least before the story wanders off into the supernatural, becoming a little silly towards the end.

Despite moving to Sydney, Australia when he was just 17, this is Kitamura’s first English-speaking film.

He’s known for Versus (2000), Alive (2002), Sky High (2003) and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), as well as No One Lives (2012), the live-action adaptation of Lupin the 3rd (2014).

 Originally, it was intended to shoot the film in New York, but the cost was prohibitive.

Various locations were used for filming, including the Los Angeles Metro subway system.

Strangely, The Midnight Meat Train received only limited theatrical release before it moved to DVD.

An internet campaign was reportedly started by several horror websites to draw attention to the scaled-down release.

Although something of a commercial flop, the film has all the makings of a cult classic.

However, like me, you might wonder why an actor of Cooper’s calibre signed on to do what is basically a slasher flick?

Well, it was in fact his first starring role and lobbed just before he made the big time as one of the stars of the mega successful comedy The Hangover.

The film stars Leslie Bibb as his girlfriend Maya Jones, Brooke Shields as art dealer Susan Hoff, Roger Bart as friend Jurgis and Ted Raimi as Randle Cooper.

You can catch The Midnight Meat Train on Amazon Prime.



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Time out score

Final thoughts . . .

Switch off and switch on to the suspense of The Midnight Meat Train.


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