THE QUOTABLE CUSHING: HORROR EXPRESS (1972)
Welcome to another edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, that column where we look at memorable quotes from classic Peter Cushing movies. This column exists because I’m a lifelong Peter Cushing fan, and his movie performances are a major reason why I entered the horror writing business. This column is a celebration of sorts of some of the highlights of Peter Cushing’s career.
Today on THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, we look at quotes from one of my favorite non-Hammer Peter Cushing movies, HORROR EXPRESS (1972). The majority of my favorite Peter Cushing films were all made by England’s famed Hammer Studios, but HORROR EXPRESS was not.
HORROR EXPRESS tells a neat story about an alien creature on the loose on a Trans-Siberian train, and it’s up to Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee to stop it. HORROR EXPRESS is notable because it’s one of the few times in the movies that Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee played characters who end up working together to take on a common foe. Usually, they’re pitted against each other, most of the time with Cushing as the hero and Lee as the villain or monster. In this case, they play rival scientists who really don’t like each other all that much, but when the creature starts murdering people on the train, they put aside their differences and team up to stop the threat.
The other fun thing about this movie is that Peter Cushing gets most of the good lines. So, let’s have a look at some of these memorable quotes from HORROR EXPRESS, screenplay by Arnaud d’Usseau and Julian Zimet.
The monster is loose on the Trans-Siberian Express. At first, it appears to be an ape monster, the missing link fossil that Professor Alexander Saxton (Christopher Lee) brought on board the train, but later it’s discovered that it was really an alien inhabiting the body of the ape fossil, and this alien is able to transfer itself from one host body to another. So, no one on board the train knows the identity of the monster, since it keeps switching bodies.
In this scene, the police inspector on board happens upon rival scientists Saxton and Dr. Wells (Peter Cushing) and sees that they’re working together to discover the identity of the monster. The Inspector’s suggestion provokes a shocked reaction from Cushing’s Dr. Wells:
INSPECTOR: The two of you together. That’s fine. But what if one of you is the monster?
DR. WELLS (shocked): Monster? We’re British, you know!
The film is full of humor like this, and most of the lighthearted lines come from Peter Cushing’s Dr. Wells. Since HORROR EXPRESS is actually quite scary, the comic relief in the film is very welcomed.
Take this line for example, which occurs after an early murder on the train. The Inspector needs someone to examine the murder victim, and so he seeks out Dr. Wells, interrupting the doctor’s dinner.
INSPECTOR: Is it true you’re a doctor?
DR. WELLS: Ask me when I’ve finished my dinner.
Probably the funniest lines in the movie come a moment later, when Dr. Wells seeks out his assistant Miss Jones (Alice Reinhart) for help with the autopsy.
DR. WELLS: Miss Jones, I shall need your assistance.
Miss Jones then glances at Dr. Wells’ dinner companion, an attractive young lady.
MISS JONES: Yes, well at your age, I’m not surprised.
DR. WELLS (realizing what she’s talking about): With an autopsy!
MISS JONES: Oh, well that’s different.
My favorite Peter Cushing line from HORROR EXPRESS is one of the best lines in the movie. It comes early in the film, when the police discover the dead body of the baggage man inside the crate where Professor Saxton’s fossil was supposed to be.
After listening to Professor Saxton’s explanation of what he believes happened, Wells has this reaction:
DR. WELLS: Are you telling me that an ape that lived two million years ago got out of that crate, killed the baggage man and put him in there, then locked everything up neat and tidy, and got away?
PROFESSOR SAXTON: Yes, I am!
Well, that’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, and feel free to check out HORROR EXPRESS. It’s a hellluva thrill ride, one of the better Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee movies.
Thanks for reading! And I’ll see you next time!