The year is 1906. In China, Professor Saxton (Christopher Lee) discovers an apeman preserved in ice - what he believes to be the missing link. But when he gets it aboard a train to Moscow, he meets his old rival Dr Wells (Peter Cushing) who suspects there is more to the creature than meets the eye...
This Spanish chiller, which, superficially, is sort of a cross between The Thing and Murder on the Orient Express, was scripted by Arnaud D'Usseau and Julian Halevy. There were many horror films that feature Lee and Cushing battling against each other, but not too many where they team up to fight evil, making this a movie to treasure.
The grotty-looking apeman is revived, naturally, and sets about bumping off the cast in a novel way - it has a glowing red eye that transfixes its victims, boiling their eyes in their sockets and sucking out their minds, leaving their brains completely smooth. It's actually been possessed by an ancient alien life form which is intent on amassing enough information to make its way home, and it doesn't care who gets in the way.
Lee is the stuffy academic who turns hero when the mayhem gets out of hand, and Cushing is the charming doctor who works out the creature's modus operandi - together they make a formidable combination, but their intelligence could be their downfall due to their specialised knowledge being exactly what the alien wants. Interestingly, the religious fanatic monk (Alberto de Mendoza) recognises the threat right away, but is safe from the brain draining mind probe because the alien isn't interested in his faith. So, in the face of this monster, religion does provide protection, but science is a personal liabilty.
Not that anyone is really safe as the alien ruthlessly zaps his way through the cast. Horror Express is thoroughly entertaining, with its invention on a low budget, its eccentricity (Telly Savalas as a cossack?), its witty lines ("At your age, I'm not surprised!"), fine period detail and plentiful thrill sequences. There's even a zombie-filled finale for good measure. Distinctive music by John Cacavas.