Say “Cheese” 012 – The Train Killer (1984)

This past Christmas my son got me a Mill Creek box set called Awesomely Cheesy Movies. 100 movies on 24 disks, it’s actually a combination of two of their earlier released sets, “The Swinging Seventies”, and “The Excellent Eighties”.

For those of you who may not be familiar with these Mill Creek sets, they are generally comprised of  public domain or made-for-television movies that are reproduced without embellishment, enhancement, or extras and are sold in large collections for very low prices. This means that the quality on them can be quite variable, and they often show signs of age and wear. Nonetheless, there are often hidden gems amongst what can be large swaths of dross.

Anyway, I’ve decided to wend my way through this collection, starting with the first movie on the first disk of the 70s collection, then the first movie in the 80s set, then back to the 70s, and so on, and see just what turns up. If nothing else, it should be interesting. Come along, won’t you?

You could be forgiven if, from the title of this film you thought it was about a mysterious killer loose on a train. That’s nt the case, however. Instead, The Train Killer is the story of a Hungarian saboteur blowing up train lines and trying to sabotage the railway in the early 1930s. He was literally trying to be a train killer!

Based on the true story of Szilveszter Matuska, The Train Killer plays out less as a mystery/thriller (though there is that aspect of it) than as a psychological portrait of a man who feels compelled to carry out what he considers to be a mission from God, and yet is still willing to let himself be used by political force who want to take advantage of his disaster-creating proclivities.

Michael Sarazin portrays Matsuuka as a driven man, sure of his purpose even as other try to (pardon me) derail him, and as the police and military forces close in around him. He also does a good job of showing the madness of the saboteur which seems to grow with each passing day.

As always with this kind of “based on a true story”movie, there is quite a lot of divergence from the actual facts of the case, but when taken as a simple low-key thriller as opposed to any kind of narrative documentary, it is generally effective, and far from the worst film we’ve encountered so far in this box.

Here’s your trailer:

 

Up Next: The Swinging 70s  Disk 2 Movie 3: Wacky Taxi– Gomez Addams

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