Friday, January 30, 2015


"Take the Express Train to TERROR !!!"

"50,000 Years of Death Stalks the Subways !!!"

   An ancient Hong Kong demon stalks the NYC subway and the task falls to kung-fu "master" Warhawk Tanzania (!) to defeat the sneaker wearing monster - helped along by some sideline ranting & raving by none other then Brother Theodore, this features some of the most hilariously inept king fu ever committed to celluloid (that is compared to Warhawk's only other film 1975's FORCE FOUR) along with editing and dubbing that would make Doris Wishman proud. Filled with countless WTF moments of cinema ineptness the highly entertaining slice of low budget 1970's NYC exploitation has finally got a nifty widescreen release courtesy of Code Red.
    Directed by TV producer Barry Rosen (who's only other directorial credit was 1976's THE YUM YUM GIRLS) it was later released as GANG WARS with the horror elements played down in the trailer to cash in on 1979's THE WARRIORS. When watching the film at first it seems like it was originally shot as just a straight up urban action film with the horror/demon stuff added at some point well into shooting (or even afterwards), but the editing is so daffy and nonsensical that in the end I was thinking that it just the way it's was put together.

   Seemingly filmed as though each days shooting brought an entirely new script into play, as characters wonder into shots of an empty room while talking, while at some points music intrudes on dialogue drowning it out and the same group of Oriental actors to seem to pop up at various points in the film playing different roles in the film. Bizarrely, the film has some occasional flashes of near brilliance (or at the very least near competency) with some documentary style shots of mid 70's NYC including the theatre marques of 42nd St.
  Warhawk Tanzania (who completely disappeared after his two films) plays Luke who along with his buddy Rodan (Wilfredo Roldan) travels to Hong Kong (which looks suspiciously like upstate New York) to receive some sort of masters training in kung fu. While their meditating out in the countryside Rodan discovers an ancient medallion down in a hole and pockets it, taking in back to NYC. In a prologue set in 200 B.C. (!) China a group of monks with samurai swords were shown placing a large crate like casket in the hole, placing the medallion on it and then finishing up by having them all commit suicide.

   It seems that by removing the medallion Rodan unleashed a demon that had been buried in the hole with the demon now needing to retrieve the medallion in order to become invincible and/or live forever (its never really made clear exactly what the demon's purpose is). Sneaking back to NYC aboard a ship by possessing a passenger (which causes his eyeballs to turn into ping pong balls with black dots painted on them), the demon once back in the city staggers around a bit, then heads down into the subway. Once down there in turns into full tilt monster mode and begins attacking people, including a would-be rapist who gets his head torn off and I DRINK YOUR BLOOD director David E. Durston playing an out of town businessman.
   At the same time Rodan begins getting into hassles with a Chinese gang and Warhawk's been dealing with a policeman protagonist/friend who's also been investigating the subway deaths (with Brother Theodore showing up at the crime scenes to rant a bit). Warhawk, after visiting an elderly Chinese man (sporting some of the worst old age make-up in the history of cinema) learns the secrets of the demon and putting on his gold bib overalls heads down into the subway to do battle.
  Clocking in at just a little over 80 minutes it manages to jam an amazing amount of disparate plot elements onto its running time as it even trots out the classic,"discarded pets turned into monsters in the subway" urban myth. The fight sequences are seemingly choreographed as if the rehearsals were filmed & cut into the film instead of the actual final staged scenes with slo-motion movements, missed hits and gentle rolling falls. The demon costume is thankfully kept mostly in the dark, until an unfortunate  camera shot shows him outfitted in a pair of tennis shoes.

  Combining a leading man with all the charisma of a concrete slab, ultra low budget DIY effects along with the horrible acting & editing would all seem to be a recipe for an agonizingly long viewing experience but DEVIL'S EXPRESS is just so schizophrenically crazy that you can't help but watch in awe-struck admiration (and Brother Theodore is just the icing on the cake). Even the obvious filler sequences such as an old bag lady wondering down a subway car while yelling at the passengers all have an entertaining off kilter goofiness to them.



  1. Color me curious! Blaxploitation is an exploitation genre I know very little about; other than Sugar Hill and Take a Hard Ride. Both of which I really like.

  2. Hi Rob,

    I would suggest starting out with some of the Jack Hill stuff like COFFY & FOXY BROWN, along with the SHAFT movies and Jim Kelly in BLACK BELT JONES is also a fun time. TRUCK TURNER with Isaac Hayes is also good along with the Jim Brown SLAUGHTER movies. THREE THE HARD WAY is also a classic.

    This is a really a really good set and you can find it for less then $10.00

    DEVIL'S EXPRESS is bat-shit crazy fun, but I'd not want to start off my black exploitation journey with it :) Thanks buddy !

  3. I will take all that into consideration! Thanks for the info and the link.
    I should watch Coffy soon. I have really enjoyed Pam Grier in everything Ive seen her in.

  4. Added that one to my Amazon wish list - thanks guys! I love this kind of movie - I think I featured the poster in one of my Movie Poster Monday posts - but I had no idea this was so crazy wild! I am actively seeking this one out!