Based on a short story by Clive Barker, The Midnight Meat Train is a 2008 horror movie directed by Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura and stars Bradley Cooper, Leslie Bibb, Brooke Shields, Roger Bart, Ted Raimi, and Vinnie Jones. The movie looks like a cross between Sin City style production and Creep which is also about an subway/underground based killer / horror creature.
The story is pretty simple – a well dressed and strong looking man is assaulting and killing passengers who board the midnight subway trains in New York City. Without saying a word or letting on as to a motive he brutally kills them with a meat hammer and a hook. And unnatural strength. He is shown to be wearing a large ring with an 8 pointed star. The bodies are never found. Leon, a professional photographer is taking photos of NYC at night on advice of Jurgis, his friend & contractor, as he has been criticized by his peers for leaving a dangerous scene too early before taking the maximum shots. One night he saves a Japanese model from being abused by a trio of gangmembers and takes their photos but points to the security camera that could be used to identify them if they try and kill him. The gang leaves and the model thanks Leon before entering the subway train – the door of which was held open for her by the mysterious killer.
When Leon sees that the girl is shown to be missing in the papers the next day he decides to conduct his own investigations. His research leads him to believe that a butcher named Mahogany – who he had photographed at night and who has confronted him and chased him away – is the culprit and that he has been killing people in subways for the last 3 years. Leon takes his photos of the model and the gangmembers he shot, as well as a shot of the model boarding the train which clearly shows a hand holding the door open for her, to the cops but the lead detective Lynn Hadley is more suspicious of his motives. Leon’s girlfriend Maya also does not believe him and starts to worry as the investigation turns into a dark obsession that seems to be haunting him. Leon follows Mahogany to the subway train and witnesses a bloodbath as the butcher kills several passengers before hanging them on meat hooks. Leon is seen by the butcher and passing out on the subway floor, he awakes the next morning in a slaughterhouse with strange markings carved into his chest. The same detective investigates but finds no evidence of there having being killings on the train.
A concerned Maya takes the help of Jurgis and go through the photos and follow Mahogany to his apartment. When he is out they break in to find clues and discover small body parts in glass jars but Jurgis is caught and brutalized as Maya escapes. She goes to the cops but the detective threatens to arrest her for breaking and entering when they investigate and do not find anything out of the ordinary. Later however a cop calls Maya to tip her that Mahogany is about to board a subway train and she goes to see if she can find Jurgis. Leon meanwhile steels himself and goes after Mahogany armed with his own weapons only to find he butcher cornering Maya. The two men fight a bloodied battle until just before the train stops Leon is able to push his adversary off the train. As the train stops, the couple see that they have reached an underground cavern filled with bones of dead people. The conductor (who was shown helping and bossing Mahogany in an earlier scene) comes to the compartment and tells them to step away from the meat. And then a few terrifying reptilian creatures board the train and start feasting on the dead bodies hanging on hooks.
A still alive Mahogany arrives and knocks Maya aside, and fights Leon once more before the photographer finishes the job at last by impaling the psychotic butcher’s skull on a blade. Mahogany grins in his dying throes, speaking the single word “Welcome!” The conductor then comes and overpowers Leon and beats him up and rips out his tongue. A bloodied Leon is helpless and can only watch as the conductor kills Maya with one of the butcher’s knives. He explains to Leon that the creatures have always existed below the city, and that the butcher’s job was to keep them satisfied by feeding them every night. These creatures have existed longer than mankind and there are a chosen few who serve them lest they wreck havoc on the entire population. Leon was marked a possible replacement as it was felt that Mahogany needed to be replaced and now having killed the butcher, Leon will take his place. As the movie ends, in a later scene the detective (also one of the chosen few) hands the train schedule to the new butcher, who wears a ring with the eight pointed star on it, a symbol for the group that feeds the creatures. It is Leon who now wears a similar suit and goes to the subway and boards a train.
Made on a budget of $15 million the movie only made back around 8 million back, flopping at the box office. It’s a weird little movie that has it moments but does little to spark the imagination. Lots of blood flying about and some body parts being mangled and cut out but it ends up being a little cartoonish. I give it a 6 outta 10!