The Midnight Meat Train is a 2008 horror film based on Clive Barker's 1984 short story of the same name, which can be found in Volume One of Barker's collection Books of Blood. The film follows a photographer who attempts to track down a serial killer dubbed the "Subway Butcher" and discovers more than he bargained for under the city streets.
The film was directed by Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura and stars Bradley Cooper, Leslie Bibb, Vinnie Jones and Brooke Shields. Its script was adapted by Jeff Buhler, the producer was Tom Rosenberg of Lakeshore Entertainment, and it was released on August 1, 2008.
Producer Joe Daley, a long time friend of Buhler's, brought the two writers together and helped develop the script, along with producers Anthony Diblasi and Jorge Saralegui, for their newly minted horror factory The Midnight Picture Company. As of this entry, The Midnight Picture Company was busy shooting Book of Blood, the next film adaptation from the anthology of short stories that spawned Midnight Meat Train.
The film opens as a well dressed, barrel chested man stalks the late-night passengers of a subway train. He assaults and kills several people with a meat hammer, and a butchers hook. He dispatches his prey wordlessly, and with an uncannily unnatural strength. He wears a ring on his finger, adorned with an eight-pointed star.
We are then introduced to the character of Leon, a vegan photographer who heads into the city's subway system at night to take photographs. He is criticized constantly by other photographers for fleeing danger before shooting a full reel. One night, in a decision to break this trend, he saves a woman from a gang that is abusing her. The next day, he discovers this girl has gone missing. Leon is intrigued by the mystery, and begins to investigate newsreels about similar disappearances. His investigation leads him to a butcher named Mahogany, who he suspects has been killing subway passengers for as long as a hundred years.
Leon attempts to turn some of the photos he has taken of Mahogany in to the police, but they refuse to believe him, and instead cast suspicion on his own motives in photographing the victims. Leon's involvement quickly turns into a dark obsession, upsetting his waitress girlfriend Maya, who is as disbelieving of his story as the police chief. Leon takes matters into his own hands, entering the subway train at midnight, only to witness a shocking bloodbath, as the butcher kills several passengers, then hangs them on meat hooks. Passing out on the subway floor, he awakes the next morning in a slaughterhouse with strange markings carved into his chest.
A concerned Maya and Leon's best friend Jurgis, begin to examine the photos Leon has been taking of Mahogany, leading them to the killer's apartment. After breaking and entering the butcher's home, Jurgis is captured, and brutally killed. Maya goes to the police, But finds that they are as unwilling to consider her story, as they were of Leon's. It is at this point that we begin to discover that the police may be involved in the cover-up of Mahogany's crimes. A police official directs the misguided Maya to a trip on the midnight train. Leon, unaware of Maya's involvement, finally decides to put an end to the butcher's crimes, and heads to the hidden subway entrance in the slaughterhouse, arming himself with the a butcher's apron, and several slaughterhouse knives.
Leon enters the train as Mahogany has completed his nightly massacre, and has cornered a helpless Maya. Leon attacks the murderer with a knife, beginning a climactic battle between the photographer and the superhuman butcher. They fight in between the swinging human meat, Leon's knives against Mahogany's meat hammer, and human body parts are ripped, thrown, and used as weapons in the shower of epic gore. Finally, Mahogany is thrown out of the train by Leon, but not long before it hits its final stop. The train has entered an underground cavern, filled with skulls and decomposing bodies. Mahogany, in a battered and bleeding state, returns, barely alive, from beneath the train, and engages in a death struggle with Leon, who finishes the job at last by impaling the psychotic butcher's skull on a blade. Mahogany grins in his dying throes, pronouncing the single word "Welcome!"
With the butcher's death, the conductor of the train enters the car, advising Leon and Maya to "Please step away from the meat." With these words, the true purpose of the underground station is revealed, as horrible reptilian creatures enter the car, consuming the meat to which they have been delivered. The conductor 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. The conductor then picks up Leon, and with the same supernatural strength as the deceased butcher, rips out Leon's tongue, throwing him to the ground. The conductor then forces him to watch as he kills Maya with one of the butcher's knives. When he is done, he tells Leon that, having killed the butcher, he must take his place.
In the final scene, the police chief hands the train schedule to the new butcher, who wears the ring with the eight-pointed star. The killer walks onto the midnight train, and turns his head to reveal that he is Leon, ready to go on his nightly slaughter.
The so called "official" soundtrack from Lakeshore Records (only containing two remixes of the separately available actual film score) was produced and remixed by Justin Lassen and includes the bands and artists Iconcrash, Breaking The Jar, Blind Divine, Manakin Moon, Three Dot Revelation, Apocalyptica, Slvtn, Alu, Robert Williamson, Johannes Kobilke, Second Coming, Illusion of Order, Jason Hayes, Gerard K Marino, Penetrator, and Digital Dirt Heads.
Initially, The Midnight Meat Train was set for a May 16, 2008 release but was delayed. Rogue Pictures' The Strangers, a film giving Lionsgate president Joseph Drake a producer credit, was released May 30, 2008.
Ultimately, Train's release on August 1st was limited to the secondary market (dollar theaters)—of which only 100 screens showed it—with plans for a quick release on DVD.
An internet campaign was started by several horror websites, including Bloody Disgusting, to draw attention to the scaled-down theatrical release.
Made its American debut on October 1st 2008, via the FearNet-onDemand video service. Available in both SD and HD formats at 12:01 am, this marked the first time FearNet was used to launch a big-budget Hollywood film.
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