While it’s not the most underrated film adaptation of a Clive Barker story/novel (that honor goes to Dread), The Midnight Meat Train is a sleeper that’s gained a steady cult following since it was unceremoniously dumped by Lionsgate (who initially promised director Ryûhei Kitamura a nationwide, summer release). Most agree the film never got its fair shake and could have made a huge impact in the mid-2000s.
I always felt the film’s biggest obstacle was its name; though unchanged from Barker’s source material, it has the ring of a b-movie or an exploitation flick–something to be watched only in the latest hours of the evening. And while the violence is indeed extreme, the title, with its immediately gory evocative imagery, never hints at the creepy, fantasy elements that serve as the film’s ultimate reveal.
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But according to Kitamura, suits at Lionsgate weren’t concerned with the film’s name; Midnight Meat Train’s mistreatment was a result of internal company politics. Kitamura described the situation to Mick Garris on a recent episode of his Post Mortem podcast; almost a decade later, it’s still a clearly opened wound.
“It was very heartbreaking because it was my first American movie. And I was very proud of the movie,” Kitamura told Garris. “And the last I heard was, ya know, they got so excited and they even set a release date. I still remember… 2008… May 16th. That’s a very good day. Hot summer day. They were confident with the movie. And they released the trailer… I still remember, when I went to Arclight Cinema to see Rambo 4, the trailer was there. I was like, ‘WOW.’ And then… all this craziness happens.
“I know exactly what happened but I don’t feel like I want to speak about it. It’s just… [an] ego thing. It’s as simple as… the Lionsgate people, when I was making the movie… and the time when it came to release [the film]… was a different [group of people].
“There’s another big reason, but I don’t really want to [get into it]. It was the biggest terrorist attack to my life. Worst time of my career… emotionally and financially.”
Give the trailer and synopsis for The Midnight Meat Train a spin below, followed by the trailer and synopsis for Kitamura’s latest film, Downrange, currently streaming on Shudder exclusively.
Official Synopsis: When struggling photographer Leon Kaufman (Bradley Cooper) meets the owner of a prominent art gallery, he sees a chance for the success that has, so far, eluded him. Determined to show the darker side of humanity for his debut showing, Leon crosses paths with Mahogany (Vinnie Jones) a serial killer who preys on late-night subway commuters. His fascination with Mahogany pulls him — and his lover (Leslie Bibb) — deep into an evil abyss.
The Midnight Meat Train stars Vinnie Jones, Bradley Cooper, and Leslie Bibb.
Official Synopsis: Some friends are attacked by a sniper after a tire blowout leaves them stranded.
Downrange stars Kelly Connaire, Stephanie Pearson, and Rod Hernandez.