Sunday, August 3, 2008

Midnight Meat Train

Sitting in a darkened theater ~6 months ago, I was awed by the imagery of the preview for Midnight Meat Train, directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. The flash of the large chunk of chrome. The blue gelatinous fuzziness. The grit.

Bug told me this film was based on a Clive Barker short story, of the same name, from his anthology, "Books of Blood." I'm one of those people that likes to read the first chapter and then the last chapter of a book when I'm intrigued by the story.

The next time we went to Border's, Bug pointed the book out to me and wandered off to the section that sings his name when he steps into any bookstore - world history. I stared at the book for a few seconds. The temptation got the better of me. I quickly pulled the book from the shelf, leafed through until I saw a "Meat Train" flash by, slowly flipped to the start of the story, and hungrily read the first few pages and then flipped to last few pages of the story.

Confused, my interest was further piqued, I went online and read a synopsis of the book and the movie. The ending made more sense then, with the movie twist obviously revealed.

Revealing the conclusion makes no difference to me when I go to see a movie. I go to movies to enjoy the journey and would actually prefer to know the ending so I know not to waste my money and, more importantly, time, sitting for 2 hours through a journey that I feel isn't worth my time to take.

Bug called me on the phone at work Tuesday informing me that the movie was playing in only 100 theaters across the US on Friday. Disappointed, I thought what chance would we have of it showing in our area? Would this entail another trip to Pittsburgh?

Midnight Meat Train was slated to have opened in May,postponed, then scheduled to open the same week as Hell Boy (July), postponed, then a week later, and postponed yet again.

While on the phone, I heard Bug busily tapping away on his keyboard looking up locations. He found one just a few 'burbs away, at the Cinemark 10. Hell, there were at least 7 theaters showing the movie in Ohio.

I quickly emailed my boss to ask for Friday off. A minute later, I received a reply, "Enjoy!" I raised my hands in victory and whispered excitedly, "Yes!"

On Thursday, I mentioned the Cinemark 10 while I was in the office of my coworker who lives in the area. She suggested that I go to Manhattan Deli as it's near the theater. I asked about the portions and price, she said the portions are huge and the price a lot cheaper than Corky & Lenny's. She briefly mentioned that movies at the theater cost $2.50. $2.50? I laughed it off in my head and walked back to my office.

After work, we decided to figure out where the movie theater was located so we wouldn't be lost and late the day of the showing. We plugged the address into our handheld GPS and went.

We found ourselves at a very familiar strip mall from an adventure a few years back. Drove by the theater and, to my surprise, saw Manhattan Deli next door. I assumed "nearby" meant down the block.

Since we were a bit peckish, we stopped in. On the drive over, I mentioned the deli to Bug and my coworker's description. Service at first was mediocre. I could see Bug ready to walk out since it took nearly 10 minutes before anyone stopped by our table. The prices were on par with Corky & Lenny's.

Someone finally came, and I ordered water, fattoush to split between the both of us minus onions ($7), and soup & 1/2 sandwich ($7) - chicken noodle and corned beef. Bug ordered a reuben ($8) and water.

A large platter of fattoush came. I was surprised at the large serving size. It was all right. My chicken noodle soup was ok. I'm not really into sour chicken noodle soup. I was quite disappointed with the serving size of my half-sandwich. The corned beef was loosely thrown in and was the thickness of one slice of bread. I got 3 shavings of fatty corned beef.

Bug was horribly disappointed. The sandwich was the same size as mine. He probably got 7 shavings of corned beef. He did have fries that were quite tasty - similar overtones to Burger King fries. They were freshly made and had corpuscular growths all over. I presume they were batter dipped and then deep fried.

Despite the tasty fries, Bug was not impressed. He mumbled something about almost feeling violated.

We returned to the scene of the crime at 12:22 p.m. Friday. I walked in to purchase tickets and the cashier said, "$2.50." I repeated, "$2.50?" I gave her my credit card sheepishly, and asked, "For two people?" She looked at me blankly and nodded. I stammered and said, "Sorry, I'm just so used to paying $14.00 for a matinée."

Soda and popcorn were a couple dollars cheaper than regular theaters. The popcorn was quite underwhelming.

Midnight Meat Train is about Leon, who lives with his girlfriend, and aspires to be a successful photographer. Through his girlfriend, he gets an audience with a big time gallery owner who tells him after looking at his work to only return when he has truly captured the city after she has pointed out a photograph of a hobo leaning over near a businessman in a train. The gallery owner tells Leon she wants to see the reaction of the businessman as he is being touched by the hobo, and goes on to describe his work as being at the right place, but not being captured at the right time.

Leon catches a woman being harassed by a gang in the subway, moments before she would have been raped. He takes pictures of the incident, and ends up stoping the rape from commencing. He takes a last shot of the woman, a Japanese model, as she enters one of the train cars, where a man with a star emblem on his ring holds open the door from the inside.

The next day, Leon sees a newspaper article written about a missing model - the same woman he saw the previous night. He assumes it is the gang and goes to the police with photographs. He is rebuked and made to feel like a stalker. The photographs of the gang and woman are inspiring to the gallery owner. She offers him an exhibit if he takes 2 more.

Later that evening, he sits outside the subway station and is intrigued by the large, serious looking man neatly dressed in a suit and carrying a large leather satchel, "Mahogany" imprinted, riding up the escalator, and follows him, continuing to shoot him. The imposing man turns a corner and catches Leon with his arm. Leon is mortified. We see along with Leon, the star emblem on his signet.

Leon is obsessed with Mahogany and follows him during the day and evening. Mahogany works at a meat processing plant in the city. At night, he waits at the subway and takes the last train.

Leon goes to the library and sees an article of a butcher suspected of killing people. When he returns home, he looks through his shots and notices the final shot of the model and the signet on the hand that holds the train door open. Leon is positive he is butchering people. As time passes, we see Leon's transformation, becoming more and more obsessed with the disappearance of the model and what lies beyond.

Throughout the movie, you see ultra-realistic, yet dreamlike shots of Mahogany pummeling people with his humongous chrome hammer and his other horrific instruments, efficiently exercising his task. Blood is splattered everywhere, victims panicking, slipping and sliding, as they try to escape the horror, while he is in total control, spotless and methodical.

I can't describe any further since it'll ruin the ending. :P

MMT was a gruesome and engaging piece. I hope it will come out on Blu-Ray with decent extras. Unfortunately, Lions Gate has done a great disservice to this film due to funky movie politics by opening this movie at dollar theaters, so I'm not holding my breath.


- Cassaendra

Manhattan Deli
27589 Chardon Rd
Wickliffe, OH 44092
(440) 585-1177

2 deep thoughts:

Tipa 04 August, 2008 09:50  

I think I've heard about this movie before... it sounds REALLY familiar.

I recently found an inexpensive theater locally. We live across the street from a huge cineplex with 24 theaters and $10 to get in. But a few weeks ago we were driving around looking for a good place for brunch when we happened upon a tiny movie theater, the Parkade Cinemas, behind a shopping center -- which showed second run movies at rock bottom prices.

We saw Speed Racer there and are waiting for the current crop of big budget action pictures to hit there so we can see them in that low budget awesomeness I remember from the (now closed) Dream Theater back in Monterey.

SicklyBug & Cassaendra 04 August, 2008 21:31  

Hey Tipa!

After this experience, I would really like to go back to another "dollar" theater.

I just hope that I don't run into another couple like the one we tolerated. They were in their 50s and chatting throughout the entire movie. :\

Hope Speed Racer was worthwhile. I've been tempted.

- C

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