The Midnight Meat Train



Public-transit terror tale is beyond bloody. Pass.
  • Review Date: August 4, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Any possibly positive message is washed away in the crimson tide of bloodletting that it unleashes in the name of extreme "thrills."

Positive role models

The main character, a photographer, takes pictures of a group of youths
threatening a young woman before he acts to stop them. Another
character, researching a city's history of crime, contrasts her work
with the popular perception of the past as a kinder, gentler time by
noting "it turns out there never were any good old days." A security
guard checks a character's bag in the subway, noting that "Condition
Orange means I can search whatever I want."


Constant, brutal, and explicit violence, including endless buckets of blood. Brutal murders are portrayed in graphic fashion, with weapons including a butcher's hook, a hammer, knives, guns, and bare hands; other weapons include severed limbs, bones, and skulls. Multiple scenes of intense fighting, with characters punched, head-butted, slammed into windows, walls, the floor, and more. Deep and bloody wounds are created and shown. Throats are slit; multiple stabbings; a character's head is impaled with a long knife; a character's tongue is ripped out of their mouth and then eaten. A man is struck with a hammer so hard that his eye dislocates from its socket; a female character's demise is shown from her point of view, beginning with a hammer blow so fierce it severs her head -- viewers see her headless body from a distance through her eyes as she dies. Human beings are hung like meat, dangling upside down by hooks rammed through their flesh; their teeth, fingernails, and eyes are shown being removed post-mortem. A character removes (and then keeps) bizarre growths from his flesh by slashing at them with a knife. A heart ripped from a human chest is held aloft while still beating. Piles of dead bodies are seen; animal and human corpses are hung as raw material for butchers.


Some kissing; discussions of sex in the context of a committed relationship; some nudity, including a nude female murder victim. It's suggested that a supporting character is promiscuously bisexual. Brief phallic imagery. A young woman, threatened by a group of thugs, is told "You gotta pay on your knees, baby." Characters have rough sex, with the clear implication that this isn't the norm for them.


Some, including "f--k," "motherf---er," "s--t," "ass," "bitch," and "s--t."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Friends drink hard liquor in celebration; beer and wine are enjoyed at an art reception.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that horror-loving teens may want to see this movie based on a short story by Clive Barker, but there's enough here to test even the strongest stomachs. The movie is literally drenched in blood from the opening moments to the finale. It's also loaded with gruesome special-effects violence -- decapitations, eyes popped from sockets, hearts ripped from chests, and more. A sequence in which viewers witness a female character's death from her point of view is deliberately, deeply disturbing. The film's food-and-flesh subtext also involves multiple images of human and animal corpses hung in preparation for the butcher's art; there's also graphic and explicit surgical and medical imagery, some nudity, and strong language.

What's the story?

Hoping to truly capture the huge city he lives in with his camera -- not to mention catch the eye of art dealer Susan Hoff (Brooke Shields) and justify the encouragement of his girlfriend Maya (Leslie Bibb), aspiring photographer Leon Kaufmman (Bradley Cooper) walks the city streets at night. Eventually he crosses paths with a silent, suit-clad figure (Vinnie Jones) who may be linked to a series of disappearances and murders that have occurred on the city's subway. As Leon gets closer and closer to uncovering the man's true role in a murderous conspiracy that has tentacles through the power structure of the city, he starts being pulled in to the murderous ways and horrible secrets of the carnage lurking under the city's streets.

Is it any good?


Based on a short story by horror author Clive Barker, THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN is a great example of how gore, carnage, and graphic effects are no substitute for an actual story. As Leon gets pulled into the deep psychic waters of the conspiracy he's uncovered and the terrors he's witnessed, there's never any sense that he can resist or change the flow of events; while the blood soaking the storyline is dark and thick, it can't camouflage an ending anyone can see coming a mile away. Talented character actors Shields, Bibb, and Roger Bart are either cardboard cut-outs or sacrificial lambs, and while Jones (best known from films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch) cuts a striking figure in his retro-styled suit and tie, his character's a murderous cipher who's just there to kill and kill again.

Director Ryuhei Kitamura and his production team do a fine job of capturing the wonder and terror of a large city at night, but those moments are surrounded and drowned out by the never-ending series of grisly murders, dismemberments, and executions that The Midnight Meat Train has in the place of a plot. Dedicated -- and jaded -- grown-up horror aficionados may find something to admire and enjoy in Midnight Meat Train's go-for-broke visual violence, but any merit or message in the film is washed away in the crimson tide of bloodletting that it unleashes in the name of extreme "thrills."

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the nature and character of bloody horror films -- why does Hollywood make them, and what purpose do they serve?

  • Do violent horror films release negative emotional energy or create it?

  • Can violent, graphic images in films like this desensitize viewers?

  • Does it matter whether the goriness seems "over the top"?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 1, 2008
DVD release date:February 17, 2009
Cast:Bradley Cooper, Brooke Shields, Leslie Bibb
Director:Ryuhei Kitamura
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sequences of strong bloody gruesome violence, grisly images involving nudity, sexual content and language.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old February 21, 2009

Midnight meat train is a fun, little gory flick

Sex/Nudity: A couple is seen having an affair for about a minute. (They are clothed). A woman is about to get raped by three men and one of the guys says "You gotta pay on your knees baby". Then they are stopped when a guy points out they are being recorded on a camera. A woman is partially naked and covering the top portion of her body with her hands. A couple is seen kissing in some scenes. Violence/Scariness: Lots of over-the-top gruesome violence. A guy rides a train and he slips and falls on blood. He enters another door of the train and we hear the guy screaming. We don't see this action, but we hear crunching noises. In the next scene a guy is hit with a hammer so hard both his eyeballs pop out on-screen. You can see the gashes of blood. The subway butcher is going for the girl now. The girl slips on the man's eyeball and crawls on the bus with blood on her body. A man tries to stop him, but the subway butcher smashes his face in with his hammer (lots of blood). Then the subway butcher decapitates the girl's head with a hammer and we see her head afterward. We see a black man entering the train. Both the subway butcher and man are fighting. The subway butcher hacks him to death and we see the blood. Another man enters the train and all we hear is screaming. Afterwards we can see the man dead on the floor. The subway butcher is shown taking his eyeballs out, toenails out, and his teeth out. A creature rips a human heart out of a lady's body. We see the heart beating. A creature rips out a man's tongue and he is later seen eating his tongue and we see lots of blood in this scene. More gruesome kills should be noted. Profanity: Around 12 f words and it's derivatives. Some anatomical terms, scatological terms, some uses of the word "b****". Name-calling and mild obscenities are heard. Substance use: Characters are seen drinking at a place. One character appears to be drunk from alcohol. Consumerism: A lady is seen listening to her iPod. Message: Bad. A subway butcher that hacks, bludgeons, and decapitates people. Age recommendation: 16+. There are lots of gruesome violence and over-the-top gore in the kills. Some scenes push the R rating. Brief sexual content. A moderate amount of profanity.
Teen, 15 years old Written byADifferentFantastik December 19, 2013

a gory no-go for young children.

first off, this movie is a prime example of what happens when people who think that blood and gore and violence and nudity and language constitutes for a plot, make a movie. IT DOESN'T! this movie has minimum plot line and beyond maximum blood and gore. this movie has excessive language and parts of the movie are best described as simply 'disturbing' though, one could take it much farther than that. the story follows a photographer who witnesses a grisly murder committed on the subway. after being turned down and almost arrested by police, him and another woman, go to investigate. from here on out it is a continual non-stop blood-bath, which concludes with an ending that is anything but happy. this is not a movie for young children or the faint of heart. it promotes absolutely no positive values and presents the worst possible role models.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bycerealkiller189 January 21, 2012

Extremely cheesy,leave out younger kids though.

I watched this on Blu ray extreme edition so it was way,way,way,way,way,way,way,way,way,way gorier but I'm sure the original wasn't difference too.although Cgi sucks,this will scare the crap out of kids under 14.the first scene of violence starts with someone slipping on blood,then he hears screams in the next always,sensible people know this almost always ends up in something bad happening.true enough,the guy gets hit in the back of the head with a hammer,so hard his eyes pop out they fly at you in 3D .the guy kills the girl now.just as he tries to do so,some guy gets in his way,wow,you thought this was a good idea,huh?bashed his face into a pulp before decapitating girl,and all this is accompanied with over the top amounts of well,a guy and a butcher fight with meat hooks and knives near ending in an epic mayhem of blood and gore splattering .then a guy gets his tongue ripped out and is forced to take the place of the butcher since he killed him.the train conductor ,obviously a psychopath kills his girlfriend and leon(the guy) is forced to watch as he cuts her chest open and removes her heart.that alone should give you a taste of the gore.and there's plenty more.'nuff said.


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