Monday, October 18, 2010


I have a tendency to buy sets of horror films when they are released on home video, picking out the ones I really want to see and watching them, then consigning the rest to the purgatory of the “To Be Watched” pile, where they languish for years. This and other bad habits have created a huge, unmanageable pile in the corner of the media room. This year, with the Halloween season upon us, I decided to try to pare down the pile a little by watching some of these neglected horror films, and last night it was the 2007 Russian movie Trackman, from the Ghost House Underground series.

Two guys name Kostya and Splint plan a bank robbery in Moscow. Kostya will recruit two other guys, they will rob the bank, then meet Splint in the tunnels under the city for the getaway. Not a bad plan, but Kostya turns out to be a little too hot-headed and unstable, and kills two policemen inside the bank. The trio grab another cop and two women to use as hostages, and make their way to the tunnels for the big escape, now with a lot more heat on them.

In the tunnels, Kostya, who is quite the jerk, taunts the hostages with stories of a killer haunting the underground. According to him, survivors of Chernobyl were brought there to be treated, and they all died, except one who escaped and now lurks waiting to kill anyone who ventures into his domain. This doesn’t seem quite so funny as the group is soon lost and being stalked by a large figure with a penchant of killing people and removing their eyes (not always in that order) for souvenirs. The eyeball removal provides the majority of the movie’s gore. The group also begins to break down over internal conflicts, the way they always do.

The movie is somewhat predictable, and the characters are more or less stereotypes, differing from American movies of this type only by the language. It is competently done, and while not thrilling, isn’t terrible, either. It has the virtue of being short (80 minutes) although it does drag in some places, and you get a little tired of the tunnel milieu. If you think this sounds good, it will probably be passable.

I watched the movie in Russian with English subtitles, since I generally hate dubbing. Way back in college I studied Russian, and became moderately proficient at it, but haven’t used that knowledge in years. It was a little depressing how difficult it was for me to follow the dialogue, and how heavily I depended on the subtitles. Such is life.

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