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Film: Red Zone Cuba

"Night train to Mundo Fine
Night train to the end
Running hard and running fast
To meet my future and away from my past
Taking that gamble that cannot last
Night train to the end"
John Carradine, "Night Train To Mundo Fine"

Red Zone Cuba, also known as Night Train to Mundo Fine, is a movie about... well, it's hard to say really. It follows Griffin, an escaped convict and outlaw played by none other than Coleman Francis (who also wrote, produced and directed the film) and his two associates as they try to survive. They learn that the army is planning to invade Cuba (good job on the whole "secret" thing, huh?!) and decide to sign-up — so they can desert with the signing bonus. (Unfortunately for them, the Army doesn't pay cash up front.)

After less than 24 hours in boot camp and a laughable desertion attempt, the Army "strike force" (which consists of five guys, and gets Handwaved by being a preliminary raiding force or something) "shoves off"note  to New Mexico Cuba to pave the way for the main Bay of Pigs invasion, only to be foiled by a guy with a badly-fitted fake beard Fidel Castro, who captures our daring trio and takes them to a POW camp. While in prison, Griffin learns that one of their fellow soldiers - on the verge of death - owns a valuable uranium/diamond/ tungsten mine, and the three decide to break out and take control of the mine themselves.

Once back in the US however, the trio are distracted by a restaurant and decide to vent their frustrations by murdering the owner and raping his blind daughter, hopping on a freight train (driven by none other than John Carradine) and stealing each other's keepsakes for petty cash. When they finally get to the mine, the soldier's widow happily offers to split the deeds to the mine with them, and, out of gratitude, Griffin shoots her. The police finally noticing the 250 pound bald guy murdering his way across the country, close in. Coleman Francis is shot, and his partners surrender. One of the policemen loads the widow's body into the back of his truck and returns her to her home where, by a twist of fate, her soldier husband has just inexplicably arrived home completely well. But his wife is Not Quite Dead, and they share a reunion as the film thankfully shudders to a stop.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.

This film contains examples of:

  • Acrofatic: Griffin
  • Anti-Hero: Supposedly Griffin (maybe), though any audience sympathy has evaporated by the time he's raping the restaurant owner's blind daughter.
  • Artistic License Military: Apparently the entire process of enlisting, completing training, and being deployed on a top secret mission only takes 24 hours. Moreover, the US Army is willing to enlist hobos, some of whom have criminal records.
  • Author Appeal: Coffee, vigilantism, death, misery, light aircraft, death, misery, the "Yucca Mountain" location (probably somewhere in San Bernardino County, California), death, misery, big breasts aimed at the camera, death, misery, coffee — it must be a Coleman Francis film!
  • Banana Republic: Cuba is portrayed as this
  • Been There, Shaped History: Griffin and company get involved in The Bay of Pigs invasion.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Arguably a Happy Ending, depending on your opinion of Griffin, but he is shot down but Chastaine is revealed to be alive and well and reunited with his wife.
  • Book Dumb: Cherokee Jack
  • Bookends: Red Zone Cuba begins and ends with the phrase "ran all the way to hell."
  • California Doubling: Reasonably well for Arizona - except it's Nevada. Not nearly so well for Cuba.
  • The Cameo: John Carradine, who's listed as a "guest star."
  • The Cast Show Off: Carradine again. His voice may be crusty, but the man can carry a tune.
  • Chronic Villainy: Griffin announces his intention to "go legit" less than thirty seconds before whipping one of his friends with a belt and robbing him. He seems incapable of passing up the opportunity to commit any crime. His response to seeing a man with a blind daughter is to throw the man down a well and rape the daughter. And still he wonders why he can't go legit...
  • Dangerous Deserter: Our three "heroes", after their escape from Cuba.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Griffin, supposedly.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: "As John Carradine's picture fades away, we suddenly hear the voice of Satan himself. No, wait, I'm sorry, I got that wrong. Actually, what we hear is John Carradine singing [!!!!] this movie's theme song."
  • Economy Cast: Practically every actor whose character dies gets resurrected as another. In one case, a dead soldier comes back as a member of the firing squad who killed him!
  • The Eeyore: The restaurant owner. Being murdered by Griffin was probably the best thing that ever happened to him.
  • Fat Bastard: Griffin
  • Framing Device: The whole movie is a flashback being told by the driver of a train that the trio briefly rode on. How he knew all the details of their story (or any, considering he tells a reporter that he never saw them and it was dark anyway) is left unsaid.
  • Gainax Ending: "Griffin, he ran all the way to hell... with a penny and a broken cigarette."
  • Groin Attack. The dog, on itself, on the barb wire fance.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Griffin
  • The Hero Dies: Well, it depends on your definition of "hero"
  • Hollywood Darkness: Several "night" scenes are clearly shot in the daylight.
  • Informed Ability: It's hard to believe Griffin could be a magnate of anything, much less "The Cotton King of the South".
  • Loveable Rogue: Griffin is supposed to be this.
  • The Musical: Oh, yes.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Griffin beats someone up for reading in a newspaper a report that his wife has become a prostitute.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Obviously Cherokee Jack isn't supposed to be an actual Cherokee, but there's still no explanation as to why an airplane pilot in the Arizona desert has a Brooklyn accent.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Chastain
  • Pet the Dog:
    • At one point while driving, Griffin sees that Cook is freezing in their convertible, so puts the top up.
    • The trio also initially act nice towards Chastain's wife, but you never know - Griffin is a ticking time bomb.
  • Random Events Plot
  • Rape Your Disabled: Griffin forces himself on a blind woman.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin:
    "CHEROKEE~JACK"
    WILL FLIE YOU ANYWHERE ?
    RATES PRETTIE REASONEBLE;

    SIGNED
    - Cherokee Jack-
    • Even though it's deliberate misspelling, director Francis even manages to screw up the joke by allowing the viewer less than two seconds to read the sign.
  • Scare Chord: Following "He ran all the way to hell..." (to which Servo replies "But there's always a stop in Wausau!")
  • Sociopathic Hero: Griffin. It was probably unintended — but if it was intended, then he's one of the most disturbingly realistic portrayals of a sociopath ever put to film.
  • Stupid Evil: Griffin seems incapable of not committing a crime.
  • Theme Park Version: The way this movie presents the US Army.
  • Title Theme Tune: "Night Train to Mundo Fine", except the title of the movie was later changed.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Chastain, the dying soldier, whose fever is magically cured and somehow teleports back to the US.
  • Villain Protagonist: Griffin
  • Worst Aid: Sure, a cup of water is the perfect cure for gangrene.
    • And don't forget to throw the gunshot victim onto a blanket in the back of your pickup truck before driving over a long series of dirt tracks in the desert.