Action, Adventure, Thriller
November 23, 1966 (United States)
John Carradine(Mr. Wilson),
Coleman Francis directed Red Zone Cuba and The Skydivers
Make the Mistake!
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Red Zone Cuba, also known as Night Train to Mundo Fine, is a 1966 American drama film directed by Coleman Francis, who also wrote, produced, and played the starring role. It follows the meandering adventures of an escaped convict and two ex-convicts he recruits along the way as they become involved in the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, and a quest to find a hidden treasure in a tungsten mine.
Red Zone Cuba was Coleman Francis' final film as director, and his only starring role. In the other two films he helmed, The Skydivers and The Beast of Yucca Flats, he limited his acting to cameos. Though John Carradine receives fourth billing in the credits, and was prominently featured in the advertising and promotional material for the film, he only appears briefly, during a framing sequence at the beginning of the film. Carradine also sings the film's opening theme song, "Night Train to Mundo Fine" (pronounced "Finé").
In December 1994, it was featured as an episode of the movie-mocking television series Mystery Science Theater 3000.
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In the film's opening sequence, a young reporter asks a train engineer (Carradine) about three men—Griffin, Cook and Landis—who hopped his freight train years ago. "He ran all the way to hell," the engineer remarks about Griffin. The title sequence follows, and afterwards the film proper picks up.
During the course of the film, Griffin (Francis) escapes from jail and runs into Cook (Harold Saunders) and Landis (Anthony Cardoza). The three make their way to an airstrip run by Cherokee Jack who flies the men to a military training facility, where they will be paid to take part in the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Having been deceived about the money they were to receive, the three attempt to escape, but are recaptured and forced to invade Cuba. They are soon captured again, this time by the Communist Cuban forces.
A lengthy sequence of executions is ended when the three escape again. They abandon their badly-wounded superior officer, Bailey Chastain (Tom Hanson), although he begs them to take him along. Desperately he informs them of his family's mine back home that contains pitchblende, tungsten, and other precious metals. They still refuse because they cannot carry him during their escape. They find an airstrip and steal a light aircraft to return to the US.
Back on American soil, the three engage in a variety of crimes to get to the home of Chastain's wife to help her mine the metals her husband had mentioned in Cuba. They throw café owner Cliff Weismeyer (Charles F. Harter) down a well and steal his car; they also hop a train. Eventually, the law catches up with them as they and Chastain's wife Ruby (Lanell Cado) head towards the mine. Cook and Landis surrender and Griffin dies in a shootout with the police. Chastain returns alive and is reunited with his wife. As police collect the belongings Griffin was carrying at the time of death, a voice-over (Francis) somberly intones that Griffin "ran all the way to hell...with a penny and a broken cigarette" as the film ends.
On December 17, 1994, Red Zone Cuba was featured as the subject of an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was the second of Coleman Francis's films to be featured in the show's sixth season, following The Skydivers and preceding The Beast of Yucca Flats. MST3K star Kevin Murphy cited Red Zone Cuba as his "most hated" film of all he watched during his time on the show. The film was preceded by the short Speech: Platform Posture and Appearance, an educational film about public speaking. A DVD release of the MST3K cut was released on March 26, 2002.
A character named Cherokee Jack later appeared in The Office episode "Threat Level Midnight".
ReferencesRed Zone Cuba Wikipedia
Red Zone Cuba IMDb Red Zone Cuba themoviedb.org