Director: Gary Sherman
Stars: Donald Pleasence, Norman Rossington, David Ladd
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
Sometimes a movie slips by you and you have no idea how that happened. That is my case with this film here. No, I haven’t seen everything ever made, but I am well-versed in horror flicks, especially those from my wheelhouse: the 70s and 80s. And yet I had never heard of this 1972 British import, not even under its Americanized title Raw Meat. So how was this move finally catching up with it after all these years? Well grab your flashlight, or as they say in England, your torch, and let’s find out.
A dirty old man is hitting the porn circuit in London, and to keep a low profile he then goes to catch a ride in the famous London Underground, or subway. He gets attacked by something and his body is discovered by an American college student and his British girlfriend, but when they come back with the police, the man’s body is gone. That’s bad, especially when it’s revealed that he is some governmental bigwig.
The police detective who gets the missing case is Donald Pleasence before he ever even heard of Michael Myers, and this copper is wonderfully different from his calm, cool Dr. Loomis charter that he would later be famous for. He uncovers a history of people going missing from that station and soon finds out that there is something living in the underground, something attacking and eating people. No real surprise there, as the culprit is shown very early in the movie: a deranged, inbred descendant of people who were caught in a tunnel collapse and just left down there, for some reason. Because the government in London couldn’t give less than a damn at the time, I guess.
What makes this film is the always fun to watch Pleasence with an accent so thick some Americans no doubt will need subtitles to understand what he is saying. There is the portrayal of the killer which is surprisingly in depth and more developed than your usual psycho villain. The underground lair is very creepy and utilized well for maximum effect, and that leads me to the final star of the show: the gore effects. They are nothing amazing by today’s standards, although they still mostly stand up, but back in 1972 they had to be quite shocking. The gorehound inside of me was very happy with their inclusion.
Oh, and there is also a mustachioed Christopher Lee in a one-scene-only cameo, despite his billing in the credits and on the cover of this Blu-ray. That was nice, Mr. Lee can class up anything he is in, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes.
On to the extras Blue Underground gave us for this new Blu-ray/DVD release. First there is an audio commentary with co-writer/director Gary Sherman , producer Paul Maslansky, and art director Lewis More O’Ferrall. There is a collection of interviews with Gary Sherman and executive producers Jay Kanter and Alan Ladd Jr. that runs 19 minutes. There is another one with actor David Ladd and producer Paul Maslansky that’s 13 minutes, and a third with actor Hugh Armstrong that’s 16 minutes long. There are trailers for both the Death Line and Raw Meat version of this movie, TV spots, radio spots, and a poster and still gallery.
Death Line is a fun hidden gem I am glad was brought to my attention. While not great, it is solidly good and enjoyable. It gets an easy recommendation from me. It will be released by Blue Underground June 27th.