Sunday, 25 February 2018

Death Line (aka Raw Meat)

Known - in the US - as Raw Meat this is a 1972 movie made by AIP and starring the brilliant Donald Pleasance as the cynical and tea obsessed Inspector Calhoun and the always watchable Norman Rossington as Detective Sergeant Rogers who are investigating the disappearance of a politician (James Cossins) from Russell Square tube station.  The pair are aided in their search by two students, Patricia (Sharon Gurney) and Alex (David Ladd), who were the last people to see him alive.  What they find are the two last surviving descendants of a colony of Victorian railway workers who had been abandoned in the tunnels after a cave in and had resorted to cannibalism.

As well as being an often pretty gory cannibalistic horror of the type that would become increasingly popular with horror directors as the decade wore on - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes - Death Line also has at it's core an exploration of UK class and social structures with various tiers of British society coming into conflict; from Christopher Lee's cameo as threatening upper class MI5 agent, Stratton-Villiers, through the new, young, bohemian, middle class students, to the working class coppers and the under class of 'The Man' and 'The Woman' literally feeding on those above them.

Please don't start thinking of this as a po-faced piece of social drama it is a bitingly visceral and often very funny movie with Pleasance and Rossington in fine form and with Hugh Armstrong giving an astonishing performance as 'The Man' that instills weight and pathos on a character that could have been horrendously one dimensional in the wrong hands.

Death Line is a neglected and very much overlooked gem with some notable admirers, Guillermo del Toro and Edgar Wright amongst them, that deserves to be recognised as, if perhaps not a classic of the genre then certainly as an important (and hugely enjoyable) contribution and as a signifier of the direction horror cinema was going to head over the next decade or so.

Buy it here - Deathline AKA Raw Meat Full Uncut Version DVD REGION 2 Donald Pleasence Christopher Lee 1972 Horror DVD Death line - or watch it below.

PS - for those of you put off by the two and a half hour run time as shown on the video, the film is actually only 87 minutes long at which point it loops back to the beginning - I suspect to confuse the YouTube bots so it doesn't get pulled.


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  1. Saw it again the other night. Pleasence is brilliant as the detective and Christopher Lee's pompous civil servant is a treat to. I actually thought is was quite gruesome for a 1972 film.

    1. hi Paul.
      I completely agree it's very gruesome for a 1972 film.