Raw Meat (1972) Poster

(1972)

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7/10
See it - to believe it...
prince_lazy_i5 January 2002
One every so often you come across a real, unclassifiable gem - one of those low-budget cult movies you see, late at night on TV, then spend years thereafter raving about to your puzzled, disbelieving friends. "See, there's this disused Tube tunnel, with a tribe of degenerate Victorian plague cannibals down there, and they pull people off the platform and eat them, only sometimes they try to mate with them... and Donald Pleasance gives possibly the most monumentally weird performance of his LIFE... and there's this really cheesy proto-electronic score... and... and... and..." As folks wander away from you, shaking their heads sadly, you do not mind. You smile. For you have seen Death Line.
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Pleasance is a Pleasure!
BaronBl00d9 September 2000
In 1892 eight men and four women were left for dead in a collapsed underground tunnel in London. These people lived on despite their situation through cannibalism. Finally, one man, having just seen his wife die with child, is left. Death Line is HIS story, such as stories go. And this is a sick story to boot. The man grabs people unawares in the subway tunnel and drags them back "home" for supper...only they are the meat du jour. The man has a huge wound on his head, he mumbles "mind the doors" incessantly, that is of course when he is not severing heads and drinking blood, splitting someone's head down the middle with a shovel, sticking a stake clear through someone's chest, biting the heads off of rats, and so on, and continually drools long strands of saliva as he menaces and kills. Now this is not a normal man to be sure. The budget for the film was obviously limited, but I think much was made with these limited resources. The director Sherman may have overdone the gore a bit, but his use of the old tunnels as setting is very effective. There are some wonderful and shocking/frightening scenes in this labyrinth of old, no longer used tunnels where some moments the only sound her is a continual drip. Despite the bizarre nature of the story, the plot inconsistencies, and the general lack of artistic appeal, the film does have some fine points to offer. As stated the sets contribute a very eerie and claustrophobic sense to the film. The acting is generally good all around. Donald Pleasance, however, makes the film a film worth seeing as he essays the role of a police inspector. Pleasance chews up every scene he is in and plays his role with obvious relish. He is a joy to behold. As for Christopher Lee...well he is good in his five plus minutes of work..his role is totally devoid of any importance to the storyline, however.
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5/10
Cult shocker boasts unique premise
Libretio24 January 2005
DEATH LINE

(USA: Raw Meat)

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Sound format: Mono

Trapped by falling masonry during construction of the London Underground, a group of Victorian workers survive in the bowels of the earth for more than a century, breeding amongst themselves and cannibalizing the dead. A hundred years after their ordeal began, the last remaining descendant (Hugh Armstrong) finds his way back to the surface and begins to abduct people from station platforms in a desperate bid for food and companionship...

With its unique premise and uncompromising attention to grisly detail, Gary Sherman's directorial feature debut has gained something of a cult reputation over the years, and not without good reason. Dominated by Donald Pleasence's central performance as a cynical copper who treats everyone - innocent and guilty alike - with equal contempt, the film strikes a precarious balance between eccentricity and horror, reaching its emotional highpoint during scenes depicting Armstrong's ghoulish underground 'home', strewn with rotting corpses. Art direction (by Denis Gordon-Orr) and cinematography (by veteran Alex Thomson) are uniformly excellent, generating a vivid illusion of ancient decay, and the production benefits from atmospheric location work in abandoned train stations dating back to the Victorian era.

Juvenile leads David Ladd and Sharon Gurney are a dreary pair, and they're completely overshadowed by Pleasence's crowd-pleasing theatrics, but the film survives by virtue of its distinctive plot line and extraordinary setting, and there's at least ONE good scare that will lift viewers right out of their seats! Casual observers may find the opening scenes a little heavy-going, but Ceri Jones' admirable screenplay describes a fascinating narrative arc, and horror fans will be gripped throughout. Christopher Lee exchanges fruity insults with Pleasence during a brief cameo appearance, shot in a couple of hours and intended solely for marquee value.
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10/10
Magnificently underrated oddball horror
eraser_head16 August 2002
A truly original horror film. American director Gary Sherman somehow manages to capture the sight and sounds of '70s England, including a career-best performance by Donald Pleasence (as usual, playing a goodie rather than a baddie, despite popular opinion).

Death Line somehow combines immense pathos, gruesome visceral horror, Carry On-style humour and claustrophobic terror into one package. While the perpetrators are indeed hideous, they are simply trying to survive; meanwhile, '70s London goes on about them as if they didn't exist.

Christopher Lee's cameo is pointless, clearly a marketing exercise; it's Pleasence and co-star Norman Rossington who carry the film, grounding this plausible yet outrageous tale in reality. Death Line is an oddity, to be sure, but even now, in 2002, it remains horribly horrific yet strangely homely. For all its faults, this remains a masterpiece; see it, and you'll never forget it.
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8/10
under rated
Yukster_uk14 January 2002
The premise for this film is brilliant. The underground setting is brilliantly used, with striking photography and visual story-telling. The film's last line is something like, "Did they really live like this?", seeing the squalor of the underground lair. Sequences are fantastically gruesome, in documentary style. Not only is the film well shot, it has some points to make about oppression. See this film if you get the chance, it deserves a much higher IMDb rating.
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Sarcasm
cairnsdavid29 November 2002
  • is the reason to watch this film. The flabbergasting and versatile displays of sarcasm shown by Donald Pleasence's copper Calhoun are simply breathtaking. The British policeman, as is well known, has about 52 forms of sarcasm at his disposal, to make up for his not carrying a sidearm, and Pleasence uses them ALL, shifting from one to another with lightning speed. Observe a master at work. Pleasence and Rossington apparently ad-libbed many of their best lines, resulting in free and easy and extremely funny series of scenes between the two. "And very nice too."
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7/10
Forgotten horror film
preppy-322 February 2002
A cannibal (Hugh Armstrong) is roaming the London subway system in 1973. Police inspector Donald Pleasence (having a LOT of fun with his role) wants to catch him--a young Britsh couple (Sharon Gunrey, David Ladd) try to help until she gets kidnapped by the cannibal...

Very low budget, rarely shown horror film. The low budget hurts, but the script is good, the idea original and there are some truly creepy scenes (such as the looooonngg tracking shot from the cannibals' lair). The movie is also quite gruesome at times--there's very little violence, but there are long shots of decaying or half-eaten bodies (and body parts). Look for the sequence where a supposedly dead body can be seen blinking his eyes quite a bit! Also there's a very disturbing near rape scene.

The most amazing thing about the film is that the cannibal comes across as a sympathetic character! He only kills for survival--not for evil purposes.

As for the acting--Pleasance is just great here--he attacks the role full force and is having a grand old time doing it--he really brings the film to life. Gurney is very good as the English girl but Ladd is truly horrible as her boyfriend. And those 70s hair and clothes! Armstrong is (as I said) very sympathetic and also vicious as the cannibal. Also Christopher Lee has an amusing short sequence in this.

So, it's gruesome but worth catching, but it's shown very rarely on cable so good luck!
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10/10
Mind the bores!
christopher-underwood29 September 2018
I've always liked this. From my first viewings, cut on TV and with less than decent picture on video, to improved DVD image and now completely uncut bright, shining (almost indecently so!) Blu-ray. Some complain it is not fast enough for them but we have a great script and location shooting in an old London underground station to compensate and the big reveal is well worth the very modest wait. Plus, all the time there is Donald Pleasance having the time of his life, taking the pi** out of everybody, from the powers that be, his own superiors and the public he has the misfortune to have to work over, I mean work for. True the horror are a bit awful and the nastiness is more than those expecting a jump in the dark are probably up for but it maintains that dread factor whilst being funny and all the time showing us those super tube tunnels and trains and advertising hoardings. Mind the bores and let's up this pathetic IMDb score!
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6/10
Terror story set in London Tube that involves a series of bizarre events and grisly killings
ma-cortes30 April 2018
Raw Meat also titled Subhumans is a classic horror movie about terrible happenings occur at London underground. As a top civil servant disappears in the Tube tunnels , then Scotland Yard goes into action . As Police Inspector Donald Pleasence and his helper investigate the bizarre deeds. A young couple, witnesses of the weird events , David Ladd and Sharon Gudney, give some clues about the twisted case. But other murders and kidnapping take place and things go wrong.

This yarn is one of the highest earning horror movies of the seventies .Original terror movie, nowsadays considered to be a cult movie . There is primitive gore , suspense , thrills , chills and creepy scenes.The subhumans appearances are the highest points of the movie , the ghastly characters deliver the goods full of screams , shocks and tension. Interpretations are pretty well , particularly by Donald Pleasence as a sarcastically cynical Inspector, he is supported by a botcher sub-inspector and righ-hand well played Norman Rossington. Along with David Ladd, Alan Ladd's son who as a little boy performed some films with his daddy. David Ladd has made a decent career as a film producer. And , of course, a brief intervention by the great Christopher Lee in a suspect role as a meddlesome MI5 agent .The movie has an acceptable production design plenty of decrepit lairs, dark tunnels , eerie skeletons and excellent make-up with crusted , bruised faces . Adequate and evocative cinematograpjy filled with shades and lights by Alex Thomson. Thrilling and terrifyng musical score by Malone and Jeremy Rose.

The motion picture was well directed by Gary Sherman and it was reedited for American audiencies and released under the title Raw Meat. Gary Sherman is an expert on action genre as he proved in Wanted : dead or alive with Rutger Hauer , Vice Squad with Wing Hauser and being specialist on Terror films as Death Line , Poltergeist III , and "Dead and buried" that is deemed to be his best one . Rating 6.5/10 . Good ,acceptable and decent terror movie
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Repulsive and deeply moving
simon-11829 March 2001
One of the most affecting films I have ever seen, Death Line is one of the most intelligent and bold horror films ever made. The opening scenes of a wealthy and dour civil servant stalking clip joints in Soho sets the tone for a grim and seedy, but very accurate portrayal of life in 70s London. No-one talks to each other, on or off the underground, everyone is miserable, even the young student lovers have a fairly rocky relationship, the man being totally lacking in compassion. The use of the genuine ghost stations of the London Underground is an excellent idea, and even if the storyline is ludicrous, it is handled with far more depth trhan your average slasher movie. The killer is a tragic figure, and the scene where his beloved finally dies is shocking and heartbreaking. The special effects are nothing short of repulsive, with particular attention being paid to the sound. It revels in gore and depravity, unflinching but not exploitative. It runs like a modern day legend, working on so many levels. The only thing which spoils the film is Donald Pleaseace hamming it up shamelessly in a badly characterised role which tries to offer comic relief but is simply irritating and unpleaseant. Look out for a remarkable tracking shot in the creature's lair early on, and a lovely touch with the students enquiring about a book on Poltergeists, more a mood device than anything to do with the plot. Seeing this is a cinema would certainly put you off your popcorn!
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Excellent horror movie, nothing like it ever.
boady2 January 2002
This movie may suffer from a small budget, but it is still one of the great horror movies for londoners. You could never travel on the tube again without thinking of this film. The sympathetic portrayal of the hideous central characters, takes this film out of the normal, horror experience.
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9/10
70's British Horror Gem
markwebby14 December 2001
I think that 'Death line' is one of the unsung classics of british horror films in the 70's.(I cant believe that it only rates 4.9 out of 10 here). Pleasence is on top from; he's like Oldman - complete screen prescence, always watchable. Even if he is O.T.T! The subterranian scenes in the Tube tunnels are great, including for me, one of the best tracking shots in any movie; the strung up victims and the dead in bunk-beds. It has dark humour and a lovely use of London. It is a 'London Film'. The opening credit sequence in Soho an example.
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8/10
Mind the doors!
Hey_Sweden14 March 2015
This movie's story: in the bowels of the Earth below the streets of London, there exists an area that had been buried in the late 19th century by a cave-in. One might not think it possible, but the people who were sealed off managed to survive. Now, 80 years later, their last living descendant (Hugh Armstrong) is about to make his existence known to the outside world. People start disappearing, but the ball only really gets rolling when a prominent public servant (top character actor James Cossins) vanishes. The chief police inspector on the case, Calhoun (Donald Pleasence), realizes that he has his hands full, but vows to stick it out, despite the matter now being more in the domain of MI5.

This marked the debut fictional theatrical feature for the young American director Gary Sherman, who also came up with the story; he went on to direct such nifty 1980s pictures as "Dead & Buried" and "Vice Squad". He and his crew make excellent use of some *extremely* atmospheric locations. They're dark, they're filthy, and they're dripping with water. "Death Line" (a.k.a. "Raw Meat") can take credit for bringing horror to the London tubes almost a decade before "An American Werewolf in London". The makeup effects and gore are very well done, and this is additionally blessed with a highly offbeat music score composed by Wil Malone and Jeremy Rose. The camera-work is utterly fantastic - wait for the approximately 10 minute sequence from about 23 minutes in to 33 minutes in for a memorable tracking shot showcasing the monsters' lair.

It's well worth noting that our hideous killer is far from being malicious. He's really more pitiable than anything else, especially as he goes into mourning at one point, and tries to make a connection with lovely young Patricia Wilson (Sharon Gurney), uttering the only English words that he's ever managed to learn. You really feel his despair and sadness when it comes to his companion, the Woman (June Turner).

Donald Pleasence is an absolute delight in our lead role, playing the material with a heavy dose of humour. His Inspector Calhoun is hilariously surly, and witty. David Ladd (one of Alan Ladds' sons) does okay as American student Alex Campbell, but the character is pretty insensitive and hostile for a while, only earning our sympathy towards the end. Gurney is highly appealing as his girlfriend. Top notch supporting players include Norman Rossington, Clive Swift, Heather Stoney, Hugh Dickson, and Ron Pember. Sir Christopher Lee is great fun to watch, albeit kind of wasted in a cameo role as MI5 agent Stratton-Villiers.

Horror fans need to add this one to their watch list, if they haven't seen it already. It's too good to pass up.

Eight out of 10.
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8/10
Urban Myths and Legends
rpvanderlinden23 April 2011
"Death Line" is a horror movie that hits all kinds of unexpected notes on the horror scale. The film strikes deep into urban myth territory with its tale of something alive deep in an abandoned section of the London underground, snatching hapless victims from a nearby subway station. It preys on our deepest fears regarding our vulnerability in such places. In one extraordinary tracking shot the film takes us alone into the lair of the beast. There we find a scene of incredible rot and decay, including the man/beast himself, himself decaying, mourning the death of his only companion, a pregnant woman. He emits a primal scream that raised the hairs on the back of my neck. This is classic horror, reminiscent of films as diverse as "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and Cronenberg's version of "The Fly", as well as tales of Appalachian inbreds. The monster that invokes both pity and dread. And yes, there's a beauty involved. There is such pathos here that it actually augments the horror of the story. The lair itself is simply indescribable. I'm used to superior art direction in British horror films, but this is a rare achievement. The other elements of the story, the police procedural plot, for example, are relatively mundane, though efficient, and Christopher Lee makes a cameo appearance that stops the show. There's a genuine scare, done without shock SFX, but by using timing, silence and suspense. Films like "Death Line", and Cronenberg's early low-budget horror films are unique and ought to be cherished. You'd be hard-pressed to do it the same way, today. You'd want CGI creatures, faster editing and more violence. The director of this film achieves a lot with little, and all that's required of the viewer is to sit back and allow oneself to be drawn in. This movie is a real find.
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9/10
"A bit of a stir"
Ali_John_Catterall25 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The British horror scene looked pretty moribund when Gary Sherman's Death Line pulled into UK cinemas in 1972. Placed alongside the new wave of US horrors, the hip and socially relevant likes of Rosemary's Baby, Night Of The Living Dead, or Last House On The Left, Hammer's Dracula and Frankenstein's monster seemed about as bloodcurdling as Hinge and Brackett.

Unlike their US counterparts, Brit-horrors also endured disastrous relations with everybody from distributors downward. As with Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man, Sherman's debut feature was left to rot by its own distributor Rank, after almost uniformly negative reviews. It's been argued that had it been produced in the States, subject to the same hell-for-leather marketing campaign enjoyed by Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it would doubtless now occupy some benighted place in the horror pantheon. Well, possibly.

Chicago-born Sherman had in fact found it difficult to get backing for the project in the States, and hauled production over to London. Drawing inspiration from the legend of the inter-breeding Sawney Bean clan, the 18th-century Scottish brigands who robbed and ate passing travellers, Death Line sees Inspector Calhoun (Pleasence) and Sergeant Rogers (Rossington) investigating disappearances in Russell Square tube station. Prominent among these is one James Manfred OBE, whose unconscious body - which later disappears - is discovered lying on the station's steps by a student couple, American Alex, an economics student, and his British girlfriend Patricia.

Courtesy of an extraordinary seven-minute tracking shot, we shortly discover Manfred's fate: deep within the bowels of the station, a bearded 'thing' riddled with open sores and trailing ropes of drool, is feasting on passengers - a food supply for him and his heavily pregnant 'wife'. This wordless, unbroken shot of his lair, filled with half-glimpsed skulls, crawling maggots, scuttling rats and meat-hooked cadavers is mostly the reason the critics got their knickers in such a twist; it's a truly nightmarish vision, intensely claustrophobic - but offset by the Man and his lover's pitiful circumstance.

Though slow to act in the face of previous vanishings (including a Jewish dentist, and a Polish grocer from Kilburn), Calhoun is rather more receptive to the issue of missing English diplomats. He soon uncovers a possible explanation behind the phenomenon. It transpires that in 1892, 12 Victorian underground workers (eight men and four women) were left for dead after the section of tunnel they were working on collapsed. As London Transport CID man Bacon tells the bemused inspector, "The company went bankrupt. There was a bit of a stir at the time because no effort was made to rescue the trapped workers." Interbreeding for several generations, the survivors staved off their hunger through a unique protein diet. Following the pathetic death of his wife, the Man - whose dialogue consists of whines, grunts, and his learned cry of "Mind the doors!" has become the last remnant of this betrayed and forgotten humanity.

Stratton-Villiers from MI5, played by a bowler-hatted Christopher Lee wants a cover-up. The reason Manfred had been travelling by tube was because he'd been caught short after visiting the vice-pits of Soho; while no government wants to admit culpability for deliberately abandoning its workers, however long ago. Cocky Alex, therefore, becomes a potential scapegoat for Calhoun, even after Pat is abducted by the murderous Man, looking for another dietary supplement - or a new mate to breed with.

As with a select handful of Brit horrors from the era - From Beyond The Grave; The Abominable Dr Phibes; Psychomania; The Wicker Man; and the wonderful Theatre Of Blood, Death Line these days enjoys something of a modest but rabid cult following, especially in America. Its influence on John Landis' An American Werewolf In London and (especially) London Underground shocker Creep is clear.

Shot exclusively on location in the UK, including Aldwych Tube Station, it's one of the few UK horrors of the period focusing squarely on the national heritage and identity, and its sophisticated, political themes - the (literal) collapse of Empire, class segregation and exploitation, and high level corruption - were particularly relevant in the early 1970s, an era mired in financial and vice-based scandals.

It's also one of the few horror films in which our sympathies lie with the 'Monster'; the Man can't help his animal instincts, but 'humanity' comes off the worst. Civilisation is seen throughout to be lacking in comparison - a mildewed nation of racist, sexist, hypocritical bureaucrats, bent coppers and jobsworths, and in Alex's case, totally lacking in compassion. On first discovering Manfred's prone body Alex advises Pat to simply step over it, as he does back home on the New York subway. His chilly demeanour will drive Pat to temporarily split up with him, a negative of the scenes played out 'down below', in which the Man displays a genuine, heartbreaking grief following his wife's death.

The dialogue is a joy, and stems mostly from Pleasence's interplay with everyone within a 10-yard scowling distance; the kind of senior working-class copper who instinctively mistrusts anyone he thinks is putting on airs and graces, like educated Alex or his more refined underling Rossington. Courtesy of his antics, we're propelled right back into the unreconstructed 1970s of 'The Sweeney' and 'Love Thy Neighbour' - with cultural conventions Sherman both acknowledges and deliciously sends up.

And Pleasence is by far the most enjoyable thing in this; a snuffling misanthrope, constantly bawling for "more tea!" from his underemployed secretary, and contemptuously flicking tea bags into the bin. If he's not advising Alex to "hurry back to school - there might be a protest march for you to join", he's shirking his duty and getting drunk down the pub with Rossington. "Are you aware that our gracious Majesty is overseas in the far-flung Empire flogging her pretty little guts out so you can live in a democracy?" he drunkenly berates a publican trying to turf him out at closing time. It's totally hilarious.
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7/10
Mind the Meat
Vomitron_G8 June 2008
I saw this film (very likely the cut version which BBC aired) in my very early teens, and all I remember was that it was foul, dark, gritty and... rather slow. But it did leave an impression that stayed with me all these years. Couldn't even pinpoint it, really...

...up until now. After my re-watch, I can say that it's still those four things, but it's also a well-accomplished, genuine '70's shocker. And if you don't mind me saying so, Donald Pleasance does steal the show as the straight-forward, "be annoyed then if you don't like me - I don't care", obnoxiously funny, tea-devouring police inspector Calhoun. I had quite some chuckles with the way he delivered his lines. It's all rather subtle, mind you, as this movie is anything but a comedy.

If this film would have been made these days, it undoubtedly would be up there with the works of Christopher Smith, Michael J. Bassett and Neil Marshall. At least, that's how I feel about it.

For those days - and even up until this day, in my humble opinion - DEATH LINE is pretty damn good & solid. Straightforward story. Vintage shock-feel to it. Capable cast. A good ending that proves sometimes a movie doesn't even have to have a drum-rollin' climax to end it on the right note. And the most surprising thing was that the screenplay has a few moments where it takes the time to learn us a bit about the psychology and emotions of our cannibalistic brute. It tricks you into feeling sorry for him, but witnessing his brutal acts conflict severely with this emotion. A nice touch, that didn't even take up that much of the movie's running time. And the screenplay doesn't even forget that it did that (making you feel something for the villain), as near the end Sharon Gurney's character says one little thing that reminds you of all this. She understood it too.

Speaking of Ms. Gurney: For some reason I really liked her on the screen. What happened to her? As an actress, you cannot fail to notice that she's got what it takes. And then she stopped acting in 1974? Anybody have any info on that, perhaps?

I'm trying hard to look for things that I didn't like, possible big flaws or something, but I just can't find any... I agree that DEATH LINE isn't the world's greatest horror film ever made, but it sure must have hit the mark back in '72. One jump-scare still even worked on me! And the gory make-up effects were pretty darn excellent for that time. But there's only just enough of them in this movie, so don't expect a splatter-fest or anything. Christopher Lee has a fun cameo in it and Donald Pleasance just seems to love pulling his leg in that scene.

Thankfully, DEATH LINE has been restored and fully uncut released on DVD (as RAW MEAT in the US). It deserves a wider recognition, and I'm happy to see it's finally getting it.
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7/10
Flawed but manages to remain enjoyable
husks2 February 2008
On the poor side, Death Line suffers from a fairly plodding script and wooden acting, which belie its small budget origins. It's also low on scares, but 30 years can make most things look tamer than they first were. The plot itself is membrane thin, all exposition is spoon fed very early on.

While digging a tunnel in 1892, eight men and four women were buried alive under collapsed tunnel roofing. Bankruptcy forced the digging company to abandon the supposedly dead bodies, although some postulated that with pockets of air and enough water, survivors might be alright, as long as they ate each other when the food ran out - the film is also known as Raw Meat in the US.

It is, however, in this difference that Death Line finds its most idiosyncratic strength. Ceri Jones's script works hard to create tangible pity and sympathy for its flesh-eating monster. Known as The Man, Hugh Armstrong invests the character with a wailing anguish at being the only survivor left, grieving his partner's recent death and the blatant tragedy of his abandonment. The horror comes, not from The Man's freakish otherness, but the fact that he is recognizable, identifiable. That and the cannibalism and the long tracking shots of collective rotting corpses and body parts.

Sherman also experiments with minimal and atmospheric sound effects, isolating footstep echoes, dripping leaks and pounding heartbeats to cheap but mostly gritty use. Combined with Armstrong's embittered pre-lingual utterances, the film carries an undeniable visceral punch. It is not pure carnality that leads The Man to venture out to Holborn and Russell Street stations, but the voiceless rage at the confines of his predicament (which we know he had no choice over) and a deeper need to find another partner to be with and care for.

Such prowling brings Sharon (of Jason King) Gurney's Patricia to his arms. She is a sensitive young student, girlfriend to David Ladd's trying-to-be hunky American. With their humble topside abode just as cramped, cluttered and personalized as The Man's inherited lair, the film is able to rustle up some interesting comparisons to modern living.

Finally, holding everything together above ground is the indomitable Donald Pleasance. With spades more gruff than Morse, his Inspector Calhoun is ever more intent on solving wots 'bin going on in iz manar! Pleasance is clearly revelling in the role and pushes his caustic and antagonistic copper as far as he can, his blase attitude to the crimes evolving as the film goes on and he gets more cups of tea. He brings narrative vim and a fair injection of humorous hubris to the proceedings, while Christopher Lee's cameo, as an intimidating MI5 agent, is entirely superfluous. He must have been doing the director a favor.

With "cult" written all over it, this could be a treat for discerning genre fans and is, in many ways, better than the CGI-elasto-plastered pulp that gets churned out every year.
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8/10
"The Doors Are Closing! Please, MIND THE DOORS!!!"
cchase4 December 2008
And we're not talking dearly departed Jim Morrison and his pals either, folks! If there's one classic, brilliantly made slice-and-dicer that cries out for a decent top-of-the-line remake, this sick puppy is it!

To understand the grim significance of the subject line of this review, you will just have to rent this one and find out what it means. I can tell you that the journey to get that answer is more than worth it.

RAW MEAT is the early work of genre pro Gary A. Sherman, who gave us the ultra-nasty DEAD AND BURIED just a few years later. So if you liked that one but haven't seen this, put it on your list.

By now, the once-wholly original plot line behind MEAT has been referenced in Gawd-knows how many flicks, from MIMIC to CREEP (which I haven't yet seen) to Clive Barker's short- and-sweet nightmare inducer THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN, (which FINALLY made it to the big screen this year.)

Things start off as they do in most good horror movies of the period: simply and a little sleazily. A prominent British government official is trolling around the bad old streets of Seventies Swingin' London, looking for a little down-'n'-dirty action, (don't these self- important types always?) and he gets it...just not in the way he expected. When a young couple (Sharon Gurney and David Ladd) spy him, groggy and near unconsciousness at a station in the London "tube," (subway to us Yanks,) they figure he's just had a pint too many, and off they go to fetch the nearest bobby to get him some help. But wouldn't you know it...when they get back, the old geezer's buggered off. Or so they think...

Seems that somewhere around this particular part of the station, some miners and their families were trapped in a cave-in at the turn of the century....I will let your brains chew on that one for a little horror snack food. Whatever it is you think you can imagine isn't a third as horrifying as what's really going on here, but finding out is part of this movies skeevy and surprising charms.

A pre-HALLOWEEN Donald Pleasance is great as a very cynical, smart-assed constable with Scotland Yard, and though any scene that has Pleasance and Christopher Lee sharing the same space is usually a true horror fan's wet dream, Lee's appearance here is pretty much a throwaway, mostly for the marquee value. (Fookin' shame, that.)

But for such a low budget, Sherman and co-writer Ceri Jones came up with an ingenious plot that allows him to make great use of some of the creepiest settings used in any of the horror films of that time period, and the way the main characters are presented is both unbelievably grotesque and at times even heartbreaking...(I wish I could say why, but I can't, DAMN IT!!!)

All I can say is that MEAT can't be recommended highly enough to anybody out there who hasn't yet seen it. This is best watched in a darkened room on a Sunday night...knowing you will have to ride the underground commuter trains the next morning. I promise you--you will never look at a train platform quite the same way again.
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9/10
"A bit of a stir"
Ali_John_Catterall26 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The British horror scene looked pretty moribund when Gary Sherman's Death Line pulled into UK cinemas in 1972. Placed alongside the new wave of US horrors, the hip and socially relevant likes of Rosemary's Baby, Night Of The Living Dead, or Last House On The Left, Hammer's Dracula and Frankenstein's monster seemed about as bloodcurdling as Hinge and Brackett.

Unlike their US counterparts, Brit-horrors also endured disastrous relations with everybody from distributors downward. As with Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man, Sherman's debut feature was left to rot by its own distributor Rank, after almost uniformly negative reviews. It's been argued that had it been produced in the States, subject to the same hell-for-leather marketing campaign enjoyed by Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it would doubtless now occupy some benighted place in the horror pantheon. Well, possibly.

Chicago-born Sherman had in fact found it difficult to get backing for the project in the States, and hauled production over to London. Drawing inspiration from the legend of the inter-breeding Sawney Bean clan, the 18th-century Scottish brigands who robbed and ate passing travellers, Death Line sees Inspector Calhoun (Pleasence) and Sergeant Rogers (Rossington) investigating disappearances in Russell Square tube station. Prominent among these is one James Manfred OBE, whose unconscious body - which later disappears - is discovered lying on the station's steps by a student couple, American Alex, an economics student, and his British girlfriend Patricia.

Courtesy of an extraordinary seven-minute tracking shot, we shortly discover Manfred's fate: deep within the bowels of the station, a bearded 'thing' riddled with open sores and trailing ropes of drool, is feasting on passengers - a food supply for him and his heavily pregnant 'wife'. This wordless, unbroken shot of his lair, filled with half-glimpsed skulls, crawling maggots, scuttling rats and meat-hooked cadavers is mostly the reason the critics got their knickers in such a twist; it's a truly nightmarish vision, intensely claustrophobic - but offset by the Man and his lover's pitiful circumstance.

Though slow to act in the face of previous vanishings (including a Jewish dentist, and a Polish grocer from Kilburn), Calhoun is rather more receptive to the issue of missing English diplomats. He soon uncovers a possible explanation behind the phenomenon. It transpires that in 1892, 12 Victorian underground workers (eight men and four women) were left for dead after the section of tunnel they were working on collapsed. As London Transport CID man Bacon tells the bemused inspector, "The company went bankrupt. There was a bit of a stir at the time because no effort was made to rescue the trapped workers."

Interbreeding for several generations, the survivors staved off their hunger through a unique protein diet. Following the pathetic death of his wife, the Man - whose dialogue consists of whines, grunts, and his learned cry of "Mind the doors!" has become the last remnant of this betrayed and forgotten humanity.

Stratton-Villiers from MI5, played by a bowler-hatted Christopher Lee wants a cover-up. The reason Manfred had been travelling by tube was because he'd been caught short after visiting the vice-pits of Soho; while no government wants to admit culpability for deliberately abandoning its workers, however long ago. Cocky Alex, therefore, becomes a potential scapegoat for Calhoun, even after Pat is abducted by the murderous Man, looking for another dietary supplement - or a new mate to breed with.

As with a select handful of Brit horrors from the era - From Beyond The Grave; The Abominable Dr Phibes; Psychomania; The Wicker Man; and the wonderful Theatre Of Blood, Death Line these days enjoys something of a modest but rabid cult following, especially in America. Its influence on John Landis' An American Werewolf In London and (especially) London Underground shocker Creep is clear.

Shot exclusively on location in the UK, including Aldwych Tube Station, it's one of the few UK horrors of the period focusing squarely on the national heritage and identity, and its sophisticated, political themes - the (literal) collapse of Empire, class segregation and exploitation, and high level corruption - were particularly relevant in the early 1970s, an era mired in financial and vice-based scandals.

It's also one of the few horror films in which our sympathies lie with the 'Monster'; the Man can't help his animal instincts, but 'humanity' comes off the worst. Civilisation is seen throughout to be lacking in comparison - a mildewed nation of racist, sexist, hypocritical bureaucrats, bent coppers and jobsworths, and in Alex's case, totally lacking in compassion. On first discovering Manfred's prone body Alex advises Pat to simply step over it, as he does back home on the New York subway. His chilly demeanour will drive Pat to temporarily split up with him, a negative of the scenes played out 'down below', in which the Man displays a genuine, heartbreaking grief following his wife's death.

The dialogue is a joy, and stems mostly from Pleasence's interplay with everyone within a 10-yard scowling distance; the kind of senior working-class copper who instinctively mistrusts anyone he thinks is putting on airs and graces, like educated Alex or his more refined underling Rossington. Courtesy of his antics, we're propelled right back into the unreconstructed 1970s of 'The Sweeney' and 'Love Thy Neighbour' - with cultural conventions Sherman both acknowledges and deliciously sends up.

And Pleasence is by far the most enjoyable thing in this; a snuffling misanthrope, constantly bawling for "more tea!" from his underemployed secretary, and contemptuously flicking tea bags into the bin. If he's not advising Alex to "hurry back to school - there might be a protest march for you to join", he's shirking his duty and getting drunk down the pub with Rossington. "Are you aware that our gracious Majesty is overseas in the far-flung Empire flogging her pretty little guts out so you can live in a democracy?" he drunkenly berates a publican trying to turf him out at closing time. It's totally hilarious.
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9/10
Brave
hellholehorror7 October 2018
For an older film this looked amazing. Some of the really long operatic shots were really spectacular. The effects were mostly convincing except some hits that looked very faked. The sound is easily the weakest part of the movie. In reality it is a mono mix. There is no dynamic range and sound effects don't match the picture. Music was ok. This is the father of Creep (2004). Donald Pleasance is amazing in this. His character is fascinating. This is like looking back in time to the seventies in a good way. They were really brave with long shots of nothing really happening but it built tension and explored the environment. Sadly not enough shocks. The way it is shot is beautiful. The London underground is a fantastic setting for a brilliant scary movie.
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5/10
Slow, watchable, but over-rated by many reviewers
jeremy-benjamin9 September 2008
This horror film is typical of those produced in large numbers in early 1970's Britain. It has a tiny cast and budget, and stretches its limited resources far too thinly. It is very slowly paced, and could easily be compressed into 30 minutes. There is almost no plot development, and what there is is 100% telegraphed right from the start. It ticks such boxes as having a couple of star actors (Donald Pleasance would never turn a film down, however bad!), an irrelevantly American character to help get the film distributed Stateside, and a simple tagline and title designed to get the punters in. The plot is essentially the legend of Sawney Bean transplanted to the London Underground in 1973! This makes no sense at all! For all that it passes the time, and is perfectly watchable if your expectations are not too high.
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7/10
Raw Meat
Scarecrow-881 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Devious little nasty nugget about a cannibal in the abandoned "rabbit warren" Underground tunnels who has started to surface into the public subways for walking human meat, those unfortunate souls who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. When a certain wealthy aristocrat, with a penchant for kink and sleaze, comes up missing, a couple who were the last to see him alive, Alex(David Ladd)and Patricia Wilson(Sharon Gurney)go to Inspector Calhoun(Donald Pleasence in a terrific role cracking wise with witty, very funny, acid-tongued crudely delivered dialogue, often aimed at his always-smiling detective Rogers, played by Norman Rossington as if he's just able to keep from bursting into laughter while often firing right back at his boss)hoping someone can help him. Patricia is a kind soul who found the man laid over the steps of the station in incredible fright. When she and Alex find a copper to assist the man, believing his either drunk or sick, they are shocked to find his body gone.

We find deep in the inner-workings of a darkly lit tunnels, the cannibal(Hugh Armstrong)with his lady-love(June Turner)on her deathbed as he weeps mournfully over her. In a long camera-shot, we see his lair as body parts lay throughout with partially eaten corpses hanging on the wall. When she dies, the cannibal, with nasty infected wounds showing signs of the septicemic plague he's contracted from rats, seeks out a mate and kidnaps Patricia! With Alex in a frenzied state of panic, he informs Calhoun and takes off into the dark tunnels seeking his lover no matter what harm might befall him. Meanwhile, Calhoun and Richardson themselves will pursue their suspect in a desperate search for the missing aristocrat's body hoping to stop the killing.

Delicious(pun intended)macabre tale with a demented sense of humor and creepy photography inside the killer's lair. Often also quite disgusting when showing the killer's unfinished lunch, not to mention, all the sores throughout his diseased body. The script gives Pleasence lots of sharply written barbs to fire at people with a nice touch regarding his tea, delivered to him also accompanying the bag still in it. The cannibal can only say one sentence, he repeats add nauseum, proclaiming to Patricia as he chases her in the tunnels when she's able to flee his grasp, "Mind the doors." Christopher Lee has a minor, but effective, cameo as a MI 5 agent who has told Calhoun to stay away from the case of the aristocrat(who seems to have been committing naughty deeds against his government)or else.
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8/10
Underground and Under-rated
mondo_kane12 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
DEATH LINE (or RAW MEAT as its known in the US) is one of those movies that you accidentally stumble over on late night TV while attempting to sober up and find a snack. The immediate feelings of kinship this brings with the movie's 'monster' as you stumble about in the darkened kitchen, mumbling about pizza and noisily slurping the dregs out of beer cans is uncanny. I've seen it a dozen or more times now at uncivilised hours and it never lost its charm. Our gruesome tale surrounds the last surviving members of a turn-of-the-19th century construction crew from the beginnings of the London Underground. Sealed in the underground bunk rooms and crawlspaces and surviving through cannibalism and interbreeding, now only two remain, soon to become one as the heavily-pregnant female of the couple expires, leaving her heartbroken mate (a cross between Fagin from OLIVER and Bub from DAY OF THE DEAD) to shamble out into 1970's London to find new friends and eating opportunities. He batters a few folk senseless to drag back to his pantry, those that put up too much of a struggle the tends to just off on the spot, impaling people on broken brooms, splitting skulls with shovels and displaying some superhuman strength. DEATH LINE doesn't slouch on the gore, though you're usually too liquored up to mind. Throats are slashed, rats are nibbled, and we see several corpses in their rather realistic gory glory. Alas, a couple of meddling students and an unreconstructed 1970's London copper (played to a wonderful sarcastic turn by the great Donald Pleasence) rumble his nightly feedings. Our lonely cannibal isn't going to quit without a fight, and turns things personal when he kidnaps the female student (who isn't that keen on his concept of a candlelit dinner for two in his verminous lair), leading the boyfriend and the cops to hunt the monster down before it's too late. DEATH LINE's strengths are in its subtleties. "The Man", our monster, is very sympathetic. He is riddled with disease, bereft and alone, and utterly uncivilised (much like the average drunken late-night movie viewer). He makes you pity him with his wails and moans, with his attempts to feed his dead mate, even when he mercilessly butchers folk and nearly forces himself on the heroine - he's nothing more than an animal in human clothing doing what any animal does to survive. The real bad guys here are the cops (who are obsessed with tea-drinking instead of solving missing persons cases) and the "hero", who is a singularly self-absorbed, pseudo-intellectual cold fish of a boyfriend, who's final act of savagery is even condemned by his rescued girlfriend. Indeed it seems he needed his girlfriend kidnapping by a cannibal to give that much of a damn about her. The jerk should have ended up on the menu if you ask me. It's a simple film overall, with several flaws that stop it being recognised as truly great horror, but if you want things uncomplicated enough to wash over with you like the lager and cold Chinese take-away, you can do a lot worse that watching DEATH LINE. Who knows, you might see it sober and find the hidden gem that it is too...
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8/10
Old-style Brit horror with a black streak of humour.
Howlin Wolf19 June 2005
... I've got to say, the films it reminded me the most of were made later; "The Wicker Man" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". For me the creepiest horror is that which comes from man himself, and exists below our normal line of sight; and "Death Line ticks both those boxes superbly for such a relatively unknown film. The cavernous underground system is exploited brilliantly for its unsettling potential, and even at a short 84 minutes there's still time for the camera to linger about the darkest nooks and crannies in a couple of creepily extended sequences.

The film shows well how society's attitude steadily becomes more callous with each passing year; with the British, according to the American, being behind the U.S. but competing gamely all the time. Donald Pleasence is the audiences intermediary for this, in perhaps the film's nicest surprise. I had no idea he could act so well, given that I've only really seen him in the Halloween films; and here he brings a welcome 'acerbic' nature to all the degradation he's forced to see in his job. If more of his lesser known films are as good as this, then it would seem I'm in for a treat! I love it when a film unexpectedly delivers more than I'd anticipated. This was definitely one of those times. Seek it out!!
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3/10
More unpleasant than terrifying
Joe-144-227 October 1999
This film will never be broadcast earlier than 2am, even on the really obscure cable channels - it's just that sort of movie. A slow start and plodding middle section are redeemed only by Pleasence, who does his best to enjoy himself as a hard-boiled detective inspector. The only interesting element of this otherwise unremarkable thriller is the 'humanisation' of the monster, a third-generation caveman living in squalor below Russell Square station. It's clear that he still has human emotions, though he can't articulate them. His degradation to a semi-savage is creepy, rather than scary, and the ending inspires none of the cathartic feelings of relief and triumph that horror films usually leave us with.
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