Director – Gary Sherman (Dead & Buried, Poltergeist III)
Starring – Donald Pleasence (Halloween, Escape from New York), Norman Rossington (House of Long Shadows, Frankenstein: The True Story), and David Ladd (The Day of the Locust, Beyond the Universe)
Release Date – 1972
Rating – 4/5
Blu Release – 4/5
Have you noticed how horror fans spend more time bashing a shitty movie instead of praising the good ones? Its because of this we constantly hear fans mention films like Troll 2, Silent Night Deadly Night 2, Birdemic, Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Manos: The Hands of Fate, and so on. People get so hung up on bad movies that when they watch a good movie they never talk about it.
One film that is new to me but I was surprised that I had never heard anyone mention was Death Line which is more known by the original title Raw Meat. The film stars Donald Pleasence and has a brief role from Christopher Lee. This looked like a film I would truly enjoy so when Blue Underground announced that they was releasing the film in a blu/DVD combo pack I had to see it. I reached out to them and they were kind enough to hook me up with a review copy.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows an American studying abroad and his girlfriend who are leaving the subway tunnel when they come across a man collapsed on the stairs. He tries to ignore him because this is a common occurrence in his city but his girlfriend refuses to leave him. They go to get a constable and when they return he is gone.
When Scotland Yards hears about it they start investigating his disappearance along with several others from the same area. When they start investigating the tunnel they uncover a man who has lived in an abandoned tunnel and is a descendent of a group of workers who were trapped there after a collapse where they bred amongst themselves and ate the dead. Now, the only survivor of the clan has returned to the surface world looking for a meal.**Spoiler Alert**
I had no idea what this film was about. The original poster for Raw Meat along with Donald Pleasence and Christopher Lee sealed the deal for me. I knew I had to see it because that Raw Meat poster was fantastic. In fact, I liked it so much I flipped the cover art on the blu (yes, its reversible) so I could see that version over the Death Lineart.
The acting in this one is fantastic. It was great seeing Donald Pleasence in a lead role. I’m only familiar with him from his work with John Carpenter. He was brilliant as the drunk investigator who just happens to stumble across the cause of the disappearances. He was great and I can see why he was picked up for Dr. Loomis when Christopher Lee turned it down.
Speaking of Lee, I was a little disappointed with how small his role was. I am a huge fan of Lees so it was a let down when I discovered his role was so small. The supporting cast did a great job. I really enjoyed Hugh Armstrong’s performance as the man from the tunnel. His character was more than killing. He had to be emotional at times without actually using words to express it. He did a great job.
The story for this one is great. I enjoyed the writing but I would have loved to hear more backstory on the tunnel collapse and the people that lived underground. That was a great element and I enjoyed what we got but I feel there was so much more there that could have been explored. The film is like a roller coaster with some ups and downs. The downs are very down and make the story move at a snails pace but if you stick with it the payoff is well worth it.
Finally, the film does have several on screen kills that use classic practical effects and gags. The effects are fucking fantastic but the bright red blood, or as I like to call it 3M Dawn of the Dead blood, does take away from the overall gag. Overall, Raw Meat is a criminally underrated horror classic starring two legends. The story is great and the cast is superb. This is a must for any horror fan. Check it out.
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Poster and Still Gallery