Monday, 1 July 2013
From the video vault: "Death Line" (UK), "Raw Meat" (US) Low budget horror from 1972/1973
It's under 90 minutes, but the uneven pacing makes it seem longer. The musical score is atrocious, the dialogue ranges from banal ("My shampoo, please!!!") to seemingly improvised (see Donald Pleasence in the pub) to surprisingly witty. The acting of the young couple is woeful.
Now the other side of the coin: it's wildly atmospheric, well photographed (the derelict station scenes make this low budget effort look amazing) and quite poignant in parts. The idea of descendants of the original tunnel workers surviving in a disused line (circa 1890's)of the London Underground is intriguing and original, being infected and reduced to cannibalism (tube commuters, beware) - gory, graphic and creepy. When the remaining mutant screams "Mind the doors!" you think: "Where was this line in those lists of memorable movie quotes?" This is a cult classic territory.
The decidedly odd tone of the film begins with the bowler hatted pervert doing a Soho tour of sleaze and continues with the bizarre cameo of Christopher Lee as a MI5 toff. The underground tunnel home of the cannibals features an incredibly long tracking shot with dripping (blood, seepage) the only sound. Donald Pleasence (he has top billing) has great fun in the role of the manic police inspector - ranting Cockney-esque "this is my manor", berating the office's teabags, switching to a toffy accent, throwing darts at his door and making throwaway sardonic comments. He is a joy to behold.
Lots to like. Two Bond villains in the cast (Blofeld and Scaramanga), the settings look like actual tube stations, albeit disused.
Trivia: Russell Square is on the Piccadilly Line (but the platform sign reads "District Line"). The train is correctly labelled "Cockfosters". The director was American (Gary Sherman). Definitely worth devoting 87 minutes of your life to.
NB. God dag, to all my Swedish readers, why so many page views, or is this just a pesky spammer?