When I started reviewing horror films, years ago, I never imagined the myriad of obscure films that would be getting the Blu-ray (and sometimes 4K) re-mastered treatment. Films that were originally extremely hard to hunt down are now being delivered in stunning fashion. One of the latest that has followed this trend is Gary Sherman’s 1972 film, Death Line.
When a couple stumbles upon an unconscious man in the London subway system, they inform the nearest constable. Upon returning to where the man was last seen, they learn that he has vanished. Due to the man’s high social stature, this sparks an investigation — one that begins as a missing person case, but ends up as something much more sinister.
Death Line, also known as Raw Meat, is another that I can add to my list of “unheard-of films.” Before this home release, I had no idea this movie existed. Such is the case with many of the lower-budgeted horror flicks from the 70’s, 80’s, and even 90’s, I’d imagine. I’m not even sure why I haven’t heard of it, considering it contains the star power of the legendary Donald Pleasance and even features a cameo from another horror icon, Christopher Lee.
Best known for his portrayal of Dr. Sam Loomis in John Carpenter’s Halloween, Donald Pleasance had been making films for quite some time before that film’s release. In fact, Death Line was created and released six years prior to the now famous slasher. I loved seeing Pleasance in a role unfamiliar to me and thought he did remarkably. As the inspector, he was comical (going on about how bad tea bags were), and also downright horrible at points (accusing young Alex of being a thief). No matter the scene, however, it was a joy to watch, as Donald Pleasance was a true professional and a stellar actor.
Death Line is one of the earliest films I can think of that centers around a tale of inbreeding and cannibalism. Released eight years earlier than the likes of Cannibal Holocaust, this may be one of the very first to touch on the subject. Since then, we’ve seen tons of films on the matter, a lot of which I actually enjoy. Films like The Hills Have Eyes [and all of its sequels/re-imaginings] and the Wrong Turn franchise may have presented these grisly ideas to a larger audience, but this is where it all began, as far as I’m concerned.
While the story of workers being trapped in a collapsed subway tunnel, breeding generations of diseased cannibals may not be very realistic, the special effects used to portray these events sure is. Death Line features a seven minute long tracking scene showing the entire living quarters of the one surviving member of the inbred family. It is littered with decaying corpses, both of the deceased family and of various victims. There are rats chewing on flesh, maggots crawling all over. It is all very gruesome and I loved every second of it. The practical effects team did an amazing job on this film, especially for having such a small budget and it being over four decades ago.
As they’ve been doing for some time now, Blue Underground has outdone themselves on the home release of Raw Meat aka Death Line. Included in the collector’s edition set are Blu-ray and DVD discs of the feature film packed with bonus featurettes (interviews with cast and crew and the such), a booklet with new writing about the film, a reversible sleeve, and more! Be sure to pick up a copy for yourself, as it is available now!
Death Line is definitely worth your time and gets a final rating of 4 teabags out of 5 from yours truly.