RAW MEAT (1972)
aka Death Line
Article 2373 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-24-2007
Posting Date: 2-10-2008
Directed by Gary Sherman
Featuring Donald Pleasence, Norman Rossington, David Ladd
Police investigate disappearances in the London subway system. It is learned that a group of diggers from the nineteenth century managed to survive to modern times by resorting to cannibalism. Now the only survivor has run out of food, and he’s coming out of the tunnels to search for more.
I vividly remember seeing the trailer for this at a local drive-in theater when I was a teenager, and there was something about it that really gave me the creeps even then. I never got a chance to see it; the drive-in never got the movie for some reason, but I always found myself wondering what this movie was like. So, here I am, finally watching it some three decades later.
The movie is a bit of a mishmash. The uneven pacing, problematic plot, and odd characters detract somewhat from the movie building up much in the way of suspense. But when it works, it works quite well; the use of sound is very effective at times, there’s an extended tracking shot that introduces us to the underground dwelling of the ‘man’ (as he’s called in the final credits) that is simply stunning, there’s a great jump-out-of-your seat moment when the girlfriend gets kidnapped, and the sense of degeneracy, filth, decay and sickness in the underground lair is as strong as anything you might find in the home of the family in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Hugh Armstrong manages to make the ‘man’ equally sympathetic and repulsive, and this adds a real ambivalence to the horror. The movie also features excellent performances from Donald Pleasence and Christopher Lee, though the latter appears in only one scene and is really only connected to a side issue in the storyline; his character could have been eliminated altogether. Despite any flaws it may have, it is worth catching, and it makes for an interesting comparison with THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, which it predates. And here’s a bit of trivia; THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE’s Tobe Hooper would go on to direct POLTERGEIST, while this movie’s Gary Sherman would direct POLTERGEIST III.