Do you little pukes realize what a fantastic actor Christopher Lee is? I know that you know him best from Lord of the Rings and Attack of the Clones czzzzzz you are all stupid but damn! Can he steal a film or what? Death Line/Raw Meat is about a group of C.H.U.D.s at this one subway stop in London who have survived underground for a century by snatching people and eating them. And Christopher Lee is in the film for three minutes and he steals the film. Damn… Oh, Donald Pleasence is in the movie, too, and he plays a detective and he is also utterly fantastic. And then there is the rest of the cast and they really aren’t any good. Especially the lone American actor, David Ladd. However, the lady, one Sharon Gurney, is seriously hot and when the cannibal-Neanderthal dude tries to rape her I think you can see her boobs. What? I’m drunk; fuck off.

So, in the late 1800s a group of people were digging out a subway tunnel and there was a collapse. The company paying for the dig went bankrupt on account of some scandal and they just left them there to die, even though other engineers thought is was very possible that the group survived because of air pockets or something like that. More importantly, there were eight men in the group and four women. That means fucking and babies and when the older folks die, the survivors could just eat the dead to survive. I think this is WalMart’s mission statement. Fast forward to 1972 and well hell of a badass theme song. A very proper looking British chap is making his way around to all the strip clubs. Emerging from one and not being satiated, he descends into a tube stop to find a hooker. Down there he encounters a beat up old skag he takes his cash and knees him in the nuts. But that’s not all… Something grabs him and leaves him for dead on the stair case. Enter Alex and Patricia. They are getting off the tube and they see the crumpled man. Patricia, the Brit, wants to help the man. Alex, the American, explains that in New York you simply walk over drunk bums. Anyhow, they check his wallet and while he’s not diabetic, he is an OBE. Which in England means he’s a member of Parliament (or something like that). They go to get help and when they return, his body is gone.

Enter Inspector Calhoun, played to the fucking nines by the great Donald Pleasence. He hears about the incident and immediately remembers that there have been a few other unsolved disappearances at that particular station. What sets Death Line so above the fray of other, lesser horror films is the strength of the non-monstrous characters. He immediately hauls in Alex and accuses him of robbing the missing man, then he tells Alex to hurry along because there might be a protest he could take part in. Alex shoots him a, “come on, dude” stare to which Calhoun answers, “get a haircut” and flashes a big smile. Fun as hell; like Christopher Walken in The Rundown, you know that Pleasence took this role for the paycheck and you know he decided early on just to have a ball with it. I, for one, am thrilled. And please, when you rent this, fast forward through all the cannibal-creep stuff — just go to the scene where Pleasence and his partner go to have “a couple pints.” Towards the end, after they have switched to Scotch, the barkeep is trying to toss them out and Pleasence just shines. He’s trying to convince the guy to let them stay (while his partner drunkenly plays pinball) and the barkeep says something about, “God save the Queen.” Pleasence goes nuts, “You better not smile when you say ‘God save the Queen!’ That wonderfully lady is off across the seas dealing with lesser countries so that you can have the privilege of living in a democracy!” I’m paraphrasing, but it was totally inspired.

Oh, so there is this creepy, diseased thing who keep killing people and he has the plague and LOTS of open sore on his face. And he mumbles constantly and grunts a lto and I was really surprised that the killer/creature would be by far the worst part of the film. Duller than brick, really. Even Patricia and Alex just having dinner at a restaurant was more compelling. Director boy Gary Sherman did a really bad job with the C.H.U.D.’s lair. Essentially it was a barn made of brick with corpses and rats everywhere. However, these passages were exceedingly dull. I have this friend named Slut and besides blowing most of the drummers in Los Angeles, she has pretty fucking great taste in film. We both found out about Death Line around the same time, only she watched it first. And she told me she shut if off because it was so boring. After watching the first twenty-five minutes of the film I’m thinking, “Slut is out of her drunk-whore mind.” But, then we get to the part with the underground layer and I found myself contemplating the circumference of my jean-eg vis-à-vis my boot. Serioulsy, snores-ville.

So, yes, you should watch Death Line because Pleasence and Lee kick so much ass and because Ms. Gurney is very easy on the eyes. Just don’t be expecting any sort of good horror film. Yeah, sure, the creature thing has to kill humans to eat (what’s wrong with rats?) but since the thing/guy is so utterly primitive we have no idea why he does what he does. Why bother to make the killer a human if we get no (well… almost none) human responses from him. Look, I’m all for indestructible zombie-like terrors that stalk innocent humans for their flesh, but, I don’t know… this film just failed on the scary level. It rules on the comedy level however, and after this beer *or the next one) I’m going to go back and re-watch the scenes with Pleasence and the one single scene with Christoper Lee. Cause they are just so very good. Death Line: great idea, so-so execution.

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Review Posted: 11.25.05

About Jonny Lieberman

Jonny was the site’s co-founder and helped carry the place in the early years. There was a falling out with Erich and he left the site for good, but a lot of his reviews live on. He has moved on to a successful career writing about cars. Look him up.