‘Mind the doors!!!’
Death Line is a 1972 British horror film directed by American filmmaker Gary Sherman (Dead & Buried, Poltergeist III) from his own storyline. The screenplay was written by Ceri Jones and distributed as Raw Meat in the United States by American International Pictures (AIP).
The film stars Donald Pleasence (Halloween and sequels) as a cantankerous police inspector. Pleasence reportedly ad-libbed many of his amusing lines.
The main cast is Norman Rossington (House of the Long Shadows), David Ladd, Sharon Gurney, Hugh Armstrong and James Cossins (Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb). Horror film icon Christopher Lee has a brief cameo role as a pompous member of MI5.
A family of cannibals descended from Victorian railway workers continue to dwell in the disused lines of the London Underground tube network. The last member of the family frequently visits the neighbouring Russell Square and Holborn stations to pick off passengers for food, then takes them back to the gruesome ‘pantry’ at an incomplete station.
When the cannibal kidnaps and kills an important politician, he is hunted by a detective as well as an American college student and his English girlfriend who were the last to see the victim in the tube station…
“It would not be inaccurate to describe Death Line as the British version of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. They both feature inbred cannibals cut off from human society who are oddly sympathetic, and both are fairly gory movies that modern audiences might find tame in the context of their splatter-promising titles.” Bloody Good Horror
” … we spend an inordinate time in the madman’s dark, dank and bloody lair – peering through the murk at the most revolting sights imaginable and wondering how such a sick and sick-making film ever came to be made.” The Daily Mail, 1972
“It’s a nasty, brutish film with a thoroughly repellent villain who possesses a sad and tragic human streak and has a great performance from one of the genre’s greats (I know I’ve said it before, but Pleasence really shines in this film). If you don’t dig Death Line, there is something wrong with you..” Digital Retribution
“Death Line could be described as slight and underdeveloped, clocking in at a mere 84 minutes, but as an exercise in brutal and unusual horror it can’t easily be dismissed. An essential film for any horror fan looking for something extraordinary – and verging on arthouse – beyond the canonical classics.” Fantastic Voyages
“The film isn’t quite as gory as you might expect, but it definitely wallows in the grotesque at times with plenty of half-eaten corpses and a little pre-Texas Chain Saw meathook hanging for good measure. Much of the film’s impact can be attributed to the powerful, very physical performance by Hugh Armstrong…” Mondo Digital
” …it’s one of the few UK horrors of the period focusing squarely on the national heritage and identity, and its sophisticated, political themes – the (literal) collapse of Empire, class segregation and exploitation, and high-level corruption – were particularly relevant in the early 1970s, an era mired in financial and vice-based scandals.” Film4
“One of the great British horror films, Death Line is a classic example of what Hellraiser director Clive Barker calls ’embracing the monstrous’ […] The film’s great achievement is in eliciting sympathy for a creature whose residual capacity for human feeling amidst such terrible degradation is ultimately more moving than horrifying.” Nigel Floyd, Time Out Film Guide
” …an unusually bleak and harrowing horror film…very little in the film offers the audience any relief from the plight of the Man…The violence would be intolerable if it were not for the tragic dimensions of the film, but Hugh Armstrong’s performance is one of the greatest and most moving in horror films.” Ramsay Campbell, The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural
“Sherman is more concerned with complicated camera moves and arty lighting than actually delivering scares […] Donald Pleasence is the only memorable thing about this turd. His off-kilter performance as the Inspector on the case who goes bonkers whenever he doesn’t get a cup of tea is pretty funny” The Video Vacuum
On August 27, 2018, British company Network released Death Line remastered on Blu-ray.
Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk
Mind the Doors! – an interview with Hugh Armstrong
Limited edition, a collectable booklet written by Laura Mayne
On June 27, 2017, Blue Underground issued the film on Blu-ray transferred and fully restored in 2K from the original uncensored camera negative.
Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Gary Sherman, Producer Paul Maslansky, and Assistant Director Lewis More O’Ferrall
Tales From The Tube – Interview with Co-Writer/Director Gary Sherman and Executive Producers Jay Kanter & Alan Ladd Jr.
From The Depths – Interview with actor David Ladd and producer Paul Maslansky
Mind The Doors! – Interview with Hugh Armstrong
Death Line trailer
Raw Meat trailer
Raw Meat TV Spots
Raw Meat Radio Spots
Poster and Still Gallery
Bonus Collectible Booklet featuring new writing by authors Michael Gingold and Christopher Gullo
Buy: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk
Buy Network DVD from Amazon.co.uk
Buy MGM DVD from Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com
Buy The Films of Donald Pleasence: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com
Buy X-Cert 2 Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk
‘A Descent into the Underworld: Death Line’ article by Marcelle Perks, British Horror Cinema (Routledge, 2002)
The disused British Museum tube station is mentioned in the film, but it is not the station portrayed as being the cannibal’s home. The station in question is named “Museum” and is stated as being between Holborn and British Museum in a conversation between Inspectors Calhoun and Richardson. Signs in the abandoned station also state “Museum” as the name. Location filming took place at Holborn, Russell Square and the now disused Aldwych stations.
Cast and characters:
Donald Pleasence … Inspector Calhoun
Norman Rossington … Detective Sergeant Rogers
David Ladd … Alex Campbell
Sharon Gurney … Patricia Wilson
Hugh Armstrong … The Man
June Turner … The Woman
Clive Swift … Inspector Richardson
James Cossins … James Manfred, OBE
Heather Stoney … W.P.C. Alice Marshall
Hugh Dickson … Doctor Bacon
Jack Woolgar … Platform Inspector
Ron Pember … Lift Operator
Colin McCormack … Police Constable
James Culliford … Publican
Christopher Lee … Stratton-Villiers, MI5