‘Mind the doors!!!’
Death Line is a 1972 British horror feature film directed by American filmmaker Gary Sherman (Dead & Buried, Poltergeist III) from his own storyline. It was scripted by Ceri Jones and distributed as Raw Meat in the United States by American International Pictures (AIP).
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’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
“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…” Nathaniel Thompson, 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
“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.” Glyn Jones, Fantastic Voyages
“Sherman is more concerned with complicated camera moves and arty lighting than actually delivering scares. He squandered every opportunity for suspense and kept things so dark that you couldn’t tell what was going on half the time.” The Video Vacuum
“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
“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
“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
” … 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
Main 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
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, collectable booklet written by Laura Mayne
- Theatrical Trailer
- Image Gallery
- PDF Material
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 & Still Gallery
- Bonus Collectible Booklet featuring new writing by authors Michael Gingold and Christopher Gullo
Buy Network DVD from 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.