swinging london

the low budget horror gem death line (1972), which is known here in the u.s. as raw meat, has a lot of things going for it.

most of them are are not actually accurately depicted in that poster, but i like the poster all the same.

death line tells the story of an ongoing series of disappearances in london's underground. a long-forgotten tunnel accident left a group of workers trapped, assumed killed, and they were forced to resort to cannibalism to survive. now, in 1972, the inbred, plague-ridden descendants of the survivors subsist on a steady diet of unlucky subway passengers. it's deftly handled, as exploitation fare goes, with a dose of black humor and pathos ("mind the doors!"). the decay of our antagonist's "home" is a grim sight. the putrefaction comes right off the screen and the film indulges in it with some beautiful long takes. the rapid-fire editing that we have, unfortunately, become accustomed to has no place here. the monster, as the best monsters often are, is a tragic figure, ultimately. who knew ian anderson from jethro tull was so talented?

ok, so it's not ian anderson. it's hugh armstrong.

at any rate, it's quite a good B picture, and its ambition and skill certainly place it head and shoulders above most of its cannibalistic brethren. i recommend it for just about anyone but it's especially full of treats for genre fans, because...

the filth and gore are effectively creepy.

the inspector in charge of the case is none other than donald pleasence.

and christopher lee drops by!

plus, if you are a devoted follower of fashion, you are offered a feast of 1972 styles via our juvenile leads.

and, if all that isn't enough to sell you, i saved the best for last. the real reason i even started this post was as an excuse to show you guys one of my favorite opening credit sequences. we meet our first victim, james manfred (o.b.e., no less) in a haze of dirty bookstores and peepshows. the score cranks up the sleaze factor as we take a four minute spin through london's seamier side with our knighted, and benighted, tour guide. we are spending his last evening on earth together, in and out of red light shops, in and out of focus. check out this clip then check out the film.

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