Morbidly Beautiful

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A pleasant surprise, this pseudo-crime thriller features two titans of the genre, Donald Pleasence and Sir Christopher Lee.

Death Line

When people start disappearing in the London tube, Police investigate a far-flung theory of long-trapped miners surviving in the tunnels through cannibalism. Let’s dig into 1972’s DEATH LINE, directed by Gary Sherman!

As I See It

Alternatively released as Raw Meat, the film does actually feature enough gore to warrant such a title.

The acting of the young college couple is a bit clunky, as is the story itself. But the murder mystery is actually fun, and that is all thanks to Donald Pleasence and his affable yet snarky police inspector.

If the producers had realized their mistake in trying to shoehorn the young college fella into the protagonist role, something that was much better suited for Pleasence’s Inspector Calhoun, they would have succeeded in making something exceptional.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually really like the film, but that is almost entirely on the back of Doctor Loomis’ quirky cousin.

The scene when Sir Christopher Lee shows up in Calhoun’s office and the two men stand off, with neither taking a step closer and keeping a ten-yard berth between them, is where we are treated to absolute brilliance.

We get two masters at work, being the best of adversaries. Reportedly, that scene was shot so Lee’s towering stature wouldn’t upset the cinematography as he stood next to the much shorter Pleasence. It really works, though.

The error in casting and choosing the lead character of the film is most evident during the climax, which is a huge letdown.

We do get a really phenomenal shot down a long, arching, underground corridor that does something many filmmakers are afraid to — be patient. Instead of quick cuts, they let the actors walk the entire stretch of the tunnel on camera.

It’s a really fantastic shot that plays us out as the cannibal who is presumed dead bellows out one last “Mind the doors” as if he was a preamble to Game of Thrones‘ Hodor.

Famous Faces

Donald Pleasence (Inspector Calhoun) is, of course, the legendary Doctor Loomis from John Carpenter’s Halloween and countless sequels. But I would urge you to give some of his other films a watch so you can get a taste of his range. Specifically, check out the World War II thriller The Great Escape, where he stars alongside Steve McQueen, Sir Richard Attenborough, and Charles Bronson. He also was in another Carpenter film, which happens to be my personal favorite Carpenter film, Prince of Darkness.

There are only three actors’ names that come to mind when you say Dracula: Bela Lugosi, Gary Oldman, and Sir Christopher Lee (Stratton), the king of the Hammer horror bloodsuckers.

And now, for the famous face you don’t see…but almost did. Reportedly, Marlon Brando was in talks to play “The Man”, the cannibal role that eventually was played by Hugh Armstrong. I honestly can’t believe it. There was little to nothing for a talent the size of Brando to chew on (see what I did there).

Of Gratuitous Nature

Maybe it was a commentary on the carnal, despicable nature of man that is unavoidable — even in wholly isolated societies like an underground group of inbred cannibals — but the attempted rape by the human tunnel dweller was undoubtedly gratuitous.


Sharon Gurney’s (Patricia) haircut might be fifty years before its time. You could find a dozen of those in Brooklyn nowadays. She’s beautiful and plays the bleeding heart role well.

Ripe for a Remake

I can’t think of a single film that involves train tunnels that I didn’t enjoy: Midnight Meat Train, The Taking of Pelham 123 (the original), Cloverfield, Predator 2. I may have unintentionally unlocked a film fetish I didn’t know I had. Go ahead and remake this one; give me more of the underground and performances as strong as Pleasence could deliver, and I’m in.


No progeny to report.

Where to Watch

Blue Underground released a Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray in 2017, and the UK-based Network released one in 2018. You can stream it on Shudder, Amazon Prime, AMC+, Redbox, Night Flight, Plex, and Flix Fling.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 0

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