Death Line (1973)
Donald Pleasence is a police detective investigating a number of disappearances on London’s tube network, linked to the cannibalistic descendants of underground-workers trapped by a horrific cave-in in the 19th century…..
Dark, dingy and visceral are 3 words that spring to mind when asked to describe Gary Sherman’s “Death Line”. The reels of this movie seem to be sodden with filth.
An opening credits sequence and a score which epitomises the seedier side of early 70s London get’s us started but it’s the actual premise of the movie which held much of my attention. The idea of a tribe of half-humans living silently under the metropolis of London’s transport system is a fascinating one.
Pleasence puts in a cracking performance as the sarcastic and aggressive “Inspector Calhoun”. David Ladd and Sharon Gurney do well as the pretty young couple who get caught up in it all after a late night on the train. Christopher Lee appears too, as a MI5 agent in all but a camero role.
The ‘monster’ is far from the villain of the piece, despite a taste for human flesh and eye for the ladies. It’s actually those above-ground who are shown to be uncaring, callous and sordid. Memorable scenes include the extended pan of the cannibal’s lair (set against the sound of dripping water alone) and the sequence where our monster, by now the last of his kind, roams the cavernous tunnels under London screaming the only words he knows: “Mind the dooooors!”.
There’s even a splattering of gore – a tube worker is impaled on a broom, another has a shovel put between his eyes and there’s a nasty chase and attempted-rape sequence. All these scenes were heavily cut in the UK cinematic and VHS release, and it’s only now that they can be seen in all their uncut glory.
This is a good horror thriller with an interesting plot and some neat performances. Atmospheric and surprisingly complex, you shouldn’t miss this one – but you’ll be surprised where your sympathy lies at the end.
hotdog rating: 7.5/10