OOM #27 – Death Line (1972)

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Spooky! Boo! I don’t fucking now. Welcome to the October Overlook Madness, where we review the hottest and scariest films of the October season. So, today we continue from yesterday’s film released in 1972, and we explore this decade of great horror with this British film ‘Death Line’ (1972), that is mostly known as ‘Raw Meat’ in other countries. Why do we explore 1972 again? Because the Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness talked about ‘The City of the Dead’ (1960), another British film that was also known more as ‘Horror Hotel’ in other places. I’ve seen this movie and find it incredibly good for what it is, and I love how eerie it is. You can see the video that James did here, and I will talk about the other British film down below.

This is a weird movie because it’s tonally weird. But first let’s get this out of the way, I think this movie is great and the ambient, cinematography as well as mood that it creates is incredible. I think that this is a movie about the generations that were clashing in the 1970’s, but not in an “old vs. new” way, but with an understanding of how people actually react, not like canvases to put the director’s thoughts nor as pieces of furniture that make the film more believable by using the common knowledge that one has about certain people, but by making these generations inhabit and live through their inconsistencies and contradictions. There’s the older generation, represented by Donald Pleasance, who’s in the position of power as a detective, who is inherently tired of his work due to the circumstances that he is in, he drinks a lot, we can see him hungover, and sloppily trying to come up with ways of investigating the disappearances that have happened in the London Metro, and his performance is just impressive in ways that one can barely start to imagine, with his constant banter and insults towards his suspects, his quick jokes against everyone that tries to help him or not, and the way in which he stands before everything, it’s like a riot, like the representation of that older generation that isn’t exactly conservative as much as it’s bored with all the things that have changed and just decided to have fun with it. In contrast, the younger generation, represented here by the young couple (a girl from London and a dude from the United States) who aren’t the usual party goers that you’d think from the 70’s, as much as they look like members of psychedelic and progressive rock bands, but they are there to make a statement, that they can live the way that they want and they don’t have to be violent about it, not because of complacency, but because they want that stability for their own love life, and that’s sweet and telling… specially in the context of a film that features a cannibal.

Yes, because the horror present in this movie comes in the form of a cannibal, who is the son of a bunch of other cannibals that were trapped in the construction of the Metro, and they’ve fed themselves with human raw flesh for decades and they’ve devolved into mumbling idiots that don’t communicate and can only become savage killers. It is an interesting and intriguing concept that the film manages to strip away from complications and just shows us the aftermaths of years of killing and eating, with bones and decomposing bodies in the lair in which the last cannibal lives. Nevertheless, I seem to be in the minority when I think that showing too much of the cannibal’s lair wasn’t the smarter move, as it revealed too early the mystery of what was happening, and I liked the banter and constant fight between the generations whether they be by interrogations or casual happenstances. The final scenes with the cannibal are good, but they should’ve kept that mystery for longer time than they had, as when it finally appears in its complex nature, we’ve already grown used to him and it’s not surprising nor frightening to look at. It is an effective and entertaining film, I can give it that, as I had fun watching it, and I can fully recommend it on the basis of that, the acting and those moments of gruesome terror that it can conjure from time to time.

8/10

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