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Death Line
Raw Meat / Tunnel der lebenden Leichen

UK 1973
produced by
Paul Maslansky for Harbor Ventures, K-L Productions
directed by Gary Sherman
starring Donald Pleasence, Norman Rossington, David Ladd, Sharon Gurney, Hugh Armstrong, June Turner, Christopher Lee, Clive Swift, James Cossins, Heather Stoney, Hugh Dickson, Jack Woolgar, Ron Pember, Colin McCormack, Gary Winkler, James Culliford, Suzanne Winkler, Gerry Crampton, Terence Plummer, Gordon Petrie
story by Gary Sherman, screenplay by Ceri Jones, music by Wil Malone, Jeremy Rose

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Alex (David Ladd) and Patricia (Sharon Gurney) find a sick, maybe dying man in a subway station, but once they return to the location with the authorities, he's gone. Now this should be the end of the story ... but the person they've found was actually high ranking public servant James Manfred, OBE (James Cossins), and he has gone missing ever since, so Scotland Yard inspector Calhoun (Donald Pleasence) starts a large scale investigation ... until MI5 (in the person of Christopher Lee, giving a fun performance) takes him off the case. But Calhoun isn't one to give a case up easily, and when more people go missing/are killed at the same subway station, he figures this is definitely a matter for Scotland Yard, and he just puts himself on again. Now blood of whoever it was who kidnapping/killing these people is found at the scene of the crime even, but that doesn't help Calhoun at all, as the blood is apparently from someone who has never seen the light of day and is suffering from a rare kind of plague - pretty much a man thought to not exist in all of London ... but (unbeknowest to the inspector) he is real (and played by Hugh Armstrong) and lives in an abandoned subway station where about 100 years ago a group of workers were cut off the outer world by a cave-in, and first they survived by eating those who died in the cave-in, later they fed on unsuspecting subway passengers. Now though the plague-ridden fellow is the last of his kind after his female consort (June Turner) succumbed to the plague ... and eventually, he kidnaps Patricia to replace her. His attempts to ask the police for assistance get Alex nowhere, so he searches the subway tunnles himself and ultimately finds Patricia, fights the cavedweller to a standstill, manages to make an escape with Patricia, and when inspector Calhoun, with the police force in tow, finally arrive, they can only find the cavedweller finally dying from the plague ...

 

Of course, superficially Death Line is nothing but pure pulp fiction that doesn't really go for narrative originality but instead aims for spectacle and shocks. And the directorial effort is not especially subtle and apart from that seems a little bit on the functional and slightly old-fashioned side - which has its charms for sure but doesn't make a memorable movie. What saves the film though is Donald Pleasence, who's at his amusing best in this one, playing his inspector like a grumpy eccentric with no respect for authorities and a special dislike for his partner (Norman Rossington). Thus everytime Pleasence is dominating the scene, the film is greater than it ought to be, but when not it's a fairly routine affair.

So yes, totally worth a watch - but only thanks to Donald Pleasence.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD