Since I'm currently unemployed, in theory you can look forward to more reviews of stuff that I've accumulated on DVD as I plow through titles I already own. So in that spirit, I rewatched the 1972 British horror movie Raw Meat, also known as Death Line. The 'Death Line' referred to is whatever subway line runs through the Russell Square underground station in London, where an upperclass twit, after a long day of perusing strip clubs and porn shops, is attacked by an unseen brute in the movie's opening sequence.
It turns out that the 'monster' of the movie is the last remnant of an underground mini-society of Brits trapped underground after a cave-in eighty years earlier while digging the subway lines; as such he's a vitamin-deficient cannibal whose only grasp of English is the phrase "Mind the Doors!" in one of the movie's best bits of truly bitter black comedy.
This underground dweller is a classic example of one of the most interesting themes in horror, the 'return of the repressed', those elements of the past, supressed through time or societal ignorance, that come back to plague the innocent and the not-so-innocent alike. This is a horror movie with a conscience, one that is ultimately as much tragedy as anything else as we're made to sympathize with the plight of this most piteous brute, consigned to a living hell. The scope of his hellish existence is conveyed to us in one masterful long, uncut tracking shot that pans through the clammy underground rooms he and his fellow subterraneans have lived in for decades, killing the occasional surface-dweller when food ran short. It's a masterful stroke in an otherwise small-scale movie.
The movie's other masterful stroke was in hiring Donald Pleasence as the police inspector looking into all the mysterious deaths around this one subway stop, and in obviously letting Pleasence cut loose with a juicy performance that's one of his best. He's a surly, working-class detective with a quick retort handy at any moment, a healthy contempt for the powers that be, and little respect for the two hippie-ish youngsters who get enmeshed in the case. These two, a pair of longhairs stuck in the movie as its juvenile leads, drag the movie back down into conventionality. Aside from them, however, the movie is a well-made, nasty little piece of work worth the time if you're a fan of the genre. Better than C.H.U.D., in other words.