Deathline Sean Hogan
Midnight Movie Monograph: by Sean Hogan
Series Editor: Neil Snowdon
Cover Art and Design: Neil Snowdon & David Chatton Barker
A cave-in during construction of the London Underground seals a group of workers in forever. Abandoned to their own devices they feed on each other to survive.
Transformed by plague, incest, and disease their descendents emerge as cannibalistic beings with a language
of only three words: “MIND THE DOORS!”
As the last of the underground men loses his mate to a wasting disease he is compelled to seek food, and a new bride, from the platforms above.
With his debut feature, Gary Sherman —like George Romero, Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper—channels his despair and anger at the cultural and political zeitgeist to create a confront-ational low-budget genre movie that lashes out at the conservative establishment.
In every possible way DEATH LINE is an ‘underground’ classic.
Despite an increasing amount of critical support and high profile fans Gary Sherman’s DEATH LINE remains something of an anomaly in British Horror Cinema, an ugly duckling; its face doesn't quite fit. Made on a shoestring budget in early 1972, its initial reviews were divided, the Daily Mail called it ‘a sick and sick-making film’. Despite a successful London run, the film seemed destined to be an eccentric but mostly forgotten genre footnote (it was recut and retitled as RAW MEAT in America). And yet, it has survived and, in recent years, thrived; rediscovered and embraced by new generations of genre fans who recognise that this satirically angry critique of the English class system feels far more like a spiritual cousin to the ’70s American New Wave of Horror than the traditional Hammer gothics and cosy Amicus chills that were the norm in Britain at the time.
And the ace up it’s ragged, dirty sleeve? It’s funny too, with a performance by Donald Pleasence unlike anything else in the genre. Perhaps only THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE attempts anything similar in its mix of black comedy and visceral cannibal slaughter, and even then, DEATH LINE is both funnier and more overtly gory than Tobe Hooper’s subsequent film. Join Sean Hogan as he leads you deep into the tunnels under London to examine a genre classic.
“One of my truest and fondest memories in film . . .DEATH LINE is permeated by the kind of grim poetry exclusive to the horror genre.”
—Guillermo Del Toro
Limited to 500 hardcover copies