Thursday, February 14, 2008

Raw Meat (Great Britain, 1972)

Made in England by American director Gary Sherman, Raw Meat (aka Death Line) is a filthy little low budget slow mover featuring few of the type of unexpected twists found in Sherman’s later film, Dead & Buried (1981) or the violent sleaze of Vice Squad (1982), but which is overflowing with the same basic ineptitude Sherman displays in the horrendous Poltergeist III (1988).
Opening with a catchy, bass-heavy discofied jazz score played over a mildly stylish and cheap credit sequence, the film goes steadily downhill from scene one, and has little to offer other than an occasionally artsy-fartsy use of camera and sound effects, a short, pleasant shovel through the face scene and a lot of drooling. As badly acted as the main hero's and heroine's haircuts are ugly, the video version of "Death Line" I watched suffered from an over-all murky sound that rendered much of what was said impossible to understand — one hopes the current DVD version is better, but whether an improved transfer would actually improve the film is doubtful.
Donald Pleasance plays an incompetent and disinterested inspector who realizes something isn't right down in the Underground, where people keep disappearing or being killed, and Christopher Lee makes one of his typical, top-billed 1-minute-5-lines-spoken appearances as an MI5 official, complete with an absolutely ridiculous fake mustache.
The story is loosely based on the old Sawny Bean legend, only this time, instead of featuring an inbred family of Scottish cannibal mutants living in caves, there are only two inbred English cannibal, plague-infected mutants living in deserted subway tunnels, the last survivors of a mixed-sex group of subway diggers buried alive in an accident during the 19th century. The film plods predictably along, complete with dead men that blink, a lot of long slow pans over decayed and half eaten bodies, and numerous lengthy close ups of the main-mutants pus-dripping face as he drools all over the place. (Not a man you would like to have over as a dinner guest.) Things really begin to get exciting when Mrs. Mutant up and dies. Mr. Mutant does the obligatory moaning and groaning and scenes of being broken hearted before going off in search of a new Mrs., setting his sights on none other than — surprise!! — our ugly heroine, whom he promptly kidnaps and slobbers all over. Regrettably, his new found happiness is short lived, as the ugly hero succeeds where so many others had failed, not only in finding the mutant's secret home, but in vanquishing the pus-dripping fiend with a flashlight.
A truly Shakespearean script, to say the least, and a truly lousy film. Much like the definitely far classier English "classic" The Devil Rides Out, Raw Meat leaves one with the impression that all those fans out there that tout the film as a classic have never even actually seen it.

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