Raw Meat, also known as Death Line, is a movie I’d put into my Netflix queue from the horror section quite some time ago, quite possibly months as I put more movies in than I get to watch generally. But somewhat recently, I’d stumbled on to a list of horror movies that they argued were the best you’d never seen, something I love, and Raw Meat was on it.
Now, originally, I thought I had completely forgotten how I’d seen this magic, but upon some thought, I remembered, and if you go here, you will find IMDB’s list of the top 40 horror movies you’ve never seen part 2, with Raw Meat at number 22. Strangely, the list goes to 45. I should’ve known when I realized they couldn’t even count… Here is the trailer, which I had never seen before watching the movie, so you have a better warning than I:
Now, if you’re like me, a list is a pretty glowing endorsement. To be halfway through that list, psh, somebody must have liked you. The weight I give you becomes disproportionate.
Sadly, disappointingly, disproportionate.
So, in need of a horror romp, as I said The Dead Zone didn’t quite fulfill it, I had high hopes for this 1973 British film, which, let’s be honest, was probably expecting too much. I made myself a big bowl of kettle corn, because I naturally need to be eating during grisly deaths, and snuggled in. I entered the movie knowing only that it was about a cannibal from a society of cannibals living underground somewhere in or around the subway tunnels of London. Great stuff, right?
Needless to say, I do not recommend you watch this movie. I am deeply concerned about further following this list’s advice now. Do I feel like I wasted the time? Not really, I’m procrastinating on studying for an econ final I will probably fail. Do I feel like recommending others watch it would be wasting their time? Absolutely. It was neither a gory romp of funny goodness nor a legitimate horror film worth praise. So instead I’m going to give you my summation of the events of the movie and you can then judge for yourself whether it is worth wasting your time..
The beginning of the movie is somewhat trippy and immediately makes you feel like you’ve stepped into A Clockwork Orange. This is appropriate, because welcome to the ‘70s. A man who it seems we should think is the bad guy is walking around the subway being shady. He stops a woman and asks how much, she knees him in the groin and robs him, rightfully so. Then we are given the distinct impression he is attacked, though nothing is shown.
Next thing we know, a couple is getting off the last subway train of the night. The girl has what can only be described as the most shagadelic haircut I have ever seen, and he pretty much wears bell-bottoms the whole movie, naturally as he is an American. The shady man (let us call him, Mr. Shady, because I do not remember his real name, nor does it matter,) is unconscious on the stairs, and the girl immediately flips out. They check his wallet to see if he has a diabetic card to no avail. He, being from NYC and the strategic avoid-subway-crazies American sect, assumes the man is drunk and moves on, but she won’t let it go. So, they tell the guy manning the station and a constable, go back down, and dun-dun-dun… Mr. Shady is gone.
Well, it turns out Mr. Shady was kind of important in British government, and the couple files a report, and since they checked his wallet, they know exactly who Mr. Shady is. Back then, subways apparently only had one exit as well, so his disappearance is really one of a missing man. Naturally the cops are involved, and here we meet the only recognizable actor to me, Donald Pleasence I believe, who I know as the blind forger from The Great Escape, which is a fabulous old movie. In fact, when you’re done reading this, go watch that instead of Raw Meat. You will thank me.
Anyway, he is the inspector on the case, with a bizarre sense of humor, and he spends some time harassing the couple, college kids, as if they’ve caused the man’s disappearance, and discovering that multiple other people have gone missing in the same subway station. *Gasp*
Meanwhile, we go to a shot clearly meant to be underground that shows a ripped off arm, which honestly looked like a fake arm with some ground beef smushed onto the end for effect, (hah, raw meat, get it?) sitting on a desk. Cannibals have those you know. Then we slowly, agonizingly slowly, circle a view of a room that contains Mr. Shady, who looks pretty dead, followed by about twenty corpses in different states of decay, all to the lovely soundtrack of something dripping. Apparently they are not good eaters, and this is their pantry.
Then the music picks up to a sort of playful jaunty bit, and we then see our second couple, one that boggles the mind. At this point, I was led to believe that cannibalism apparently leads to hair loss and the most disturbing sets of putrid, pus-filled sores I’ve ever seen. Weird. Lady creature is laying on a bed, and he is tending to her, clearly concerned for her well-being. They moan a lot and English has clearly been lost. She appears to be dying from disgustingness. Also, the score must have ADD (and will throughout the entire film).
The police meanwhile investigate the missing man and discover he’s a kinda shady, sex-filming creep until the larger government ends their case (his made-up-name is so fitting). They also get information that at some point during subway building, a collapse trapped men and women in the incomplete subway, and they were left to die when funding ran out. He even says they could’ve lived for a while because they had water and as they died, they could’ve eaten each other.
We also continue to see couple number one’s lives in a dramatic way, so we know they aren’t done in the story. Can’t ever just find a dead guy and be done, am I right?
Meanwhile, Mr. Cannibal takes Mr. Shady out of the people pantry, and we discover he is still alive, however his inability to fight is completely unexplained as he is intact. He takes Mr. Shady over to Mrs. Cannibal’s bedside, holds him over her, and shoves a metal thing into his throat, killing him and making him bleed into her mouth. This being the only moment of people eating shown in the movie makes them more vampires than cannibals, but what can you do? Sadly, he feeds her to no avail; she dies shortly thereafter. He cries a lot, and takes her to a separate room of bodies that are all arranged in beds in clothes. Apparently, they do not eat each other’s dead bodies.
Also we are made to feel as though we should feel deep human sympathy for the lonely last cannibal man, but I would rather see a crazy killer. You eat people… No going back bro, commit.
From here, he goes on an angry rampage, or the hunt, it’s not clear, and kills three subway workers in the tunnels, one with a shovel to the face, one with a big stick/spike/stake through the middle of him, and one he just beats on, and presumably takes with him. Ironically, he bites no one.
The police discover the two workers he left behind, blaming the third missing one. A scientist in the morgue tells our inspector that he must be insanely strong because he could push the stick all the way through the one man. So, another thing to add to cannibalism symptoms, super-human strength.
Then he discovers blood that isn’t these three men’s, and tells them there was a fourth man. He analyzes it, speaking in a lot of medical terms really quickly with no discernable explanation, besides the term vitamin deficiency. Oh, so vitamin deficiency is killing them off with pus?? Oh wait no, a third conversation of doctor vagueness reveals that they have the plague, presumably causing their sores, but no worries, it can’t be transmitted unless you’re bitten, dun-dun-dun. Oh wait, he’s a boring cannibal who doesn’t bite…
Then the boy and the girl from couple number one gets separated on the subway, even though she’s afraid of it now, and in the only jump-worthy moment of the movie, Mr. Cannibal snatches her. Her boyfriends reports her missing, and the police brush him off. Now, you’re thinking he’s just looking for dinner, but it appears no, he is trying to replace his lady friend. After the weakest escape attempt ever on her part, he protects her from rats and then makes her cuddle on his dead lover’s bed.
Her boyfriend breaks into the tunnels looking for her and immediately finds a bowler hat, just to remind you we’re in A Clockwork Orange, that pertains to nothing in this film. She simultaneously hits Mr. Cannibal in the head with her hand in what is apparently his weak putrid spot because it works, and she runs away into the tunnels. What followed was a long period of both men looking for her in the tunnels that felt like I was trapped at the end of The Third Man, if you watch old spy movies.
Mr. Cannibal finds her first, tries to comfort her, and then starts to rape her? I’m unsure. Then her boyfriend appears and starts fighting him. She is useless, but luckily he discovers his weak head spot and beats him with his flashlight. Mr. Cannibal runs away all messed up and the police magically appear, even though they were just drunk the last we saw them. They leave the couple to follow Mr. Cannibal, where they find his lair and pantry and a dead him. They return to the couple, who has naturally just been chilling alone there, like that’s cool. And the movie anti-climatically, as most old movies do, just ends.
But no really, I promise you, that was much more entertaining than watching that movie. Seriously. But, if you’d really like to put yourself through it, don’t say I didn’t warn you…