October 27, 2011

Horror-A-Day: Raw Meat

Just two more nights until my two day marathon, that means only two more daily movies to go (after this one, of course). That may only be one as I may start early on the weekend with a late friday viewing, supplanting that day's choice. Also, Halloween's film has been selected, it is and will likely always be Trick 'r Treat. A movie awesome in its pure Halloween spirit. Anyway, back to the matter at hand, we do still have a movie to talk about today.

I was really leaning towards the Cabin Fever sequel, but at the last minute the focus of my attention shifted. I am not sure why, but it seemed to have been triggered by a friend's text of "eww" in reaction to me mentioning it. It still may make an appearance, but not this time.

My eyes drifted towards Hammer titles, but there are precious few on Netflix and I am planning on doing a marathon of these somewhere in the near future. My attention stayed on the UK and found its way to a movie whose title is another one I am familiar with but otherwise know nothing about. Besides my name recognition, it does have some star power with Donald Pleasance starring as the lead inspector and Christopher Lee in a cameo as an MI5 agent.

All right, this has all been a roundabout way of getting to Raw Meat (aka Death Line). It was the debut film by Gary Sherman, an American director who went to the UK in search of funding. It is a rather captivating debut that is grimy, gritty, and funny at the same time. It is a horror film that I am surprised isn't mentioned more often. It may not be the bloodiest or most violent horror out there, but it does develop and sustain dread and has a couple of nice shocking moments. If there is real criticism about the film, it is that the lead couple is dreadfully dull. I couldn't care less if they lived or died, but I wanted to see what happened.

The story opens with a man on an nearly deserted subway platform propositioning a young woman and getting rightfully kicked in a painful place. He is found sprawled on some stairs by Rick (David Ladd) and Patricia (Sharon Gurney). They argue about helping him and when they decide to help him and return with a constable, he is gone.

The story ends up on the desk of one Inspector Calhoun (Donald Pleasance). He decides to look into it, even though it does not seem any crime has been committed. This leads us to learning of a tunnel built in the 1800's that collapsed, trapping 12, a subsequent bankruptcy and an inability to recover the bodies. Although, it is surmised that they could have survived. Guess what? They did! They even had kids and have survived for generations.

If you couldn't guess, this movie features inbred cannibal types living in an old abandoned station in the London underground. The numbers have diminished and we meet the Man (as he is credited and played by Hugh Armstrong) as his partner dies. This drives him to emerge to the platform, apparently looking for a new mate. If you guessed he is going to catch Patricia at some point, you would be correct.

This is a pretty interesting film that has a villain, but he is a little sympathetic. The Man can be violent and vicious, but it is not like he is malicious. He is just doing what he feels he needs to do. Watching him as he watches the woman die is actually a little heartbreaking, despite the squalor and half eaten corpses lying around.

Raw Meat is light on story. There is not so much of a plot so much as things that happen during this period in these people's lives. It has a great look that captures the feeling of the setting and on a technical side features a rather bold seven-minute tracking shot into the tunnels where we are introduced to the Man.

I also benefits from a couple of good performances. Donald Pleasance is fantastic! He is so over the top and funny, it is almost like he is practicing for Dr. Loomis (his Halloween role, silly!). From his shouts for tea to inexplicably going to the bar while on duty, he is just crazy and it just works perfectly. Also, the previously mentioned Hugh Armstrong gives a strong turn as the unnamed inbred cannibal Man. There is a lot of energy and emotion in his performance that truly helps sell it. As for our couple? Well, the less said the better.

I believe this to be an underrated gem that should be seen. If you haven't and you like horror, give it a spin, see what you think.

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