Following Marchs lecture on sadomasochism in 60s/70s cult cinemainstructed by Miskatonic London co-director and Electric Sheep founder Virginie Sélavythe horror history and studies series continues with celebrated author and critic Kim Newman on Gary Shermans 1972 cult favorite Death Line (aka Raw Meat).
The film, featuring Donald Pleasence in one of his best roles, concerns a series of disappearances on the London Underground Railway, which are traced back to the inbred, cannibal descendants of navvies trapped by a cave-in during the building of the tunnels. The Miskatonik Description continue: Kim Newman will talk about Gary Shermans 1972 British horror film, Death Line (aka Raw Meat), one of the first British horror films to compete with the wave of stronger, more politicized American splatter movies that came in the wake of Night of the Living Dead.
A human monster (Hugh Armstrong) who looks like a scabrous tramp haunts the Piccadilly Line, picking off and eating the odd commuter, trying to keep alive his diseased wife. Tea?drinking copper Inspector Calhoun (Donald Pleasence) is called into the case with his sidekick sergeant (Norman Rossington) when the latest victim (James Cossins) turns out to be a high-ranking civil servant fresh from a neon-lit sleaze spree in Soho, and has to cut through bureaucratic red tape (represented by Christopher Lee in a bowler hat). Meanwhile, down in the tunnels, the last of the monsters lives out his pathetic, horrid leftover life, expressing himself through the only words he knows, mind the doors. It includes a wonderful, apparently improvised drunk scene from Pleasence and a breathtaking 360º pan around the cannibals dripping, dank, corpse-strewn underground lair.
Less makeshift than a lot of its rivals from the 1970s, it has solid, witty dialogue, a memorably funky music score and the sort of urban legend premise that people will swear is based on truth rather than new-minted for the movie. American writer-director Gary Sherman also made the cloying New Seekers Id Like to Buy the World a Coke ads, and used his share of the fee from that to finance this gutsy, gritty debut. The discussion will highlight the films political subtext, transgressive use of cannibalism as metaphor and for shock value, black humour, performance styles, relationship with American and other British films on similar subjects (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Frightmare) and exploration of London lore and locations. The Horse Hospital is just round the corner from Great Russell Street Station, so attendees who come by tube will pass through the films main setting before and after the class.
Entry to Miskatonic London, held at Horse Hospital (Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1JD) , is £10 advance / £11 on the door. For much more, visit the official site.