Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 12th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: UK, 1972
Director: Gary Sherman
Writers: Ceri Jones, Gary Sherman
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Norman Rossington, David Ladd, Sharon Gurney, Hugh Armstrong, June Turner, Clive Swift, James Cossins, Christopher Lee
BluRay released: June 27th, 2017
Approximate running time: 87 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region Free / Region Free NTSC
Retail Price: $39.98
Death Line was co-written and directed by Gary Sherman whose other notable films include, Dead & Buried and Vice Squad. Key collaborators on Death Line include, cinematographer Alex Thomson (Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Electric Dreams) and producer Paul Maslansky (She Beast, Circle of Iron). When Death Line was released in the USA, it was released under the alternate title Raw Meat.
Just when you thought that every area possible had been traversed within the Horror film genre, along comes a film like Death Line. This film was made during an area in which British Horror cinema was going through a transition, after a reaching its apex creatively in the 1960’s.
As mentioned before, Death Line is a different kind of Horror film and nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to its premise. The narrative is well constructed and pacing is never an issues as key moments are given an ample amount of time to resonate. Another strength of this film is the way its relies more on atmosphere, than taking the all too familiar route of trying to shock audiences with gory set pieces.
Not to be overlooked is this film’s superb cast, which features two Horror Cinema Icons, Donald Pleasence (Halloween) and Christopher Lee (Horror Express, The Wicker Man). Performance wise the entire cast are all very good in their respective roles. With this film’s most memorable performance being Hugh Armstrong (Girly) in the role of a character simply referred to as the ‘man’. He is the character who lurks in the tube tunnels beneath the city of London.
This film’s visuals do a excellent job maintaining an unsettling mood that builds to a fever pitch by the time this film reaches its very satisfying climax. Standout moments visually include, a seven minutes long tracking shot serves up a perfect encapsulation of the world that lurks in the tube tunnels beneath London. And the scene where the protagonists’ girlfriend is abducted by the ‘man’, because she fulfills he need for a surrogate to replace the void created when the woman he loves dies.
Death Line comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The transfer for this release was sourced from a brand-new restoration in 2K from the original uncensored camera negative. There are no issues with compression, colors look accurate and details look crisp throughout.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and included with this release are three subtitle options, English SDH, French and Spanish. The audio sounds, clean, clear and balanced throughout. Range wise the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented and the score sounds robust.
Extras for this release include, a poster & stills gallery, 2 radio spots, 3 T.V. spots, 2 trailers (one trailer under the tiled Death Line and the other trailer under the title Raw Meat), an interview with actor Hugh Armstrong titled Mind the Doors (15 minutes 36 seconds), an interview with actor David Ladd and producer Paul Maslansky titled From the Depths (12 minutes 41 seconds), an interview with co-writer director Gary Sherman, executive producers Jay Kanter and Alan Ladd Jr. titled Tales from the Tube and an audio commentary with Gary Sherman, Paul Maslansky, and assistant director Lewis More O’Ferrall.
Topics discussed in the extra titled Mind the Doors include, his origins as an actor, Death Line and how he became involved, Gary Sherman, his thoughts about his character, onset memories, the cast, makeup / special effects / stunts and his thoughts about the film.
Topics discussed in the extra titled From the Depths include, the origins of the film, the cast, onset memories, cinematographer Alex Thomson and the visuals, their thoughts about the film, AIP and how the re-titled the film Raw Meat.
Topics discussed in the extra titled Tales from the Tube include, the screenplay, how they got involved, Rank Organization / financing the film, the cast, how Marlon Brando was originally cast to appear in this film and why he had to leave this film, onset memories, the visuals, reaction to the film after it was completed, The Ladd company and other films that they have worked on.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, the origins of the film, screenwriter Ceri Jones, locations, the cast, onset memories and other production related topics.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a twenty-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Mind the Doors: Getting Down with “Death Line” written Michael Gingold and a bio for Donald Pleasence written by Christopher Gullo. Also, included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo. Overall Death Line gets a definitive release from Blue Underground, highly recommended.