Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Alternate Title: Raw Meat
United Kingdom, 1972. Harbor Ventures, K-L Productions. Story by Gary Sherman, Screenplay by Ceri Jones. Cinematography by Alex Thomson. Produced by Paul Maslansky. Music by Wil Malone, Jeremy Rose. Production Design by Denis Gordon-Orr. Film Editing by Geoffrey Foot.
Two students getting off the train at Russell Square tube station in London spot a well dressed man passed out on the stairs and run to get help for him. When they come back he’s gone, and when the man doesn’t show up at home by the following morning, they’re brought to the police for questioning. Donald Pleasence, as police superintendent, can’t figure out why an OBE would be on a subway platform or where he could have disappeared to, or what these two young people could possibly have to do with it; when dead bodies show up in the station and a transit employee goes missing, clues begin to form. What we are told, much to our horror, is that deep inside the tunnels of abandoned stations are people who have been dwelling there for over a hundred years, thought dead after a roof collapsed during construction in the late 1800s but actually living underground and feasting on human flesh to survive. Things get turned up a notch when the young couple accidentally get separated on the platform and he (David Ladd, son of Alan), gets whisked away by the train and she (Sharon Gurney) gets snatched by the giant humanoid who has nefarious plans for her. Parts of this movie are genuinely scary because of how good a job it does at creating a feeling of dread, but also in how well the characters are formed and written. Pleasence, always unpredictable and employing that slight bit of wackiness that always added an edge to his otherwise morose delivery, never seems shockable no matter what he witnesses, while Ladd and Gurney’s chemistry make them seem like actual good kids and a genuine couple, not just archetypes set up as grist for the mill. Alex Thomson contributes superb cinematography that reaches the apex of its artistic expressionism in the film’s exciting climax, in which the script, which has not been playing its allegory of class system subtly, allows us to find the human in the monster without ruining the film’s sense of terror.