Plot: When a young couple stumbles upon an unconscious man in a subway stairwell, it starts a chain of events that unearths a dark, twisted piece of the past. The couple tries to get help for the man, but when they return with a police officer, the man is gone and no trace is left behind. Calhoun (Donald Pleasance) is tasked to investigate the situation, as the missing man turns out to be a prominent politician. As he searches for some kind of leads, he learns that a cave in happened in the tunnels and trapped countless workers, who were left for dead. Meanwhile, we are shown that while most of those trapped have died, some survived and even reproduced in the underground tunnel remnants. But now only one remains alive, a savage who feeds on whatever unlucky creature or human comes within his reach. Now he is on the loose and desperate for food, as well as a mate to continue his line. As the police close in, can they stop this twisted cannibal before he unleashes a wave of cannibalistic violence?
Entertainment Value: Perhaps better known as Raw Meat, Death Line is a well crafted horror movie with solid shocks, but better performances. A cannibal escapes his buried enclave when his fellow flesh eaters have all died off, but Donald Pleasance aims to end his violent spree before it spreads. The premise here is interesting, with trapped tunnel workers creating a grisly, cannibalism fueled social circle and the final descendant pushed out into the world to survive. The movie has some fun moments of gore to be sure, not to mention a wild cannibal on the loose, but this isn’t wall to wall splatter by any means. Instead, we have that deep 70s horror vibe that is so cool and a fantastic performance by Donald Pleasance. Pleasance shines here with so much attitude and lends the movie a much needed source of humor. His smart mouthed investigator might seem like an odd choice to hunt down the cannibal, but it works and Pleasance’s turn is one of the film’s highlights. The slow pace might throw some folks off, but I didn’t mind, especially since most of the performances are fun to watch. I’d recommend this to fans of 70s horror, cannibals, and of course, Donald Pleasance.
No nakedness. I know, you really wanted the cannibal guy to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh, but no dice. The blood is not insignificant here, but a lot of it is set dressing and not kinetic violence. The visuals and atmosphere of the cannibal lair are impressive though, with time (and teeth) ravaged corpses strewn about, very dank and gross stuff. As far as on screen violence, we have the infamous scene where the head is bitten off a rat and a few other moments of grue to soak in. I mean, anytime you can see a cannibal hobo impale a dude with a push broom, I’m interested. Not a ton of gore, but what is here looks good and again, the attention to detail in creating the cannibal hideout is more than remarkable. The dialogue has some bright spots, between Pleasance’s great character and the arguments between the young couple. I do love dysfunctional relationships, after all. But Pleasance shines the brightest, more concerned with quality tea than solving murders and not being shy about that. He seems to have a wry comment at every turn, most of which are quite fun. Despite the whole cannibal theme, the movie never pushes too much into the realm of craziness, instead telling a grounded, well spun tale. I have no issue with that, but when it comes to insanity points, Pleasance and the rat feast are the lone earners here.
Overall Insanity: 1/10