Deathline

  • 1972
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Horror

A bleak, low-key horror film in which a piteous "monster" preys on late night commuters who have the misfortune to use the wrong London underground station. After a night of cruising seedy Soho sex shops, well-connected politician James Manfred (James Cossins) is assaulted in near-deserted station. American college student Alex (David Ladd) and his English...read more

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A bleak, low-key horror film in which a piteous "monster" preys on late night commuters who have the misfortune to use the wrong London underground station. After a night of cruising seedy Soho sex shops, well-connected politician James Manfred (James Cossins) is assaulted in near-deserted station. American college student Alex (David Ladd) and his English girlfriend, Patricia (Sharon Gurney), report finding the unconscious man splayed on the station steps, but when they return with the police he's gone. Patricia and Alex are interviewed by distinctly hostile London police inspector Calhoun (Donald Pleasance), who seems to be implying that they're up to no good, but he and his associate, Sgt. Rodgers (Norman Rossington), gradually realize that Manfred's disappearance may be one in a long line of missing persons cases centered in and around the same underground station. The case takes an odd turn after three transit workers vanish, and blood samples taken from the scene reveal that someone — presumably the perpetrator — is suffering a host of ailments, including malnutrition, anemia and a vicious blood disease. The nameless man (Hugh Armstrong) they're hunting is in fact the last descendant of a group of poor, uneducated underground workers — men and women — trapped in a tunnel collapse at the end of the 19th century. The construction company callously decided it was too expensive to dig out the easily replaced laborers and left them to die, but some survived and multiplied. Subsequent generations grew up in the dark, gradually losing their capacity for language (the only words the man croaks are "mind the doors," the subway announcement he's heard hundreds of times a day, every day of his life), collecting water that condenses on the walls and snatching unwary passengers from the platform for food. Their ranks recently decimated by a rat-borne plague, the cannibal tribe has dwindled to the man and his pregnant companion (June Turner), who had just died. The Man, who's looking for a mate, kidnaps Patricia when she and Alex are separated late one night, leading Alex to mount a desperate search of the crumbling tunnels. Sherman's influential horror drama relies on a mounting sense of anxiety rather than shocks, and he generates considerable sympathy for the ravaged, inarticulate Man, doomed to privation and disease from the day he was born. The film remains intense and affecting despite David Ladd's truly dreadful performance as Alex, and the biting interplay between Pleasance and Rossington is stellar.

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  • Released: 1972
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A bleak, low-key horror film in which a piteous "monster" preys on late night commuters who have the misfortune to use the wrong London underground station. After a night of cruising seedy Soho sex shops, well-connected politician James Manfred (James Coss… (more)

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