This 1972 movie opens with a man cruising various London sex shops, then attempting to pick up a hooker on an Underground station platform. He's turned down, and after she's gone, the man is attacked by an unseen thing that's breathing quite...wetly. Later, college students Patricia (Sharon Gurney) and her American boyfriend Alex (David Ladd) find the man's body on the stairwell as they are exiting the station. They go to fetch help (over Alex's protestations), and when they return to the scene with a constable, the man's body is gone. I'm going to directly quote D.K. Holm from Movie Poop Shoot here, because it's all a little involved, and quite frankly I'm feeling a little lazy right now.
Through plot contrivance, the kids and now the police have the name of the person, and the vanishing corpse turns out to be an upper class figure gone missing. A police inspector (Donald Pleasence) leaps to the case and eventually uncovers the truth: that the toff was killed by the last surviving member of a cannibalistic clan of people trapped underground in a tunnel disaster since 1892. This man, dwelling in an abattoir off the beaten path, makes forays out into the tunnels and platforms to capture human beings for meat, if for no other reason to keep his dying pregnant wife alive. When that fails, he comes upon a new potential bride, Pat, alone on the station thanks to the forces of plot convenience. Alex and the inspector independently go in search of the lair in which she is trapped.
This movie is more an allegorical critique of class and society than straight-up horror, although it's got a huge amount of realistic looking gore. I know, one is shocked to find excessive gore in a movie about cannibalism called Raw Meat. The first time we see "Cannibal Dude and Wifey"'s lair, it's really an amazing few minutes of cinema. With a heavy emphasis on sound (particularly dripping sounds), we're treated to an incredibly long tracking shot, from each and every detail of the abbatoir to Cannibal Dude attending Wifey on her deathbed, out into the tunnels and onto the tube platform. Unfortunately, Sherman uses these lengthy style shots later to lesser effect. For example, when Wifey finally dies, Cannibal Dude's grieving scene would be much more impactful were it shorter. I know what Sherman's going for, though, as he attempts to portray the monster as more humane than the humans. (To see this themee perfected, try James Whale's Frankenstein ) We've got the callous Inspector and the shallow, superficial, pretty young couple contrasted with the vile-looking underground dweller who's yet capable of true love. I ask, if you cut Cannibal Dude, does he not bleed? If you look at his pustules and open sores, are they not oozing? If he has crazy, nappy hair, does he not need a brush?
I don't know exactly what I expected from Raw Meat. It was enjoyable, though it could've used some more judicious editing. Donald Pleasence was borderline campy in this, adding comedy to the mix. This was strange not only because I've never seen Donald Pleasence be funny before, but also because the humor was so prevalent it left me wondering what to think. And don't get too excited about Christopher Lee's name appearing in the credits- I did, but he gets little more than an extended cameo. I'll give this one 5-and-a-half out of 10 "I'll pass on the meat loaf"s.