Gary Sherman’s Death Line (aka Raw Meat) Gets Official U.S. Release for 45th Anniversary

| September 25, 2017

Director Gary Sherman’s (Dead & Buried, Poltergeist III, Vice SquadDeath Line (a.k.a. Raw Meat) celebrates its 45th Anniversary, giving fans their first chance to see Sherman’s original cut of the film in lovingly reconstructed with beautiful color and a fantastic soundtrack. We spoke to the insightful and gracious Gary Sherman about making Death Line and his thoughts on the re-release, as well as the current state of politics!


Q: How does it feel to have American audiences see your proper version of Death Line for the first time since its initial release 45 years ago? 

Gary Sherman: It’s absolutely amazing. Presenting the film to new audiences across the country this year has been thrilling. What has been especially wonderful, is standing on the stage, looking out at the faces of those audiences, realizing that few, if any, of them were even born when I originally made this film… and they like it! Wow!


How do you feel about the film currently? Would you change anything about the piece? 

I am very proud of it. But… I’m sure if you ask any filmmaker, writer, artist of any kind, about any piece they did years ago, they’ll find something they want to change. It was my first film; I learned a lot since then. Death Line is what it is—my first film—so I wouldn’t change your frame.


How has response been for the Blue Underground release of the restored version of Death Line

The response has been amazing. Many who had seen the film earlier, in an abridged or barely watchable pirated version, are seeing it as it should have been seen for the first time. Its new audience, seeing it for the first time, seem to be blown away by it. For me, and for those who saw it in Europe in 1972, it’s like being transported back in time.


How is the world different today as opposed to when the film was originally created? 

If you had asked me that question a year ago, I would’ve had a completely different answer. But after the election of #45, I’d say we have progressed very little as a society. In fact, I think we have regressed.


It’s great that you were able to cast Donald Pleasance and Christopher Lee in Death Line, seeing that it was a very low budget film. Did you ever try to work with either of those actors again?

Because I was so upset and disheartened when Death Line became Raw Meat, it took eight years before anyone could talk me into making another film. By then, Donald had become inseparable from his role as Dr. Loom is in the Halloween franchise and Chris had permanently “hung up” his teeth and had little interest in horror. But Christopher did stay in our family. In 1998, my daughter, Melissa, 26 years after I made Death Line, now all grown up, she wrote a guest character for The New Adventures of Robin Hood, a TV series on which she was a writer/producer. Christopher was offered the role and was thrilled to except it knowing that it was written by my daughter.


What are you hoping people will take away from Death Line after they’ve seen the film?

Most of all, I want them to be thinking about why they were sympathetic to the “man.” Think about that!


What are some of your fondest memories of working on the production of the film? 

That’s simple. Every moment! Jay, Laddie, Paul, Alex, Lewis, Donald, Christopher, David, Sharon, Ceri, John and every other member of our cast and crew made that film a joy. You want one special memory? Watching the dailies of the tracking shot! That was like letting others see your dream!


Did you do a preview of the film when it was first finished? If so, how did it go over? 

Except for a cast and crew premiere the first time the film was screened for the public was opening night at the Odeon Victoria in London. I sat in the front row so that I could watch the audience. I couldn’t have been happier. It was if I had scripted their reactions. I was blown away!


Do you have any dream projects you’re hoping to get made?

If you talk about your wishes, they don’t come true.


What is interesting about making horror films to you? 

No matter what genre you’re talking about, the greatest thrill of filmmaking is giving your audience what they want. I guess I know how to scare them. So that what I do!


Who are some of your heroes when it comes to genre films? Any specific directors/actors? 

Back in 1972, when I got started, I think my two biggest heroes were Alfred Hitchcock and Roman Polanski. When I was in preproduction of Death Line I had the great surprise of meeting Polanski and actually getting to sit down and discuss Death Line with him. A year later I ran into him again and had one of the greatest thrills of my life… he told me he saw Death Line and loved it! Later in my career, someone who became a “hero” was Wes Craven. We miss him… and George and Tobe.


What are some of the more interesting reactions people have had to Death Line?

Every reaction to Death Line, for me, is dwarfed by the fact that Guillermo Del Toro credits Death Line as one of his reasons to make movies. If Death Line accomplished nothing else but that, I’m very proud.


Is it true that Blue Underground is doing a restoration of Dead and Buried? What can people expect from that release?

Yep! The original negative is presently being scanned in London on what is supposedly the best 4K scanner anywhere. In December, Steve Poster, the film’s DP, and I will color time this new scan for the Blu-Ray. Joe Renzetti, the composer, will supervise a remix of the track. He is also preparing a soundtrack album which will be included with the Blu-ray. The result will be the best version of Dead & Buried that anyone has ever seen. I am really excited.


Looking back at Death Line now, what are you most proud of about the film?

I guess what I’m most proud of is that 45 years later audiences are still watching the film and
understanding what it is actually about.

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