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Thursday April 25th 2024

Death Line (Raw Meat) | 1972

Death Line film location: Grafton Mansions, Duke's Road, Bloomsbury, London WC1
Death Line location: the apartment of Alex and Patricia: Grafton Mansions, Duke's Road, Bloomsbury, London WC1

Gary Sherman’s quirky and grotesque horror film has been overtaken in the gore department over the years but, on release back in the 1970s, was regarded as shockingly graphic. Indeed, it was retitled Raw Meat in the USA, which may give you a subtle hint where the plot is headed.

Donald Pleasence (Dr Loomis from the Halloween movies) is clearly having a ball as Inspector Calhoun, the eccentric police detective investigating a series of mysterious disappearances from the platforms of Russell Square tube station. You might recognise his sidekick as British stalwart Norman Rossington, one of the Beatles’ long-suffering roadies in A Hard Day’s Night. Even a luxuriantly moustachioed Christopher Lee appears in a cameo as a pompous MI5 spook.

Death Line filming location: Russell Square tube station, Bloomsbury, London
Death Line location: the mysterious disappearances: Russell Square tube station, Bloomsbury, London

That certainly is the exterior of the real Russell Square station, Bernard Street, Bloomsbury WC1, opposite the Brunswick Centre (the Brutalist housing complex featured in Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger), but the dank and mildewed stairs and platforms are those of Aldwych Station on The Strand.

At the end of a one-stop spur of the Piccadilly Line, running back and forth to Holborn, the little-used station could be closed down for filming without causing major disruption. Aldwych Station finally closed for good in 1994, since when it’s been used as a regular filming location, in productions such as An American Werewolf In London (as Tottenham Court Road station), The Krays, Prick Up Your Ears and Atonement (as 'Balham').

As a sign of those less sensitive times, it’s cringeworthy to see posters for The Magic Of The Minstrels, the stage version of the inexplicably popular blackface minstrel TV show which occupied the Victoria Palace Theatre for so many years.

The ornate frontage of the theatre attended by students Alex (David Ladd – son of pint sized Hollywood star Alan, who went on to become a producer) and Patricia (Sharon Gurney) is the Grand Hall side entrance of the old Battersea Town Hall, Town Hall Road, Battersea SW11. Home of the prestigious Battersea Arts Centre, the hall was seriously damaged during a disastrous fire in March 2015.

Alex’s flat is in Grafton Mansions, a period block of 10 apartments on Duke’s Road, off Euston Road, Bloomsbury, WC1. The same building was home to Roger (Kayvan Novak) in Disney's origins story Cruella, while 'Roscoe's Grooming Salon', from which the three dalmatians are abducted, stands directly opposite on Duke's Road.

Grafton Mansions was also where the doomed Septimus Smith (Rupert Graves) lived in Marleen Gorris’s 1997 film of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, with Vanessa Redgrave.