With a corny title, and a cameo by Jeffery Coombes ‘Cellar Dweller’ couldn’t be mistaken for any other type of movie than a fairly camp, but perfectly entertaining monster classic could it. And simply put, this movie delivers exactly that.
The plot, which could easily have been entered into any ‘Tales from the Crypt’ series, revolves around the heritage of an avant-garde arts college within which a basement studio houses the ability to bring to life through his comics a very specific monster who goes on a killing spree. After the brief introduction, set in the 1950s, we see Mr Coombes bringing to life the hideous beast, and it ultimately bringing about his demise. Whilst it wasn’t very clear (well to me at least) quite how this monster was brought about, or in fact why, it seemed linked to a mysterious tome which the artist read aloud before drawing. Back in the present a budding artist takes residence in the same studio, looking for inspiration she creates the same creature, and, well, history repeats itself.
For a while not a lot happens, we get introduced to an odd assortment of creative types, we get one of the world’s flimsiest back stories but there isn’t much going on at all, in fact at one point I thought it was going to drag on forever. Whilst I will add that it wasn’t boring, some eccentric acting and quirky moments just about kept things ticking along, this appeared to be stalling for time. Thankfully though, once the monster comes into play, things pick up.
The creature design is a rather odd one. It looks something like a demon ape, although beyond that it would be difficult to describe. Clearly a man in a suit, but somehow manages to stay just the right side of dodgy to remain acceptable. The creature even talks which was quite amusing! Staying within the theme of the comic book idea the creature enters most of the kill scenes as a creepy silhouette and out of proportion shadows. Whilst it is in no way scary it does add a certain element of style to such scenes and I really liked that cross over cinematography which is used to good effect in other movies such as ‘Creepshow’, and the aforementioned ‘Tales from the Crypt’.
The kill sequences are again, just the right side of entertaining. There are no mega kill scenes, most of what you see is either blood spatter, or a bit of limb chomping – and one fairly graphic decapitation. The effects are passable at best, but they are satisfying enough – again they suit the comic book style.
Overall ‘Cellar Dweller’ seems to be an apt analogy for this movie. I will be honest that this movie managed to stay well off my radar now, and after seeing the directors other hit movie, the awful ‘Troll’, I was in no hurry to watch it. Having seen it now I can honestly say that this movie is a satisfying notch above that one. Fans of 80s movies will love it, and whilst I wouldn’t say it was essential, I wish I had seen it earlier. It’s fun and has a great concept.