From the gloomy, dusty archives of Empire Pictures, taken from the section labelled ‘crappy rubbish’ (it’s quite a big shelf) here comes CELLAR DWELLER, a semi-coherent rendering of an interesting idea that sadly doesn’t really work.
Jeffery Combs, doing his very best ‘Herbert West - Animator’ here, plays comics artist Colin Childress in an extended cameo in an extended prologue. Colin is famous for drawing the ‘Cellar Dweller’ comic, which seems to feature nothing but the exploits of a big hairy monster that tears people apart. Except if you’re a girl, in which case it would appear from the artwork that you have to have ridiculously prominent nipples that can even project through Kevlar to make you a candidate for the ripping. How this comic has become such a success if that’s all it features is anyone’s guess, but let’s move on. Colin draws the monster for what must be the thousandth time. It comes alive and attacks him. He burns down the house. Cue the credits, which last for ages to pad out the running time.
Thirty years later, Colin’s house has been turned into an Empire Films version of an art institute, which means it has a scantily clad girl with 1980s hair sitting on a kitchen table and beating eggs, a random assortment of actors playing students, some of whom look dangerously close to retirement age, and an at-the-end-of-her-career-and-therefore-cheap Yvonne de Carlo presiding over them. Into this somewhat unrealistic milieu comes comics student Deborah Mullowney, who looks as if she’s studying big hair and bigger earrings rather than comic book art (or acting for that matter).
Debs starts drawing Cellar Dweller. He pops up intermittently to eat people who have upset her slightly using his very rubbery jaws. There’s a girl in a shower. There’s a bloke with a mullet. There are some poor optical effects. Deborah and mullet-boy try and get rid of Cellar Dweller. There’s a twist. The film ends. I really can’t think of anything else to say about it.
CELLAR DWELLER is a movie best enjoyed by those nostalgic for the halcyon days of the VHS era, when any old nonsense could be packaged in an oversized, brightly coloured box, and could be assured of pride of place on the rental shelf for about a week before the sticky fingers of those who borrowed it rendered it all but untouchable for the rest of us. To augment the experience, there’s even a line of video drop-out about a minute in, just to remind us that this DVD transfer has been taken straight from a VHS master.I always want to like the films I review here. I wanted to like CELLAR DWELLER, but I just can’t. When the best thing you can say about a film is that it’s short then you know it’s in trouble. There are no extras. You’ve all been warned.
101 Films released CELLAR DWELLER on Region 2 DVD on 12th May 2014