Plot: Colin Childress (Jeffrey Combs) penned a horror comic book called Cellar Dweller, using actual occult elements to make his stories all the more terrifying. But this would come back to haunt him, as the dark visions he wrote came to life and Colin had to face off with his own monstrous creation. He was able to defeat the beast with fire, but he also perished in the blaze. Decades later, a young artist named Whitney (Debrah Mullowney) wants to create a new comic book inspired by Cellar Dweller, even moving into Childress’ old house. The large house is now home to numerous artists who stay there to hone their craft, as well as share the creative process as a group. As soon as she arrives, Whitney can feel a strong connection with the spirits of the house and has some frightening visions. She continues to work on her comic book, but as time passes, she can sense an escalation in the spirits. Has she awoken the violent presence of the past and if so, is she doomed to be the next victim?
Entertainment Value: A fun monster movie from the days of Empire Pictures, Cellar Dweller is a brisk, well crafted flick. I tend to like movies that mix comic book and horror elements, especially when the plot involves those fictional creations crossing over into the real world. The premise is by no means a fresh one, but it is well handled and never feels like a recycled narrative. The comic book angle isn’t just background noise either, as it plays heavily into the movie and drives the story forward. The shift from Whitney’s hand drawings things into reality to the comic book writing itself was a nice touch, very cool stuff. At under eighty minutes, the film runs at a very quick pace and wastes little time in the process. It is content to tell the story, entertain, and wrap things up, which makes it an easy, brisk watch. The cast is good, with Brian Robbins as the stand out just for his epic level of creeper status. His character reeks of desperation and thirst, so his performance is fun to watch. Jeffrey Combs appears in the opening sequence, but his screen time is limited. A fast pace, fun story, and an impressive monster fuel Cellar Dweller, helping to make it a fun, well made b horror movie. Fans of Empire, Full Moon, and horror in general should find a lot to like here.
In terms of naked flesh, we have a single breast exposed in the opening monster attack, then a shower scene with a more generous approach. The free spirited performance artist gives us a good, long look at her bare breasts and while that’s it for the nudity, it is fun while it lasts. The blood level is rather low, but there is some red stuff and the beast creation is also quite cool. The creature slaughters a few folks and a moderate amount of blood flows, but not as much as you might expect. It was fun to watch him feed on the dismembered body parts, however. The creature itself is really fun to watch and is a huge cut above the typical b movie monsters out there. It adds a lot to Cellar Dweller and is a terrific creation. On the dialogue front, the movie has a good sense of humor so we have some humorous moments. But not a lot of home run lines, though the performance artist’s hippie nonsense is fun at times. The crazy scale is rather low too, but I do need to add a point for the artwork in this one. The movie is all about art, but most of the art shown looks like it came off a single dad’s refrigerator. And while most of the comic book art looks good, some of the panels are just hideous. The “happy ending” panels look atrocious and add some humor. I also liked the way the movie ended, as it takes some nice twists to get there.
Overall Insanity: 2/10