Monday, June 27, 2011

Cellar Dweller

Today's film is Cellar Dweller, a b-grade horror film from 1989. I decided to do this because this film is actually kinda special to me. This is the first low budget horror film I remember watching as a kid. I had a worn, recorded VHS tape with it that I used to watch constantly between the ages of 3 and 6, but I lost it and couldn't even find the film again until I was 16 due to my not being able to remember the title, the film not getting a DVD release, and the VHS for the film being -extremely- rare. In fact, the only way to watch the film now is to go on ebay for a copy of the VHS, or dig around torrent sites for a VHS rip.

Our movie starts out as many bad 80s horror films do: With Herbert West. He's in this movie for some reason, and has top billing on my copy! Anyway he's drawing a black and white comic about a big hairy monster with a pentagram on its chest, and its hugging some 1960s chick. Also the camera lets us know something is after him, as we see a quick POV shot! Anyway Dr. West reads frm the necronomicon to help him draw his comic, as comic writers often do. That's why Dilbert's tie is perpetually levetating after all, it is Nyarlatotep's will.

Anyway the thing in the comic becomes real, and I've gotta admit for a low budget movie it's kinda awesome looking. It's like a more gorilla like Harry if he ate the Hendersons and converted to devil worship. Dr. West, having been in so many horror films, realizes the best thing to do is get an axe. I know it's weird to keep calling him Dr. West but for fuck's sake he has a labcoat on, and a white undershirt, and a black tie... that's on top of it being the same damn actor. Anyway he sets fire to the comic he drew, which sets fire to the monster, only Dr. West forget that he was also pretty damn flammable, and isn't too happy being surrounded by fire, so unhappy that he dies. So... he stars in this in the same way that Jamie Lee Curtis starred in Halloween 8. Good to know. Sad too, I love Jeffrey Combs.

The opening credits are kinda nice. The music's well done, and it's the camera slowly panning over a bunch of black and white drawings from the comic. It's nice, feels kinda... classic, though that feels odd to say. It's classic in a horror movie sense, I guess I mean to say, that and I love anything that's inspired by old EC horror comics, like the always awesome Stephen King & George A. Romero classic Creepshow.

The film skips forward, and we meet our hero: Artist McLady, also known as Whitney Taylor. Dr. West's house is apparently now filled with artists that are there to discuss their work. Our hero's a big comic fan, especially of Cellar Dweller (we have a title!), the comics Dr. West did before his unfortunate accident involving propane and propane accessories. We also find out that people have labeled Dr. West's death a suicide, I guess it kinda was. We also find out this artist colony thing doesn't have TV or telephones, giving us plot reasons why people can be killed and no authorities will show up.

Our hero decides to go downstairs, wherein she sees a topless woman suddenly lunge forward and scream three times... seriously they repeat it from multiple camera angles, also there's a zombie guy with an axe! ...but it's all a dream because she never went downstairs. ...okay movie. What was the point of that? She also meets potential love interest Phillip, who is a god awful artist. Seriously. I have no artistic skill at all and even I can top him. Everyone else sees it as art though. "Elegant!" "Powerful!" It's just random brush strokes, like something a kid would do in preschool. Then suddenly a mustachioed man with a gun comes in, holds an artist hostage, and demands the paintings. Only the hero guesses that he only had one bullet in there, because the gun he uses only holds six bullets, and she somehow knows there was only one bullet in there. It turns out he's an ex private eye, and everyone else was in on it. ...What the hell, movie? What was the point of that? What was the point of any of that? Did M. Night Shymamalama write this?

Anyway it turns out the lead woman and the only other woman there are against our lead woman, because... plot. Seriously, there's no reason for it. They just are. Conflict for the sake of conflict. Another woman pops up to be her friend though! And they meet when she's found outside screaming at the top of her lungs for no reason at all. ...I feel like I'm gonna be saying "no reason at all" a lot more. Thankfully the conflict is explained a bit more: It turns out Mrs Brigs and Hateful Bitch are just jealous powerhungry people. Okie-doke. Also we find out that Dr. West is actually named Collin Childress. The alliteration is nice but I'm still gonna call him Dr. West.

Oh hey she's going back down stairs again. Will this also be a dream? Is anything in this movie not in a dream? Is this the real finale for St. Elswhere? Well its not a dream, and Philip decides to scare her because "I heard you like to be scared." Thanks for the crappy excuse of a cat-scare, movie. We get some really creepy ghost noses, but they don't actually seem to care, they jokingly refer to it as just being the pipes. Those are fucking ghost noises. They find Dr. West's necronomicon, which politely locked itself in a chest to avoid being burned, and our hero starts reading from it.

Anyway she decides to start working in the cellar, giving us a big cleaning up montage set to smooth jazz, then she goes back to reading from the necronomicon. She decides she wants to continue Dr. West's work and draw something with the big monster from the start of the movie. Since I know I'm gonna be referring to it more, I'm gonna go ahead and name it Kevin Peter Hall, or KPH for short. As she's working on this, the meanspirited chick from earlier videotapes her for some reason. Also drawing the creature brings him back to life, as we see in a brief shot. Also sneaky detective guy is wandering around randomly jotting stuff down in a notepad in a stereotypical detective kind of way. He needs a trenchcoat and a cigar.

Spiteful Bitch is still spying on our hero, for some reason. She's caught, and the two yell at each other for awhile while Not Columbo jots notes about it all.
We finally find out what Spiteful Bitch is up to: She's trying to frame her for plagiarism somehow. But our hero draws Kevin Peter Hall attacking her... and her tripping on a banana peel, both of which actually happen. Also the doorknob vanishes complete with a cartoon "Boi-oi-oi-oing" sound effect, because she drew it to happen. It's like a cartoony Death Note.

We get a bunch of closeups of drawings of our cast alternating between Kevin Peter Hall casually eating his food. Really casually. Seriously it's not really scary, he's just kinda... hangin' out, eating his lunch, which happens to be someone's arm. Just chillin'. He seems happy and calm.

Also the detective decides he's suspicious of Whitney, thinking she killed Amanda/Spiteful Bitch, who is now missing. He's also got a cigar now. Seriously. Also he's got a small office where jazz music plays as he drinks bourbon and types on a typewriter. ...seriously. It's like he's from some 1930s noir mystery-crime movie.

Anyway we also get to see the kind of art the screaming chick does. ...interpretive dance set to really bad synth music, combined with popping ballons with a knife. ...y'know, art. She also takes plastic baby dolls, throws them down, and says "Death is saaad" in a really retarded valley girl way that just made me snort.

The detective gets his hands on a video of the death of Amanda, sees the monster, and... this causes the monster to come out and bat his head clear off in a really silly looking scene. This magically causes a comic to pop up with drawings of it.

It wouldn't be a b-grade 80s horror film without some gratuitous nudity, so we get to see the interpretive dancer chick naked in the shower for awhile before the monster rips her to shreds. Our heroes realize this is the case when they find comic panels showing her being killed before it happens. We get to hear some really, really awful screaming over the same footage from earlier of the monster eating someone, it's the same damn footage! However, both Witney and Philip witness the monster, and rush down stairs to read the necronomicon to find out how to destroy the beat, since now there's only three humans left: Them and the old bitch that runs the place. They try to set fire to the comics, but the monster pulls Philip into it in a move that made me want to just start singing "Taaaake ooooon meeeeee."

We get a really hilarious sequence where Whitney thinks she's talking to the old bitch, but it turns out it's the monster wearing her clothes... for some reason. This is just so fucking hilarious to me. Why you do this, movie?

Anyway she starts throwing stuff at Kevin Peter Hall, until she accidentally spills white out on the comic, which causes him to vanish. I'm honestly so fucking surprised it took her that long to think that would work. Drawing brought him to life, erase him! Also we get some good looks at her own drawings, which are just... awful. Seriously, all of her faces are so damn durpy I can't not laugh when I see them. Anyway she draws Philip escaping into reality and chaining Kevin Peter Hall up, which means they actually happen! Reality warping!

So she draws everyone back to life. Then she gets the bright idea to take all of the drawings, put them in a metal can, and burn them in order to destroy the monster. All of the drawings. ...all of them. Of course, the monster burns, but so does everyone else because she drew them back into life, and she put their drawings into the can too, because she's a dumb bitch. Way to go, everyone's dead now. ...also the monster is still alive for some reason, it kills her, and we hear her get eaten as the credits roll. The end.

What the hell.
That movie was so damn random and so silly that it just... why. So many purposeless scenes, so many things happening without explanation or without cause, it's just a mess.
Don't bother watching this movie unless you're a die hard Jeffery Combs fan, and even then just stop it after he dies.

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