Monster movies have existed almost as long as the medium of film. The stories themselves have floated around for generations and throughout nearly every culture with some variations.
A tiny creature-feature that came and went with little hullabaloo in the late '80s was 'The Cellar.'
Mance (Patrick Kilpatrick) is a divorced father who is bringing his new wife and baby to their new house out in the desert. His son from his previous marriage, Willy (Chris Miller) comes to visit him and notices something strange right away. After Willy escapes being attacked by some barely-seen creature near a water hole, he tries to convince his parents that there is a monster. Of course, they ignore him.
We get some back story from Chief Sam John (Michael Wren) who warns Mance that the Comanche Indians who had lived in the area trapped the evil of their land (which manifested itself as a combination of many vicious animals) under where their house is. As you can guess, Mance ignores this warning.
Meanwhile, Willy befriends T.C. (Ford Rainey) the local drunk who just might know a little something about this evil and how it got loose.
Will this already fractured family survive this ordeal?
While watching this, a few questions came to mind. Why do unsuspecting couples always ignore the oddities of the real estate agent? Why do parents pooh pooh the fears of their children when evidence is right in front of them? When people get attacked while driving a car (in this case, by crows) why do they always maintain a constant rate of speed even though they are too distracted to steer? One would think that braking or at least laying off of the gas would be an option.
A few establishing shots of crows and a barren desert wasteland might get you excited about a movie with decent production values and an unconventional setting. The (mostly) crappy acting and cheap creature effects sure deflate that hope. The editing is also quite shoddy as some scenes end and fade into the next with little finesse. There is a nice set piece involving an oil well and a semi-memorable climax, so it's not a complete bust.
This story is most interested in the child's perspective. It's not that uncommon with these flicks, but we get an innocent viewpoint that believes what is right in front of them. Most of the adults are the ones who doubt Willy and are the foolish ones. The problem when taking this approach is that the lines between fantasy and horror are certainly blurred. This isn't scary even though logic dictates that it probably should be. Perhaps it is the relative lack of gore but more likely, it is the absence of real suspense.
'The Cellar' is still actually eluding that precious region-1 DVD release (North America). We really aren't missing too much there.
If you do manage to track it down and if it does come to America, don't get your hopes up for this to be anything better than the kind of crap that you would expect.
Add an extra half star to this rating.
Rated PG-13 85 Minutes 1989