Cellar Dweller / Catacombs (Double Feature Blu-ray / Movie Review)
Once again, we get another 80s Double Feature from Scream Factory, and I really hope you’re not getting sick of them, as there will be plenty more in the future. Personally, I love these Double Features, as it allows us collectors / fans to get our hands on some really good “gems” of the horror years past. The only thing I wishing would be fixed on these discs, is the special features, as once again, this disc is severely lacking, with only a commentary for the movie Catacombs; the other movie, Cellar Dweller, arguably the better of the two on the disc, gets nothing. Anyway, even though the features lack, the video /audio quality make up for it, and you can’t forget about the movies themselves, which are equal parts bad and awesome. Let’s see if you agree by going deep down into the dark, after the jump of course…
SUBTITLES: English REGION: A RATING: NR / R PRODUCTION DATE: 1988 RELEASE DATE: July 14th, 2015
CELLAR DWELLER 1987 / Color / Not Rated / New HD Transfer!
The promising career of a horror comic book artist ends in a fiery death when he confronts the bloody carnage of his own imagination in his studio. Years later, an ardent devotee of the artist’s work becomes a resident in his house, now an art academy, unaware that her imagination has revived the grotesque murderer of the past…and that she may be the next victim.
CATACOMBS 1988 / Color / Rated R / New HD Transfer!
For over 400 years, the curse of the Abbey at San Pietro was kept a secret. Buried deep beneath the monastery lies the Beast of the Apocalypse. The power of evil is unleashed when an American priest and a beautiful young schoolteacher uncover the unholy terror of a diabolical spell cast centuries ago. Now, it will take the ultimate sacrifice to stop the curse that will not be denied.
First up on the chopping block is the quirky, low budget affair known as Cellar Dweller, starring 5 minutes of Jeffery Combs (Re-Animator.) Combs plays comic artist Colin Childress, who has created the Tales from the Crypt inspired comic series Cellar Dweller, but unfortunately, he went about using a Satanic book to create the evil monster on the pages, which sadly doesn’t stay on the pages. A couple of boobs and a fire later, we jump ahead 30 years. Whitney Taylor (Debrah Farentino,) another comic artist, who’s career has been inspired by Childress, heads to the same house he worked in 30 years ago, which has now been turned into a center for the arts. I use the term arts very lightly here, as most in the house couldn’t produce something artful, even if the cellar dweller was munching on their heads.
In the house, we have the head mistress, Mrs. Briggs (Yvonne De Carlo,) who hates pretty much everything. Next, we have Amanda (Pamela Bellwood,) a woman who likes to record stuff with her 50 pound camera; she also doesn’t get along with Whitney. Lisa (Miranda Wilson) is our next artist, a performance artist, which I guess involves popping balloons and jumping around to 80s music. Norman Meshelski (Vince Edwards) is the oldest of the group and I assume he is an actor or something. He really likes to play the hard nosed detective and even sometimes holds up the other performers hostage for fun. (Yeah, I don’t really understand that part either.) Finally, we have the love interest Phillip Lemley (Brian Robbins,) who is an abstract artist, which is code for childish finger paintings, and also assumes a nice hug is the equivalent to a really good kiss.
Whitney quickly gets to drawing and what do you know, she finds the old Satanic book Childress used, and brings forth the same exact monster. The monster gets to work on dispatching the others, and we the audience just kind of let the movie play out and pretend there is a story involved. Watch out for that crazy, dark ending though, which makes up for pretty much any fault the movie has.
Cellar Dweller is a low budget movie, directed by an actual pretty good director, John Carl Buechler, who you may know as the director of Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. He also has done practical effects for plenty of other horror films. As I mentioned before, Jeffery Combs is only in the movie for a bit, so we have to rely on the other actors to carry the film and I gotta say, it ain’t working for the most part. Besides our main star, Debrah Farentino, who does an okay job, the other actors just kind of exist to be dispatched and nothing more. They aren’t developed in the least bit, but of course, this is an 80s cheese fest, so I shouldn’t expect much in the character department anyway.
My one true complaint for this movie, is the lack of monster action. He does get to kill some people, but you don’t see much, besides him chomping down on some body parts. I would’ve liked to see him expanded upon, and heck, even some more story development on why this book and creature exist would’ve been nice. I guess that was too much to ask for. Oh well, in the end it was a fun movie, despite all the glaring flaws, and that my folks is all you can ask for.
Now, on to the second movie on the disc, Catacombs; a movie that is slow until the very end, where things finally get interesting, but it’s too late.
Many, many years ago, a person was possessed by the devil at a monastery, and was locked up deep down in the catacombs to rot. Many, many years later, a beautiful woman, Elizabeth Magrino (Laura Schaefer) shows up to monastery, and suddenly, for no reason, the demon is unleashed and starts killing the monks of the monastery. Meanwhile, a clairvoyant woman predicts the murders and does nothing. She’s basically a pointless character, but at least she is hot to look at. From there on out, we spend minutes of religious men fighting among each other, talking about sex, and praying. Finally, in the last few minutes of the movie, we get some creepy scenes of possession and murder. *Spoiler* Who knew that I would see a movie that had a Jesus statue coming to life to kill a monk.
Catacombs is a slow film, that plods along, with not much going on. (Side note: It sat on the shelf for many years, due to Empire Pictures going bankrupt, and eventually got released under the title Curse IV.) We have this crazy demon unleashed in the catacombs, but it doesn’t really do anything until the very end. However, it’s the ending that makes up for a lot the movie (I guess this is the running theme on the disc,) with plenty of spooky scenes, involving statues and demon possession. I was pretty intrigued by the ending, but everything else before it was almost making me fall asleep. Shame.
Scream Factory releases Cellar Dweller and Catacombs with a nice, new HD transfer and the picture quality is something rather special. A note is put up in front of Cellar Dweller mentioning that the movie was put together with some rough negatives, and you should expect some video and audio anomalies. Honestly, I didn’t notice anything major standing out and to be frank, I thought it looked fantastic. The same can be said for Catacombs. Remember, these are two low budget films, and I never thought they would ever look this good. The last time we saw them was on the previously released All Night Horror Marathon: Vol. 2 from Scream Factory and from what I’ve heard, the quality was rough. As for the audio, it’s a serviceable DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, with no major issues present.
Special Features are as I mentioned before, are light. We only get an audio commentary from director David Schmoeller for the feature Catacombs. No trailer, still galleries or interviews on this disc, which is a big shame, as I would’ve loved to see some more on Cellar Dweller.
In the end, I enjoyed this double feature from Scream Factory, even if the movies are what you would consider “bad.” I got the most enjoyment out of Cellar Dweller, but I can’t forget that wonderful ending for Catacombs, even if most of the movie was boring. The special features are lacking for the disc, but the video and audio is top notch. I recommend picking up this Double Feature for sure.