A straight to video classic (that I only recently discovered), Cellar Dweller is a fun movie that hits all the right spots with this 80s horror fan. A strong female lead, comics, monsters, creature FX, Yvonne De Carlo (Lily Munster) and a little nudity thrown in for good measure. Cellar Dweller is a true hidden gem, directed by John Carl Buechler who also directed Friday the 13th Part 7 (my personal favorite).
Basically, the story opens with horror comic artist Colin Childress drawing another installment of his popular comic Cellar Dweller. The monster then appears in real life (not exactly sure why… something about a book) and then murders his wife. During the melee, he discovers the monster can be destroyed by burning the comic pages, but in doing so Childress is claimed by the fire as well. 30 years later, his biggest fan (and budding artist) Whitney Taylor returns to the Childress home, which is now some sort of an artist commune. But Childress is now regarded as a murder and his legacy tarnished. Whitney does not believe her hero could’ve done such a thing and is convinced him and his wife were murdered.
At the commune Whitney befriends some of her fellow artists and rekindles an old rivalry with another. When Whitney sets up shop in the basement, she discovers Colin’s old things… including the book that summons the Cellar Dweller whenever she puts pen to paper.
You can pretty much do the math on what happens next… and it sure is fun! I especially enjoyed the scenes where the action flashes from the comic page, to real life and back again. Very effective and well done.
The creature FX are perfectly 80s, blending use of a fully body suit and puppets.One seen in particular is wonderfully gorey, as CD chomps and crunches a victim as Whitney doodles away with glee.
Overall, the tone is similar to that of Ghoulies (Buechler directed the third installment), Critters, Creepshow and films like that. Fairly lighthearted, with just the right amount of gory fun.
So check this one out if you get a chance, preferably on VHS if you’re lucky enough to own a copy! Or you can grab the DVD, or Blu-ray release from Shout Factory.