Directed by James Kelley [Other horror films: La tua presenza nuda! (1972)]
This is a somewhat hard film to get a gauge on. It’s true that much of the film was a bit dry and dull, but there was a bit of charm to be had in this British movie. Even so, I need to err on the side of caution, and say this isn’t really a good film.
I did find the story somewhat interesting, despite the oft-dry tone. There’s a little mystery, some okay atmosphere, and a nice setting, so by no means is it the case the movie that has nothing to offer. Problematically, though, while we do see a couple of murders, saying The Beast in the Cellar picks up speed at any point is a hard case to make.
In the final thirty minutes, we get a lengthy story from Beryl Reid’s character that lasts a good portion of that thirty minutes. It’s told well, with plenty of emotion, and during this, we do see people out searching for the animal-like man that’s been out killing soldiers. But it’s hard to say that there’s any real tension save for perhaps the final five minutes, when the killer comes to the house in the pouring rain (which was nicely atmospheric, to be sure).
Beryl Reid (who I mostly know from Entertaining Mr. Sloane) gave the best performance of the film, and she worked beautifully with Flora Robson (The Shuttered Room), who played her sister. The two of them did great, though Reid gave the lengthy confession toward the end, and got some more emotional scenes in. Smaller roles, such as those provided by John Hamill and Tessa Wyatt, were perfectly good, but as Reid and Robson were the sole focus, no one else had a chance to really stand out.
The print I watched was a bit rough, I admit. I imagine it was a VHS rip, as it was quite scratchy and very dark during night sequences. I don’t think this negatively impacted the film aside from making some things a bit harder to discern (the kills were especially somewhat rough), and it could be said the print maybe even helped give the film a bit more of a grindhouse feel.
Produced by Tigon (who were also behind producing such films as Curse of the Crimson Altar, Witchfinder General, Virgin Witch, The Blood on Satan’s Claw, and The Haunted House of Horror), The Beast in the Cellar is an okay piece of lower budget British horror. It is quite dry, but the performances are compelling even if some of the finale isn’t. It’s not a good movie, but I can’t help but see the charm this one possesses.
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