The Cellar Door (2007)

20 Horror Movies for $7.50  — Part VI.

Well this is strange.  I just discovered that I already saw this film on 12/22/10 (yeah, I keep track), but remember absolutely nothing about it.  One purpose of this blog was to force me to watch a lot of new films and especially old TV shows.  But I guess I set the precedent as a completist with the Night of the Living Dead rewatch, though, so here goes.

Herman has a girl in the basement who tries to escape while he’s eating breakfast.  She is is sad shape, bloody, scarred, crying, various bondage devices hanging from the ceiling.  As he goes to open the chained titular basement door (a chain which could have been kicked down by my grandmother), she jabs at him with a stick through the crack.

He stupidly goes downstairs and manages to get in a position where she can get behind him with a baseball bat and bash his head in.  She takes a few good whacks, but stupidly does not finish him off.

She runs to the top of the stairs into the kitchen and stupidly stops to take a look around; possibly for some Pop-Tarts, the brown sugar cinnamon ones probably would have hit the spot (just speculating). Possessing an extraordinarily hard noggin, Herman catches her in the kitchen,

She beats him again with the bat, but stupidly she does not finish him off.

She flees the house, struggling with a broken ankle and manages to go to the most desolate area possible in urban Los Angles — the cement Los Angeles River.  When she goes up the other bank, she is stupid enough to be hit by Herman in his car (still wearing his jammies).  He puts her in the trunk, and that’s it for her.  He wraps her in plastic and buries her in the woods.

There is a key word in each section above.  Maybe I was being generous when I gave this film 2 stars on NetFlix almost 5 years ago.  Five minutes in, the shaky camerawork and choppy editing are almost unwatchable; luckily, I give a movie at least six minutes to hook me.

The girl seemed liked she was giving a great performance despite the horrendous camerawork and editing.  Of course, she is dead now, so unless that was a flashforward, she is out of the picture.  And the location — the only one not subterranean — looked great, but there was just too much shakin’ going on.  But at least the director knows a good performance when he sees it.  And it did pull no punches with the end of that opening scene.

Image 041Maybe Herman’s not totally stupid as this time he constructs a cage in the basement to hold his next victim.  He captures his next guest Rudy after following her home drunk from a club.

And that’s most of the movie.  Oh, there’s a bit with a tampon, there’s a bit with a hose, there’s a bit with her roommate. there’s a bit with a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but basically it’s chick in a box.

And if you are keeping a girl captive, why are you keeping her in a box where most of the viewing has to be done through 2-3 inch gaps?  There’s a reason why cage dancers in 1960’s strip clubs were not working behind bars like picket fences.

Even when Rudy’s roommate is abducted and gets a chance to stab him, she stupidly blows it.  Then she gets a chance to whack him repeatedly with a baseball bat, and stupidly does not finish the job any better than Rudy.  As punishment, he puts the roommates arm in a vice and tightens it — an effective piece of horror sadly ruined by epileptic camera work.

In the kitchen, Herman tells Rudy that he will kill her roommate if she doesn’t return.  Luckily, Bob Villa here didn’t remember that a vice isn’t a ratchet — it goes both ways. The roommate surprises them.  Oh, did I mention Herman has a nail half sticking out of his chest that he doesn’t seem to mind — Rudy pounds it the rest of the way into his body and down he goes.  Do they smartly finish him off?  Of course not.

They run through the house.  They recoil at the sight of two Jehovah’s Witnesses, as we all do; until they realize they are dead.  He kills the roommate, then Rudy gets the idea to put on a wedding dress he inexplicably keeps at the house.  She manages to maneuver Herman into the cage and walks away from the house in the wedding gown.  Leaving the keys on the floor within reach.

Who doesn’t like bloody brides?  Kill Bill, Rec3, etc.  So at least that is a great ending shot — just ruined by some of the most godawful heavy metal music ever recorded.

It really is a shame because this simple concept is all it takes to make a decent movie.


  • After 8 years, a sequel, Cellar Door 2: Preymates, has been announced.  Cellar Door: Playmates — that might have been something.
  • I get the feeling they were going for something by naming the captor Herman, as in “her man”.  It is even carved above the cage in the basement.  But it is really more a case of “his girl” not “her man” so it really makes no sense.

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