A ChucksConnection Film Review


Chris Miller wears black and navy blue high top Converse “Chuck Taylor” All Stars in the film.

The Cellar

by Hal Peterson

 

Willy plays with his remote controlled toys
Willy plays with his remote controlled toys in the ranch house.


The Cellar starts with a fast moving photographic sequence shot in New Mexico with ominous narration that explains the premise of the film: an evil Comanche spirit was buried in a deserted place in the 19th century and marked by a spear which symbolically kept it in tow. The spirit was conjured up to destroy the white men who were encroaching on their land in violation of prior treaties. But as the years passed, development came to the area unaware of the danger lurking just below the earth’s surface. The spear was removed and the spirit unleashed, living in the cellar of the ranch house that was built on the site in the early twentieth century. The film then fast forwards to today, where we see a young couple Mance (Patrick Kilpatrick) and Emily (Suzanne Savoy) with a new baby moving into the ranch property now occupying the site where the spirit was buried. The only two who know about the evil past of the place are the owner T. C. van Houten (Ford Rainey), an old alcoholic who is forced into selling the ranch and a modern medicine man, Chief Sam John (Michael Wren), whose grandfather conjured up the spirit. The chief is continually on the property trying to keep the spirit under wraps through incantations and rituals. T. C. is afraid to tell the young couple about the evil spirit, even when it makes a noise during the sales transaction. When young Willy (Chris Miller), Mance’s son from a previous marriage, comes to New Mexico to spend the summer with his father, he is the first to see the physical manifestation of the evil spirit, a scaly monster that lives in the cellar beneath the house and connecting underground aqueduct to a sink hole on the property. However no one believes Willy is telling the truth, except T. c. and the Chief, attributing Willy’s sightings as the product of an overactive imagination, T. c.’s warning as the ramblings of an old alcoholic, and the Chief’s rituals as Indian mumbo-jumbo.


Willy visits his father and stepmother

Willy visits his father and stepmother in New Mexico.


Although the monster starts wrecking havoc, Willy cannot convince his parents that it is real, but desperately tries to prove its existence and stop it from killing. Later in the film, he even goes into the cellar and sets old animal traps to try and ensnare the monster. When the monster comes out to attack Willy, he is able to escape but unfortunately the monster is able to catch the Chief, who had been watching the activities in the area, and drags him away. Eventually the evil spirit in the form of a flock of crows gets T. c. also, and then Willy resolves to get the monster, no matter what. Things come to a head when Tommy (Alex Pedersen ) the son of Mance’s boss, Kyle Boatwright (Lou Perry), falls into the sink hole and is killed by the monster. Willy knows that the monster grabbed him, but again nobody else believes him. The sheriff thinks that Tommy ran away, and Willy is lying to help him escape, especially when no body was found in the sink hole. But the monster continues to strike, and eventually Willy’s entire family has to fight against it. Their struggle to survive makes up the balance of the movie.


The monster tries to grab Willy

The monster tries to grab Willy when he swings an old tire over the sinkhole.


The Cellar starts out with an interesting premise, but writer John Woodward (who also directed some additional scenes) fails to deliver enough scary or suspenseful scenes to make this a believable top-rate horror thriller. Even the monster, which is supposed to be created from the most deadly parts of the most deadly creatures disappoints, turning out to be a cross between and alligator and a large rat. Patrick Kilpatrick doesn’t give a particularly strong performance as the clueless but brave father. Chris Miller is better as the spirited, sometimes annoying, and misunderstood kid, and Suzanne Savoy is okay as the mom. A lot more could have been done with the characters of T. c., Luke Boatwright, and Sam John, but in true horror picture fashion, they and anyone else who has knowledge of the monster or does something bad are soon dispatched by the monster. It’s too bad that director Kevin Tenney and writer John Woodward didn’t make a better team effort, because there is potential for some really good horror scenes. Nevertheless, for a late night watch, when you want to see a scary movie with not a lot of thinking required, you will enjoy watching The Cellar.


Willy tries to take a Polaroid picture of the monster

Willy tries to take a Polaroid picture of the monster to prove it exists.


Best Chucks Scene


Willy sets some old animal traps

Willy sets some old animal traps to try and catch the monster in the cellar.


Throughout these reviews, we have seen chucks go through the desert, fight giant anacondas, walk the jungles of the inner city, travel though time, and now fight an evil monster in New Mexico. Chris Miller in his role as Willy wears black high top chucks the entire film, except for his very first scene (set in Chicago), where you see him wearing navy blue high tops. Chucks fit Willy’s personality as an independent-minded kid who fights for what he believes in. The best close-up shots are when Willy is fighting the monster, and you see several of these during the film.


Willy grabs the spear

Willy grabs the spear from the ground.


The Cellar. (1990) Patrick Kilpatrick, Chris Miller, Michael Wren, Suzanne Savoy, Ford Rainey, Lou Perry.
Directed by Kevin Tenney. Categories: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction.
ChucksConnection Rating: 2.5 chucks ratingMPAA Rating: PG-13

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