The Beast in the Cellar (1970)

Article 2726 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-23-2008
Posting Date: 1-29-2009
Directed by James Kelley
Featuring Beryl Reid, Flora Robson, John Hamill
Country: UK

Soldiers are being gruesomely murdered in the English countryside. Two old ladies in the area know who is responsible… only, how is he able to escape from the cellar?

The British print of this movie runs 101 minutes, so I’m assuming I’ve just seen the U.S. version, which had 13 minutes removed. I wonder what was removed. If it was long, talky sequences, than the British version of the movie must have been truly interminable; as it is, this shortened version felt way too long already. The premise isn’t the problem; what drags down this movie is that once the action starts to concentrate on the two old women, we get endless talking, much of it about things we already know or that they’ve already talked about in earlier scenes. The movie is also hampered by attack scenes that are more annoying than scary, a total inability to work up any sort of suspense, an overly elaborate backstory (that is more told than shown), and a monster whose appearance marks one of the bigger letdowns in horror history. The flaccid direction is definitely one of the drawbacks as well; this was the first of two movies directed by James Kelley, and the other one (NIGHT HAIR CHILD) is reputed to be a little better. I’m afraid this is one of those British horror thrillers that falls on the dull side of the fence.


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