November 2, 2000

The Beast in the Cellar (1970)

This was on BBC2 a little while ago and I thought I'd watch it again. It was made in 1970, but is much more like a throwback to the 1950s in tone, language, and effects.

The plot is basically that two old Lancashire spinsters have kept their mad brother locked up in their cellar for 30 years. For some reason he has now escaped and is killing soldiers from a nearby barracks. Well, it's different!

Most of the film is taken up with Flora Robson and Beryl Reid chatting about "the good old days" and other boring old lady talk. They are, of course, there to provide the backstory and clues to the identity of "the beast" (which the authorities think is a panther!), but it's pretty damn obvious what is going on and the surprise ending that this is supposed to lead to isn't much of a shock especially with the giveaway title!!!

Occasionally you get to see a quick killing. Each one is much the same and usually involves some poorly trained soldier who has popped out for a cigarette getting clawed to death in a quite satisfyingly bloody way. It's not scary in any way though.

This is also not a good film by any stretch of the imagination, It's all done on the cheap and it often feels drawn out for such as simple story. It could have been done just as well in a half hour "Tales of the Unexpected" format.

It's worth watching out of curiosity in the same way that some Hammer and Amicus films are interesting for '70s nostalgia. It's just not much of a horror film especially when compared with some of the nastier ones which came out at the same time.

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