The Cellar (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

The fact that THE CELLAR is as good as it is makes you wonder what the film would have been like had the original director not been fired. The creature effects are nice and the film has some great scenes where the characters get to be characters.

Studio: Vinegar Syndrome
Release Date: November 1989 (original release)
                           April 27th, 2021 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 1 hour 24 minutes 19 seconds (Director's Cut)
                    1 hour 25 minutes 51 seconds (Producer's Cut)
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio)
Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (both versions)
               English Dolby Digital 2.0 (both versions)
Subtitles: English SDH
Slipcover: Yes 
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Patrick Kilpatrick, Chris Miller, Suzanne Savoy, Ford Rainey, and Michael Wren
Written by John Woodward and Darryl Wimberley
Directed by Kevin Tenney
Rating: Not Rated (creature violence) (both versions)




What's It About?

The Cashen Family has just relocated from the city to a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere in Texas. Upon arrival at their new home, Willy, their young son, explores the area, befriending a Native American shaman who warns him of the powerful forces and apparent curse on their land. Meanwhile, at home, Willy senses that there's something unusual about the cellar of their home; specifically that something strange might be living down there...and unfortunately for the Cashen's, it's very hungry... (taken from the back of the blu-ray case)


Film Review

This was a pretty fun film. While I was watching the film, I thought that it felt like a PG-13 horror film. I looked it up after my viewing to find that it was a PG-13 horror film. Back in the 80's, the PG-13 rating actually meant something. It wasn't a place for family-friendly films. It was a place for films that weren't hard enough for an R-rating but were too hard for a PG rating. Films like THE GATE, THE MONSTER SQUAD, and GHOULIES were films that kids wanted to see but parents had to view to make it they weren't too much. Nowadays, the PG-13 rating doesn't mean shit. Too many films are given the rating. It has lost its true meaning. 

Anyway, THE CELLAR is a great monster film that fits very nicely into the PG-13 horror of the 80's. The film focuses on a kid finding out that there is something living in the cellar of his house. Of course, his parents don't believe him until a few people have been eaten by it. The monster looks pretty good, and we see a lot of it during the film's climax. There is a real sense of danger here, another thing that the films of today do without, and I wondered who was actually going to die. I was surprised to see a kid be killed by the monster, which is a pretty big no-no nowadays. THE CELLAR is the kind of film that kids would have "discovered" at a sleepover and then would talk about all the time. That is how I discovered many of my favorite horror films. 


So, there are two transfers here. The director's cut was taken from lab print that the director owns and the producer's cut was taken from the film's original camera negative. Both of them look amazing, but I am going to give the director's cut the upper hand. I love that both versions exist, but I love the "used" feel of the director's cut more than the pristine look of the producer's cut. The DC has not been cleaned up with scratches and hairs popping up throughout, but this added to the charm of the film. The PC has been cleaned up and looks great. Both versions offer up a great amount of detail and there is a surprising amount of depth to the picture. Colors look accurate as do skin tones, and blacks are inky deep. 

The lossless 2.0 track here sounds great with dialogue coming through crisp and clear. There is a lossy 2.0 track as well. English hard-of-hearing subtitles are here for those who need them.


Kevin Tenney Introduction (Director's Cut) (1m 34s, HD, 1.78:1) Tenney gives us a quick explanation of why there are two versions of the film here and tells us that there is hours of content if you watch both versions of the film along with the two commentary tracks, which are different. 

Audio Commentaries with director Kevin Tenney and actors Suzanne Savoy and Patrick Kilpatrick (both versions) Both commentaries are great. All three commentators are clearly having fun watching the film as well as being in each other's company.  The commentary on the Director's Cut is focused more on the nuts and bolts, focusing on the making of the film. There are some nice stories here. The commentary on the Producer's Cut is much more relaxed (even though the other commentary is plenty relaxed) and focused on the differences between the two versions and the stories that go along with it. 

From Chicken Shit to Chicken Salad: Unearthing the Lost Cellar (46m 12s, HD, 1.78:1) director Kevin Tenney, actor Patrick Kilpatrick, actress Suzanne Savoy, creature creator Patrick Tenney, producer Steve Berman,  and composer Kevin Brennan are all on hand to tell the tale of the making of THE CELLAR. The film's original director was fired after the footage he turned in wasn't up to snuff, so the producers called Tenney to bring the film in on time and make a good film. Everyone was happy that Tenney was brought in as he was easy to work with and knew what he wanted and how to get it. Everyone interviewed here seems to recall the making of the film with some nostalgia even if the condition weren't all that great. 

The packaging here is just so nice as it usually is with Vinegar Syndrome. The slipcover is nice and thick and feels great in the hands. The lettering of the title is raised as is the spear on the back of the slipcover. The blu-ray comes inside of a clear, non-eco-friendly blu-ray case. The cover art is reversible with one side featuring the same art as the slipcover while the other side features the film's original theatrical poster. 


THE CELLAR is a good monster film that could have benefitted from some rewrites. The film we got does a good job of giving us the goods without selling itself out. Vinegar Syndrome's blu-ray is a fan's dream with two versions of the film, amazing picture and sound, and some really worthwhile special features. Go into the film not expecting it to be a lost masterpiece and you will have a great time.









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