Cellar Dweller / Catacombs – Double Feature (Blu-ray Review)

Cellar-DwellerA gift from Heaven…or a curse from Hell! Scream Factory presents a quartet of supernatural thrillers with brand new HD transfers. All part of the Scream Factory All Night Horror Marathon and All Night Horror Marathon 2 releases on DVD in 2013,fans called for better video transfers and here they are! The Outing & The Godsendand Cellar Dweller & Catacombs make their Blu-ray debut on July 14, 2015.  This is exciting to be seeing them make the jump, and maybe one day the remaining four films (C’mon The Dungeonmaster Blu-ray!!!) will get to see double feature releases too.  This review will be focusing on the two films coming from the Volume 2 release; the cryptic and creature featuring of Cellar Dweller and Catacombs.

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Cellar Dweller 

The promising career of a horror comic book artist ends in a fiery death when he confronts the carnage of his own imagination in his studio. Years later, an ardent devotee of the artist’s work becomes a resident in his house, now an art academy, unaware that her imagination has revived the grotesque murderer of the past…and that she may be the next victim.

This is the 3rd film directed by special effects man John Carl Buechler (2nd full film, he was of a collaborative effort on The Dungeon Master – PLEASE UPDATE THIS ONE NEXT Scream Factory!!).  Its an interesting spot in his filmography, his follow up to Troll and the film right before his biggest directing gig of his career: Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood.  From there it was back to creatures as he did Ghoulies Go To College.

Cellar Dweller is pretty much a creature film and that’s it.  Buechler has a solid creature made and surrounds his movie with it.  Its about as simple as a simple movie can get.  There’s not a whole lot of depth to the thing, and it erases any chance of being mythological with its central concept.  Its basically a monster going around and eating people.  And its absolutely fun to watch.  The film has a pretty cool ending to it as well.  This isn’t for anybody, but if you appreciate those 80s B-movies that were pretty much made just to show some effects, you’ll like this.  Its barely even feature length too, so its not screwing around.  And Jeffrey Combs makes a cameo at the beginning.

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For over 400 years, the curse of the Abbey at San Pietro was kept a secret. Buried deep beneath the monastery lies the Beast of the Apocalypse. The power of evil is unleashed when an American priest and a beautiful young schoolteacher uncover the unholy terror of a diabolical spell cast centuries ago. Now, it will take the ultimate sacrifice for the curse that will not be denied.

On the other end here, we have an entry into religious horror from Full Moon Entertainment.  This one takes itself much more seriously than Cellar Dweller and creates spooky sequences and devilish things a quite well.  Its got a really creepy character to it that helps make it that why.  Catacombs does feature a lot of make up and effects that still stand quite well here, but this movie doesn’t really move as smoothly or effectively as it would like to.

While it is more straight horror and far less camp, it is a bit less fun to watch.  The film is quite dry and doesn’t really have any character to latch onto.  The spooky scenes come at intervals between a lot of talky ones.  The film is also overly populated with some very boring monks.  Which, some I think were intended to be more intimidating than they come off.  As a double feature, definitely take in this one first of the two.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  Cellar Dweller has a disclaimer about its source materials, but honestly, this one looks pretty good.  Its actually better than that of The Outing on the other double feature disc.  There’s plenty of detail and the image looks as crisp as probably ever.  Catacombs is probably the best transfer of any of these double feature DVD upgrades.  Plenty of detail around, and about as sharp an image as it could probably get.

Depth:  Both films feature an average amount of depth with Cellar Dweller looking a little flatter than the other.  Movements are smooth and cinematic.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and accurate, with just a hint of crush and no real details hidden that weren’t intended to.

Color Reproduction:  Both films have very natural coloring, looking lifelike, with some stand outs in the red and green department.  Nothing really bleeding through at all.

Flesh Tones:  Cellar Dweller‘s skin tones look a tad, just barely on the bleached side of things while Catacombs features a natural look.  Cellar Dwellar‘s facial detail is solid, but on the lighter end, while Catacombs has plenty of texture, stubble, wrinkles and so forth.

Noise/Artifacts:  Cellar Dweller features a couple instances of print damage and one clear place where a few frames are missing.  Both films feature their share of grain, dirt, specs and light scratches.

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Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Both films sounds quite good.  The audio tracks are queen and get pretty loud when need be.  Sound effects and distinct with good enough clarity.  There is a steady balance in the mix as well.

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud and clear.  Cellar Dweller mentions anomalies a possibility, but nothing really bad or distracting ever occurred.

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The inside cover features some promotional photos and lobby card images from each film.

Audio Commentary

  • Catacombs – By Director David Schmoeller

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Both of these movies are kinda middle ground, but when paired together they make for a pretty fun time.  If you’re into practical effects and makeup, these two do a real good job here.  If you’re into cheesy cult b-movie, you should be happy too.  For what they are and elements available, they both look and sound pretty terrific.  You even get a commentary for Catacombs, too.  An EASY upgrade over their DVD releases, and a fun 80s horror pick up for your collection.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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