Are You Dying, Young Man?
Young Man, I Think You're Dying
The Beast in the Cellar is one of the more eccentric and peculiar British horror films of the 1970’s. In a way its unconventional narrative is entirely in keeping with Tigon’s general approach to the horror genre. It formed a double bill with one of Tigon’s most creatively successful films The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) and a comparison of both films tells you all you need to know about the companies inconsistency. To be fair to James Kelley who both wrote and directed The Beast in the Cellar his vision was continually hampered by Tenser’s efforts to make it marketable. The powerful family melodrama that Kelley envisioned soon gave way to the prurient title Tenser chose and a series of inserted murder sequences, which stylistically at least, are totally at odds with the rest of the film. One such sequence opens the film, and while we are afforded some beautiful shots of a rural landscape courtesy of Desmond Dickinson and Harry Waxman, this is soon forgotten as the camera spins and weaves to indicate the chaos of a violent attack. I’m not sure who directed these set pieces, but their strategy of shaking the camera around uncontrollably makes these killings feeble and unimaginative. The victims of these frenzied outbursts are exclusively soldiers, who are regularly on manoeuvres in the woodlands (thus continually in harms way) and this makes for an element of intrigue that just about merits further viewing. The early conclusion that a leopard might be responsible for the attacks is an absurdity that is soon thankfully forgotten.
© Shaun Anderson 2011