Scream Factory continues their fun series of bluray double features with this pairing of two 1988 films "Cellar Dweller" & "Catacombs" from Charles Band's defunct Empire Pictures. Both films were part of a prior 4 film DVD horror marathon collection but in substandard full frame transfers. Fans demanded better transfers and Scream Factory has delivered with this bluray release.
"Cellar Dweller" is the much better film of the two. Directed by horror special effects legend John Carl Buechler (The Dungeonmaster, Troll, Friday the 13th: Part 7), the film moves along briskly at just under 78 minutes and is a quite entertaining creature feature. The prologue opens with Jeffrey Combs putting the final touches on the latest issue of his demonic comic book "Cellar Dweller" when the title creature comes to life. Flash forward to a female comic book artist who desires to resurrect the creature's comic. The creature is summoned and chaos ensues. While the film was obviously made on the cheap, the creature looks great and the acting is actually quite good throughout. It also features quite a doozy of an ending. Fans of 80's horror and creatures should love it.
"Catacombs" was supposed to also have been released in 1988 but got held in limbo when Empire Pictures went belly up due to money issues. It eventually got released 5 years later as The Curse 4. The plot deals with a haunted monastery and is way too slow for its own good. The movie just plods along with almost nothing of any interest happening for most of its 84 minute running time before delivering a potent ending but by then it's too little too late. Most people will probably watch it once and then forget it's there returning to the highly entertaining Cellar Dweller instead.
Image wise both films look extremely good. Cellar Dwellar opens with a disclaimer that the bluray transfer was made using the last surviving film element which was a film print from MGM's vaults and that some video and audio anomalies might be present. Frankly I was suprised to see that disclaimer as Cellar Dweller looks great in its bluray debut. Detail is quite strong, colors look great and the print was obviously in fine shape. Fans of the film will love how its presented on this release. I was used to seeing it on beat up VHS so watching it in HD widescreen was quite a revalation.
Catacombs looks even better and appears to have been scanned from the original negative and features no issues that I could find.
Audio is presented in 2 channel lossless HD and sounds punchy and clean. Sadly the only extra is a director commentary track on Catacombs with Cellar Dweller getting nothing. That surprises me as John Carl Buechler loves to speak about his work. But I guess we have to take what we can get!
While Catacombs is a bore until the admittedly well done finale, fans of Cellar Dweller should snatch this bluray up immediately. The audio and visual presentation is top notch and while sadly lacking in extras, it still comes recommended to fans of 80's horror in particular.