The Cellar Review

The Cellar (1980)

Written by: Richard Laymon
Published by: Dorchester Publishing (Originally), 47North

It's been a while since I've posted, I know. I've been focusing on writing and some reading as well. That being said, this little gem was suggested to me by a good friend and after finishing it, I felt it needed to be broadcast to you wonderful readers.

The Cellar is a thrilling horror novel by the talented Richard Laymon. It follows mother and daughter, Donna and Sandy as they flee their home after being tipped off that Donna's ex-husband, Roy has just been released from prison. Their journey intertwines with that of a mercenary by the name of Judgement Rucker and his benefactor, Larry as they are en route to an infamous tourist trap known as Beast House to slay the legendary Beast, for which it is named.

It's hard to pinpoint what exactly I like best about this story. There are so many facets that blend so well together: lust, hate, brutality, sensuality, etc. In the end you get this sort of goulash of good writing that keeps you sucked in and wanting to know what happens next.

Each character in the story pulls their own weight, as it were. There is a great deal of variety between them all. With Jud and Larry, you get a sort of odd rapport that just seems to work. Between Donna and Sandy, there is a bit of whimsy that keeps the story grounded. With Roy, you get the sick perverseness that turns your stomach in just the right places. Mix them all together and you have yourself a cluster-fuck of just the right magnitude to satisfy that inner voice that beckons for controlled chaos.

As an example, here's a small excerpt from the book I'm sure will make your day:

He sliced through the left side of her bikini pants. The edges flopped away. She clamped her legs shut to keep the pants from slipping down.
     "What time does your husband get home?"
     "What time?" He pulled the pants down to her ankles.
     "Maybe four-thirty."
     "It's only three now. That gives us lots of time."
     "I don't know where they went."
     "Oh?" He laughed. "You may be able to take a lot of pain. I'll be happy to give it to you. But let me tell you something: If you love that husband of yours, you'll tell me what I want to know before he gets home. When you tell me where they are, I'll leave. I won't hurt you, I won't hurt your husband. If I'm still here when he gets home, though, I'm going to kill you and him both."
     "I don't know where she is."
     "Sure you do."
     "I don't."
     "Well then, that's too bad for both of you, isn't it?"
     She said nothing.
     "Where did they go?"
     Crouching, he drew a question mark on the white flesh of her buttocks, and watched it bleed.

I can't say there was really anything I didn't like. It was one of those books that had me itching to pick it back up every time I set it down. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. It was different from what I've normally read and thus a sort of breath of fresh air. Especially the ending. I won't spoil anything, but I will say you won't see it coming. I plan to get my hands on the next title in the series soon, The Beast House.

For all you lovers of horror out there, I would highly recommend starting this series off right with The Cellar. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy on You will be delightfully repulsed and perhaps even mortified. I know I was.



Special Effects

Overall Rating: Beastly


  1. What a great review, I have read all of Richard Laymon's stories and I will re-read them over and over for the rest of my life. I am an addicted fan.


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