Visitors flock to see the Beast House with its blood-soaked corridors and creaky doors. Armed with video camcorders, these poor souls enter the forbidden house, never to return. The deeper they go into the house, the darker their nightmares become. Don't even think about going into the cellar.
Richard Laymon was born in Chicago and grew up in California. He earned a BA in English Literature from Willamette University, Oregon and an MA from Loyola University, Los Angeles. He worked as a schoolteacher, a librarian, and a report writer for a law firm, and was the author of more than thirty acclaimed novels.
He also published more than sixty short stories in magazines such as Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock, and Cavalier, and in anthologies including Modern Masters of Horror.
He died from a massive heart attack on February 14, 2001 (Valentine's Day).
Well! There must be something wrong with me because I really enjoyed reading this twisted story. I thought this was my first Richard Laymon book but when I reached a certain part, I realized I read this book when I was still a teenager and never forgot how disturbing it was but I had no idea it was an R.L. book. (Richard Laymon was not in my vocabulary in that lifetime). I am looking forward to the next book in the series. I have to laugh when I read some of the reviews because this is a true horror book and not to be taken so seriously. (IMO). This story is not for the faint hearted or if a reader is easily offended by graphic violence, language and sex, since it has it all. I thought the book was well-written even though it was disturbing in many parts, but isn't horror mean't to be disturbing, shocking or downright frightening? I recommend this book only to horror lovers who are open to "anything goes" in their choice of reading material. I have rated this book 5 twisted 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 stars!!
Here we are with the Godfather of Gore and Splatter's first novel. It was very entertaining with all ingredients we know from his later works. Donna tries to escape her violent husband Roy who was just released from prison because of rape on their daughter Sandy. Jud and Larry are preparing to kill the beast in the Beasthouse. What is the secret of the beast? Why do those different characters meet? Fast paced action meets some gore, sex, voyeurism (jiggling breasts), violence, disgusting child violation, the use of a machete and a great final. Okay, many things are absolutely political incorrect from nowaday's point of view. But the 80s were different. It's always interesting to turn back to Laymon. Reading his books is like watching an unseen Tarentino film. Recommended!
Scary. What a nail-biting way to get the wheel turning. Hoo. Laymon is freaking good!
This is such an awesome read! You’ll find the majority of the scenes disturbing and completely uncomfortable but was written with such talent and guts, nonetheless.
This also enraged me so much I found myself spewing curses and expletives. Damn. The evil of men is endless and terrifying. Maybe you’d realise in the end that the beast in the infamous Beast House is nothing compared to the beast inside the hearts of men like Roy.
The ending caught me off guard! What the hell was that? Whaaaaat? Can I throw up now? Ugh.
This is about a house rumored to contain a blood-thirsty beast. It starts out with a triple murder, then more murder, and as a topper an innocent child is abused and molested in typical Laymon style. It's hard to stomach the kiddie stuff, it really is, and I don't understand the need to put it in the book (there are other way to allude to it without the graphics) but I plodded on hoping it wouldn't continue in this vein.
I resisted the urge to DNF and finished every last word but I can't really say that I'm proud of the fact. Laymon's writing has a way of sucking you in and not letting you go, right? Right?! It's not just me. It can't be.
Still I'd be lying if I said I thought this was one of his best (The Travelling Vampire Show is by far his best). I thought The Cellar was ridiculous and riddled with plot holes. Basically it forces us to follow around a nasty pedophile as he commits atrocities, two horny dummies hot for the pedophile's wife and Donna (and her child) who is the wife on the run. She has run-ins with every lecherous man on the planet and ultimately ends up meeting the beast who resides in "The Cellar". There's lots of rape and some piss poor characterization to add some spice. A little past a third of the way through the book delves into the past of the "beast" because, well we had to know, didn't we? It's so silly that it's unintentionally hilarious.
Don't even get me started on the WTF ending. What did I just read?! I'm doing my best not to spoil things if you are inclined to check out this monstrosity for yourself. But, damnitall, the last chapter made no sense when given the fact that the woman/child had been abused throughout the entire book. When on earth did they develop a weird, unearthly attraction to white hairless,be-jowled beasts with lots of teeth and huge male parts? Ew, no. Please god no.I'll never get those scenes out of my head. Sexy? I think not . . . Gross? You betcha. If this sounds like fun give it a go but don't say I didn't warn you.
For those who are put off by such things, this book includes child molestation, (basically) bestiality and several near-rape scenes. But ... it is Laymon - honestly, what else should you expect? Also, many of those who do these acts get what is coming to them. Like many Laymon books, this is PURE horror - which means, no happy ending. Once again, if that bothers you, perhaps you should skip this book. However, I was riveted - Laymon can put out horror like no other and for horror enthusiasts, this is a must have.
Characters in the book include: a man who was one of the very few to escape the Beast House has hired a hit man to kill The Beast; a woman and her child are on the run from her husband, who has been in jail for raping her daughter; and the Beast House itself - a house in which many gruesome murders have been committed, and to which it is said you should not venture in the dark or the Beast will get you ... Run by a creepy old woman, the Beast House overrides almost everything else with its foreboding presence.
I sometimes question my emotional health for enjoying horror novels the way I do ... but I'm not the only one, so that makes me feel better :-) The rest of you - if you don't yet have this classic of horror in your libraries - go and find it.
I've been reading horror fiction for almost 30 years and THE CELLAR is easily one of the very worst books in the genre that I've ever read. Laymon's reputation as some sort of extreme horror writer would be more understandable if he didn't write like a complete amateur with no understanding of human motivation, personality, or interaction. I've rarely if ever thought that writers who work in this field have "issues" with sex and violence and women, but I had to wonder with Laymon. The whole child molestation angle is witless and crude. He's so clumsy at executing his horror set pieces - which are not, at their base, terrible ideas - that rather than coming off as horrifying or shocking or disturbing, they collapse weakly due to his sheer lack of writing skills. Other parts are simply boring and half-hearted. The ending has no referent to anything that occurred with characters previously so its cynical pitch-blackness is phony. THE CELLAR is simply *no fun* and no good. You want fun graphic tasteless sexual horror, read Graham Masterton's THE MANITOU, PIN by Andrew Neiderman, or Ray Russell's INCUBUS. You want dead serious graphic horror with a sexual element, read Jack Ketchum's THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, BLACK DAHLIA by James Ellroy, NIGHTRUNNERS by Joe Lansdale, or Clive Barker's BOOKS OF BLOOD. You want smart erotic horror, read Poppy Z. Brite or Thomas Tessier's FINISHING TOUCHES. I've also read Laymon's RESURRECTION DREAMS from '88, and again, its central idea was fine, but the finished product was one big turd. I warn you: stay out of THE CELLAR!
unnecessary descriptions of child molestation in an odd subplot that is completely inessential to the narrative... sort of makes me question the author's motives. overall, an incredibly overrated piece of crap. however, taken by itself, "giant human/rat monsters who are obsessed with sex" is sort of an amusing concept. the description of a pair of these fellows earnestly double-teaming their landlady was certainly a first for me.
Ok. After much deliberation, I've come to the conclusion that I was very glad I gave this a shot...,finally! When I first became interested in reading a little more extreme horror I was very reluctant to dip into topics that might offend me. If u read this book, you know that it does have scenes of sexual abuse of a minor or minors. Bothered me and still does, but after reading jack Ketchum's Stranglehold, I figured I could handle it. Stranglehold was far more difficult to read than this. Now, that I got that out, this book was pretty good. The best parts for me being the beast and the diary that unfolded the mystery of how he became. The ending was a tad disappointing, but surprised me as I wanted a different outcome. I hope to be revisited by unsaid characters in The Beast House. Disturbing but somehow enjoyable....;)
Pensavo che dopo aver letto anni fa "La Carne" di Richard Laymon, nessun altro romanzo splatterpunk a base di sesso ed orrore estremo mi avrebbe mai più disturbato altrettanto... invece mi sbagliavo di grosso. "La casa della Bestia" (The Cellar, 1980), suo romanzo di esordio, è un turbinio di perversione, bestialità, pedofilia ed ibridi lovecraftiani uscito dal peggiore degli incubi, con personaggi e situazioni a dir poco improbabili (ma quello era un tratto distintivo del defunto autore, insieme alla sua ossessione per le tette...) ma che nasconde al suo interno una storia appassionante e piena di sorprese che mi ha tenuto sveglio fino a tarda notte e mi hanno fatto letteralmente divorare le ultime 200 e più pagine.
Un classico dell'horror anni 80 ma decisamente non per tutti... le gesta di Roy, padre di famiglia sadico assassino, pedofilo e stupratore, mi hanno dato il voltastomaco. Forse ho decisamente apprezzato questo racconto malato più del dovuto, ma l'ho trovato una lettura appassionante, e quel finale inaspettato ed allucinante ha alzato la valutazione finale da 3 a 4 stelle.
Some people dismiss the late Richard Laymon as a hack horror writer.
Those people should go f**k themselves.
An originator of the early splatterpunk movement, Richard Laymon was an unsung artist who made the job of “novelist” look easy with his literary virtuosity and prolific output.
But, like Rodney Dangerfield, Richard Laymon got no respect. He never found a big American audience for his work during his lifetime. He pumped out thrillers alongside Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, John Saul, and Stephen King, but never achieved the fame and fortune of his contemporaries. Critics dismissed his work as too sexiest and/or too violent. Laymon was an “underground favorite” who had a hard time finding American publishers for his novels.
Fortunately, Laymon found an audience overseas. His sales in England and Australia during the ’80 and ‘90s kept his literary career alive. He was able to eek out a living, feed his family, and keep a roof over their heads.
This alone qualifies him as a literary hero.
Things improved for Laymon in the late ‘90s. Leisure Books published his back catalog to great success. Laymon’s American fan-base grew.
But — because life is as random and violent as … well, a Richard Laymon novel — Richard Laymon died of a massive heart attack in February 2001.
The Cellar (1980) is Richard Laymon’s first published novel, and one of his best (rivaled only by 1988′s Resurrection Dreams). It’s the first volume in The Beast House Series, and showcases Laymon’s lean writing style, penchant for fast-paced plots, and masterful use of dialogue.
The Cellar is a blend of creature-feature and crime thriller, like From Dusk ‘Til Dawn. A mother and daughter flee an abusive boyfriend just released from prison. But their car breaks down in remote Malcasa Point, home of a strange tourist attraction called The Beast House. According to local legend, several gruesome murders occurred in the The Beast House, committed by “demonic beasts” that allegedly still haunt the place.
Mom and Daughter cross paths with a Monster Bounty Hunter, a Creepy Old Man, and The Creepy Beast House Homeowners before Psycho Ex-Boyfriend makes the scene, and fireworks fly.
But things really go ass over teakettle when The Beasts show up, hellacious gargoyle-like creatures sporting enormous, gnarled erections. Creepy, indeed.
The true gem of The Cellar is its epilogue. Laymon’s crafts a twist(ed) ending using only dialogue that is one of the best endings in any novel ever. Period.
Long live. Richard Laymon! I am humbled by his greatness!
Don't read this. Don't let your friends read this.
I mean, unless you like scenes of child rape, adult rape, general misogyny, a one-note villain whose plot just sort of sputters out and stops rather than being resolved, and more rape.
This book also has the stupidest plot twist you can imagine. Seriously, think of a stupid plot twist. Now, imagine that this is stupider than that. MUCH.
I found myself reading this book out of inertia, hoping that it would somehow resolve into something that, while not GOOD, was at least mildly entertaining. I hate leaving books half-read, even if I don't like them that much. I think this book has cured me of that, as I truly wish I had just quit the book during the first child rape scene.
I regret reading this book. I really do. It was so bad that I will likely never read anything else that Laymon has done. I like Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edward Lee, Graham Masterton, Shaun Hutson, and other purveyors of horror. I'm not squeamish at all. This book was just so blatant in its celebration of sleaze and depravity that it just wasn't FUN. It wasn't scary, it wasn't especially provocative (apart from the...well, I'm sure you can guess), and it wasn't well written.
4.5 Stars rounded up to 5. The book ended a little too abruptly so it lost half a star. This is my first book in my goal to read all of Laymon's books in order. I still need to find copies of Out Are The Lights, Night Show, and Allhallow's Eve though. :/ The rest of his bibliography I already have on my Kindle. The three books I still need to get aren't available as ebooks.
"Laymon uses a typewriter ribbon soaked in cold blood," praises Burt Hirschfeld on the cover of my paperback. Perhaps, but not in a good way.
There are many goofy/sleazy things to like in The Cellar: the way it tries to mishmash a horror plot with an action movie; the way the hero is loath to litter; the way ridiculous anxiety is tossed upon ridiculous anxiety when a car crashes off a road; the way Beast House, a tourist-trap attraction, has seen scores of people murdered in it throughout the years, yet has never been condemned or investigated by authorities; the way a sex scene is described thusly: "He became part of her hair, the quiet sounds she made in her throat, her dry places and her slippery places, the many smells of her, the tastes. And finally the slick scabbord that took him, taunted him until he ached for release. / Aching his back, he thrust deeper, deeper than ever. Again Crying out, Donna lurched up and grabbed him. He fell on her, ramming and ramming, and all of the tight ache blasted out of him."
And, of course, the way the beast at the center of Beast House is described as having a penis "hinged like a jaw, possessing a tonguelike member with a two-inch extention."
Yet there is something too disturbing about this book for me to take any joy from reading it, and that disturbing essence lies not with the cheap thrills of the plot but from the author himself.
There are many graphic depictions of child molestation in this book, perpetrated by the heroine's ex-boyfriend as he stalks the coast looking for her.
It would be one thing if these molestations scenes were used in a literary way, such as a way to compare/contrast the beast of Beast House with an actual, human monster. But there is nothing literary about the Cellar: its central aims are to titillate and produce cheap thrills. The child molestation scenes are artless and excessive and gross. I am not the most tasteful person but even I considered them tasteless and revolting; and considering the child molester doesn't meet nearly as bad an end as he deserves, and considering the ending itself continues this child-molestation fantasy, I see something in the Cellar very disturbing.
Anyone who knows me knows I'm far from a prude, but you've got to draw the line somewhere. For me, murder, rape and dismemberment is fine as long as it's between two consenting adults. But you walk a fine line when you bring kids into the equation, and you better know what you're doing, and what you're doing better not be using kid-rape as a cheap way to make things more disturbing or (worse) as a way to get yourself off.
But as someone who knows fetish writing, I think the Cellar is fetish writing disguised as a trashy horror novel. There are way too many descriptions of the bodies of prepubescent girls; way too many descriptions of female bodies in general. Misogyny is nothing new to any genre, especially horror, but it usually doesn't bother me as much as it does in the Cellar. After all, the crux of the Cellar is [spoiler] rape, rape by animalistic monsters which women are first revolted by but secretly want and crave and need. It is the most disgusting and crude rendering of women imaginable, and its inclusion coupled with the gratuitous molestation scenes perpetrated by the ex-boyfriend (who, after all this buildup, just sort of phases out as a character) confirm my view that Laymon is slime, getting off on his dirty writing and making a quick buck off it in the process.
Which would be one thing, if the dirty writing didn't include sex with ten-year old girls who talk like they're 5.
There is true horror in The Cellar, the kind that makes me want to take a shower.
I made it past the 50% mark which is enough for me to feel comfortable writing a review for this one.
I've read a couple of Richard Laymon's later titles. In fact, the first Laymon I read was a novel that was released just after his passing. I have a lot of Laymons on my shelf, and I've been looking forward to finally making my way through them.
I believe The Cellar is Laymon's first published novel, and it's pretty terrible. The writing, the dialogue, and the characters are all unnatural and hard to read.
I had planned to push through to the end, but one of the continuing plot lines of this book is child rape. I hoped after chapter 2 we would move past it to some other awful horror, but I'm halfway into this thing and it's not going away.
I don't know if something cool happens with the beast of this book, but I no longer care. I wish I didn't have to DNF it because DNF books hover in my brain longer than books I finish, but I can't possibly read another page of rape and molestation.
I enjoyed this book for the most part. It was very interesting, I couldn't put it down. It lost one star for feeling a bit unfinished, but I imagine it was necessary. I'll have to read the sequel to find out.
This book is beyond trashy in every way. However, I found that I just could not stop reading it.
Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of problematic issues with this book. But that is no surprise as that type of thing is part of Laymon's style (or so it seems). This book, and Laymon's work in general, is not for everyone.
I didn't think it was possible to be equally disgusted and entertained by a book -- and, yet, here we are! I wouldn't call this a good book, by any means, but it was a fun book to read regardless!
The Cellar is the kind of book that reminds me of why I love old school horror (and Laymon, in particular). Sometimes his stories can be so absurd that you can't help but laugh and scoff all the way through until the end of the book. Once there, you realize that you had a ball reading it despite the fact that the whole thing was ridiculous. Deep down you know the writing isn't great and the story is over-the-top, but, somehow, you enjoyed it anyway!
And that's where I stand with this book! I am giving it 4 stars for providing me with a mindless good time.
To reiterate, not everyone would enjoy this story and/or his other work. His books do tend to have some really outrageous sexual content. A lot of it can be off-putting. If you are worried, I'd suggest researching this book further and make sure to look up trigger warnings as well.
TC is a very early work by Laymon, copyrighted in 1980, and despite numerous triggers and plot holes, he tells an inventive page turner here! As somewhat typical of Laymon, there are several story arcs that you know will meet somewhere during the final denouement. One arc concerns Donna and her 12 y.o. daughter Sandy. The story starts of when Donna gets a call from the D.A. that her ex-husband just got out of jail for raping Sandy when she was 6; Donna immediately packs some bags and hustles Sandy off for a drive north to get away. After some trials and tribulations, Donna and Sandy find themselves stuck in a small town in Northern California until her car can be fixed; the only real attraction in the town is the famous 'beast house'.
Meanwhile, a pair of neighbors, Judgement and Larry, get to talking one night and it turns out Larry had a bad experience at the Beast House as a boy and still has nightmares about it (Jud checking in on his screaming neighbor is how that met one night). Turns out Judgement is basically a free-lance button man and Larry hires him to go take care of the beast. The next day, the two head off to Northern California (Malcasa Point is the town-- get it, 'bad house') to see what can be done.
Roy, as soon as he is released, heads for Donna's house, and finding her gone, almost casually bluffs his way into a nearby house, kills the parents and rapes and then kidnaps a little 10 y.o girl. The next day, after 'persuading' Donna's sister to tell him where she is, they also set out for Malcasa Point...
Finally, we have the Beast House itself. An old Victorian built about the turn of the century; the originally owners were killed shortly after they moved in, all except the mother of the family who was carted off to an insane asylum. After a few decades of sitting empty, the next owners in the 20s moved in and were slaughtered in a similar way, all except (once again) the mother. Since then, others have perished in the house. Now, the house is basically a macabre tourist attraction, with the grizzly deaths displayed as wax figures, and the old lady gives guided tours daily (except holidays of course).
Laymon can tell a story, but the stories he writes are pure pulp fiction. He often reads like a 70s or 80s exploitation film, and exploitation is perhaps the best way to characterize his work. Lots of references to breasts and bums, and of course some sex along the way (excluding the child raper-- thankfully Laymon did not go into detail concerning that). TC lacks the pervey, horny teenager as a lead (thankfully) here, but the characters still make lots of questionable decisions based upon dubious motivations. Laymon is definitely not for everyone, and YMMV tremendously. This is one of his better novels, however, if the pedophile/rapist villain does not cause you to throw the book across the room. 4 beastly stars!!
THE CELLAR is just a solid horror story. It's part monster story, part haunted house and coated in the word gore that only a twisted mind like Richard Laymon could ever conjure. If you've read anything by Richard Laymon, this book doesn't stray far from his usual path of writing. There is lots of brutality, lots of taboos, lots of sex and abuse. The subject matter is nothing new.
I had been meaning to get in to another Laymon read but procrastination and indecisiveness kept putting it off. I was gifted this book so it cut out the decision making on my part and I picked it up wholeheartedly. This would seem like a futher story based around Laymon's THE BEAST HOUSE. Thought I was able to follow and enjoy THE CELLAR, I still was left feeling I may have been able to appreciate it better if I was familiar with the original story. There is a lot of history about the house in this book and I'm not sure if it would have been a richer reading experience had I known more about the characters from the past.
Beyond that, this is like every other Richard Laymon story I've read. Though there is a supernatural element, most of the horror is driven by pure human evil. Laymon holds nothing back. You need an iron will to get through some of the subject matter within the pages. If you've delved into Richard Laymon before you will not be disappointed. If you are new to Laymon you may consider starting with one of his stand alone books (AFTER MIDNIGHT perhaps).
I know I'll get to THE BEAST HOUSE eventually but I kind of wish I'd got there before I read this. Either way I still enjoyed THE CELLAR. It has everything you could expect from a Richard Laymon novel and the ending is just disturbing in a way that will haunt your mind for days on end.
Violent, surprising, twisted and bloody; that pretty much sums up The Cellar. If you're into semi-shock horror you'll lap this up like the beasts within lapping up human remains; gorge on the gruesome.
Ok, what the hell did I just read? Where to start on this one. I've read a few books by Laymon, and it seems all of them have this underlying current of--perversion, I guess youd say. It usually has to do with some type of rape or molestation. This one, however, takes the cake. The repeated rape of a ten year old girl, monster rape, more rape, just a lotta rape.
So once you get past that, you get into some dumbass characters, especially Donna, the main female character. I have heard of something called insta-love that happens in romance novels, when characters fall in love way too fast. Well, this one definitely had some insta-love. So, Donna was married to a violent child abuser. Tortured her for years, abused her daughter. You'd think she'd be at least wary of men, if not downright suspicious right? Well that doesn't stop her from falling in love with a hitman in about 4 minutes. A dangerous looking guy on top of that, and she falls right for him. Right in the middle of a pretty serious situation, she leaves her daughter with a strange, eccentric old man she just met, and has sex with this new guy. Then, when something horrific happens and they're being told about it, she's just thinking of how she can get alone with the guy again (Jud's his name.) Yes, they get told about a rape, which makes her feel empy since Jud's not "inside her", and she wants to get him alone again. Oh, and btw, her psychotic ex husband is after her and her daughter the whole time, literally leaving a path of rape and murder behind him. And she's not alone with the insta-love either. Jud goes off to hunt the beast, and hes like "I have to come back, because now I have someone to come back to." Yes, the woman he's known all of, I dunno, 6 hours.
So, to continue the silliness, they set up a stake out to catch the psycho ex. And what happens during the stake out? Why, they have sex of course. When you are in danger for your life and everything hinges on your senses being at their most alert so you don't get caught unawares, it's always best to..have sex. But hey, at least her daughter is still alone with that eccentric old man. He turned out to be safe, after all, but the character could just as well been driving a van and asking little girls if they want candy for all Donna seemed to care. She just had to keep banging this man she'd met 15 minutes earlier.
Okay, so yeah, I didn't like the characters. Onto the "haunted house" itself. There's a house haunted by, for lack of a better word, monsters. Monsters that love rape and sex, of course. And theres like an 80 year old woman who knows about the monsters. And of course, what does she like folks? Say it with me...RAPE AND SEX!
The story did have a ton of potential. Young boy gets attacked, his friend gets killed, he's haunted by it all of his life. As an old man, he finally hires someone to kill the beast once and for all. Then it sorta all slides downhill.
I will say this, it was definitely unsettling. Very creepy and horrific. No happy ending here, folks. (But plenty of RAPE and SEX!) The bad part is I'll probably keep reading the series since I want to see what happens next! (Could there be more...rape and sex!!?!?)
I liked Funland and The Travelling Vampire Show better than this one, but this was also Laymon's first novel so I'm hoping the later books in the Beast House series are better.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
1980 baby! A good year for horror and the start of Laymon’s Beast House series and Air Supply was “All Out of Love”. (Damn, don’t remind me) OK…Back in Black and Blizzard of Ozz!! That’s more like it!
The Cellar reads like a classic horror novel from the 80’s. Wait! It is a classic horror novel from the 80’s and the first work by Richard Laymon who went on to become one of the true masters of horror.
I really liked this one a lot. While there were definitely some themes that were disturbing involving children, it did not feel to me that it was exploited as some other reviewers seem to feel. I only wish that the just dessert involved could have been drawn out a bit more…like for a month.
A great first novel from a true master of horror! I am looking forward to the rest of the Beast House series. Solid 4+ stars!
This author definitely knows his suspense, drama, gore, horrors and brings them all together with human and beast. What an ending! Going to have to move onto the next...highly recommend this to all fans of modern horror!
Both integrity and prudence behoove a reviewer of The Cellar, Richard Laymon’s debut novel, to take it to task for its lazy plotting, its inconsistent characters with their dubious motivations and boring sex scenes, and its exploitation of pedophilia as a means of manipulating the reader to keep turning the page as the author treats these frequent and unpleasant passages of predation as a sort of slapstick. Nonetheless, this particular reviewer must also parrot fellow reviewer Steve’s succinct and revealing assessment—as deplorable a book that the The Cellar remains thirty-eight years after it was first published, it is also ghoulishly entertaining trash that readers of a particular disposition (i.e. freaks) will slurp down like a styrofoam cup of microwaved noodles in a high-cholesterol broth. A creepy house infested with incestuous anthropomorphic rats ever eager for the next bisexual gang bang? Won't find that in the latest bestseller with a dead woman in its title.
This is my second Richard Laymon book, and I feel pretty much the same about this one as the first.
Some of the book (the general idea of The Beast House), is decent, some of the book (the whole Roy story- gross and not really necessary, at least not in that much detail) is awful. The characters are boring, one dimensional, and idiotic, and the dialogue is ridiculous. The epilogue saved the book a little though. I may give one more of his books a try, but I'm pretty sure Richard Laymon's writing is not my style.
Visitors flock to see the Beast House with its blood-soaked corridors and creaky doors. Armed with video camcorders, these poor souls enter the forbidden house, never to return. The deeper they go into the house, the darker their nightmares become. A woman named Donna goes on the run with her daughter Sandy when she learns that her ex-husband, who molested Sandy for years, has been released from prison. After a car accident leaves them stranded in the small California coastal town of Malcasa Point, Donna and Sandy cross paths with Jud, a mercenary hired to track down and kill the murderous creature that supposedly haunts a local tourist attraction, the Beast House. Judge's employer, Larry, is an elderly man who had a traumatic encounter with the Beast as a child.
My least favorite book by Richard Laymon. I heard it was his first published novel when he was still inexperienced, so I can give it a pass for feeling juvenile and being full of mindless shock value. I'm not squeamish by any means, I've read Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door and quite a few other horror novels dealing with equally horrific subject matter, this just wasn't written well. It feels like the work of a teenage edgelord trying to be hardcore, it's more laughable than it is scary or emotionally devastating.
The ideas behind the story were cool, but the execution was bad for the most part. The dialogue is extremly hollow, not in the fun, cheesy b-movie way either, just plain empty. The characters make no sense. A house notorious for regular killing sprees being used as a tourist attraction makes no sense, someone would've burned the place down or got the cops involved if people were literally dying there left and right in the middle of a populated area. The romance between Donna and Jud felt like a bad porno. The trauma of Sandy and another little girl that was a victim to Roy's crimes didn't feel realistic or handled well at all. The plot twist at the end was stupid and didn't match the tone of the rest of the book.
The only thing I liked about the book was the titular beast. It's some horse-like monster that has a gaping maw with a tongue for a penis and likes to get down and dirty with human woman to make little monster offspring. Again, this element of the story was more hilarious than scary. If anything, I got a kick out of the book just for being able to laugh at its strangeness and tryhard nature. Not the worst book in the world, but definitely the weakest one written by Laymon in my opinion.
This was my first Richard Laymon book. I can see why, for a lot of people, he is an acquired taste. For the past two years I have read horror more than any other genre, and even I thought this book was a little bit too messed up in places.
The action surrounds a “beast” that inhabits a house called the Beast House by its owners who sell tours of the property. Laymon should get a lot of credit for coming up with a original and creepy baddie. It is seriously messed up. That said, there is at least one aspect of the beast, that is a little bit over the top for the sensibilities of most. I won’t go into too many details because I don’t want to spoil anything, but the beast also rapes many of its victims. That is not really giving much away. The discerning reader will have figured that out within the first couple of chapters.
I enjoyed the interaction between the four main protagonists of the story. I also appreciate the fact that the author did not try to create a large elaborate world for his story. Everything is kept simple and trimmed down. Nearly all the action takes place in one town, around one piece of property, and with a relatively small cast of characters.
There are really two significant detractors to the book. Both of them have to do with it being a now 38-year-old book.
The book was published in 1980. Two of the most off putting parts of the book have more to do with it being dated now. The first and biggest is that the depths and widespread nature of child molestation was more rumor and innuendo back then. We didn’t know just how prevalent it was. There’s a sub-plot in this novel involving a character who gleefully sexually assaults pre-adolescent girls. Laymon takes a bit too much time, gives a bit too much detail, and seems to enjoy his audience squirming a little more than is ok by our standards 38 years later. It’s just become too graphic.
The second dates part is how quickly the male and female protagonist hop into bed with one another, knowing nothing about each other. 1980 is still the height of the sexual revolution, before we knew about AIDS and other diseases, or the widespread emotional damage that lifestyle was doing to many people. It comes off as distractingly weird now.
On the whole, this is a good book. It’s worth the while if anyone who likes horror tales with monstery beastly type things.