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The Cellar

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Overview

Tourists flock to Beast House, but few ever return. Behind the cellar door lurks a creature of pure evil.

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Overview

Tourists flock to Beast House, but few ever return. Behind the cellar door lurks a creature of pure evil.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Who better to revisit Richard Laymon's The Cellar, the work that helped spawn extreme fiction, than Edward Lee? Lee is currently perhaps the bestselling author of extreme fiction, with such controversial big sellers as The Bighead and Goon. But now Laymon's THE CELLAR is back in a big way after being out of print for years. Cemetery Dance Publications has issued two lavish limited editions of The Cellar. The autographed numbered edition (only 500 made) features an introduction by Bentley Little, a new afterword by the author, a slipcase, and a gorgeous new cover illustration by Alan Clark. The autographed deluxe lettered edition (only 26 made) is bound in leather and also has a ribbon-page marker and a traycase, and contains an extra full frontispiece by Clark. You can't go wrong with either edition. The only mistake you could make is not getting it now while it's still available.

Edward Lee Enters Richard Laymon's The Cellar

It's not everyday day I receive the privilege to review an author whom I consider a major influence, not only on myself but on the modern horror genre at large.

But—

Holy smokes! This is even more special. Finally we have a U.S. reissue of one of the handful of novels that predated the "extreme" horror movement by well over a decade, and it's a preeminent hardcover edition at that. Originally published by Warner as a mass-market paperback in 1980, Richard Laymon's The CellaR is a kick-out-the-jambs, pull-out-all-stops, no-holds-barred kind of horror novel that served as a progenitor to what the genre has become today in the late-'90s. Like JackKetchum's Off Season, John Shirley's Cellars, Brian McNaughton's Satan's Lovechild, and James Herbert's The Dark, Laymon's book figuratively and literally vivisects the fundamentals of the elements of accepted fiction of the times...

...and then boldly reaches in for an extra handful of viscera.

When I first read this book way back when, I couldn't believe it, and I still can't. I kept thinking, How did this Laymon guy get away with all of this? Why didn't his editor cut the hell out of this book? I'm especially pissed now because my own books have been cut by the mass-market New York paperback editors—for stuff that's not nearly as brow-raising or graphic as many of the scenes in Laymon's book. In other words, folks, this is hard-core, and I mean hard-core with a capital and the stands for "heinous," "horrendous," and "horrific."

In just the first couple of pages, Laymon manages to cross every taboo and then some—almost gleefully—to let his story dance on the reader's most tender sensibilities. And by the first few chapters, your grossometer is pegged way on past the red line. Airlines provide vomit bags for the ride; in Laymon's case, so should the book.

In a lean, sketchy prose style, Laymon all too descriptively reveals the infamy of "The Beast House." It's a typical joint just down the road...but one with a pretty scarlet history, such that it's become something of a tourist attraction around town. See, sometimes when people enter the Beast House, they don't ever come out. Laymon has us wondering why in a big way, but at the same time.... Enter Donna Hayes and her 12-year-old daughter Sandy. Donna wants to get out of town real fast because her former husband just got popped from the can thanks to a lenient parole board. Thank God for the ACLU, huh?

Laymon's taut, declarative prose has a creepy way of sneaking up on you, like when you're shaving in haste, then take a gander in the mirror and see blood running down your face. He expertly shows far more than the basic words; at times his depictions are absolutely repugnant, wholly and thoroughly hideous. It's the economy-of-prose mechanics that work so efficiently here. The screams pierce your eardrums, the raw innards crackle, the visual images glint like shards of broken glass. And the horrors are thus steepened to the clarity of the edge of a newly stropped straight razor.

Jeez! The violence in this book makes "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" look like a couple of Girl Scouts playing paddycake in front of the campfire. Feel like roasting some marshmallows? Well, other things are roasted in this story: the reader's perceptions, and the accepted limits of what an author has business trying to pull off.

This is honest, blatant, and go-for-the-throat horror fiction that cuts no corners and makes no apologies for its form, style, or intent. General readers may well find themselves so appalled that they'll never read horror again. Fine. Go home and watch "The Little Mermaid." Read I'm Okay, You're Okay again. But Donna Hayes and her kid are anything but okay. First they trash their car and get picked up by a grimy psycho with missing fingers. Then they get hooked up with Jud Rucker and Larry Usher; Jud's a hard-core former military guy, and Larry, from decades back, is a survivor of the Beast House. I could write 20 pages about this stupendous book—it's a legend—but I won't spoil any surprises, save to say that there's more than one beast lurking in the.... Well, you gotta read it.

There are, however, scenes of ultraexplicit, sexually motivated violence that might turn off even seasoned horror readers. All I can say about that is, if you want lighthearted fare, you're in the wrong place, brother. Bigtime. What happens here is, Richard Laymon takes you by the hand and proceeds to present a one-on-one guided tour through a house of horrors that would make Christopher Lee have an on-the-spot heart attack. I won't even talk about what is probably the most outrageous, demented, perverted ending in any horror novel I've ever read. And as for the Beast House itself—it will dare you to enter. —Edward Lee

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781477806258
  • Publisher: 47North
  • Publication date: 6/25/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 309
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Laymon is the prolific author of more than 30 novels and 65 short stories which have been published in Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock and Cavalier. A Bram Stoker and Science Fiction Chronicle Award-winning author, his novels have been translated into fifteen languages.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 63 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(26)

4 Star

(22)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(5)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 63 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 17, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    My 2nd Laymon novel

    I now see why THE CELLAR is considered a "cult classic" amongst fans of the "splatterpunk" genre--it is fun! You don't have to care about the characters & Laymon doesn't really develope them fully enough for the reader to feel anything for them--they are cardboard cut-outs; fodder for the Beast that dwells in the cellar. Most of Laymon's characters are just "targets" for the depravity he inflicts on them--& it's very effective. THE CELLAR is the second book I've read by Laymon &--as I've said before--it won't be my last. Many consider it the "holy grail" of the genre--Bentley Little & Edward Lee sing high praises for it & from reading their novels, I can see it was a big influence on their work. This is why I had to find it, read it & see why so many horror fans & authors recommend it highly. Well, I've now read it & join their ranks in saying: This is a fun, sexually depraved, gore dripping piece of work that comes from one sick mind. Loved it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    ok book.

    The writing style was ok. The characters aren't very well developed. It seems Laymon just likes to get straight to the story and doesn't worry about developing characters or settings. Good for people who just want to read a scary book without all the over writing.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2010

    Freaky!

    This was the first book by Richard Laymon I ever read and although his are hit and miss for me, I really enjoyed this one. A friend recommended it and I'm glad she did; it was a very entertaining read! I like Laymon's writing style a lot but I was not expecting the ending; he really shocked me! Graphic and disturbing, this book captured my horrified attention right from the start. Good book if you like to be scared. I also liked Come Out Tonight, The Traveling Vampire Show and Island by the same author. If you liked this book, you might also try Dean Koontz (especially his older books), Philip Margolin, and Tess Gerittsen.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    OVERHYPED. JUST AVERAGE.

    First, I like Richard Layman quite a bit for some of his other books. The Cellar, however, was just a very "lightweight," readable form of pulp fiction with some expected (from him) nastiness. By contrast with his more recent books, I can tell he was a beginner when he wrote this one, which has no character development to make you care. There is some child victimization that was unpleasant also, and put me off a bit. The basic premise was OK.

    Maybe it was just me, but the book never really drew me in and scared me. I felt instead like I was watching with detachment one of those silly slasher movies that has no character development or plot...you just watch for the gore/action scenes. Still, being so short and written in such an easy-to-read, basic style, it was an OK little escape. Interesting twist at the end...

    I would highly recommend Body Rides as a much better example of his more developed writing (terrible, cheap looking cover art but a very engaging book).

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Awful

    This could quite possibly be the worst book I have ever read. I bought it after reading the reviews and hearing that it was in the top ten list of scary novels. It was horrible!!!!! Don't waste your time...The characters were cut-outs, the plot was ridiculous and completely unbelievable. I won't give away the ending but the book is about a creature who kills people. Not very original at all...if you want a good horror novel read Stephen King!!!! After reading The Cellar, I felt my intelligence lower.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2007

    I learned my lesson

    I thought I was devoting my valuable time wisely. Apparently not. This book was terrible. I stuck it out hoping it would improve. Sadly to say it didn't. The villian could have been stopped many times and was allowed to get away. He continued to ruin lives over and over again. His vile relationship with a small child was disgusting. The whole story was about rape and how the victims were violated. No justice in this book. Only to end with the very same victim happily accepting a life of rape. Thank God we have many authors to choose from. This was my first and last book by Richard Laymon.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2007

    The Celler-Horror at its finest!

    I don't know if you are the type of person that is squeamish about certain things when reading a horror novel such as this, if you are then this would not help matters any. It will only keep you up at night. I bought this book from Barnes and Noble, I was looking for something extreme. As a horror writer and horror lover I tend to find the most bizarre thing in a book. The Celler had everything in it that makes a horror novel what it truly is. The characters were well written, the book actually gives you a bad guy that you would love to see die a horrible death. The setting is traditional, the creature itself is intriguing and makes you want to learn more about it and see it in action. The whole history behind what is taking place was well documented. When I heard this was a trilogy, I immediately knew that I had to buy the rest of the books, I am starting to read The Beast House now, I will write a review for that one when I am done. If you are into hardcore horror with a touch of sexuality in this then by all means pick this book up, once you start reading you will not be able to put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2006

    One of Laymon's best

    Its called Beast House. People from all over flock to see it. It has a dark and murderous history. For the last seventy five years people who have dared to live within its walls have met horrible fates. They have been found butchered and partially eaten. The locals don't believe that the murders were the work of any man. They believe it was The Beast. It lives in the house and it waits. It waits and hungers for some unlucky soul to venture in at night. Donna and her daughter Sandy are on the run. They are on the run from Roy, Donna's ex-husband. He's been in prison for abusing and raping Sandy. He has just been released and Donna knows that he will be looking for them, so she and Sandy have hit the road. They hope to find a place were Roy will never find them. They will soon learn that Roy isn't the only thing they have to worry about. They have fled one danger only to find themselves face to face with another. Beast House. I am a huge Laymon fan. I have enjoyed almost every story of his I've read. I was expecting big thing from The Cellar and I wasn't disappointed. I was drawn in on the first page and stayed hooked until the shocking end. The Cellar is the fastest paced Laymon novel I have ever read. I didn't realize how long I was reading it till I looked up at my watch and realized I had been buried in it for four straight hours. I could not put it down. I must warn though that there is a lot of graphic sex and violence. There is one particular scene of pedophilia that was very hard to read. This book isn't for everyone. No punches are pulled in this story. The Cellar is Hardcore Horror make no mistake about it. I recommend The Cellar to anyone who loves a hardcore and fast paced horror story. There are a number of sequels to The Cellar and I cant wait to get my hands on them. I look forward to seeing were this story goes next. Go grab a copy of The Cellar and see if you have the stomach for it. You wont be sorry.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    amazing read

    It kept my attention and I was on the edge of my seat the entire book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Love it!

    Love this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Awesome

    It was a "different" kind of book. The ending just blew me away. I plan on reading another one of his books next.

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  • Posted September 2, 2011

    Its an okay read.

    This book has potential. However, I have one big problem with it. I believe the constant raping scene of an innocent child was not necessary. Once i stumbled upon the first scene i skipped it and the rest as well. I don't care much about reading this kind of thing. The story about the beast however, is interesting but i wish the author would have written a little more about them and their origins.

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  • Posted September 30, 2010

    worst book i have ever read,

    can't imagine anyone actually enjoying this pile of cheap, one-dimensional trash. Beyond the fact that the rape of a child was unneccesarily graphic and vomit inducing, as if that wasn't enough, the book is flat. Flat plot, flat characters, flat dialogue. I'd demand my money back but its the brain cells and time lost reading this I miss most. What a giant waste. If this was the first book in the series i can't believe it was ever picked up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2010

    Not for me.

    I purchased this because I like a good horror book. This is decidedly not my kind of horror. The graphic repeated rape of the child was too much and unnecessary. It takes more thought to imply something than to describe it, he should have taken more thought. I have removed it from my Nook and will not be continuing this series. I will try another of his books after reading other reviews, just will steer clear of this one.
    The story of the beast was interesting and if I could have avoided the other parts easier this might have been a more "enjoyable" read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2008

    In freaking-credible!

    I've read other Laymon books, but geez, I read this one at work in the space of two days. The child rape thing really got to me, and I just knew everything was going to turn out ok, like it always does at the end of a book. Man was I shocked! Laymon is must really be over the edge! Can you say NEEDS THERAPY?? Which means I and almost every other reviewer is right up there with him. He takes Stephen King to a whole new level. One thing though, what happened to Joni? Seems like she escaped or did she?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2008

    Should win an Award

    This book and the ones that tie N with it were awsome just the right amount of blood gore and depravity to keep a die hard horror fan intrested. I could not put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2008

    Hey guys, hey!

    Good book, if you like horror. Very raunchy. Wasn't a big fan of the whole molestation thing though. Beware, not exactly a happy ending, tie's in well with 'beast house' though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2007

    Horror with a Sick twist

    This was my first read by this author and I will admit I enjoyed his writing style. It's a fast read and keeps you anxious to read the next chapter. However, I found it difficult to read the descriptive detailing of the raping of the child victim in this story - that was too demented for my taste. Beside that, the book was an entertaining read. I am curious to see if there is a sequel, as I was not satisfied with the ending - not that it was bad, it just left me wanting for more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2006

    CERTAINLY ENTERTAINING

    I didn't find this book to be Laymon's best work, but it was certainly entertaining none the less. I have enjoyed most of his books and this book didn't let me down. The first and last chapters of the book are really good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2006

    Horror or twisted erotica?

    I think I have spoiled myself with better written more expensive books. I know now what they mean when they say genre books. This book was not well written and the caracters were poorly built. I mean the woman character in this book is a whore from the beginning. You think gosh lady you have only known this man for a day yet you are supposed to sympathize with her. Don't get me wrong I like a dirty book with a little raunchyness in it but not one that should be filed under erotica when you purchase it in the horror section.

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