The Cellar

The Cellar

3.9 63
by Richard Laymon

View All Available Formats & Editions

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


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

Editorial Reviews

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.


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

Product Details

Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date:
The Beast House Chronicles Series
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.10(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.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Cellar 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 61 reviews.
Jonny-Morbid More than 1 year ago
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.
Cica_1984 More than 1 year ago
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.
JessLucy More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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 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).
PiccoultFan More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It kept my attention and I was on the edge of my seat the entire book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a "different" kind of book. The ending just blew me away. I plan on reading another one of his books next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Girlinshadows More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago