The Secret Cellar (2003) from Tuna

The Secret Cellar (2003) is a direct to video that IMDB has very sketchy information on. They list only two cast members and link to no reviews, although there are two user comments. The first user comment is from the film's director, John Quinn, who says, "I only had nine days to direct this film but I'm very pleased by the way it turned out. I had a terrific cast that played off of each other extremely well, plus a great crew and a really tight script. It's hard to balance eroticism and horror but I feel I was able to do a pretty good job with this one. Thanks to all who were involved and a special thanks to Kelley Cauthen and Michael Goi."


see the main commentary

I would agree that he did a good job. This is a very low budget soft core horror film, and it is too dark but those are the only negative comments you will hear from me on this film. We have four women in this film (Christina Baby, Ananda Saint James, Kennedy Johnston and Cecelia Simon), and they all have several things in common. They are all naked constantly, they all show everything including gyno-cam shots, none of them have any previous credits at IMDB, none of them appear to be surgically enhanced, and all of them deliver lines convincingly.

The story concerns a woman (Kennedy Johnston) who has inherited a haunted house from her aunt, her boyfriend, another couple (Cecelia Simon and her boyfriend), and another guy, all of whom have come to the house to fix it up to sell. Johnston's boyfriend has promised everyone a party. At this point, I smelled predictability, and was mistaken. Yes, the ghosts do create the horror, and not everyone survives, but people don't die immediately after having sex, no woman screams, trips, then dies, and it takes a while before we realize who is real, who is good and bad, etc. Ananda Saint James and Christina Baby both play sexy ghosts.

It is the rare soft-core that is serious at all about plot, and most of them have way to much footage of boring simulated sex, complete with fancy fades and weird lighting. In this case, though the sex scenes occupied most of the 96 minute running time, they never became boring. There was enough character development among the main characters that I became involved with their struggle. I applaud director Quinn for making what is in my top ten list of soft-core films.

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews online

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

This is a C+: one hell of a genre effort, especially given the time and budget constraints. The physical locations were good, the plot was better than many soft-core efforts, all of the players could deliver lines, the special effects were not terrible and the sex scenes sizzled. For God sake, somebody give this man a real budget and realistic schedule, and let's see what he can do with it.

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