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Torture Cellar

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Lord Vladimere Hellsubus: Prepare to enter Hell, Elura; the Netherworld, the abode of the dead, the infernal regions, that place of torment, Pandemonium, abandonment, that vast unbottomed place that's...really really hot! Naraku! Gehenna! Hades! The boundless —
Elvira: A'right, a'right, I got it, I got it! Sheesh, would somebody take away his thesaurus?!
Elvira's Haunted Hills

A chamber of horrors exists where unspeakable things are done to people, which typically leads to their doom. It might seem like an inescapable madhouse or some unearthly realm of torment, but the truth is... it's just someone's cellar. Used in suspense and horror works, especially works that revolve around serial killers who enjoy torturing their intended victims.

Over-the-top decorations in blood and bones somehow do not result in insect infestation or a telltale stench alerting anyone to the evil doings of the house's owner. This may be due to visual media being bereft of a sense of smell, so it never occurs to them. Often includes an Iron Maiden, either for show or for use as an actual torture device.

A Sub-Trope of Creepy Basement. Also related to Locked in the Dungeon for a more medieval setting, and is often a Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere. Often the first nasty room found when Exploring the Evil Lair. See also Cannibal Larder where the killer piles up their corpses. Closely related is the Maximum Fun Chamber, which is implied to make the rest of the torture cellar look like a day spa.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Fairy Tail, Laki Olietta's bedroom is one of these.
  • In Pokémon: The Series, James's parents have one of these. Jessibelle used this as a way to "educate" him.
  • Tokyo Ghoul:
    • One of the buildings in Aogiri's 11th Ward base is taken over by Yamori for his....personal enjoyment. He keeps a "playroom" in the tower, where he keeps his current victim and tortures them until they die. Kaneki spends a hellish 10 days there, prior to fighting his way to freedom.
    • In the sequel, Shiki Kijima has a private warehouse that he uses for this purpose. He ends up using it to tape a Snuff Film and posts it online to taunt "Rose" into taking action.
    • While never shown, Cochlea seems to have several of these on premise for the "interrogation" of Ghoul prisoners.
  • Higurashi's village of Hinamizawa has a few of these that everyone knew about and left for traditional purposes. Unfortunately, someone (namely, Shion in full Yandere mode) decided to put one of them back to work.

    Comic Books 
  • Black Science: One of Mr Block's dimensionauts refers to sending the armored division to kidnap women for Block's "rumpus room".
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac had a complex, multi-story torture cellar that was bigger than his house. People who wondered why he had a wall covered in blood usually ended up there. Slightly justified in that he did have the sense to soundproof it. It wasn't built by Johnny but apparently came with the house. And is growing on its own accord, making more rooms and corridors as the series goes on... Justified on all counts: the house is under the control of an Eldritch Abomination that latched itself onto Nny and refuses to let go of him. The one way he can keep it at bay is by painting that wall with blood. While at first this is portrayed as a delusion, later issues and I Feel Sick confirm that it is very, very real.
  • Ms. Tree Quarterly: One appears in issue #6 story "Horror Hotel". In this case, the house in question was isolated enough that nosy neighbours wouldn't have been an issue.
  • Sin City: The Farm at North Cross and Lennox featured in both "The Hard Goodbye," where it was Kevin and Cardinal Roark's base of operation for their cannibalistic impulses, and "That Yellow Bastard," where it was where the truly sick titular character took Nancy after kidnapping her.
  • In Superman storyline The Phantom Zone, Faora Hu-Ul's farm at the Kryptonian grasslands of Alezar hid a cellar where she kept her victims until she grew bored of torturing them, whereupon Faora killed them off. She murdered twenty-three persons before getting caught.
  • Violine provides the trope image, showing Commander Muller's Torture Cellar, complete with a Trap Door leading to a crocodile-infested moat. Bonus points for being placed inside an African dictator's palace.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: A large portion of the Supervillain Lair Paula von Gunther manages to construct beneath her prison cell is dedicated to a torture chamber.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side used this setting in several strips (and got several complaints from Amnesty International whenever one was published). In one of them, there is a placard on the wall next to the prisoners: "Congratulations Bob, Torturer of the Month."
  • In The Phantom, two villains boast elaborate medieval torture rooms —- General Tara of Tarakimo and General Kon of Ughland. Tara's facilities are particularly heinous in that they are equipped with closed-circuit camera systems, so the tyrant can "question" his prisoners remotely, from a plush private palace office.
  • Scary Gary: Leopold has a torture chamber in the basement that he uses to torture people he doesn’t like, like Gary’s therapist.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): The existence of one is heavily referenced and felt in the abandoned Monarch outpost that Alan Jonah and his paramilitary have taken up residence in. Jonah's aptly-nicknamed Basement Club are experimenting with Ghidorah's DNA from San's old head down there, and some of the Disposable Vagrants are disappeared and get turned into Artificial Zombies by the experiments.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
  • Not a basement, but the "punishment" room in the Emergency! fic "Lost and Found''. Roy is able to get an idea of what John Gage endured when the two go to the house so John can destroy some things he believes no one should ever see due to the humiliation he endured relating to his captivity. Roy finds handcuffs, a hook (John was cuffed and hung from it), various whips and other implements (which John recalls being beaten with, sometimes followed by rape, while he hung there), and a few things not mentionable in a work-safe environment. He's so reviled he nearly throws up upon finding it (though smelling a dead body a few rooms down doesn't help).
  • In The New Adventures of Invader Zim, Nny is now the janitor in Dib and Zim's school, and has converted his surprisingly spacious janitor's closet into one of these, as seen in his first appearance.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In An American Crime, Sylvia Likens was kept locked in the basement of the family looking after her, where she was tied, beaten, and starved by the family and the neighborhood children. It's made even worse given that it was heavily based on a real-life event. The movie also addresses how everyone ignored the event as it went on, by interrupting the movie with scenes of the trial for Sylvia's murder, as all witnesses were questioned about their silence.
  • Where the serial killer in The Cell keeps his victims.
  • Disturbia, also known as the "Teenage Rear Window", had a killer with a multi-story torture cellar.
  • Parodied by Elvira in her film Elvira's Haunted Hills.
  • Ironically, the parts of The Evil Dead (1981) that were set in the house's cellar were shot in Sam Raimi's garage.
  • In The Final, Dane and his outcast friends use the ranch house he inherited as one of these for a night of revenge against the popular kids.
  • Martin Vanger's house has a very well used one in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011). It's on an island in the northern Swedish countryside, so soundproofing is not an issue. The cellar itself has a bed, kitchen, TV corner, and a metal table for vivisecting people.
  • In The Gravedancers, one of the sociopathic ghosts was a judge who tortured women in his basement and was responsible for many deaths. Somehow, this was never discovered until after he died, despite the vast, theatrical torture chamber portrayed.
  • Grave Encounters: The haunted hospital has an operating room in the basement, the basic purpose of which was to test lobotomies and practice black magic. As history will say, the methods of lobotomy were often very cruel and the victims did not survive very long. Lance finds this out first hand.
  • Lord Kouzuki in The Handmaiden has one of these known as "The Basement". Showing Hideko The Basement when she was a child was enough to give him total psychological control over her.
  • Havenhurst: The basement is where Eleanor and her sons Ezra and Jed put any tenants who fall back into their vices. Once there, they're kept prisoner until Jed comes to sadistically murder them.
  • Hostel - the whole movie is all about this trope.
  • House of 1000 Corpses takes this and all the tropes of the Texas Chainsaw tradition and cranks them to eleven. (The sheer number of skeletons eventually revealed, each and every one of them implying an unsolved missing-persons report, rather strains Suspension of Disbelief.)
  • The remake House of Wax (2005) had one of these that ran under a (admittedly small) town.
  • Anna has one of the psychological variety in Intruders. She has the basement rigged so that the stairs retract, doors can be opened and closed remotely, etc. Eventually she gets her victims into a replica of her childhood bedroom upstairs, where they kill themselves or are killed.
  • Used by the Creeper in Jeepers Creepers.
  • The Spanish film Killing Words features a philosophy professor who has an antiseptic dungeon in his basement that he claims is a torture and killing chamber. We eventually find out that he hadn't actually used it to kill anyone until he murders his wife at the end of the film.
  • A key plot point in the French horror film Martyrs.
  • One of these features in the final horrifying twenty-two minutes of Megan is Missing. It's kept by "Josh", who raped and murdered the title character in there, and proceeds to do even worse things to Amy.
  • Mirrors: It turns out the Mayflower mall, having been built on top of an old mental hospital, still has the old hospital's mirror room — where Esseker's doctor attempted to cure her Demonic Possession (mistaken for schizophrenia) by tying her to a chair and leaving her with nothing to look at but her own reflection in every direction for days — intact in its underground levels.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street:
    • The series features Freddy Krueger who, when he was alive, murdered children in his basement and burned their bodies in the boiler room he worked in. He was, however, eventually found out, but when he got Off on a Technicality, it led to the parents of his victims burning him alive in a vigilante killing that would set the stage for the events of the movies.
    • In the remake, he had a secret room in the basement of the preschool he worked at, where he took the kids to molest them and make them pose for obscene pictures.
  • In The Pact, Annie and Nicole are haunted by memories of childhood time spent in the Torture Closet.
  • The Pit and the Pendulum has a classic archetypal secret Torture Cellar. Justified because Nicolas Medina's father was a notorious member of The Spanish Inquisition, portrayed here in classic Black Legend fashion. This is almost certainly the film Elvira's Haunted Hills is spoofing:
    Don Nicholas Medina: You are about to enter Hell, Bartolome— Hell! The nether world, the infernal region, the abode of the damned. The place of torment. Pandemonium, Abbadon, Tophet, Gehenna, Narraka, the Pit! ...and the Pendulum...
  • The Water Street Butcher from The Poughkeepsie Tapes carries out a large proportion of his crimes in one of these.
  • In Prisoners, in an abandoned building where Keller tortures Alex for information.
  • The basement of the pawn shop in Pulp Fiction, where Vince and Marsellus are held Bound and Gagged and the latter is being sodomized.
  • In The Ribald Tales of Robin Hood, Lady Sallyforth maintains a torture chamber full of some very kinky torture equipment that she uses on Marian.
  • The people who sleep in rooms 110 and 112 of the Grand Hotel in Silent Hill probably have some interesting complaints about room service. In particular, the awful screaming and smell of burning flesh wafting over from room 111.
  • Sleepy Hollow (1999): Ichabod Crane's father, a very religious man who thought his free-spirited wife was a witch and locked her in an iron maiden, is implied to have one of these or at least access to one. Partly justified, since it was never implied that the torture chamber was secret. Torturing suspects was (at least in the world of the film) meant to be part of the historical setting.
  • One of the earliest occurrences of this trope in modern media comes from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974); however, the murderous family's house is so far removed from civilization that it is only discovered by accident. In one of the later films, it is further mentioned that the bodies of their victims are buried in mass graves, which do break down and cause an extremely dangerous substance to form that can be fatal on contact. This detail is ignored in most other instances of this trope.
  • Theresa & Allison: It turns out Paisley has a whole dungeon under her house with numerous human captives whom she tortures for fun before killing them.
  • Also used by the villain in Untraceable. Victims are killed in the basement of Owen's family home.

  • "Buffalo Bill" of The Silence of the Lambs had a nice spacious basement with rooms for raising moths, sewing human skin, and keeping screaming kidnapped ladies.
  • Lampshaded in the Emberverse novels when Norman Arminger tried to have a proper old fashioned "Dungeon" and realized that the terrible hygiene brought about by old straw and rats had this nasty habit of spreading disease outside the dungeon, and so now uses bare concrete rooms with large drains for easy cleanup after.
  • The serial killer in The Mermaid Singing by Val McDermid had a soundproof cellar in a country cottage that was used for medieval torture
  • Older Than Radio: In both the book and (briefly) the movie of The Phantom of the Opera, Erik (the Phantom) has one. It's a completely mirrored room except for one wall with a metal tree on it. When lit, the reflections cause the room to resemble a jungle. Erik also makes the room very warm and makes animal noises. It's supposed to drive its inmates to the point of insanity and cause them to hang themselves on the tree. In the novel at least one person actually does die in there. The fiance of the Phantom's love interest along with the only person who has ever shown any compassion towards Erik just barely manages to escape when the Phantom floods the room and leaves them to die.
  • Bad guy Martin Vanger has one in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The house with the Torture Cellar is located in the countryside, so soundproofing is not so much of an issue.
  • Mr. Monster has an absolutely brutal one in Serial Killer Forman's basement, which we get a good look at when the protagonist is dragged there and locked in the Maximum Fun Chamber known as "the pit". As if the catalog of injuries during a victim's embalming earlier wasn't enough. John takes a moment to look hard at some wounds on her back after finding tissue gas, normally caused by gangrene or extreme bedsores, and realizes that there's only one other way to get that bacteria in a living person: her attacker infected the cuts with human waste.
  • At the beginning of Peter Robinson's novel Aftermath, two police officers arrive at a house to investigate a domestic disturbance and find the bodies of several murdered teenage girls in the basement.
  • Discworld:
  • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Filch mentions that he misses the days when he got to hang students by their thumbs in the dungeons for detentions, and during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Carrows have ensured that detentions are torture sessions.
  • Pretty Girls features two of these. The first is seen in the torture porn videos that Claire finds, with the women chained up in the basement and being subjected to horrible pain through various items, before being killed and raped. Averted, as it turns out this is not a torture basement but a garage that was meticulously decorated to look like a basement. The second one is actually a torture barn that was used decades ago before it was torn down.
  • The Stephen King story "The Gingerbread Girl" features a serial killer who maintains a vacation house on a beach in Florida which serves as one of these.
  • Victoria features one... in the basement of the Maine State House and used in an official capacity. We only see it used on men who assassinated the governor, but just the fact that the new regime felt a need for an official torture chamber raises all sorts of questions.
  • In Warbreaker, Vivenna discovers one of these in her hosts' house and realizes that Tonk Fah's Dead Baby Comedy was entirely literal. Unfortunately for her, her hosts are right behind her.
  • In The Girl Next Door and its movie adaptation, Ruth Chandler turns her basement into a place where she, her sons, and several other neighborhood children can inflict unspeakable tortures on her underage foster daughters Meg and Susan.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Angel, a private hell where former Wolfram & Hart lawyer Lindsey was sent to featured a very special Torture Cellar. On the surface, it was a nice suburban neighborhood, where Lindsey was a white-collar office worker-type with a beautiful wife and young son. But when he had to go down into the basement, a demon would force him onto a table and then cut out his heart. Worse, his heart would regenerate after the ordeal was over and his memory would fade, but he would be left feeling the trauma of his torture. Inevitably the cycle would be repeated again and again until finally Charles Gunn took his place.
    • Gunn is eventually rescued by Illyria and confesses that he actually found the cellar easier to deal with than living in an illusion while knowing something was wrong with it.
  • Game of Thrones: Theon Greyjoy is confined to one in Season 3.
  • In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Ted is invited to design a new house for the extremely wealthy owner of a mansion. He's interrupted halfway through his pitch when the guy says he's not really concerned about the upper house so much as the basement... specifically, the laundry room, which he is very insistent be soundproof and easy to clean, and is exceptionally creepy about it. Everyone Ted speaks to agrees that the guy wanted him to design a murder house.
  • In an episode of Criminal Minds the unsub has a slaughterhouse he has converted to be his own private maze from hell/killing ground. Somewhat justified in that slaughterhouses are designed to cut off its activities from the outside world, and it's in a bad part of town where there are few people around and fewer who care. By this point, probably 30% of all Criminal Minds episodes involve some sort of torture cellar.
  • In the Torchwood episode "Countrycide," Ianto and Tosh end up in one of these. As it turns out, the entire town is one big Torture Cellar, and the villagers are cannibals.
  • The serial killer in the first episode of Wire in the Blood had a soundproof cellar that was used for medieval torture.
  • The final episodes of Waking the Dead featured Boyd given the choice of early retirement or being Kicked Upstairs; he chooses the former and resolves that the team's last case will be one that haunted him for years, about missing teenage tearaways. To his horror, they were all victims of a sexual sadist Serial Killer who operated out of a farmhouse converted into one of these, and more specifically based on the one used by real-life American killer H.H. Holmes. It turned out the killer was the son of a gangster but was long dead, murdered by his foster brother years prior, who since became a corrupt Assistant Police Commisioner and thus their boss.
  • In the Masters of Horror episode "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road", the albino serial killer Moonface performs all his kills in his dungeon underneath his cabin. He typically carves his victims' eyes out with an electrical drill.
  • Alison's craft room, in Orphan Black, essentially becomes one when she ties her husband up in it to get him to confess to being her monitor.
  • Subverted in Daredevil (2015) when Frank Castle drags Schoonover into a tool shed on his property, and Shoonover outright marvels at all the potential Noodle Implements Frank could use to wreak havoc on him. But instead of another Punisher gore-fest, Frank just shoots Schoonover in the head.
  • Shark's killer Wayne Callison just used his garage. The only inconvenience that it caused was having to park his car in the driveway. Disposing of the bodies was slightly more problematic, but only slightly.
  • The 100 has the Harvest Chamber inside Mount Weather. It seems to be one of the bunker's lower levels, and it's where prisoners are used as human dialysis machines until their bodies give out.
  • In American Horror Story: Asylum, the real Bloody Face killer, Dr. Threadson, has one in his house.
  • In The Walking Dead The Governor has one hidden in Woodbury. He imprisons Andrea in it then kills his Token Good Teammate assistant Milton and leaves him to zombify and kill her.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Hunter: The Vigil features a "Torture Suite" Merit your characters can buy to aid in interrogation attempts. This game likes to dwell upon certain themes.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Imperial Inquisitors carry theirs with them.
    • The Dark Eldar realm of Commorragh is a Torture City.
  • In Betrayal at House on the Hill, explorers of the eponymous house have a chance of coming across a medieval torture chamber complete with iron maiden and floor drain in the basement.
  • In Pathfinder, black dragons are such utter hate-driven sadists at heart that they hoard captives even more greedily than treasure, torturing and disfiguring them with acidic spittle for sick entertainment.

  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has a variation of this with the meat room of Mrs. Lovett's pie shop after Sweeney Todd starts with their business of murdering Sweeney's customers and baking them into pies. No torture goes on there, as the customers in question are already dead at this point, but it's still a room where very bad things go down, as poor Toby discovers firsthand when Mrs. Lovett, in her crossing of the Moral Event Horizon, locks the poor kid inside before having Sweeney kill him (fortunately for Toby, they don't find him). Contrary to most versions of this trope, the smell is very much evident as Mrs. Lovett's oven pumps it into the air, but the lady who tells about it during the "Johanna" sequence isn't believed.
  • Variation: An episode of StoryCorps on NPR referenced in a post on's message board, tells the story of a girl whose fingernails a general store owner pulled out in the middle of the store.

    Video Games 
  • In the Thief Gold mission "The Mage Towers", the most remote section of the cellars under the Central Tower was a Torture Cellar, containing an iron maiden and a few racks. Some of the documents in the room indicate that it is used as part of the mages' own training.
  • In Thief II: The Metal Age, Sheriff Truart had a Torture Cellar under his mansion. It wasn't accessible from the ordinary cellars, but rather by way of either of two sets of secret passages (one of which had been boarded up).
  • In World of Warcraft, the Scarlet Crusade have an Iron Maiden in the Stormwind Cathedral.
  • SWAT 3 has a mission where you have to rescue the Turkish ambassador from a torture cellar under a store used as a front for Kurdish terrorists.
  • The training stage of SWAT 4 features a Psychopathic Manchild who kidnapped women and tortured them in a "dungeon" excavated beneath his basement.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion features a secret room that is used to torture Argonians. Unfortunately it's run by the Countess of Leyawiin, who everybody loves and respects and more unfortunately you can never expose her for her crimes; the best you can get away with is killing her in vengeance and even then you have to complete several missions before this becomes a possibility and it comes with a lot of consequences, i.e. a bounty on your head, pursuit by armed guards and possible suspension/expulsion from various guilds. And if murder's not your thing, it's not even satisfying.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has a torture cellar built just for your needs in the second Dark Brotherhood sanctuary. If you thoroughly harm the four people chained to the wall in their underwear, not only do you gain a little experience as if you were fighting normally, but the prisoners also give you a treasure hunt clue to make you stop.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer at the Red wizard academy a teacher gives you the keys to the school but tells you "Don't check behind the bookcase in my room." The journal itself tells you pretty much "Yeah. I know you. You're going to do it." Guess what's behind the bookcase?
  • Resident Evil 2 has one hidden in Raccoon City's police station that's used by the police chief. Its follow-up Code Veronica has one under the prison the player starts at.
  • Stanley Gimble's Prosthetics shop in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines features a rather unsettling backroom filled with unnerving pictures on walls and prosthetic limbs hanging from the ceiling. And as the player descends further into the shop's basement, things get even worse...
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent has one for the last section of the game. Meanwhile, its official expansion pack Justine has a plotline that boils down to "you are trapped in a Torture Cellar that you built and used with three hideous monsters that you made by mutilating three would-be suitors and have to escape with your life."
  • In Baldur's Gate II, the Skinner Murderer, at the Bridge District, keeps one of these, in what is probably an homage to The Silence of the Lambs.
  • Clive Barker's Undying: Bethany has one connecting from her bedroom.
  • Condemned 2: Bloodshot contains almost a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment of one inside St. Joseph's Secondary School.
  • Life Is Strange has one, as is revealed in Episode 4: Dark Room. It is the place where Mr. Jefferson brings his drugged victims to be tied up, photographed, and, in one instance, killed. At the end of the episode, Max Caulfield is herself abducted and taken to the cellar.
  • Ayano's basement serves as one in Yandere Simulator. She takes people she kidnaps there and tortures them in order to mindbreak them. Her torture is of the psychological variety, though nothing is shown of just what she actually DOES to her poor victim. The secret Basement tapes also reveal Ryoba Aishi, Yandere-chan's mother, also used this basement, at least to store her kidnapped Senpai (who would become Ayano's father) until he "loved" her. The same tapes also have Ryoba claim that her mother used the basement the same way.
  • An unmarked location in Fallout 4, a railway post some ways south of Oberland Station, has a hatch that leads to a tiny torture cellar. A dead body is attached to a makeshift battery and a blue box contains bloody fragments of human skull. There's absolutely no indication of who did this, who was tortured, and why.
  • In Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 5, Batman ends up discovering one inside the Vales' home where Vicki and other foster children were shackled and beaten by the adult couple. When Vicki lashes out as Lady Arkham, the leader of the Children of Arkham, she pays them back in kind.
  • Bargate Prison in Fable has one. Scarlet Robe, the Hero's mother has been imprisoned and tortured there for decades. The prison's inmates are routinely tortured there as well for things as petty as losing a race or not appreciating the Warden's poetry.
  • In Whack the Serial Killer, Lisa wakes up in one of these after being abducted by the title Serial Killer, who is busy washing off a machete. After being freed by her dog, she can put the various implements to use against him instead.
  • Mario Party 7: The minigame Wheel of Woe pits three characters inside an underground torture room inside a dungeon. The fourth player attempts to eliminate the trio by performing various actions with the Mic, namely shooting Bullet Bills from cannons, opening jails to unleash Chain Chomps, or asking the nearby Shy Guy to reverse the spinning direction of the floor (which has holes leading to a bottomless pit). The solo player wins if they manage to eliminate all rivals, but the trio will win instead if at least one of them survives for 30 seconds.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: The Collective have one of these in their main lair on Kadara. It's mainly a prison cell where they beat the living crap out of Outcasts they've caught (either for information or just 'cuz).
  • Sniper Elite III: The "Save Churchill" Downloadable Content campaign's level "Belly of the Beast" reveals that the Schutzollstrecker have one such chamber in their Morocco base, where they have forcefully interrogated several Allied prisoners into revealing Winston Churchill's route to the Casablance conference. Following this, they pretty much left all of their prisoners to die, which Fairburne discovers the fates of via Apocalyptic Log written by the Schutzvollstrecker.
  • Breath of Fire II: Ryu and Co. investigate the Bando Church (Rhodes Chapel in the retranslation) at the request of Tiga, leader of the rebel group against the St. Eva Church who believes there's a secret there that could help them to further the rebellion. The group eventually discover a secret entry hidden inside the altar. This leads to a corridor full of human bones and undead monsters. They also found people locked inside who claim that Father Mason, leader of this chapel and high-ranked member of the Church, is responsible. When facing Mason, the Sinister Minister reveals the chapel was used to convert dissidents of the church into its faithful followers by letting them be driven insane by the cursed miasma that permeates the place.

    Visual Novels 
  • A torture attic appears in the Screaming Author case of Spirit Hunter: NG. The Miroku Mansion's attic was where Yakumo amputated the arms and legs off of little girls. This left behind a spirit who would scream every night, and when a neighbour came to investigate, she was driven insane by the screaming and committed suicide.

  • This is played with, in Girl Genius, with Castle Heterodyne. The entire castle could be said to be a house of tortuous experimentation labs, monstrous creations, and hideous traps, so for the hero who manages to really amuse the castle, they have a torture chamber filled with... light music, bright colours, and a rather extensive waiting list. As a cast member puts it, "It's more like psychological torture."
    Othar Tryggvassen: And that music! What is that MUSIC?!
  • The main character's cellar in Le avventure del grande Darth Vader. So far, it has been shown to have an intentionally misspelled sign above the entry door (TEH DANGEON), and to contain: a couch, a harness to hang troublemakers by their scrotum, two pillory-targets for persimmon-throwing against the faces of troublemakers (marked as "TEH TARGHET") and an ass-kicking machine (an engine that moves two wheels with boots on their spokes, marked as "TEH ASS-KIKING MASHEEN").

    Web Original 
  • The Road to Hell...: Psymarr lives in one, and it's filled with prisoners and other victims that he mutilates on a daily basis for his own pleasure.
  • In the PONY.MOV videos, Fluttershy has a torture shed, and her victim's remains decorate the walls.
    Fluttershy: Hey hey hey, stay outta my shed.

    Western Animation 
  • In Futurama, Robot Hell is a real, physical place located underneath an old fairground in New Jersey. Justified. It's New Jersey.
  • In Ben 10: Alien Force, Gwen finds Ben in one of these, in the episode "Time Heals". It is implied that he had been tortured.
  • In Inspector Gadget, the Health Spa from the episode of the same name has one.

    Real Life 
  • Fred and Rosemary West and their "House of Horrors", aka 25 Cromwell Street, in Gloucester, England. They had a literal torture cellar. The house where they committed their crimes is now a pedestrian walkway, for obvious reasons.
  • Dennis Nilsen lived in an upstairs flat, he had no basement, but still got away with dismembering and cooking young men. He committed most of his murders while living in a ground-floor flat with its own garden. He did, however, keep corpses hidden under the floorboards there for months at a time, and disposed of them in large bonfires without the neighbors paying much attention. He wasn't caught until, trying to dispose of more than a dozen corpses, he clogged the drains with human flesh and fat.
  • John Reginald Halliday Christie was actually stupid enough to rent out a room in his house in Rillington Place, the new tenants started to wonder about the smell from a papered-over wall closet... When the police finally came to search 10 Rillington Place, the back garden fence was found to be propped up with a human thighbone.
  • Jeffery Dahmer got away with leaving corpses lying around in his apartment. People complained about the smell, but nobody did anything about it. Anyone could have caught him simply by walking in and opening his closet or his refrigerator — but nobody did until one of his captives escaped and led the police to him.
  • Dr. Henry Holmes built a three-story hotel in Chicago to serve as his Torture Cellar.
  • Gary Heidnik kept women chained up in his basement, primarily for purposes of rape. At least two died, and he even fed their flesh to the other captives. Eventually, one managed to escape and report the matter to authorities. Part of this was supposedly for "religious purposes", one claim of him having a church set up at his own home to lure victims to his house.
  • The Japanese secret police added a torture chamber to the Old Changi Hospital in Singapore during World War II.
  • The Austrian dungeon dad Josef Fritzl:
    • He kept his daughter in the basement for twenty-four years - repeatedly raping her and fathering seven children with her during that time.
    • His basement was underneath the 'apartment building he managed.'
    • In addition, he had built a secret underground home for them including an electronically locked door, kitchenette, and such.
  • Another case from Austria was that of Gottfried W. He imprisoned and sexually abused his two daughters for forty years. The abuse was so bad, that today both are severely emotionally disturbed.
  • Michele Mongelli, dubbed the 'Italian Fritzl', did much the same thing to his daughter (starting when she was nine), and got his son in on it too.
  • Ira Einhorn, aka "The Unicorn Killer" was caught because his neighbors started complaining of a foul odor coming from his apartment; the source turned out to be a badly decomposed body sitting in a trunk. He managed to elude justice for 23 years by running away to Europe before trial. Finally he was returned, convicted, and received life without parole.
  • In a humorous example, Motocross rider Carey Hart decorated his spare bedroom to look like a torture cellar, in order to keep hangers-on from getting too comfortable sleeping at his house.
  • Ed Gein could be considered an example of this. Decorating his home with parts from graves he dug up, and eventually two victims.
  • Eleven bodies were found in Anthony Sowell's house, including several buried in the cellar. People thought the horrific smell in the neighborhood was a broken sewer pipeline or the sausage factory next door.
  • Mafia hitman Roy DeMeo and his crew kept a secret backroom in the Gemini Lounge where they would lure targets for assassination, and then dismember the bodies for covert disposal.
  • The Turkish Police forces once stumbled upon the primary safehouse of a domestic terrorist organization (they knew it was a safehouse but didn't expect it to be the primary one). After securing it and sending teams to investigate the evidence, they discovered the basement had been used for the torture and burial of several kidnapped people. Subsequent investigations revealed several more such houses. The clincher? None of these places were isolated. They were all in heavily populated urban centers. On top of that, the group had also sold a few such houses to private buyers after they no longer needed these locations as safehouses. The new owners had to face the horrific realization that they had been living atop torture victims for months or even years.
  • A very light (but still NSFW) version exists in the BDSM world: the Dungeon, where they usually keep their "toys". The main differences is that the "victims" gave their initial consent, can call a halt at any time, and are having as much fun as the person doing the torturing.
    • Ironically, however, many if not most BDSM practitioners tend to keep their Dungeons on the ground floor or an upper floor. BDSM clubs are sometimes even multi-story affairs. There are practical reasons for this. Actual below-ground cellars tend to have lower ceilings and a lot of the "furniture" in a well-equipped dungeon can be too tall to fit. Also in some climates, basements can be damp or even prone to flooding, potentially ruining thousands of dollars worth of equipment.
  • The "hole" in Alcatraz.
  • John Jamelske of Syracuse, NY had a literal torture cellar. However, he tended to blindfold his victims and drop them off, alive, at various locations, after a period ranging from weeks to months.
  • David Parker Ray, the "Toy Box Killer," was a sexual sadist of the worst variety, who kidnapped, tortured, and is suspected to have murdered women in a $100,000 homemade torture chamber that he called his "toy box," which was equipped with what he referred to as his "friends": whips, chains, pulleys, straps, clamps, leg spreader bars, and surgical blades and saws. He terrorized the town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico for a number of years before, like Gary Heidnik, one of his victims escaped and notified the authorities.
  • The Feral Child Genie was isolated in a room like this, tied to a potty chair during the day, and bound in an enclosed crib with metal screening at night.
  • The Bloody Benders had a method, where they would have folks stay the night, while the daughter, Kate, would pump them for information. If the person had money, they would strike the guest on the head with a hammer from behind a curtain, before cutting their throat and dumping them into a pit under the house.
  • In 1992 a young girl named Katie Beers was held prisoner in the basement of a family friend's home where she was left alone in the dark for hours at a time. Her only brief reprieve came whenever he'd come in the evenings to bring her food—and rape her.
  • In 2013, three women were rescued from one in Cleveland. The house of the perpetrator, Ariel Castro, has since been torn down and the debris pulverized in order to prevent anyone from taking souvenirs.
  • Infamous Belgian paedophile Marc Doutroux had a hidden cellar room where he imprisoned a succession of pre-teen girls for sexual abuse. This was completely missed several times by police searching the house. Girls died there not so much of active torture - rape and psychological abuse excepted - but of neglect and malnutrition.
  • In Northern Ireland, a group of Protestant terrorists known as The Shankhill Butchers maintained a cellar where random Catholics were tortured to death, with implements including Black and Decker drills. On the other side, Republican terrorists were known to have used out-of-the-way places, including farm cellars, to "interrogate" members suspected of passing on information to British security forces. It is believed a captured SAS officer, Captain Robert Nairac, was tortured in such a "safe facility" in the Republic of Ireland before being killed and his body Fed to Pigs.
  • In 1935, the EL-DE-Haus (a mid-sized office building in downtown Cologne) was rented out to The Gestapo, who promptly turned the cellar compartments into a cell block for political prisoners awaiting interrogation, including a dedicated room for the Cold-Blooded Torture (usually by way of savage beatings using fists, boots, truncheons, and whips) and even a minuscule, pitch-black cell for solitary confinement. The gaol was soon running at an estimated 10,000% capacity, with up to thirty prisoners stuffed into a space designed for two. It didn't take long for the torture chamber to become an Open Secret since the building was situated on a very busy street and the squalid stench and blood-curling screams of the tortured became hard to ignore. The Gestapo ultimately abandoned all pretenses of secrecy when they began hanging and shooting prisoners right in the building's courtyard, in full view of dozens of co-tenants, neighbours, and even people walking down the street. After the war, the torture cellar quickly fell into obscurity after the building was resold and the cellar repurposed as a file storage, despite the fact that there still were hundreds of gut-wrenching graffiti messages carved into the walls. It took historians and survivors decades to lobby for the city to turn the place into a museum and a memorial.
    • Remember Amon Göth, the Nazi camp commander played so chillingly by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List? The real-life Göth was, if anything, even worse than he was portrayed in the film. One of the many atrocities Steven Speilberg had to leave out was the torture dungeon Göth built and frequently used under his villa at Płaszów concentration camp.
  • Chicago Loan Shark Sam DeStefano had one under his house, where he tortured, sometimes to death, defaulting borrowers.


Video Example(s):


Jefferson's Studio

Originally a bomb shelter owned by the Prescotts, Jefferson and Nathan have since turned into a photography studio where they take the girls they have drugged up.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / TortureCellar

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