Start by crushing the graham crackers into crumbs. I put about 10 graham cracker sheets into a ziploc bag then pounded them with a heavy object (like a rolling pin or flat meat tenderizer). You need enough to make 1 1/2 cups in crumbs.
In a medium bowl, combine melted butter with graham cracker crumbs.
Set aside 2 tbsp. of the crumbs (we'll use that for the topping.)
Spread the rest of the crumbs into a 9x9 baking dish. Push down with your hands to make a flat layer.
Next, combine softened cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar. This is easiest if you use a stand mixer or a handheld electric mixer. Set this bowl aside.
In a separate bowl (to make the whipped cream), combine the heavy whipping cream, 3 tbsp. sugar and vanilla extract. Using a stand or electric mixer, whip it until stiff peaks form. You can skip this if you are using COOL WHIP. This will take a minute or two on a high speed setting.
Combine the cream cheese mixture with the whipped cream, by hand, until combined well.
Spread half of the cream cheese/whipped cream mixture evenly over crust.
Evenly spread the cherry pie filling over the whipped cream layer. Finally, top with the remaining cream cheese/whipped cream mixture. Spread evenly. Top with reserved graham cracker crumbs.
Refrigerate for a couple hours (or overnight) before slicing and serving.
You can substitute the heavy whipping cream, 3 tbsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract with one (8 oz.) tub of COOL WHIP, thawed.