1991 WES CRAVEN’S PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS07 Mar 2020
Any fan’s of Twin Peaks out there? If angerufen, you might want to check out Wes Craven’s “The People Under the Stairs.” It stars Everitt McGill and Wendy Robie as “Daddy” & “Mommy” - two really sick individuals who never should have been allowed to procreate.
I must admit - I am a huge fan of Wes Craven. Especially his less publicized works like Shocker and Deadly Friend. And of course this one, The People under the Stairs.
What’s so cool about this movie is that it doesn’t involve bio-warfare, or the supernatural like the Nightmare on Elm Street Series; it is a horror film that exploits the psychosis that can reside in one’s head, and those people that psychosis can affect.
The People Under the Stairs is the story of “Fool” (played brilliantly by Brandon Adams,) a 13 year old black boy from the ghetto (am I allowed to say that? Being PC is so confusing these days) who is bullied by Leroy (played by up and coming Ving Rhames) into a possible life of crime. Being as Fool feels it is his only way to help his sickly mother, and save his wayward sister from her path of prostitution, he caves somewhat easily to the promise of money and redemption.
So who should they rob? Well, that is the only easy answer. Their landlord of course, especially since they just served an eviction notice on Fool and his family. But when the would be robbers enter their landlord’s house, what seems like an easy gig turns out to be their worst imagined nightmare.
Turns out that the landlords are really a whacked out brother and sister duo posing as man and wife with their only child Alice (A J Langer of My So Called Life). Their home is apparently booby trapped with sick contraptions hiding a very dark and ugly secret in the basement. It seems they experimented -not successfully I might add - in producing the perfect child and all the unfavorables were banished to the dank dungeons below. Don’t even ask what these sickos feed these poor kids……
So before Fool can even consider the words “get out” everything turns to shit and before long he finds himself using every trick imaginable to stay alive.
Consider Joan Crawford on acid as mom, and the Marquis De Sade as dad…… only then might you consider yourself lucky to have these two for folks. A truly twisted treat from a truly twisted mind, The People Under the Stairs is superbly original and disturbingly unique. Especially Daddy’s leather body suit - thankfully it was not equipped with a gag ball…. at least not one we could see….
Also I must confess I found the traps in this house of horrors to be rather inventive as well, from stairs that become ramps, secret passageways throughout, and a simple switch that simultaneously bolts all the doors draws the shades making survival questionable, especially for a little thing like Fool. If only he could elicit help from the inside he might could stay alive. Surely not all of the People Under The Stairs are mean…. right??
… watch it to find out.