The People Under The Stairs Reviews
Written and directed by Wes Craven and released by Universal in 1991, The People Under the Stairs is a high point in a career with many peaks and valleys. The main character is a young boy named Poindexter, but everyone calls him Fool. He lives in a rundown ghetto apartment building with his sister and dying mother who is in need of an expensive operation. They are behind on rent and the landlord is eager to evict them so the building can be torn down and replaced with an office building. Leroy, Fool's sister's boyfriend, played by Ving Rhames, offers to show Fool how to make money to keep his family from being evicted, which involves breaking a few laws. Leroy and his partner in crime, Spenser, robbed a liquor store that happened to be owned by the landlords and found a map of their house that shows a secret room full of money. They plan a dangerous treasure hunt.
Their plan gets derailed almost right away. After Spenser enters the house and does not come back, Leroy and Fool sneak into the house. From the outside, the landlords' home looks like a normal, nice, big house in the suburbs, but inside there are many dangers and horrors. The landlords are a couple played by Everett McGill and Wendy Robie, who also played a couple in the TV series Twin Peaks. In Twin Peaks they were great as the comically dysfunctional and lovable Big Ed and Nadine, but here they are great and terrifying as the cruel and sadistic nameless couple that refer to each other as "Mommy" and "Daddy." Fool finds their daughter, Alice, who has been locked up in the house and never let outside. She explains that "Mommy" and "Daddy" have cruel punishments if their rules are broken and have already put several boys who misbehaved under the stairs.
The People Under the Stairs is like a young boy's adventure dream, complete with a treasure map, turned into a nightmare. The large creepy house is filled with secret passageways, crawlspaces, and booby-traps that give Fool's journey both excitement and terror. The People Under the Stairs implies more horror than it shows. Craven knows that a little can go a long way; something like the full body leather suit that "Daddy" wears to hunt Roach, one of the mutilated boys that escaped from under the stairs and lives in the walls, is so odd and strange that it will disturb and unnerve the audience more than buckets of blood. Craven adds to the strange nature of this movie by inserting moments of odd humor here and there. In one scene Fool tells Alice, "Your father is one sick mother," and in another scene he distracts a dog attacking Leroy by insulting the dog's mother.
Craven even gets across some social commentary on appearances and the gap between rich and poor and the ghetto and the suburbs, but he keeps it in the background of this horror adventure. His best films have themes and ideas that give them substance but he is smart enough to keep them as subtext and let us notice them on our own. His themes are simple, but that only makes them stronger and easier to absorb. This is a well-executed, entertaining film from one of the true masters of horror that works by disturbing you with strange, macabre imagery rather than excessive blood and gore. It may be a Wes Craven film that has slipped by the wayside over the years, but The People Under the Stairs is definitely worth seeking out and watching.
Wes Craven continued to push the boundaries of film he was fresh tv movie Night visions he wrote and directed this gem . Say what you will but in my humble opinion it's a great movie truly unappreciated for a horror flick
you will be missed Mr. Craven thank you for a kick ass ridebsuch as this one