The People Under The Stairs - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The People Under The Stairs Reviews

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April 7, 2019
great story and film by wes craven, wacky, bizzare and even funny in some parts. watch if youre in the mood for an old horror movie night, it's a bit of a laugh but good story regardless. fun fact: the house was also used in the series "sons of anarchy"
½ March 5, 2019
Well filmed and still terrifying, People Under The Stairs use a social issue to tell a well pace story that will influence future horror movies.
December 3, 2018
It actually turned out much better than I expected. The story was a little different than most and was about two weird creeps who abducted , abused and kept kids in their home. And a poor ghetto boy who saves them. Interesting plot . I would watch it again.
November 1, 2018
Love love love this Wes Craven movie! Excellent 90's flick
October 17, 2017
Horribly underrated comedy/horror gem from the late Wes Craven. It really has something meaningful to say about the exploitation of the underclass and racism in society. Not very scary but the first half does have it's moments with terrifically spooky atmosphere. Some quality jump scares in the end particularly when 'the people under the stairs' (or 'bad kids') start tearing through walls to raise all hell and get their revenge on those dastardly landlords..the comedy hijinks were well done. Craven integrated them perfectly in between the scares until things got wicked serious in the end. The standout performance was Everett McGill, him and Wendy Robie both gloriously over the top as 'Man' and 'Woman'. Brandon Davis was great too as the little hero. I even grew up wanting to be like Fool, I thought he was such a badass lol I would even ship him and Alice (Foolish?) each time I watch it is always just as much fun as the last. It has earned the distinction of "camp classic" in my eyes.
½ September 3, 2017
Wes Craven makes a powerful statement about class status in this eerie horror drama that centers around a house in a black neighborhood owned by a mysterious white brood. Everett McGill continues his reign as the most underrated bad guy of 80s and early 90s horror and Wendy Robie is reminiscent of Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in her fierceness and gentile facade. Brandon Quintin Adams is our hero here; a local kid who sets out to figure out what happens in that house after his family is threatened with eviction. He has no idea what he is about to encounter or how he will make it out alive. A true curio piece for horror fans and one of Craven's best directorial efforts aside from The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream.
½ September 3, 2017
This movie was so fricken weird, but also absolutely hilarious in parts.
August 14, 2017
Obvi targets black ppl living in public housing and almost is reverse racist again rich white ppl. That being said my husband loved this movie as a kid and its easy to see why. It moved fast, was creepy, fairly believable, suspenseful, campy and well acted. It has the whole creepy rich mansion and demented family element and kid hero. It def could use some work tho on the script and plot and by todays standards its not very scary.
½ August 7, 2017
It's gloriously all over the place. The cast is excellent, especially young Adams, who holds the movie squarely on his small shoulders, and McGill and Robie (who played husband and wife on the TV show Twin Peaks) as the thoroughly psychotic Mom and Dad. A great visceral movie with lots of horrible moments - Adams battles with the vicious rottweiler, McGill gleefully chewing bits of a corpse, the ominous piles of dead flies in the kitchen. The art direction is tremendous; the gigantic, gruesome Bad Place of a house is horrifically cavernous and foreboding, crammed full of crawlspaces, archaic plumbing, ghoulish brickdust and crumbling plasterboard. Full of intriguing ideas and sociological riffs (gun culture, S&M tendencies, incest, racism, class exploitation), this is a movie bursting at the seams with cinematic creativity. Brilliantly written and directed by Craven, this is a fine example of the rare breed of multi-layered movies which I adore.
February 17, 2017
It was a very bizarre movie. It wasn't bad but it wasn't that great either. The plot was basic but turned into a very over the top suspenseful movie. Pretty gory when needed but the ending was predictable and just ends. The main kid actor was very good.
January 29, 2017
Amazing Movie,Was It Perfect,If Course Not,But It Was One Of My Favorite Wes Craven Films
December 30, 2016
Decent kids horror film. Unfortunately I didn't have the luxury of seeing it as a kid, otherwise I'd probably like it more. As it is, it gets a little too goofy and over the top. Feels more like Home Alone meets Hills Have Eyes...
½ October 31, 2016
This cheesy horror-comedy from horror maestro Wes Craven is a lot of fun! I first saw it as a kid, and it stuck with me. It feature a young Ving Rhames and the hero is an African-American kid which you done see often in horror films. The movie is just fun if you like the genre.
½ February 6, 2016
Quite good fun horror
December 15, 2015
Wes Craven was the master of horror. I love this movie. The People Under the Stairs is not really a straight up horror. It has some comedy and drama as well. This movie has great social commentary but it never feels preachy or overdone. It's just a great, smart movie from a man that had a lot to say about money, greed, and power. This movie also has a great cast. I loved the little boy (Fool) played by Brandon Adams but the standout performance for me was A.J. Langer as Alice. She was so great in this movie. I've heard that the mom and dad couple were supposed to essentially be Ronald and Nancy Reagan and both actors do an excellent job with that. Not a ton of gore in this movie but it's still a great horror film. If you like Wes Craven this is must see.
½ November 19, 2015
The poster art for Wes Craven's The People Under the Stairs has stayed with me since I first saw it in the local video stores that once populated my home town. The skull floating in a dark sky above a seemingly normal house is a simple image that suggested more danger and potential terror than the more grotesque posters for other horror movies. Craven has certainly never shied away from the grotesque (Freddy Kruger's face is more than enough proof of that), but the violence and gore in his films, though they are part of the overall entertainment, is never meant for titillation. The best Wes Craven films are never about the special effects or the scary scenes. They are about the thoughts and feelings those scenes release from the dark, ignored corners in the mind of the viewer.

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.
November 1, 2015
On this day 21 years ago this film was released . I thought it fitting to rewatch and review
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
5/5 stars
½ October 31, 2015
The ending is a little long, but overall this is another excellent Wes Craven film!
½ October 29, 2015
With 'The People Under the Stairs', Wes Craven gave birth to a new cult classic. It's a bizarre black comedy-thriller featuring strange characters and creepy, surreal visuals, while also providing commentary on race and income inequality.
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