The People Under the Stairs (1991)
Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Wes Craven
Starring: Brandon Quintin Adams, A.J. Langer, Ving Rhames
So back in my youth when renting the horror movie was just as fun as watching them, I noticed the VHS cover (gives you a clue on my age) containing a giant skull looming over a dark house. SOLD! Screamed my brain in delight and that’s how I discovered in what came to be my favorite Wes Craven Flick, The People Under the Stairs. I remember watching the whole movie and when the credits started to scroll, I took the tape out of the VHS player, popped it into the video rewinding machine (again, OLD school) and once it was finished rewinding , I stared at the tape for a minute or two and popped it RIGHT back into the VHS player for round two! I’m proud to say it stood the test of time as I recently watched it again and felt the same sorts of nostalgic glee while appreciating the movie for a whole new set of reasons that comes with (supposed) age/wisdom.
I get why I love this movie now, I never really thought about it back then because the only thing on my mind while watching horror flicks is how cool the kill scene looked or how much tension is building before the big scare. This was the first and probably best example of what I deem a “Horror Adventure!” It mixed what I love about horror movies but also fed my love for adventures involving kids not far from my own age such as The Wizard, Adventures in Babysitting and of course, The (Mother-F*ckin’) GOONIES! Not only was I getting my horror fix in the gore and tense moments but I found myself cheering for the star of the movie, as he battles through vicious dogs, cannibals and a psychopathic killers!
Story focuses on a street wise kid named FOOL (Brandon Quintin Adams) who lives in the ghetto and tries to care for his ailing mom with the rest of his family. An opportunity arises when Leroy (Ving Rhames) offers the chance of breaking into the Landlord’s mansion in order to steal their vast fortune. Little do they know, the Husband and Wife (or are they) Landlords (played BEAUTIFULLY by Everett McGill and Wendy Robie) have a taste for killing and what they hide underneath the stairs is far more sinister. As Fool and new found friends Alice (A.J. Langer) and Roach (Sean Whalen) try to escape the mansion, the psychotic Landlords will stop at nothing to keep their dark secrets safe.
Written/Directed by Wes Craven (known for the scary burnt man that kills you in your dreams), I recommend this gem to anyone that wants to have a good time while watching a horror flick without the constant jumps and excessive gore. If you’re looking to get scared, probably not the movie for you but a solid movie to watch with a group if you appreciate a dark adventure!