Horror Review: The People Under the Stairs (1991)

Two adults and a juvenile burglar break into a house occupied by a brother and sister and their stolen children and can’t escape.

By the 90’s Wes Craven became a household name amongst Horror fans after films such as “The Last House On The Left”, “The Hills Have Eyes”, “A Nightmare On Elm Street”, “The Serpent And The Rainbow” and more.

Wes Craven was inspired to write this film after reading a real-life news story about burglars breaking into a house. When authorities arrived, the burglars had disappeared but they discovered locked doors with noises coming from behind. Children had been locked up inside the rooms by their parents, never allowed to go outside.

The most interesting characters for me (and others) where the parents, Craven chose Wendy Robie and Everett McGill to play the parts of ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy’ after seeing them play husband and wife on the TV series, “Twin Peaks”. It’s such a shame McGill retired as his career was just getting going and could’ve been a Horror regular.

The rest of the cast is good, Brandon Quintin Adams is fun to watch as ‘Fool’, it’s not very often you get a child lead role in a Horror film but he plays the part very well. We also see Ving Rhames playing his usual bad ass self which is always fun.
The premise for the film is ultimately better than what we get, the film falls apart after about half hour and I’ve never been a fan of the ending, it just didn’t seem to fit right. Craven had a chance to make a seriously dark and creepy Horror film but just seemed to play it too safe in the end.
“The People Under the Stairs” is a film that divides people, if you haven’t seen it then give it a try and see what you think.
If you want to see “The People Under the Stairs” trailer then just click on the video below:

Miscellaneous facts about the film:

Hilary Swank auditioned for the role of Roach. Roach was originally written to be either a male or female.

Through out the entire movie you hear the Man and Woman call each other “Mommy” and “Daddy”. You never hear their real names. But when Alice attacks the woman, you hear her yell for the Man and she calls him Eldon.

Although Alice was a 12 year old girl, actress A.J. Langer was almost 17 when she played the character in this movie.

The tape recorder playing a skewed version of “Now I Lay Thee Down To Sleep” is a nod to Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Nancy said the proper prayer before she prepared to meet Freddy Krueger in her nightmares. The prayer is also spoken in Craven’s first film The Last House on the Left (1972), and the Craven film title My Soul to Take (2010) is directly taken from the last line in the prayer.

Actor Sean Whalen who played Roach was 27 years old when he played the part of at least supposedly a 15 or 16 year old boy in the film.

Graeme Revell was the original composer, but his score was rejected.

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