People Under The Stairs
Written & Directed by Wes Craven
Brandon Quintin Adams .... Fool
Everett McGill .... Dad
Wendy Robie .... Mom
A.J. Langer .... Alice
Ving Rhames .... Leroy
Sean Whalen .... Roach
Jeremy Roberts .... Spenser
I was but a wee Metro when this film first came out, and macabre juvenile that I was, I loved it. In fact, I distinctly remember seeing this in the theater at least three times. So when I stumbled across a bargain-bin video edition recently, I shelled out the five bones to re-live a bit of my childhood. Would the film live up to the legendary status my young mind had built it up to?
But that didn't stop me from enjoying the hell out of this movie.
The premise is this: Fool, who lives with his ailing mom and his promiscuous sister in a ghetto tenement building, is talked into assisting in a robbery by Big Black Leroy and his Little Cracker Companion Spenser. Their target is the family that owns the building, as well as half of the real estate in their neighborhood. Word on the street is that the family is housing a king's ransom in gold coins, and Leroy wants his cut of the bounty. The three of them break into the house and are assaulted by a homicidal housewife, a sadomasochistic husband, a blood thirsty pooch, a veritable barrage of booby traps, and of course the people under the stairs. Fool finds the money, all right, but comes to discover that he can't get out. Nobody has ever got out.
As you can probably surmise, there's something seriously wrong with this family: S&M, bondage, abuse, kidnapping, incest, and a whole slew of freaks under the stairs (and in the cellar, and in the walls, and in the fireplace, and in the heating ducts, etc.) It's all here. What's NOT here, however, is a believable script, good acting, or a blueprint to this impossible house. The genuine thrills are few and far between, the general premise is ludicrous, and the whole thing feels as if Wes Craven was pandering to an audience too young to even see the film.
And yet, despite this, People Under The Stairs inexplicably still holds a special place in my heart, twisted little black thing that it is. I mean, come on. How can you not love a tongueless albino freak like little Roach?
"I don't want to see another cop or cookie in my life. I don't know which one makes me sicker. "