The People Under the Stairs (1991)

You never really know what people are hiding in their homes.

The People Under the Stairs (1991)
Directed By: Wes Craven (Swamp Thing)

The Prologue
When I was a young lad I had three Wes Craven films that stuck out to me. One was of course A Nightmare on Elm Street and the other two were Shocker, and this film known as The People Under the Stairs. Now I don’t know if this film was really that good as memory seemed but to a kid who was stuck in the mids of the black hole that was the horror films of the early 90’s it seemed pretty cool at the time. Now here I sit years later checking back in with this old film and hoping it wasn’t just my young mind playing tricks on me back in the day.

The Movie
Poindexter ‘Fool’ Williams is in a very tight spot on his first day of being 13 years old. His mom has the cancer, his family is getting kicked out of their place, and he has no money what so ever to change that. So taking matters in his own hands he joins in with the family friend Leroy (a young Ving Rhames) and his partner to hit up the house of a known rich couple! Only trouble is things go wrong when the family that is actually holding one poor girl named Alice locked up with them and even more people in the basement trap Fool in the house to!

Honestly, I think I liked this movie a lot more as a kid than I do as an adult. It just seemed cool back then, I dunno why. Maybe it was the title? I mean come on, The People Under The Stairs is a cool ass name right? But don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad movie. It’s just a bit much when you take a look at the whole picture. And now that I’m older I seem to find a few loose ends the film doesn’t tie up at all. Not to mention the way the film ends with everyone seeming to not be bothered at all by just what is going down, or should I say has went down?

Now let me get out of the way what I don’t like about this movie. Or at least the stuff I can say without spoiling it. I think this movie runs way way too long. I think part of that is do to the plot being stacked too much as well. Fool is in the house, his mission should be to get out with Alice and try to do that within an hour and half tops. What we get is a back and forth thing that is made way to complicated that clocks in at like an hour and forty-five minutes…It’s just not needed.

Also I could add people do really dump and cheesy things but I’ll just let it go at that there and be done with my complaints. What I did like was the acting “Dad” and “Mom” are great at playing crazy folks in this flick and seem to be sucked away right in their characters. The movie does a lot of dark comedy and you just couldn’t pull that off without the right cast. Matter of fact this film is one of the best at mixing just the right bit of gore, horror, and comedy together.

Overall it’s a creative movie with a very creepy and interesting plot. It has memorable characters like “Roach” who lives in the walls and who just so happens to be missing his tongue. It’s a lot of fun to watch but it’s not done the best way it could have been done. I happen to think things get a little too goofy in the last part of the film and it kinda makes you flinch when the 90’s rap music hits and the credits start to roll. So I’d say it’s worth watching, can be a lot of fun, but it could have been A LOT better.

The Conclusion
Doesn’t hold up too well by today’s standards but I can see why I did dig it soo much in the 90’s. If you look at what the first half of that decade gave us I’m sure you’ll agree this is one of the better films that came out. Wes Craven is a good director no question about it but had it not been for some of his films to come around..oh..say..1996? I’d have thought he was losing his touch a slight bit.

The Rating (6/10)