The People Under The Stairs (1991)

the people under the stairs

“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”

The Scoop: 1991 R, directed by Wes Craven and starring Brandon Quintin Adams, Sean Whalen, and Everett McGill.

Tagline: In every neighborhood there is one house that adults whisper about and children cross the street to avoid.

Summary Capsule: A young black boy gets trapped in a psycho house, complete with freaks running in the walls, secret passageways, and two insane adults.

Justin’s rating: TV/MA (pause) What, not that kind of rating? (pause) Well, aren’t the viewers of this web page free-thinkers and able to harness the ability to decide for themselves what a movie is rated instead of a complete psycho. . . yes? (pause) Sorry. On to the review.

Justin’s review: After seeing, within a few short weeks, Scream, Scream 2, and The People Under The Stairs, I am convinced that Wes Craven had serious problems concerning bedwetting as a child. I deduce this because this is one sick mind who has revolutionized the horror genre: first, with the fiercely original A Nightmare On Elm Street and now in the nineties with the horror/satire Scream series.

In any case, Craven does not bend to the traditional rules of making a horror movie; in fact, he writes those rules. People charms its way into your home with a “poor family needs secret treasure to survive eviction” plot, but turns quickly into a surrealistic haunted house / horror / comedy with a funky little black kid named Fool as one of the best horror stars I’ve ever seen.

I really can’t sum up the experience well without changing my thoughts every five seconds to go on a tangent, so I’ll just give you a ten-cent tour of the craziest highlights: A mute kid named Roach who lives in the walls, an incestuous brother/sister duo who have turned their house into an inescapable fortress for their ill-gotten children, a man-eating dog named Prince, a leather-clad madman charging around with a shotgun, and plenty of laughs, screams, and cruelly innovative devices to keep your attention fixed on this little cult horror masterpiece. Highly recommended.

Kyle’s rating: Thank God I live in a home with no basement!

Kyle’s review: I first saw this as a young boy, and this scared the living daylights out of me. Watching it again as an older connoisseur of horror, it’s a little weak but still a fine example of suburban thrills and chills. Every neighborhood has one, the big house with the scary couple neighbors nod and wave at just so they might be spared from future homicidal wrath.

The plot is a simple one, poor kid looking for gold coins breaks into house where gold coins are and discovers more than he bargained for, including said homicidal couple, a young desperate girl, a lot of danger and, of course, some people under the stairs.

Are the people under the stairs bad or good? I’ll leave that to you, but you’re probably wrong.

All in all, this film plays perfectly on cable, where you can watch it one dark night on cable and enjoy the endless romps of the main hero, a young boy named Fool, under the stairs and through the house’s secret passages, marvel at the odd prayer, dress habits and true lineage of the homicidal couple, and get up for celery and beer during commercials. See it on cable, but don’t pay for it unless it’s a dime or something. Even then, keep your dime.

He sure loves ketchup…


  • In Wes Craven’s original Nightmare On Elm Street, he has a scene with teenagers watching a horror movie — the 1982 cult classic Evil Dead. To tip the hat back, in Evil Dead 2 Freddy’s glove is hanging up in the root cellar and is clearly seen.

Groovy Quotes

Fool: You know, your father’s one sick mother. Actually, your mother’s one sick mother too.

Alice: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

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