Directed & Written by Wes Craven
Starring: Brandon Quintin Adams, Everett McGill, Wendy Robie, and Ving Rhames
Two adults and a juvenile burglar break into a house occupied by a brother and sister and their stolen children and can’t escape.
Wes Craven penned this disastrous script himself, and took it one step further by directing it. Verdict: Wes Craven, 100% responsible for the sweeping shittiness of this film. If there’s one polarizing moment that defines the theme and Hulk-fisted delivery, it’s when Ving Rhames smashes in the backdoor, then immediately tip toes around the grisly home. Brilliant. This demented fairytale seems to be a simple class film. The neighborhood black dudes are trampled by whitey and Craven doesn’t miss any opportunities to drive home some sticking-it-to-whitey moments. I’ve never seen subtext driven through a script like a drunken bumper car that left its track.
Some salt of the earth people are having trouble. The mom has cancer, times are lean, and now an evil (white) landlord is going to stick it to the fam. Fortunately, one of the family members hatches a plan to sneak into the landlord’s freaky home. The creepy landlord has gold coins loaded inside his walls, oh, and yeah, he has a bunch of kidnapped kids trapped inside the walls of casa de creeper. Make sense? Not even a little. Also, creepy landlord, “Man” (Everett McGill, Silver Bullet) is some sadistic sexual deviant that prefers to dress like it’s time to bring out the gimp.
If these seamless designs aren’t winning you over, Craven’s clunker is also gory as shit and I think it tries to be comical at times. I really can’t tell. Somewhere between The Goonies and The Brothers Grimm, is The People Under the Stairs. I find it bizarre that this man wrote A Nightmare on Elm Street, one of the most original and twisted horror films of the last 30 years.
Go home, white guilt, you’re drunk.