The People Under The Stairs (1991/Blu-ray/Scream Factory) Review

As you probably already know Wes Craven has made his mark on the horror genre many times with some cutting edge films that either break ground (A Nightmare On Elm Street) or simply take a subgenre and make it a little more fresh (Scream). Now I may not be the biggest fan of his films from Scream and on, but his earlier films were the ones that truly caught my attention and entertained me the most. My absolute favorite has always been either A Nightmare On Elm Street or Swamp Thing, but there was one other film that is simply the most fun one of his filmography and it's the film I am reviewing here today and that is The People Under the Stairs. Lets get into this film and see what it has to offer!

A young boy Brandon Adams by the nickname "Fool" teams up with two burglars to make some money to help his family out. Things go bad quickly after they come in contact with the owners of the house who are a brother and sister pair that are demented and simply psycho. Brandon finds out there is a girl and many others who are being held captive by the owners. After escaping he decides to go back in and save the girl that he befriended. Will Brandon be able to escape the chaos that the insane siblings bring down on him or will he be the next victim to be put into the basement as a new member of their bizarre family?!

To me this is one of the best films in Wes Craven's filmography and luckily it has not been remade...for now.I remember seeing this film when I was young and then not seeing it for awhile due to simply not knowing the title of the film. After figuring it out I watched this film a lot. With every viewing I like this film more and more. Wes Craven really knows how to write interesting characters and how to take horror and mix in a tinge of humor and make it work. To me this is a great double feature with the Joe Dante horror/comedy "The Burbs", which both of them equally creeped me out and made me laugh.
 For me the shining point of the film was the characters. From the very brave Brandon to the sadistic "Man". Each one has their own personality that sticks out from one another. I especially liked the mute boy who lives in the walls known as "Roach", he is actually pretty funny when he taunts Man. Speaking of Man he is an off the wall psychopath who dawns a full leather "gimp" suit as he hunts down Brandon as he tries to rescue Alice. Like Man his sister "Woman" is just as crazy, but not quite as loud and off the wall as he is, but she is still a fucking psychopath. The last one I want to mention is Leroy who is played by Ving Rhames who has oddly been in 2 films with someone wearing a "gimp" suit, if you don't know the other film then you must not watch many films.

Now I am not quite sure where Craven got his inspiration for the plot of this film, but it is very much similar to a criminal case involving Fred West and Rosemary West (Fred's second wife) who from 1967 to 1987 tortured and killed at least 12 women and girls. The film being similar to the case makes it that much creepier to me, but luckily it's not as fucked up as that case because it would be extremely hard to watch if it was. Like I stated before this film has some humor to it that helps to break the tension from time to time, which is something that Craven does do in some of his other films. Now there is alot of parts with the character Man that are simply funny due to his over the top personality. Now there is one thing that always has baffled me and that if you look at the outside of the house it seems much smaller than the elaborate maze of a house you get on the inside. Maybe I am over thinking it, but it always catches my attention when I watch it.

Overall this is a great horror film that has a much deserved special edition blu-ray release. I did own the previously released DVD from Universal many years ago and I can say this blu-ray release from Scream Factory is definitely a great upgrade. The video quality is much more vivid and simply looks great and along the side of the great presentation  there is a good amount of special features. You get a commentary from cast members, a commentary with Wes Craven, many interviews with cast and crew from the film, behind the scenes footage, and trailers. Scream Factory keeps on impressing myself and the horror community over and over again with these awesome releases. If you love this film and want a truly awesome special edition then you must pick this one up!

-Daniel Lee

Director: Wes Craven
Lead Actor/Actress: Everett McGill (Man), Brandon Quintin Adams (Fool), Wendy Robie (Woman)
Genre: Horror
Blu-ray Release Year: 2015
Theatrical Release Year: 1991
Time Length: 102 mins.
Rating: R
Region Code: Region A
Release Company: Scream factory
Website: www.shoutfactory.com