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474 Ratings

The People Under the Stairs

Directed by Wes Craven
United States, 1991
Comedy, Horror, Thriller


Fool, an African-American teen, breaks into the home of the wealthy landlords who evicted his family from a ghetto tenement. A fortune in gold is rumored to exist inside, but Fool discovers that the mansion is a chamber of horrors presided over by a pair of incestuous, serial killer siblings.

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The People Under the Stairs Directed by Wes Craven
Craven’s bonkers satire of post-Reagan America is one part Do the Right Thing and one part Home Alone… Everett McGill and Wendy Robie (both of Twin Peaks fame) play the incestuous sibling landlords with feverish glee. Their performances, punctuated by a dominatrix costume’s recurring appearance, tiptoe the line between campy fun and surreal horror and lend the film its unexpected humor.
February 15, 2017
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Perhaps the best of [Craven’s] lesser-loved works, The People Under the Stairs (1991) is a great horror film for and about children. That film, in particular, is an excellent example of Craven’s social consciousness, as he rooted the film in the experience of black children in the Los Angeles ghetto.
September 01, 2015
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Operating on multiple levels, the film works as both a timeless fable – the story of children battling evil parent figures is told in a manner reminiscent of a Grimm fairy tale – and a prescient bit of political commentary.. [DP Sandi] Sissel perfectly balances the multiple agendas of the screenplay, heightening the film’s surrealistic, allegorical aspects with highly stylized lighting while also bringing her eye for more realistic detail to the material focusing on class struggle.
August 26, 2015
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