There has been much reminiscing in the past few weeks of director Wes Craven after his untimely death and many people going back to rediscover his body of work. Known best for the horror classic A Nightmare on Elm St., Craven also made some great thrillers, a great drama and some off kilter horror films that really stand the test of time. One such entry in his filmography is The People Under the Stairs, which is out now in a beautiful new special edition Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.
Fool (Brandon Quintin Adams) is a mischievous young boy living in the ghetto in Los Angeles. After he learns that his family is going to be evicted from their building, Fool and a couple of his friends decide to break into their landlord’s house to cause trouble. But once inside they discover a large group of pale skinned children living in a dungeon like basement. Now Fool, along with a newfound friend named Alice (A.J. Langer) must use the hidden passageways within the walls of the house to escape the clutches of the evil landlords.
The People Under the Stairs really has a lot going for it and I think it actually plays better today than it did back in 1991. The performances are over the top but great and really reminiscent of great cult 70s horror films. The production design of the maze like house and Craven’s direction give the film a cool and unique feel and Adams as Fool was a great kid actor and carries the movie well. And Everett McGill and Wendy Robie are absolutely terrifying as ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy’. The pacing is brisk, the story interesting and the thrills plentiful. The People Under the Stairs is really worth a revisit; it stands on its own merits as one of Craven’s underrated gems.
The new Collectors Edition features a great selection of special features including audio commentary With Writer/Director Wes Craven, audio commentary with actors Brandon Adams, A.J. Langer, Sean Whalen and Yan Birch, House Mother – An Interview With Actress Wendy Robie, What Lies Beneath – Interviews With Special Make-up Effects Artists Greg Nicotero, Howard Berger and Robert Kurtzman, House Of Horrors – An Interview with Director Of Photography Sandi Sissel, Setting The Score – An Interview with Composer Don Peake, Behind-The-Scenes Footage, a vintage “Making Of” featurette, a theatrical trailer, TV spots and some great still galleries (Original Storyboards And Official Stills). This is a killer Collectors Edition sure to be treasured by Craven fans and horror fans alike. Highly recommended.