Saturday, November 16, 2013

CLASSIC HORROR -- People Under The Stairs

Written by Tommy the Terror (short story writer)
In 1991, director Wes Craven, famed for A Nightmare on Elm Street, fed audiences with a savory theatrical gem titled The People Under the Stairs. Young Poindexter Williams, better known as “Fool”, is threatened by eviction and the cancerous demise of his bedridden mother. With the ghetto offering few options out of these pressures of poverty, Fool finds himself in a van with his older sister’s friend, Leroy (Ving Rhames), who conspires to rob the Robeson’s house, rumored to have gold. Decades ago, the Robeson’s sold funeral caskets before breaking into the real estate market to own many of the buildings in the ghetto, one of which Fool and his family occupy. Everett McGill and Wendy Robie play the demented occupants of the targeted home, which is filled with hidden rooms, lethal traps, and a cellar that imprisons living and dead people, snatched from families without a clue to their whereabouts.

With the plan gone awry, Fool and Leroy soon find themselves separated and trapped in the big house. Also entrapped are Alice, the Robeson’s daughter, and Roach, a boy who escaped the cellar with his life, but not with his tongue. Fool, with or without their help, must fight to save himself from this circus of death before he can save his family from the cinders of eviction.

Speaking of family, my older brother and I adored this movie as kids. It was one that scared the crap out of me, though as a younger brother, I couldn’t admit that. However, throughout the movie, Roach made these wailing sounds from behind the walls that my brother praised, practiced and perfected from the top bunk of our bunk beds. Needless to say, I ended up rooming with my parents for the rest of those nights. My excuse as I snuggled into the protective center was that my bed wasn’t comfortable. The obvious truth is that the younger me couldn’t handle the pressure of staying in a room with a tongueless Roach above me. But that is nothing compared to the weight a young Brandon Adams carried as the star of this film.

Many child actors do not have the range he possessed at that time. Many have a one-dimensional performance that fits their role, whereas young Brandon was required to become a little brother, a boy scout, a friend, a savior, and a man of the house, all at different times in the movie. I commend his performance, and I highly recommend you witness it if you haven’t already. Doing otherwise is just plain stupid. So go watch this film.

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