When people hear the name Wes Craven, they instantly think of A Nightmare on Elm Street or Scream (or maybe even The Last House on the Left). But The People Under the Stairs, released on this day in 1991, is a hugely popular sleeper that stands out in Craven’s filmography as a wonderful anomaly.
Related Article: Jordan Peele Producing THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS Remake!
The People Under the Stairs features a young person of color as protagonist pit against a suburban, sadomasochistic couple–with a few people under some stairs. If it’s been a while, or if you’ve yet to discover the film for yourself, check out the trailer and synopsis below.
When young Fool (Brandon Adams) breaks into the home of his family’s greedy and uncaring landlords, he discovers a disturbing scenario where incestuous adult siblings have mutilated a number of boys and kept them imprisoned under stairs in their large, creepy house. As Fool attempts to flee before the psychopaths can catch him, he meets their daughter, Alice (A.J. Langer), who has been spared any extreme discipline by her deranged parents. Can Fool and Alice escape before it’s too late?
Wes Craven was inspired to write this film after reading a real-life news story about burglars breaking into a house. When authorities arrived, the burglars had disappeared but they discovered locked doors with noises coming from behind. Children had been locked up inside the rooms by their parents, never allowed to go outside. (Source)
Wes Craven chose Wendy Robie and Everett McGill to play the parts of Mommy and Daddy after seeing them play husband and wife on the TV series, Twin Peaks (1990). (Source)
Hilary Swank auditioned for the role of Roach. Roach was originally written to be either a male or female. Sean Whalen got the part. (Source)