“The People Under the Stairs” (1991) is one of most overt and subversive social critiques in horror film format from the late great Wes Craven. The film’s plot, which also serves as a parable for America’s racial/class divide, focuses on Poindexter “Fool” Williams (Brandon Adams), whose family faces eviction by their landlords the Robesons (Everett McGill and Wendy Robie (who also played a quirky but far less menacing couple in Twin Peaks). Due to his desperate circumstances, Fool gets involved in a plot by his uncle Leroy and an associate to break into the Robesons’ house. The plan quickly spirals out of control and Fool escapes by hiding in the house with the help of children who were horrifically punished for breaking the Robesons’ “see/hear/speak no evil” rules. Against the odds, Fool must escape to save his family and free the prisoners of the household.
Watch the full film here. (Streaming speed may be slowed by pop-up ads.)