Owen Gleiberman
November 15, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

The People Under the Stairs

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Brandon Adams, Everett McGill, Wendy Robie, A.J. Langer, Ving Rhames
director
Wes Craven
distributor
Universal
author
Wes Craven
genre
Horror

We gave it a D

Back in the ’50s, schlock movie mavens used to think up shamelessly blatant, lurid titles in order to sucker teenagers into drive-ins. If the title worked, the movie didn’t have to be much of anything. Director Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street) appears to be following suit. In The People Under the Stairs, some kids are chased through a house by a couple of puritanical mom-and-pop wackos who make the Bundys look like the Bradys.(The movie’s one distinction is that the ‘mother’ is played by — with supreme viciousness — by a female impersonator named Wendy Robie.) And just who are the people under the stairs? They’re a pack of reject male offspring who stagger around like metalhead versions of the undead. If there were truth in advertising, The People Under the Stairs would be called The Not Very Scary Movie Set Inside a Grungy, Badly Lit House. D

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