People Under the Stairs

People Under the Stairs

people under the stairs still

For our inaugural episode, in honor of horror icon Wes Craven’s recent passing, we take a look at 1991’s The People Under The Stairs.

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The People Under The Stairs (1991)

Episode 1, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw

Todd: Okay, welcome to the inaugural episode of Two Guys and a Chainsaw. I’m Todd.

Craig: I’m Craig.

Todd: And, uh, for today’s first movie, we decided to go with something in memory of a West Craven. Yep. Gone too soon that man, but we thought we would look at some West Craven classics choose one or two to go with, um, maybe for our first couple episodes.

And today’s choice was the people under the stairs. And Craig, you kind of suggested this one. Why 

Craig: were you? I did, you know, this is a movie I’ve seen many, many times, uh, from the time that I was a little kid and that’s one of the reasons that I like this one so much is because it is so nostalgic. I mean, a while we were watching the movie, we were talking about how classically eighties it is.

And as a kid of the eighties, uh, that’s something that still appeals to me today. So I thought we’d 

Todd: give it a shot. You know, there’s a certain vibe about those eighties horror movies. You know, like when I was watching this one at the beginning, I was noticing how great the lighting was. Right. You know, like, like I’d say about the first half of the movie kind of takes place in the daylight, which is also kind of neat when you find a horror movie like that, he’s going through the house and he’s kind of in these creepy scenarios in these creepy settings, but.

He’s well back lit and he’s got kind of a Glint office face here, you know, he’s, he’s walking through the downstairs basement with, uh, with, uh, just a little lighter, lighter. Yeah. Yeah. You can clearly see the background behind him and he’s so super well lit. I mean, you can tell it’s, it’s not, um, I mean, West Craven is a far now beyond, uh, his roots as a, uh, indie film director.

He’s got the big budget, he’s got the big stuff and this movie is a little different from his others in that I think that there. It has a little more, I don’t want to say more of a mainstream appeal because it’s clearly a true a horror movie, but it’s not as gross. It’s not as gritty in many ways. It’s not as dirty in the cinematography.

Do you know what? Yeah, 

Craig: I know what you’re saying. I mean, there’s a little bit of innuendo here and there. That may be a little bit mature, but this is the kind of movie that I really liked when I was a kid, because I felt like times are so different. Nowadays kids are, ah, you know, it makes me sound old.

Kids are so sheltered these days, but when I was a kid growing up. There were these horror movies that I think were intended for a wide audience, you know, horror fans, but they were also accessible to kids. Um, their horror movies about kids, kind of for kids. It kind of in the vein of like the monster squad, um, or even something like the Goonies, it kind of has that vibe to it towards the end.

It starts to get a little bit darker, but, uh, there’s still a lot of fun, you know, it seems like a fun. Uh, kind of intent there. 

Todd: Yeah. Kind of an adventure aspect to it. Almost like the gate. Yeah, sure. Another one of my favorites. Yeah, this is, well, I mean, it starts out, you’ve got this boy, um, and his name is fool.

Right. And he’s introduced to us through this sort of tarot card reading where they bring up the fool card and it’s his sister. Yeah. It’s his sister, his sister, Ruby. Who’s doing it. And, and it’s really a neat the way that it starts. It just, um, You don’t see any actors, you see the credits and then you see them kind of doing the tarot cards, getting laid down.

And she’s talking about 

Craig: the fool. Sure. And there’s some pretty heavy handed, a foreshadowing going on there, but I think that’s probably intentional. I don’t think that’s meant to sneak by us. Uh, he kind of lays out the plot there in the very beginning with this, this terrible tough road you got this year judgment.

Mr. Devil. Glad it’s your birthday reading it. So I didn’t have an idea of what to expect. You know, this kid’s going to be thrown into the fire. Uh, but still there are enough twists and turns that, uh, it’s, it’s kind of a roller coaster ride a little bit crazy 

Todd: sometimes. Yeah, he’s sort of setting out on the journey.

Isn’t he? I mean, it’s, it seems almost like the hero’s journey in many ways. Um, well he lives in the ghetto, right? We don’t know it could be New York. It could be anywhere, but I think the point it’s funny, there’s a part of me that thought, okay, well, the movie’s really dated. The way that they’re talking about the ghetto, right.

They’re calling it like a place, like it’s the name of the place, like, like in a little shop of horrors when they’re living on skid row, like it’s the name of their city. And, um, but in a sense, you know, with that introduction of the fool, and they’re sort of talking about the ghetto as sort of this place, it sort of makes it abstract.

This abstract idea that here’s this young boy who’s in a bad spot, in a bad neighborhood and area who needs to grow up. You know, he’s literally, his name is pointed out. Right. Which is sort of that name that you give to people who are like super smart. Right. But nerds that’s right. But they call him fool.

He’s going to be a Poindexter one day when he becomes a man. But right now he’s a fool and he’s got to go on this journey. In order to sort of like get his manhood. 

Craig: Yeah. He’s a character that you empathize with right away. I mean, all this stuff is thrown in his face, you know, you’ve got the Ving Rhames character.

Is that right? Um, who is constantly egging him on trying to get him? Leroy Leroy. There you go. Uh, Always reminding him that, uh, the weight of the world falls on his shoulders. No, your mama got a cancer in her. She can’t afford to have taken out. Yeah. The thing, any doctor to take out just like that, but you ain’t got no money and you ain’t gonna have no money.

Do you know his mom’s got cancer and she’s going to die? If they don’t have money, they’ve got, uh, they they’re three days behind on their rent, which apparently in the contract. Means that they now have to pay triple otherwise they’re going to be immediately evicted. Um, uh, and, uh, so you know, this kid, his sister, you know, is a hooker apparently.

And, you know, uh, so everybody’s kind of counting on this kid. Um, and it almost becomes, I noticed about halfway three-quarters of the way through, it’s almost kind of a Jack in the Beanstalk story, uh, where he has to climb into this dangerous world and face all these, uh, obstacles and scary. Folks and whatnot, and then, uh, comes back with a reward, but just like in Jack and the Beanstalk, he has to go back or feels like he has to go back for some reason.

And then you have the climax where he defeats the giant, you know, you’re 

Todd: exactly right. Right. I mean, it’s almost literally that because what is the thing that, um, that Leroy tells him? He says, well, if you wanna, if you wanna save your family, basically you’re so destitute, if you want to save your family, I have a treasure map with some goals, right.

That he found in the basement. I had the back of a liquor store at the store. It was a, it’s basically the address isn’t it. To, um, to the landlord’s house. Right, 

Craig: right. And the social commentary here, I think is not a two. Uh, hidden as well. You’ve got the ghetto and these downtrodden people, and then you’ve got the evil, uh, Caucasian, uh, kind of ruling overlords with these malevolent intentions.

One last family and the Lenox Avenue building. Then it’s clear to tear down. We build a nice, neat condominium. We get clean people in there. Lots of nice wood for my fireplace. Lots of nice money. From the beginning, you’re rooting for this kid. You’re rooting for fool. You want him to stick it to the man you want, especially these folks who are pretty twisted in their own.

Right. I think kids would find that storyline appealing and adults do too, which is why I think I still enjoy it. For it’s nostalgia, even though you’re right. It does seem data. There’s a lot about it. That’s very entrenched in the eighties. That kind of universality of that fairy tale story too, is still, it still works.

I think it still works. It’s entertaining. Yeah. 

Todd: Well, we can all kind of put ourselves if we weren’t kids when we watched it and I was, you know, and you were too, um, if we weren’t kids, we watch it. You can put yourself back into that mindset like you do with any fairytale. Oh, I remember when I was that young and I was that naive and the world was a big, scary place and, um, Thank goodness.

I was never put in that position where I had to somehow go on this quest, you know, to sort of save my family. It’s a terrifying thing for a child. It is a 

Craig: terrifying thing, but don’t, and maybe this is just the horror fan in me, but I think as a kid, as scared as I would have been to be thrown in those situations, It was fun to live vicariously through these characters.

You know, you want to be brave. You want to stand up and face the bad guy as this kid eventually does. Uh, and, and you want the good guy to win and you, you know, you’ve got that kind of hero fantasy thing going on. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a, it’s 

Todd: very much like a fantasy movie, even more so than a horror movie.

Really? Yeah. It kind of gets pigeonholed as a horror movie because West Craven was such a horror director, but. This is one of his, that kind of branches out of that becomes a sort of child adventure story. That’s kind of enough gross in the Senate that gets the 

Craig: rating. Right. And, and, you know, you’ve got the language there and stuff too.

I don’t think that it’s something that would appeal to a wide market of young people, really young people today. Um, but I miss that. I miss that in movies. I feel like you don’t see that very often mean, I’m sure there are a few examples, but, 

Todd: um, you know, that’s a really good point. I mean, when this movie opened, um, I think it did like something like 55 million and it was, it opened it the number one spot and believe it or not, it lasted for, I think, 10 weeks at number one in the theaters, this kind of movie, if made today would be made in a very niche way.

Yeah, it would be made to appeal to a teenage audience exclusively, or it would be made to sort of appeal to the gross out crowd. You know, what it wants to see that, or, or whatever, or it would be so tamed down and lame that it could, you know, constantly get that PG 13 rating so that families could kind of go out and see it and be a little more gooney ass.

Right. You know, this one sort of has a little bit of all of that, you know, in it. And as a result, I don’t know, it’s got a little staying power. It’s kind of 

Craig: strange. I think so. Yeah. Uh, I dunno. I, you know, we were talking before we watched, uh, you said you hadn’t seen this since around the time that it came out, this is one of those movies that can come on and it just entertains me, you know, whether I catch it from the beginning or whether I catch it in the middle, I always find myself watching it.

When, and when you said let’s do it today, I was like, yeah, I haven’t seen that in a while. It’ll be, it’ll be fun to revisit. Well, 

Todd: so it starts out and a fool is, uh, basically Leroy decides, uh, to convince him that the best way to save his family is to go into this house where the landlords live and the landlords are twisted.

Um, there’s mommy and daddy. I don’t know if they’re ever given a name. Are they? 

Craig: I think I read somewhere that at some point, uh, the mom says the dad’s name. I think it’s Elvin, something like that.

My little girl again, but for the most part, yeah. They call each other mommy and daddy, which is sick in its own. Right. Considering the fact that it’s revealed later on in the plot that they are in fact brother and sister. Yeah. 

Todd: Majorly, dysfunctional family. Um, so they go in and this, the way they live in, it’s like a funeral home.

It is an old 

Craig: funeral. Yeah. Yeah. It’s like their fame, their family legacy. Uh, apparently they’ve been running this funeral home for generations and apparently the, the hood, you know, the, the ghetto has known that this is a place to stay away from. Um, for, for quite some time fool’s grandfather remembers being a child being warned away from this place, all sorts of rumors about what’s going on in that place.

Never proved it because the police didn’t take it serious. But believe me, when I was a kid, none of us ever walk past that 

Todd: house. And so he goes in, um, with, uh, with Ving Rhames, his character was Leroy. And then this other guy, Spencer. Right. Who’s who’s, who’s like the gang banger white guy. And, uh, the two of them are, uh, convinced him to dress up in this.

Um, was it like bear Scouts? Go up to the, go up to the house. He’s unsuccessful at getting in the mommy basically fenced him off. But then, uh, uh, he goes back and, uh, and Spencer says, well, let me give it a shot. Sure. 

Craig: And then Spencer, you know, the, the mastermind, uh, does make his way into the house. And that’s the last we see of him for awhile.

Uh, and he’s gone. So Leroy is convinced that Spencer is a pull in the highest on his own. I’m going to cut these guys out. So yeah. Also a criminal mastermind, Leroy decides to ditch the plan right away and just resort to just breaking a 

Todd: window. Yeah. It’s funny how they had this whole elaborate thing with these costumes and everything they’re going to get in and they send the boy in and then there’s this ploy.

It takes them about five minutes to decide, get the crowbar. We’re going to break the back window over the, and it’s remarkably easy for him to get in. It is. 

Craig: And then from the time they’re inside there, it’s like a game of mousetrap. Uh, you know, there’s these devices all over the place, doors are swinging and closing, locking on their own.

Um, I actually think, you know, watching this again this time, I think that, uh, uh, Chris Columbus may owe a lot, uh, It is a bit of a home 

Todd: alone atmosphere to this, right? I mean, there’s the dog, right? There’s the dog. Well, the minute he breaks, open the door. Some there’s like a shelving that slides it’s 

Craig: all rigged up.

I mean, it’s, it’s got all kinds of machines. You’ve got the scene towards the end where. Fool is, um, kind of taunting, uh, the parents and he, uh, lures the evil dad into the fireplace so that he can Chuck bricks down into his face. I think I hear something

I mean, it’s straight out of her, right? 

Todd: Exactly. That and the front 

Craig: door. Yeah, all the electrified front door. I forgot all about that, man. He 

Todd: grabs the, he grabs the, and this is how they get rid of the dog. Is the grass, the fool, when he first tries the front door from the inside, um, it’s electrified. Um, the NABI is, and so, uh, when the dog starts attacking Leroy fools, us, hurry up, bring, bring the drag, the dog over here.

And they get this sort of chain where he CR he grabs the front door and, uh, he electrocutes himself through Leroy through the dog. And I guess it’s. Not powerful enough to kill two people, but enough to, but it’s done the dog. Yeah. 

Craig: Can you conveniently for awhile? We should talk about this dog a little bit too.

Okay. Now this dog, this poor dog is, uh, owned by these sadomasochists and is used to guard, uh, their treasures and their home. And they put this dog through a hell of a lot. I mean, he’s chasing people through the walls. He’s getting electrocuted. Uh, he comes to a pretty gruesome demise at the end. Oh shit.

Yeah. And in addition to that, you have all of these scenes where the dog is attacking people.  the dog is a Rottweiler course in classic fashion. The whole time. I’m thinking, especially when this dog is on top of the kid, I’m like, Willing suspension of disbelief is one thing, but I have rottweilers. If that sucker was going to town, I questioned whether or not they would have gotten out with his few scratches 

Todd: as they did.

Rottweiler was, it was so easy for them to eventually, like, I don’t know, knock it off their arms or. Habit fighting them on the floor for a while, or just good 

Craig: long while they’d wrestle around with that dog for 

Todd: awhile. Oh yeah. They’re in the walls, which are, you know, the walls of this house are almost like small rooms and hallways of their own.

And the dogs like chasing them down the, the walls, which have to be like. Yeah, each hallway and each turn is like six feet. Sure. But somehow this dog is running slower than these people that were making their way through the dark, through this cavernous 

Craig: house. We never could figure out the geography of the house and these kids are crawling up and through the walls and through the vents and, uh, going in one hallway, coming out another hallway that looks surprisingly like the first hallway, but apparently is different.


Todd: And you know, it’s part of the fantasy though, right? I mean, it’s, it’s like the Jack and the Beanstalk story. You have the, like the King and the queen and I mean, their dog’s name is. Prints. Yeah. Right. You know, and, and he’s got his own room and, uh, they have this huge cavernous castle of a house. You could see Lacy’s with an army and never find, you know, half of it.

Um, and then there’s a girl, there’s a girl princess. Right. Um, and her name was Alice. 

Craig: That’s right. Another kind of loaded name there. My name is Fu what’s yours, Alice. And don’t be scared. He never said a brother before never had a brother, you know, I was trying to make connections to other Craven films.

And I remembered that one, the heroin from, uh, Elm street, three and four maybe, uh, is named Alison. Then I remembered that Craven didn’t really have anything to do with all the sequels, et cetera, new nightmare. So my theory went out the window, but, um, there were definitely other. Craven isms in there that I saw.

Did you notice any of them well, 

Todd: such as his propensity for like using dysfunctional families, right. 

Craig: Social families. I wonder if he had some kind of mommy complex because, uh, you know, I’m thinking of Nancy’s mom in nightmare on Elm street. Oh, that just horrible. And then, uh, here, we’ve got both. Horrible parent figures, but the mom’s got this very mommy dearest vibe going on, you know, with, with her look, uh, the makeup and the hair and, and the complete control over her daughter.

Um, so, 

Todd: uh, yeah, there’s that, there’s the shade sort of shades of the Hills have eyes. Yeah, no, in that majorly messed up dysfunctional family of mutants or whatever. Um, and in this case you’ve got mother and brother sleep, uh, brother and sister, sleeping with each other and you have all of these sort of mutant.

Um, they’re supposed to be there. They’re boys once, um, fool runs into Alice. One of the first things she tells him is, Oh, kind of gives him the exposition on what the house is. Everybody’s locked in. Nobody can comes out, nobody can come out. Um, and, uh, the, the basement, the people under the stairs under the title are supposedly basically her brothers.


Craig: And they’re, they’re rejected children, you know, they they’ve been collecting children. Uh, apparently from the ghetto we find out later, um, 

Todd: they’re not, they’re literal children at all. Right. 

Craig: Uh, and when they prove on satisfactory, when they. See evil or speak evil or hear evil, then they are disfigured, uh, to, to suit their crime and are locked in the basement where, uh, Alice tells fool they are given some sort of food and they should be happy in their own way.

Right. I guess, I guess Alice kind of trying to dilute herself. She’s really? Yeah. 

Todd: That’s a lot of wish. Hope. Well, she’s had a lot of time. She being the only person who is more or less. You know, let run free in the house and has as normal of a life as you can with these people. You know, she’s like the princess in the tower where they’re keeping under lock and key.

Um, except from the guy in the walls who is not in the stairs is apparently one of the brothers who sort of broke free, 

Craig: free. And I guess he analysis kind of established this relationship, uh, that the parents know about. Um, but try to keep from happening, but Roche, right. And he’s in the walls. And his, his tongue is cut out because he tried to call the police when, when he was being tested as, as a potential child.

No, just my friend wrote Poindexter. Everybody calls me for. You should get the names and he proves very helpful in, in guiding Alison fool around. Uh, at first he seems kind of menacing, but, uh, you come to find that he’s really a, uh, a hero in his own, right? Yeah. 

Todd: That was one of those sort of, um, horror tropes where at first, when fool’s exploring the basement, when he discovers, Oh, something is wrong because here’s a dead, uh, Spencer.

A hand reaches over and grabs him. And, uh, you know, he wrestles with this guy for a while who we later find out is Roche. And, you know, later on when he’s, you know, kind of around it’s it’s roaches, who’s kind of unbeknownst to him, guiding him around the house almost by scaring him into the right places.

And so you think, Oh, there’s this evil demon. It turns out to be the nice guy. The nice. 

Craig: Yeah. Uh, and unfortunately those. Those characters tend to not last very long and poor roads kind of yeah, he gets it. Uh, it’s it’s unfortunate, but you know, he dies a hero’s death. Yeah. Uh, I kind of wonder if, if that’s not maybe the best thing that could happen for him, you know, maybe I’m jumping a little bit ahead, but, um, at the end, these people under the stairs apparently are liberated and you kind of see them walking off, down the street.

Uh, and I, I find myself wondering, you know, what kind of life is this? 

Todd: Yeah. Very different. They’ve not seen the sunlight. Yeah. 

Craig: Yeah. And the, and there, you know, we haven’t really said what they look like. They’re quite ghoulish. You know, we, we, the practical makeup, I actually really enjoy that. Um, it was, uh, You know, again, it, it shows its age, but, um, there’s something to be said for real practical makeup effects.

And, and you could tell that there was no, I mean, obviously CGI wasn’t even around, so everything had to be practical, but they’re, they’re kind of ghoulish and, uh, we made jokes. Who did you say? They reminds you, uh, eighties punk band for 

Todd: me. Yeah. It looked like a Motley crew there for a little bit. Or you said it was thriller was pretty much like thriller.

Yeah. Especially there 

Craig: on the assemble.

And all of this stuff serves to be, you know, really pretty scary, I think even, uh, not just for kids, but for horror fans in general. I don’t think it’s necessarily, I guess it depends on what scares you. It, it’s not, uh, torture porn and, you know, it’s a very different kind of thing. You’re 

Todd: right. And it’s not as gross.

In fact, the only aside from, you know, like gunshots going off, somebody getting their hand bit or something like that, and just sort of a little bit of blood here and there, the grossest, it really gets. Um, is when Leroy finally bites it. Um, when, uh, I think he’s learned down to the basement, the guy shoots him with the, uh, several times, Oh, he shoots him several times at the top of the stairs with his shotgun, which is where he’s just blasting holes in everything left and right with the shotgun.

Um, and then they take him down. Uh, and, uh, Mo and father basically strings them up downstairs and starts tearing his body apart. Clearly he’s eating some of them and then he’s feeding the scraps and, uh, to the, uh,

getting back to what you were saying about Roche and some of these isms of West Craven. Yeah. You know, another thing is sort of this, um, fundamentalists. Um, religious kind of like religious fundamentalism kind of gone awry. These parents who, you know, every time they’re their main exclamation has all they 

Craig: can, right?

Yeah. Burn in hell. You know, we could count how many times I have no idea how many times, but it was a pretty regular, it, you know, they weren’t, they didn’t come across as being particularly religious, but you certainly got that vibe. Yeah, you got that vibe that they, you know, in their dress, particularly the mom, it was, you know, a very old fashioned old style, almost 1950s, uh, conservative kind of look made to look grotesque through her makeup and, and, uh, the lighting and whatnot.

But, um, yeah, you, you certainly got that then. Of course they break that mold too by that. Well, I hope it’s, it’s a broken mold by, you know, being incestuous brother and sister, and that’s true. Well, and the dad, you know, uh, makes, gets himself up in this. What a gimp outfit, I guess, is that what 

Todd: it was the creepy, you know, I was a kid and that is the only thing I remember about this movie, because it’s been decades since I’d seen it.

But once, once he came out in that gimp outfit, in that whole sort of SNM kind of studied black leather head to toe with the face mask and everything thing, it took me right back and I remembered, Oh, that is what freaked me out about this movie so much. It was this crazy weird SNM, like get up his hunting outfit almost.


Craig: And I had to, you know, really give kudos to those actors. They were very effectively creepy. I mean, they were, they were scary. Um, and you know, I, I, you asked me when we were watching, if I recognized, uh, the actor who played the dad and I, I don’t, but I remember reading that, um, Craven saw them. They played husband and wife on twin peaks apparently.

Oh really? And he saw them their performance there. Uh, and, and one of them for this movie and got them, and I think he cast well because they were, they were freaky. Oh, 

Todd: they were freaky. I mean, and then there was also that bit where, um, it’s toward the end, but he’s, um, you know, hunting them through the walls.

And I think he breaks into a room that’s filled with candles and there is some religious paraphernalia on the wall, but you’re right. It’s not explicit. It’s not like in Carey, you know, where they make the girl bent down in front and pray or anything like that. It’s always very implied. Um, and I know that was one thing that West Craven comes from a fundamentalist background.

And I know that when he, um, one of the stories that he tells was when, uh, or maybe Sean Cunningham tells, um, Sean Cunningham who went on to do the Friday, the 13th movie is the guy who was friends with West, who kind of got him into horror. And I believe they went together on, um, the last house on the left really.

And he asked West to write this, uh, and West was like, geez, I don’t know if I can write horror. And his response to him was well, You’re from this, um, oppressive sort of fundamentalist religious background. So you got all the tools you need to be able to, you like, you’ve got this sort of repressed dark side, you know, what’s going to be scary.

So just unleash that. And it seems like some of that 

Craig: comes through. Interesting. I didn’t know that, um, the only thing that I had read was, and I think that Craven did this a lot, and I know that he was. Inspired, uh, for nightmare on Elm street, by news reports that he had read, uh, about, uh, young people who had, um, had such severe night terrors, that they had died in their sleep.

This, uh, apparently, and I don’t know the specifics, I don’t remember, but he saw some sort of news piece, uh, about a police rate of a home that was for something unrelated. I don’t know if it was a drug raid or whatever, but when the police raided this house, they found behind locked doors. These children who had been.

Kept in this house for presumably years and hadn’t been allowed out and hadn’t, you know, been socialized in any way. And he was inspired to write this daddy cut out the bad parts and put the 

Todd: boys in the Salar. It isn’t that weird. Like, I mean now. In the years since we’ve had a few high profile news reports with these strange cases, the one guy in Sweden, the one guy here in America where people have done like, like exactly this, where they have locked up their kids, um, and never let them see the light of day.

And their house is like a fortress and booby trapped and all that stuff. And sometimes just under the nose of the neighbors. Sure. No. 

Craig: Yeah. Remember anything like that from when we were kids, I mean, this seemed like a nightmare scenario. Not that the real life scenario wouldn’t be a nightmare, obviously it would be, but this seemed more like, uh, a nightmare fantasy, something that, you know, you would come up with in your imagination is kind of the worst case scenario being trapped by these tyrannous parents, uh, who took every opportunity to punish you for the slightest, uh, crime.

Todd: Yeah. Yeah, it was great. Any other Craven 

Craig: isms that you, well, you already mentioned the Hills had eyes. Uh, I was reminded of that too. When a fool first descends into the cellar, you hear these kind of ghostly voices from the shadows. What kind of calling to him? Taunting him.

It reminded me a lot of the Hills have eyes in the early part before, uh, the family is really. Seen the, the mutant cannibals in the Hills, but they’re, they’re hearing these kinds of creepy things. Definitely reminiscent. I mean, you can definitely see his signature on this. It’s different than the other stuff he’s done.

This is post nightmare, right? The first one. Oh yeah. Which is, which is almost kind of bizarre because it’s seems almost, gosh, I don’t know what I want to say. It seems more youthful. It seems like a younger filmmaker to me for some reason. 

Todd: Oh yeah. Well, and, and maybe it’s the. Subject matter too. Maybe it’s the story.

I mean, it is kind of like a fairy tale. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I was thinking of the gate while I was watching this. Right. You know? And maybe that’s what it is. Um, he’s kinda dialing himself back a little bit. Yeah, there was, there was one shot in there in particular, which jumped out at me specifically as a, as referencing one of his earlier ones.

And that is, um, there’s a shot toward the end of the movie when the people under the stairs get their comeuppance. And even though they’ve been in the basement, held back by just a bunch of boards nailed up. Um, that they can’t seem to break out of. They end up being able to like burst through the staircases and the walls.

I guess all they really needed was the proper motivation to do it again. Well, it’s, I guess maybe it’s more that hero’s journey, you know, you got your guy coming in, he’s rallied the troops up and now he’s taught you in your. Village your downtrodden village that you can stand up and fight for.

Craig: Absolutely. And then there’s a huge celebration in the street. Everybody’s happy.

Just go on their Merry way and pay their rent 

Todd: with the, with all the money that explodes out of the house 

Craig: is right at the end, we forgot to mention that it was a literal, hidden treasure in the basement. It was, it was old coins, one eyed Willy stash, apparently. So it seemed like, yeah, 

Todd: that’s, that’s what happens.

Um, um, Roach basically leads him to the, the room where almost Scrooge McDuck, like he’s, as it’s not just, you know, money in a safe, it’s just money all over the floor and coins everywhere. And for some reason they’re lit candles in there all the time or whatever. Um, and then, um, of course, uh, it’s just him now and father, um, because the mother has been killed.

Yeah. The mother was killed earlier just before Alice 

Craig: gets her revenge on the mother. And it’s very satisfying because she’s been pretty horribly. Treated and abused throughout. So it’s nice to kind of see them of what’s coming to her at Alice’s hands 

Todd: that’s rewarding. Yep, yep. Yep. That’s right. And, um, fool leads the father downstairs into this money room, uh, and uh, basically blows them up.

Yeah. But 

Craig: first he traps him with this ingenious trick. Uh, he knows that the dad is coming and he’s, you know, in this vault or whatever it is, that’s holding all this stuff. Um, so as a distraction, He takes a candelabra and somehow manages to insert coins into the candles, the lit candles of the candelabra, so that as the candles burned down, down periodically, the coins will drop and make a noise.

Now, this is amazing. This kid is supposed to be white, like maybe 12 maybe. And he comes up with this brilliant idea and not only comes up with it with it, you know, a split second, but also executes it. You know, I think in this would take me some time and some study. Uh, hands to do, but 

Todd: this is like nineties adventure game, kind of like solving.

This is like King’s quest type, you know? Oh, what inventory do I have here? I have a candle life of magic and light the candle with an, I have a bunch of coins. And we’re supposed to figure out that you jam the coins into the, I mean, and it works and it works. I mean, those canvas must burn really fast.

Yeah. Cause they’re releasing coins at a rate of like one every 10 seconds. But you know, it’s funny, you mentioned his age because I took special note of that. Um, he mentioned that early on. Um, when he says, uh, when they were first breaking into the house with Leroy, he says, uh, 

Craig: what’s the lead boy does breaking it in, or it might not be so SWAT, at least the first day of my 13th birthday.

Could be a 

Todd: lucky, in one sense, it’s like, well, this poor kid has no party. You know, that nobody’s paid any attention to the fact that he has his birthday because he such a destitute, you know, thing. But in another sense, it’s the first day as a teenager. 

Craig: Yeah. Age kind of thing. You know, it’s becoming a man standing up being the man of the house, taking care of business.

And he does. 

Todd: Yeah, it’s crazy. I thought that a lot of the, um, the, the battle scenes, I call them battle scenes, you know, when they’re kind of mano a mano with the, with the parents. Sure. We’re kind of, and this is maybe where you, when you were talking earlier about how you felt like this was maybe a little more dialed back almost.

Three Stooges. S definitely, you know, you talked about home alone and they’re dropping the things down. And these people have just rubber faces and rubber bodies and stuff. It’s like, bricks can bounce off of them and iron pokers can bounce off of them and they kind of ooze and get up and almost like, look around with their eyes.

Like they’re in some cartoons. Yeah. 

Craig: The, I mean, and the parents are very sinister. I mean, I think they, you get the sense that they pose a real threat, that they are a real danger, but when it comes right down to it, They seem to be pretty easily foiled. Uh, it’s it’s, it’s kind of convenient at times. I remember one time the dad goes lunging for fool and fool simply steps out of the way.

And the dad just nails his face right into the wall and flounders over backwards and is incapacitated for a good 15 seconds while the kids have time to crawl through a hole in the wall and get away. So there’s some convenience there, but. But, but 

Todd: that is tempered with the fact that we’re dealing with some really nasty subject matter.

Right. I mean, there’s implications that the father is molesting the girls. 

Craig: Yeah. He went there a little bit, you know, we were talking about that. It’s. Early on there’s, you know, maybe some subtle suggestion, maybe it’s just because it’s so uncomfortable between the father and the daughter, but later on, uh, there’s a scene where it becomes pretty parents.

Todd: Yeah. That’s kind of at the apex of the movie where they’re sort of in their girl, the tower moment, because fool actually gets out of the house. Right. He rolls down the roof and he falls into what looked like. It was only a couple of feet of water, but must’ve been more than that, um, and runs out. And again like that hero, he’s got to go back in, like you said, Jack and the Beanstalk, he’s got to go back in and save the princess.

In the meantime, they have the princess chained up in the attic. I E the tower, you know, they got her tied up and fool finds a way back into the house and back up through a chimney that comes up the brick wall right behind her, where she’s chained. And that’s the moment in which the father comes in and his total getup.

And she’s like, let me out of here, please. And he kind of stands there and he just sorta massages his crotch for just a second 

Craig: creepy and pretty subtle. I mean, the he’s an all black and he’s lit mostly from the back. So if you aren’t paying close attention, you might miss it. And it’s not something that’s really lingered on.

It kind of happens quickly. And then it goes on know after that immediately, the conclusion that he jumps to is that fool and Alice are. Doing it. Yeah. For lack of a better word. Um, and, and you can tell that then he’s fueled not only by his insanity, but by jealousy too. And he’s kind of out to get both of them at that point.

She did it with him. I know it, not my little girl. She’s a more, uh, so it doesn’t really pull any punches, you know? I mean, it’s, it’s sick and twisted and its own way, but. Still, you know, it 

Todd: still lacks the grit and sort of the brutality. Yeah. I agree. Of, of a lot of his other films. You’re absolutely right.

It’s an interesting 

Craig: departure. The kid actors, I thought did a great job. Um, I didn’t recognize the kid who played fool and I don’t know his name. Um, but the, the girl who plays Alice, I don’t know. This may have been. Yeah, after your time, but she that’s AIG Langer. She went on to be ran on my so-called life.

Oh really? Yeah. Which, you know, I was a teenager at the time and very angsty. So I, I was totally into that show. Um, and I loved her. She was great on that show. Uh, I was reading, um, that she plays. Very convincingly. I think a child around 12 years old, she was actually 17 when they filmed this really. Um, and the, the boy who plays Roche, who I assume was meant to be somewhere in his mid to late teens was actually 27, no way.

Yeah, 27 when they filmed it. And it was all three of their first films. And I don’t even know the. The kid who played fool. I don’t know if he went on to do anything, but AIG Langer went on to have a relatively successful career. I just read the other day randomly that she’s now married to like a Duke or something she’s royalty now.

Todd: Yeah. 

Craig: Um, and, and I know that I recognize the guy who played Roach. He’s gone on to do lots of other stuff too. He’s got a really recognizable face. Think of anything. Yeah. 

Todd: He looked really familiar to me. I just couldn’t place it. You know, that’s funny you, as an actress, She had probably one of the most difficult roles in the movie.

I mean, her job was, was, was to look scared. Yeah. Um, to look, um, brutalized. Yeah. And to 

Craig: be brutalized. I mean, she was getting thrown around, thrown on beds, thrown against walls. There’s one scene where, uh, the, the mom. Some of the carnage is around on the floor. And as punishment, the mom makes Alice clean it up.

And in this shot, I, you know, I assume this was just a lucky shot. The mom pushes her into this puddle and AGA langurs slips and falls. It’s a pretty nasty 

Todd: right into it. And she’s wearing that white dress. It’s even more. Yeah. And it’s very Cinderella. Like she’s like down there on the Florida  yeah. I mean, that’s, that’s a tricky thing to pull off and her transformation at the end where she does finally get revenge on her mom, they burst through the stairs.

Um, they grabbed the mother that gives her the opportunity to grab, uh, the mother’s knife and, uh, and ends up knifing her. Um, But Don not in this way of, uh, that you’ll sometimes see where it’s like, she suddenly wakes up and suddenly turns and suddenly gets us some agency. She still that damaged girl, you know, who is still very unsure of herself, but is starting to take some agency for her life.

And she just pulls it off marvelously. Yeah. I 

Craig: thought she did an excellent job. I thought, you know, overhaul for it being kind of a. Uh, cheesy in a way, kind of a little horror film, I felt like it felt like they were taking it seriously, not too serious. So they were having fun and it is a fun movie.

There’s a lot of comedy going on. You know, we were laughing at several parts throughout, um, sometimes just because things seemed a little dated, but you know, there, there are jokes. There’s definitely dark comedy in there too, which I think is. Is really challenging to do so that, that impresses me 

Todd: yeah. To take that really dark subject matter and find some humor in it when you’re, you know, you’re making implications of, of, of rape.

And you’re talking about incest and this guy in this sort of sexually, there’s a lot of sexual kind of stuff in there, but, um, yeah, it is, it is interesting in that way. Um, The kind of movie, I don’t know. Do you think a movie like this would be made now? 

Craig: You know, I don’t know, like you said before, I think that it would, no, not just like this.

I think that this movie were made again today that it would be either for the PG 13 crowd. Um, I’ve been trying to think, uh, of, uh, Similar things like, have you ever seen it’s relatively recent, the whole, where these kids find a hole in their basement? Very much like the whole, that kind of thing. And I feel like those movies are throwbacks to this kind of movie, but you don’t see him very much.

And we’re kind of in an interesting position, you know, who knows what’s going to happen now that craving has passed, unfortunately, but, uh, he had several projects in development and one of those was a TV series, uh, based on the children under the stairs or the people under the stairs. For scifi, right? I believe so.

I fly channel and I’ll be really interested to see what they do with that, because I don’t really see how this plays into a serial kind of thing. I don’t see how you take 

Todd: this into a TV series. It’s nothing more than a mini, you know, like how do you keep this going for seasons and seasons? I mean, it all is in this 

Craig: house.

Well, and you know, limited series are really popular right now. So maybe that’s the direction they’ll go. Who knows? I don’t want to 

Todd: interesting. Yeah. Well, I miss him already. I was kind of bothered more than I thought I would be just by the notion that he passed, you know, and to hear that it was brain cancer.

I mean, did anybody really? 

Craig: I didn’t know. And I, I feel like I kind of keep up on these things. I had no idea. I didn’t even know he was ill. In fact, I didn’t even realize it. His age. I mean, he was up there. He was in his seventies and I mean, it’s still tragic that he’s gone, but, um, but prolific. Yeah, absolutely.

Yeah. Uh, I, I really think that, you know, had his health not failed him, that he probably would have continued putting stuff out there that would have. Continue to be popular. And, you know, he had, I don’t even want to call them hits and misses because I appreciate everything he’s done, but he had some really successful stuff like the scream franchise and run out on the street.

Um, a couple of other big names, uh, but he also made a lot of movies that didn’t get that kind of attention. They are, uh, you know, All of them, whether I particularly liked them or not. For example, I don’t particularly enjoy watching last house on the left. It’s a little brutal for me. Um, but I appreciate what he did there.

I mean, uh, it’s, it’s really interesting filmmaking and, and worth a watch. And you know, for that reason alone, if nothing, almost a 

Todd: 4runner to torture porn in a way. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, really ahead of his time, he really broke some ground with everything he did. Yeah. Uh, well, most adamant, well, we’re going to be talking more about West Craven as the next couple of weeks.

Go on. We’re going to watch a couple more of his films. If you have any more thoughts about closing thoughts 

Craig: about this movie. Again, it’s, it’s, it’s one of those movies that reminds me of my childhood. Not just because it’s from my childhood, but because of the genre, um, it’s something that I miss, you know, and I, and I’ve got a little nieces and nephews and I, I can’t wait.

Until they’re old enough. If hopefully my sister will allow me to, to show them these kinds of movies, because I feel like they’re not getting that, uh, in mainstream culture right now. And I, I hope that they can appreciate them the same way that I did. We’ll have to wait and see. Yeah. That’s great. Well, 

Todd: thank you for bringing up this film.

This was a great one again, hadn’t seen it in such a long time. Um, enjoyed it more now, I think, than I really did before. And it’s great to see a master of work. Absolutely. All right, well, um, please tune in with us again next week when we’re going to be bringing you another Western. Craven horror film. And also, if you liked what you heard today, please share this podcast with your friends please until next week, this is Todd and this is Craig and we are two guys and a chainsaw. .

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