Happy Halloween, Horror Fans! Wolfman Josh here. Welcome to our 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN! Why not 31 Days of Horror? Well, for one thing, here at Horror Movie Podcast, Horror is happening 365 days a year. Count on that. We’re dead serious about horror movies and don’t you forget it.
Also, speaking for myself, I’ve always seen the entire month of October as Halloween. It’s a time for gathering the harvest from my small garden, enjoying the changing leaves in the mountains near my home, roasting pumpkins seeds, drinking apple cider, brisk Autumn walks, lots of parties with friends and family and A COMPLETE AND TOTAL DEDICATION to scary movies. This is also an especially important time of year for me as a horror fan because it is the only time I can get my significant other to watch anything even close to resembling a horror movie with me. And in my house, the only movies that go in the BluRay player the entire month of October are those suited for the Halloween season. Those are the rules.
And so each day, for the entire month of October, one of your hosts at Horror Movie Podcast will bring you a written review of what we’re watching this Halloween. And that’s really just the beginning …
We want you to return the favor. As those of you who frequent the comment boards already know, we’re all about community here at Horror Movie Podcast and we want to hear what you’re up to too. So, please share your reviews along with us each day in the comments of our posts. Give us your recommendations and tell us what to avoid. Let’s all be here for one another as we navigate one of the best times of the year to be fans of horror cinema by bringing our best picks to the table to share with everyone else.
To kick things off, it’s Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker, our beloved co-host and the insanely prolific film critic behind DVDInfatuation.com, where he’s writing a movie review every day until he reaches at least 2,500. Today you’re the lucky recipient of that writing and if you’ve never checked out DVD Infatuation before, you’ll see what you’ve been missing.
For Day 1 of our 31 Days of Halloween, October 1, 2015, Dr. Shock brings us his review of Wes Craven’s “The People Under the Stairs” (1991). After the jump!
After the recent passing of Wes Craven, I decided it was high time I check out some of the writer/director’s “other” films (i.e. – those that aren’t connected in any way, shape, or form to Scream or A Nightmare on Elm Street), paying special attention to the ones I’ve never seen before. For years, I was under the impression that 1991’s The People Under the Stairs had somehow slipped through the cracks, but as I sat watching it the other day, I found myself remembering bits and pieces of it (including the film’s outrageous finale). Still, I’m glad I chose this movie to kick off my “Craven Retrospective,” because even though I’ve seen this horror / comedy before, I’d forgotten how much fun it is.
Upon learning that his family is about to be evicted from their skid-row apartment, young Poindexter Williams (played by 12-year-old Brandon Adams), known as “Fool” to his family and friends, agrees to help Leroy (Ving Rhames) and Spenser (Jeremy Roberts) break into the spacious mansion belonging to their landlords, the Robesons (Everett McGill and Wendy Robie). Hoping to find Mr. Robeson’s rare coin collection, the trio is instead drawn into what appears to be a house of horrors, complete with a savage Rottweiler and a group of near-crazed, cannibalistic children who, for years, have been held prisoner in the basement. To top it off, the Robesons themselves are insane, not to mention heavily armed. Aided by the couple’s daughter Alice (A.J. Langer), as well as “Roach” (Sean Whalen), one of the basement dwellers who is now living in the walls of the house, Fool searches desperately for a way out, but will he find one in time, or will Mr. Robeson and his trusty shotgun find him instead?
The kids trapped in the Robeson’s basement (The so-called “People under the Stairs”) are pretty darn creepy, what with their pale skin and voracious appetite for human flesh (which they get to devour on more than one occasion). But when it comes to crazy, nobody can touch the house’s owners. Played by Everett McGill and Wendy Robie (who, at the time, were also appearing in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks), the Robesons are completely off their rockers, making them much more frightening than any of the house’s other residents. While searching for Fool and Roach, who are hiding somewhere in the walls, Mr. Robeson, decked out in what looks like a leather S&M outfit, angrily fires his shotgun in all directions, hoping that one of the blasts will eventually hit their mark. Yet it’s Mrs. Robeson who’ll send a shiver up your spine. A cross between Piper Laurie’s psychotically religious mother in Carrie and Bette Davis’ delusion Baby Jane in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, Mrs. Robeson is an egotistical tyrant, tormenting poor Alice every chance she gets (after discovering that she’s been helping Fool, Mrs. Robeson tosses Alice into a steaming hot bath, vigorously scrubbing the girls’ skin as she screams in agony). Both deliver performances that are over-the-top, but while McGill’s character is occasionally a source of comedy (he’s constantly hitting his head or falling down), Robie is downright spooky, and even though she isn’t the one with the rifle, we know that her Mrs. Robeson is, at all times, the more dangerous of the two.
The house itself, with its automatic locks, unbreakable windows, and collapsible stairs (which, with the push of a button, transform into a slippery ramp), is definitely cool, and the perfect setting for what proves to be a wild film. But along with the horror and comedy, The People Under the Stairs also has plenty to say about society in general, throwing a spotlight on poverty and the trials faced by those who struggle to make ends meet (Despite the fact they’re committing a crime, we find ourselves rooting for Fool and the others, mostly because we realize stealing is the only option they have left). As George Romero did with his Living Dead series, Craven blends this social commentary neatly into a kick-ass horror movie that, along with effectively delivering its message, is a guaranteed good time.
—Dave’s original post for today’s review over on DVD Infatuation
—Cool 31 Days of Halloween artwork detail by the talented Travis Falligant from the awesome IBTrav Art Blog
Links for Dr. Shock:
Dave’s daily movie review website: DVDInfatuation.com
Follow Dave on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation
Like Dave’s DVD Infatuation, now on: Facebook
Dr. Shock also appears on this horror podcast: Land of the Creeps
Voicemail: (801) 382-8789
Subscribe to Horror Movie Podcast free in iTunes