31 Days of Halloween – Day 1: The People Under the Stairs (1991) — by Dr. Shock

31 Days 1Happy 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!


peopleunderthestairs smallerAfter 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.

—Dr. Shock

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
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Dr. Shock also appears on this horror podcast: Land of the Creeps

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71 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween – Day 1: The People Under the Stairs (1991) — by Dr. Shock

  1. Forgive me with this review. I got a bit carried away with the length.

    (Contains spoilers)

    Day 1: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

    Ah, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. What can you say about a movie released forty-one years ago, with a budget that was a mere $300,000, yet has survived the test of time? It’s one of the most recognizable horror films and despite the lack of success of it’s sequels, Leatherface is right up there with Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and Freddy Krueger as the next generation’s horror icons? When I first got really into horror and made an effort to watch as much as I could, the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was one of the first movies I rented after getting through Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street serieses. The reason is simple – it had a reputation. If you were a horror fan, you had to see this picture. I believe I was in the eighth grade when I loaned my VHS copy of the film to Ryan, a friend of mine.. That next Monday, I was looking forward to arriving at school to hear his glowing review of the movie. Instead, his first words were that it was boring. I was floored and it took me several moments to realize that Ryan wasn’t kidding. He legitimately believed this tale of a maniac welding a chainsaw and his deranged family was dull. Who could ever think such a thing?

    One of the first things that stands out about Texas Chainsaw Massacre is it’s grittiness. It’s not polished, pretty to look at nor did it look like a lot of money was spent on buying the best cameras. In fact, my DVD copy of the film isn’t much better. The back of the cover boasts that it’s a cleaned up widescreen copy of the movie. In reality, it was widescreen, but it was put on a normal 4:3 viewing screen. As a result, while watching this on my TV, I had black bars not only on the top and bottom, but also on the sides. The right side of the picture had a white line from top to bottom and a series of black blocks going down the screen. On nearly any other DVD, this would annoy me to no end, but for Texas Chainsaw Massacre? It only adds to the experience. This is not a movie that should look polished. Part of the creepiness that comes from the movie is feeling as if you’re watching something that could be true. That’s hard to accomplish if you have some beautiful HD quality version of the movie.

    A big theme of Texas Chainsaw Massacre are the relationship in side of a family, both the pleasant and not so pleasant aspects of dealing with your family. After all, the very set-up for the movie is a couple of grandchildren heading out to check on the gravesite of their grandfather. For the Sawyer family, there’s a lot of yelling, fighting, and disrespect being shown. Yet, they all are on the same page to have their twisted little dinner while ensuring that old grandpa was included as well. For the Hardesty siblings, there’s a lot of problems on the surface because both Sally and Franklin feel isolated. For Franklin, it’s having the hard life of living with a disability and having poor social skills. He often feels like an outsider and a burden to everyone around him. Meanwhile, Sally is stuck having someone like Franklin as a brother. I can imagine for her entire life, she’s had to deal with having her brother’s difficulties hold her back from having a normal life. While it’s not explicitly stated, it’s a safe assumption that Sally didn’t want Franklin to come along with her and her friends. She wanted one trip to feel like a normal girl. Instead, Franklin’s there to hold her back, as shown in the scene where her friends all go off to swim and she’s stuck at the van with the always annoying Franklin. True horror happens to those who deserve it the least. For Hardesty siblings, they are the last people that should be subjected to the horrors of that Texas night. Yet they are because life isn’t fair even when you have every right to feel deserving of a break.

    Throughout the entire film, you never feel comfortable. There’s always some creepy sound effects (Some of the most iconic sounds in horror cinema), weird visuals (The tooth fairy would have a ball at these locations), encounters with some bizarre characters, or the fear of being left all alone. That’s just counting the scenes without Leatherface doing what he does best. Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn’t without comedy, but it’s always dark humor. I get a kick out of the cook yelling at his boys or the gas station attendant that keeps washing the van whenever the cook turns back to exchange some more words with Kirk. The humor is either done in the midst of some legitimate horror or you don’t feel at ease enough to truly laugh.

    If there’s one aspect of the film that I’m not a fan of, it’s grandpa. Up until grandpa becomes a character in the film played by a real actor, everything feels very believable. It’s an utter nightmare, but one that doesn’t feel like such a stretch to believe. With grandpa, you have someone who “Comes alive” with the taste of blood. He doesn’t do anything for me and I believe it’d be freakier if his family members simply acted as if he was still alive, under the complete delusion of living with a corpse. Luckily, grandpa plays such a small role in an otherwise amazing dinner scene. The scene might play out a little bit too long, but it works since it adds to the discomfort. Just as Sally wishes she could leave this house, so does the viewer, albeit for other reasons.

    What if, just for fun, the true villains of the movies weren’t Leatherface and company, but rather Sally, Franklin and their friends? Let’s look back at the events of the movie. From the moment the hitchhiker got into the van, he was disrespected by the group of friends. Here he is just trying to share some stories with them and they can’t even show any interest. He takes a beautiful picture of Franklin, yet they refuse to pay him for it. After dumping this poor guy out on the road after he invited them for dinner, they ended up at the gas station. Of course, they just can’t take the simple advice of a well meaning cook. After arriving at Franklin’s grandfather’s old house, Kirk and Pam have the gall to not only walk on someone’s property, but also enter their house without being invited. This is Texas we’re talking about, poor Leatherface had to be frightened half to death when he noticed the intruders. He did what any rational person would do – used self defense to eliminate the threat. After having to clean up after his unwanted guests, Leatherface encounters yet another intruder. After using self defense on Jerry, Leatherface is at a loss for what’s going on and can’t understand why so many people are breaking into his house. A little later, a fourth intruder bursts into his house and dares to lock Leatherface out! So now Leatherface is forced to use his chainsaw to destroy his door just so he can get in. Naturally, Sally doesn’t use this ruined door to leave, instead choosing to break through a window. Back at the gas station, Sally begs for help from the cook, but when he comes up with an idea, she pulls a knife out on him! Some people are so unappreciative. Finally, after dealing with these intruders and all of this disrespect, Leatherface and his family invites Sally to dinner as a sign of no hard feelings for the broken window. In typical Sally fashion, she rudely rushes off and breaks through yet another window. The poor hitchhiker runs after her to try and understand why Sally was so unhappy with the dinner. Surely the cook could whip something else up if Sally wasn’t pleased with the dinner selections. Instead, the hitchhiker gets ran over by a semi, killing him instantly. Leatherface makes the poor choice on checking to see if Sally is okay and is reward with a monkey wrench to the face, causing him to drop his chainsaw on his thigh. How could anyone not feel so much sympathy for Leatherface after his horrific day of disrespect?

    In the end, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a horror classic. The final shot of Sally laughing hysterically with blood all over her face while the pick-up truck drives her to safety is one that sticks with me. Sally may have survived, but she will never be the same again. All too often in horror and particularly in horror sequels, you see survivors going back to having a relatively normal life. Sure, maybe they have difficulties in relationships and they stare a little too long in the mirror, but from the surface, they appear normal. I don’t believe for a single second that Sally will ever be able to appear normal again. She is forever changed. Perhaps if she had been truly lucky, she would have had a fate similar to Franklin or her friends. Living might be the worst possible fate for her. The true irony of Sally living is she got what she wanted. She’s free from having to worry about Franklin or have her life disrupted by the needs of her brother. Lucky her…

    So, Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Is it a boring film? If any of the above sounds boring, then you must live quite the exciting life. All that’s left to say is “Hey you, Ryan, your eighth grade opinion was wrong!”. Texas Chainsaw Massacre was the furthest thing from boring.

    Overall, I’d rate Texas Chainsaw Massacre a near perfect 9.5 and it’s a must see movie for any horror fan.

    • Hahaha I loved your re-interpretation of the events. Hilarious! And great review, man. Never worry about lenght 😉

      The gritty look and atmosphere are my favorite aspects of the film. I don’t think a low budget is necessary to achieve this look though. It seems to me it was a deliberate choice regardless of their monetary constrains. There are some really great shots here that elevate this much higher than just your run-of-the-mill horror film. The scene where Pam’s by the swing in front of the house and then starts walking towards it is shot excellently. And of course the scene right before that where Kirk walks into the house and is whacked by Leatherface is intense and memorable. For me what stops this from being a masterpiece are the characters and the acting. Franklin in particular gets on my nerves and I’m not a fan of Marylin Burns’ overacting. She yells too much and too loud. Sorry Jay. I agree that the dinner scene went on for too long.

      I still enjoy watching this from time to time, but it’s not something that I crave very often. This is in the 7.5-8.5 realm for me.

      • Is Franklin annoying? Sure, but that’s part of the point. There’s some good character development with Franklin. You feel for him, but then you’re annoyed before feeling bad for him again. He certainly isn’t some one dimensional character of say…horny teenager #3 that you’d find in most slashers.


        I do think it’s a very strong possibility that Franklin was written to be so annoying so that his fate wouldn’t be so hard to watch since he is this poor guy living in a wheelchair.

        • I wouldn’t say that Franklin is as one-dimensional as promiscuous teenager #3, but I would also not say that he has depth. He annoyed me from the start, I never cared for him, and I was glad when he was gone. On paper, what you said sounds like a great set-up for a heartfelt character, but I don’t think that really came through during the execution (see what I did there?).

          • I wouldn’t say Franklin is supposed to come across as a heartfelt character. Just one that has some basic sympathy, but then a ton of annoying habits to make his death a welcome treat. In past viewings I did just think Franklin was someone just annoying and a negative to the film, but this re-watch I saw him in a different light. Putting myself in Franklin’s shoes, I’m sure I would be frustrated enough with my life that I would be super annoying*.

            Whether it worked or not for you, can you dig the fact that they tried to add some character traits to him so that he wouldn’t be so forgettable unlike the other two guys in the van?

            “see what I did there?”

            Sorry, no, I didn’t. I was looking over —-> when you did that. :(

            *Not to say I don’t already have my super annoying moments. :)

    • I never thought the blood brought Grandpa to life. I always thought he was basically sleeping or almost dead and was just waking up for his daily dinner. He certainly wasn’t strong enough to use a hammer. That being said, the idea of him just being a corpse is pretty good! Nice review, Sal Roma. Yea, this is probably my second favorite horror movie of all time.

  2. I’m on the fence about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, unfortunately. I totally recognize how important it is and I love the concept and character of Leatherface but the movie itself doesn’t entertain me and scare me half as much as I want it to. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that as a horror fan. I’ve seen it a few times with years in between each viewing and I never seem to enjoy it too much more than I did before. I sometimes think that I’m just a product of my generation and a movie of this time is harder for me to swallow. The general acting style of that period and prior to that was always a bit off putting to me. Maybe it’s also that I saw the 2003 remake, Saw, Hostel and the 2006 Hills Have Eyes remake before catching the 1974 original, which ended up seeming underwhelming comparatively. But at the same time, The Shining is probably my favorite horror movie and it came just 6 years later. I also love and am truly scared by The Exorcist which came out a year earlier. I like the original Friday the 13th and even Night of the Living Dead so I don’t think older films automatically get disqualified for me. I’d even go as far as to say that I like the 2003 remake more than the original. I know, I know, blasphemy. I do enjoy some elements of this movie but it doesn’t do it for me as a whole. Maybe it’s just a case of “different strokes for different folks”.

    • Don’t worry, Tylerrr. I’m sort of on the same boat as you. I like the movie, but I don’t love it with blind passion as many do. Personally, I think it’s a bit overrated. But like you said, different folks for different strokes :/

            • I dig the series. With the exception of the fourth one, I find each one is at least fun in terms of a popcorn flick. The problem is that there’s so little variation. For every subsequent film, it feels more like a rehash of the original rather than a true sequel. We never see any reoccurring characters beyond a Leatherface and a couple family members. The flow isn’t there like it is with Halloween, Scream, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street or even Child’s Play.

              As great as the original movie is, I feel like we’ve already heard so much talk about it from especially Jay and Shock.

          • I’ve had to watch TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: NEXT GENERATION on two separate occasions, both times for podcasts.

            I’ll watch FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V for HMP…

            I’ll watch JAN-GEL….

            But not even a franchise overview will get me to watch NEXT GENERATION a third time! That movie makes my soul bleed

        • I really like TCM4 (honestly). Sure it’s stupid and not nearly the masterwork of the original TCM; but it’s a stupid kind of fun. It’s exactly what I would have wanted out of a post 80’s pre-Scream slasher.

  3. How do we feel about new releases as part of our 31 Days? For example, I caught THE GREEN INFERNO yesterday, and was thinking of posting some brief thoughts.

    • It can be anything you want, bro. The sky’s the limit. I realized I’ll be out of town for a couple of weekends, so I already started watching my movies last night in order to make up for the days I won’t be able to watch anything. That’s not cheating, right?

          • You didn’t memorize my iTunes review?! That hurts, Wolfman. That hurts hard.

            I’m actually pretty happy with my MPN iTunes reviews. Like Shyamalan, I also think I’m too clever for the weather. I used Spielberg quotes as the catalyst for all four reviews, with the added bonus of making sure to reference genre-appropriate Spielberg films for the two genre-specific shows. I think they mostly work well for three of the shows, but my TSFP one may have fallen a little flat.

    • Yes, whatever you want, Dino. HMP has seen “The Green Inferno,” as well. You haven’t heard much from us on it yet, because we’re going to cover it in November after all this Halloween / Freddy stuff in our cannibal-themed episode.

  4. People Under the Stairs is one of my top 3 1990s horror movies (Candyman an Scream being the other 2). The blend of horror, humor, downright freakiness and social commentary combine to make one of the more underrated (yet still at least somewhat popular) films in the genre. Absolutely love Everett McGill in this movie and seeing them (McGill and Robie) as such a drastically different ‘couple’ in this movie is fantastic. Am currently rewatching Twin Peaks for the God knows how many time, and he is just a great actor. Plus the titular ‘People Under the Stairs’, they were a great blend of creepy and sympathetic.
    As for Texas Chainsaw, well that is simply the greatest horror movie ever made.

  5. 31 day of horror begins. I’ll do my list with short blurbs and ratings rather than the big reviews.
    1. The Appearing (2014) (*= one out of five) – “I wonder what Patrick Swayze’s brother is up too?”
    2. Hellraiser: Revelations (*) – Off brand Pinhead
    3. The Visit (2015) (***) – Man, that kid was shitfaced!

  6. My day one was “Cabin Fever – Patient Zero”. Sigh. I really like the first installment of this trio. It’s wild, it’s unbelievable and ELI ROTH. This steaming pile of doo, however, is an hour and a half that I’ll never get back. I hated the characters, the main guy was totally unbelievable as a hero, and it seemed to me like someone said “Okay, you have 24 hours to write this movie.”, and this is what they came up with. I don’t know, maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to watch…I wanted to watch “Halloween” and hubs talked me into watching this. I give this movie a 1.5 and it is an AVOID. (Jay, I’d just like you to know that I use your rating scale on a regular basis.)

    • I didn’t love this movie, but I liked it WAY better than you, Allison (which isn’t saying much, I guess). It is a million miles away from the first film, so that’s a bad comparison, but that also probably makes it a bad sequel. I just really like the setting. It’s an interesting “outbreak” movie.

      • Wow I’m surprised you came in so low. It wasn’t anything game-changing, but I thought it was more than decent and a lot of fun. Certainly not deserving of such a low number. I’m curious what your husband rated it, Allison. Anyway, I think I gave it a 6 or 7.

        • My husband actually gave the first half a 5, but gave the second half a 1.5. He said it seemed like they started out with a really good idea but rushed the last half. I don’t know, maybe we’re being a little too hard on it.

    • I didn’t think Patient Zero was too bad. Not great but I didn’t want my time back. What did you think about Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever? That was more of a comedy.

      • I didn’t think it was bad at all. I dug the story and I truly wanted to two main characters to make it through. I think my dislike of Patient Zero really is the fact that I didn’t want to watch it. I disliked the characters from the start and it’s hard for me to get into it if that’s the case. Maybe I’ll wait a little while and try it again.

  7. Day 1: The Monster Squad
    I watched this on Oct. 1 but I’ve been watching so much stuff, I’m behind commenting. I’m trying to watch things I haven’t seen before and this was high on the list for October. I have no idea how I’ve not seen this until now. I’m so mad I didn’t see it as a kid, I wish I had childhood nostalgia for this film. It’s a great monster-rally and the monsters look great too. Good job Stan Winston! “Wolfman’s got nards.” Oh, I get it now! I thought you made that up, Josh.

  8. I’m really far behind the 31 days of horror, but damnit, I will prevail! I’m taking Friday off to make up for time lost. That’s how committed I am. Anyway…

    Day 1 – Cannibal Ferox (1981)

    Italian cannibal movies are as niche as one can get. Out of all the subgenres of horror, they’re probably one of the lesser known, the exception being Cannibal Holocaust. This is also one of the more controversial type of movie because of its shockingly strong and realistic portrayal of violence, rape, torture, animal cruelty, and more. They are often stigmatized with various political labels, but in all honesty, I think people need to take a step back and realize that not everything has to have a deeper meaning, that sometimes things are made for pure entertainment value. My own political comments aside, this is a really fun cannibal feature. It’s exactly what you can expect from any cannibal movie and it delivers, at least in the graphic violence department, even more than Cannibal Holocaust. Tone-wise it’s a lot lighter than other features of the same kind but it makes up for it with tons of gratuitous violence. If you’re sensitive to animal cruelty, I’d stay away from this one as there are more on-screen animal deaths that I’ve ever seen on a single movie. If you’re into this type of stuff, then I’d say this is definitely worth your time. Otherwise, stay away for your own good.


    • Interesting. Silly this may sound, but THE GREEN INFERNO actually has me interested in checking out more cannibal movies. I might add this to my queue.

      And, yeah, you’re late to the game, bro. Come on!

      • Ha! Me too! It’s a very fun genre that I ignored for a very long time.

        Hey, hey, hey… you haven’t logged in a single day, mister!

      • RAVENOUS. I absolutely love this movie and ranks as my top cannibal film (so long as TCM doesn’t count since it is mostly just hinted at in the original).

        • Yeah, I personally wouldn’t count TCM as a cannibal movie. Is RAVENOUS a straight horror? I’m seeing it pop up as a black comedy on a few sites.

          • Certainly has some comedic elements but certainly a horror/comedy and not a comedy/horror (if that makes sense). I wish I could think of a movie off the top of my head to compare the tone but it really is pretty unique which is perhaps why a lot of people seem to not like it. Personally I never have gotten why everyone doesn’t love this movie. Excellent cast by the way.

              • The history of it’s making it sort of interesting too. The original director was fired after 3 weeks and the production company brought some comedy director in and all the actors rebelled and demanded he not be hired. Robert Carlyle recommended Antonia Bird and she was brought in. She did an amazing job considering the circumstances.
                Speaking of which, an episode about female horror directors might be a good idea.

  9. Excellent review, Doc. THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS is a movie that I definitely have not seen, but your review certainly made it sound interesting. Thanks!

  10. Day 1: GIRL HOUSE (2015) – 8/10

    One look at the title and a quick read of the synopsis and I know what you’re thinking: this has exploitative, raunchy trash written all over it. But, trust me, it’s much more than you’re thinking.

    GIRL HOUSE is a small-budget slasher flick centered around a house with college-aged web cam girls. The movie has shades of HALLOWEEN, SLEEPAWAY CAMP and THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW, but with a modern twist. A big thing the movie gets right is the killer. He’s sort of a mix between Leatherface and Jason Voorhees – a big, imposing force who is emotionally damaged, a man of few words, attacks relentlessly and brutally, and wears a really creepy mask – but he’s also smart and technically inclined. The killer gets bonus points for a tight backstory and fantastic name.

    The movie is well-paced; it takes the time to develop the two main characters (protagonist and killer) and establish the story, while always being engaging and never feeling boring. It also sets up many little things early on that pay off later in the film. And, importantly for a slasher, the practical effects and gore are pulled off relatively well.

    The filmmakers incorporate some interesting found footage elements to bring the classic slasher formula into the modern age, but it’s not an overly ambitious or innovative horror film. The main drawbacks of GIRL HOUSE to me are that it’s a pretty straight-forward and thin narrative, there’s no real mystery involved and, while there are a few suspenseful moments, this is much more of a visceral ride. Also, some of the acting is spotty, but never so bad that it’s terribly distracting.

    Overall, GIRL HOUSE is a satisfyingly fun ride, and one of the best original slashers I’ve seen in awhile. I give it an 8/10, and say it’s a must-see for all horror fans.

    • This is a review I recycled from the summer, so it might look familiar to some of you. Sorry… I did this for two reasons: 1) I’m just stupid behind on my 31 Days so wanted to get it started, and 2) I think people really need to see this movie. I might recycle one or two more reviews for movies I think people should see before getting on to new material.

    • With how much you pimp this movie, I’m beginning to wonder if you’re being paid by the filmmakers. Ha

      Awesome movie though and I’ll back you up on everyone should be checking out the movie for this October. I know I’ve recommended the movie to people outside of this website too.

      • I hear you, Sal. I hadn’t planned on talking about it much more on here because I don’t want to fall into the trap of over-selling it, but I really needed to get the ball rolling on my 31 Days. I know it’s a bit of a cheat to recycle past reviews, but I think it was worth it for this one.

        Glad to hear you’re spreading the word to some outsiders, too.

        • It’s cheating, but considering how busy you’ve likely been with your personal life as of late, it’s just cool to have you involved in this 31 days of horror project.

          There’s been times in past years where I struggled to keep up to date, so I cheated a bit by having some days be devoted to just covering a random Halloween episode of a TV show (IE. The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror).

          • Bunch of cheaters! I’m way behind too, but I ain’t no wimp. I’ll catch up eventually, you’ll see.

            Actually I’m on my third movie, I just haven’t had time to write anything :(

            • I’m working on my third (read: first) write-up right now. Hopefully I can get it on the site in the next hour or so. Just trying to keep these short and sweet.

            • Pfft…slacker. I just finished watching the movie for my day 11. Just need to type up the review. Ironically, I’ll be fully done with day 11 before I even watched my day 10 movie.

          • Sal, I requested the day tomorrow. I will do nothing but watch horror movies and drink beer, maybe take a shower. By my calculations, I should be caught up by Friday night and will even get ahead of the game during the weekend. So, take that!

            • “I will do nothing but watch horror movies and drink beer, maybe take a shower.”

              31 Days of Horror – where we’re dead serious about possibly having good personal hygiene.

              • Hey, if personal hygiene gets in the way of horror during this most sacred month, then so be it. If I can go for days without showering during long hikes, then I can go for a few hours without showering in the comfort of my home.

                • You’re not thinking big enough, man. Get a tablet and put it in a large ziplock bag. *Boom* You can keep watching horror movies while in the shower.

                  • It’s all about time management, Sal. Going to the kitchen, getting a ziploc bag, struggling to put it in, it’s all precious minutes that I could spend watching horror. Efficiency is the name of the game. Plus, I only watch movies on a big screen and on HD if possible. I’m a little anal about that stuff :/

                    • Well clearly I meant to put the tablet in the ziplock bag ahead of time. Sure, a tablet isn’t the size of a big screen, but if you hold it really, really close to your face, it will feel like a big screen.

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