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Episode #32: The People Under the Stairs (w/ Horror Nerds at Church)

Listen to Episode 32 of the Podcast here while you enjoy the show notes.

SUMMARY - In The People Under the Stairs, a 13 year-old boy nicknamed Fool (played by Brandon Quintin Adams) gets roped into helping rob the house of the landlords that are planning to evict his family. Once inside the house, he discovers that something very unusual is happening in the basement and neither he, nor his two adult accomplices, are able to leave. The owners come back and begin a hunt for the intruders.

Screenplay by Wes Craven; Directed by Wes Craven, and released on November 1, 1991.


First, we have to welcome and thank our special guests Pace & Joe from the "Horror Nerds at Church" podcast! We were honored and delighted to have them on to discuss the movie and class up the joint a bit.

We immediately dove in to talk about how this is basically a reverse "Home Alone" where the robbers are the good guys and trying to escape from a booby trapped house.

The dog even gets into the act and gets to go down a slide hidden in the walls.

We also had to spend some time talking about the lead villains, "Mommy" and "Daddy" who were played by Everett McGill and Wendy Robie. They played a married couple in Twin Peaks as well.

There was a lot of discussion about "Daddy."

But the focus of the movie started around Fool and how he's helping these adults rob the house.

Rumors have it there are piles of gold to be found.

There's also a timid little girl who hasn't been let out of the house ever.

Oh, and some "People Under the Stairs" but we talk about how they really aren't the focus of the narrative or the central means of horror, despite being given the title.

Instead, they're role and the actions you expect them to take (popping out of stairs and walls) was actually hopeful, rather than scary.

That leads us to talk about how the movie is commenting on race relations and that the true villains are the stuck-in-the-'50s white couple who play nice/ignorant with cops on the outside to hide their nefarious actions.

Of course there are some plot holes in the movie. One small example is when the cops come over for cookies (and to investigate), somehow the walls that were shot up not too long ago are all fixed.

We also wonder how intentional some of the comedic moments are, and largely trust that it was meant to be that way.

Aside from racial themes, we also get into the capitalism side and the neighborhood revolt that formed but didn't give the full satisfaction we wanted to see.

We also asked Pace & Joe to give us a bit more context on the spiritual and religious themes present in the movie and provide a bit more insight into the tarot card opening sequence.

And of course we had to talk about the explosive ending.

Overall it was a very electrifying discussion and there is a ton that we covered, including various cast & crew histories, so please give the episode a listen if you haven't already.

Awards Talk - The movie earned several Fangoria Chainsaw Award nominations but did not walk away with any wins. Best Actor Everett McGill, Actress Wendy Robie, Supporting Actress A.J. Langer, Best Studio/Big-Budget Film, Best Screenplay Wes Craven, Best Makeup FX - KNB EFX Group


This week our crime segment looks at the true story that inspired the film.

We also talk about a potential remake that's being discussed or worked on by Jordan Peele/Monkey Paw Productions.

We mostly skip TV but do spend a little time to go over the Billboard Top 5 for the week of Nov 2, 1991

#1 "Romantic" by Karyn White

#2 "Emotions" by Mariah Carey

#3 "Cream" by Prince and the New Power Generation

#4 "Do Anything" by Natural Selection

#5 "Can’t Stop This Thing We Started" by Bryan Adams. Hey, at least it's a different Bryan Adams song....


Nikki 1-5 star scale - 4 out of 5

Jon 0-4 star scale - 3 1/2 out of 4

Pace 1-10 gold coins - 6.5 out of 10

Joe 1-10 gold coins - 8 out of 10

Would you watch it again? - We all say yes in a heartbeat. Even if some of it doesn't fully hold up 30 years later, we definitely recognize the enjoyability factor. It would be perfect to watch with a crowd as well. Also, if the remake/reboot does end up happening, we're all ready to buy tickets.

If you want to watch The People Under the Stairs, as of this recording in September 2021, it’s available on Digital Rental, VHS, DVD. Check your local listings.


Again, we have to thank Pace & Joe from "Horror Nerds at Church" for joining us for this week's episode. We had an absolute blast, and we hope anyone reading this will join us in following their podcast as well. You can listen to "Horror Nerds at Church" (and us) on all your major podcasting platforms and please consider rating, subscribing, and sharing both podcasts with your friends.

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Letterboxd

Join us next time for Popcorn available on VHS, DVD


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