25th Oct2013

‘The People Under the Stairs’ Review (Arrow Video)

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Brandon Quintin Adams, Everett McGill, Wendy Robie, Sean Whalen, A.J. Langer, Ving Rhames, Bill Cobbs, Kelly Jo Minter | Written and Directed by Wes Craven


In every neighbourhood there is one house that adults whisper about and children cross the street to avoid… “Fool” may be a streetwise kid, but he makes a decidedly bad decision when he agrees to assist a family friend in the robbery of their landlord’s imposing homestead. What begins as a routine break-in soon begins to take a sinister turn as the would-be robbers find themselves trapped inside and face-to-face with the terrible secrets which lurk within the building’s walls – and under the stairs.

When I heard that Arrow Video were putting out a Blu-ray release of one of my favourite movies of all time, Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs, and it would feature new special features with cast and crew member’s looking back on the film, to say I was excited would be a vast understatement.

Arrow Video are at the top of the list of companies who care about the content they put out and really are giving to fans. The People under the Stairs release is immediately eye catching with fantastic commissioned cover art by Stephen R. Bissette.

The film itself is marvellous. The story of a young boy who attempts to steal some gold coins from the house of the tenants of his apartment building, who are about to evict him and his family, including his terminally ill mother. The young boy, nicknamed “Fool”, finds himself trapped in the house and the tenants turn out to be psychotic, cannibalistic creeps who keep people locked in the cellar. “Fool” must find a way out of the house, all the while discovering that there is a boy named “Roach” living in the walls and a girl named “Alice” who he wants to help escape.

It has a dark and sinister atmosphere and the psychology is pretty disturbing if you let yourself think about it for a while. I love the film, and have for many, many years, and it holds up today. The transfer and clean-up of the film is brilliant and it looks better than ever, while remaining dark and gritty when it needs to. The special features are also excellent, with Wes Craven, Sean Whalen (Roach) and others talking about their experiences making the film and what doors it opened for them in the future.

Arrow have done a terrific job here, and overall, like many of their releases, this is the best release of The People Under the Stairs now available. With beautiful artwork, a booklet, interesting extras and a great transfer of the film itself, The People Under the Stairs is ready to be revisited by existing fans, and discovered anew by those yet to see this amazing psychological horror film.

The full list of extras include:

  • High Definition digital transfer of the film by Universal Pictures
  • Original uncompressed Stereo 2.0 audio
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary with star Brandon Quintin Adams, moderated by Calum Waddell
  • Fear, Freud and Class Warfare: Director Wes Craven Discusses the Timely Terrors of The People Under the Stairs
  • Behind Closed Doors: Leading Lady A.J. Langer Remembers The People Under the Stairs
  • Silent But Deadly: Co-Star Sean Whalen on The People Under the Stairs
  • Underneath the Floorboards: Jeffrey Reddick, creator of the Final Destination series, recalls the lasting impact of The People Under the Stairs
  • Original Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Stephen R. Bissette
  • Collectors booklet featuring new writing on the film, illustrated with original archive stills

The People Under The Stairs is available on Blu-ray now, directly from Arrow Video. The film hits other UK retailers on November 4th.


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