With the news that Jordan Peele is going to be remaking Wes Craven’s People Under The Stairs, fans are wondering what they’ll see.
The People Under The Stairs is a 1991 horror movie from writer and director Wes Craven that not a lot of people have seen. That’s likely to change with the news that Get Out director Jordan Peele is going to producing a remake of the movie. It doesn’t always turn out the best with remakes of a horror movie, but with Peele at the helm, fans can be confident.
The original film has a strong cult following thanks to Craven and its cultural relevance nearly thirty years later. Many of the best parts of the movie should be preserved in the new one.
One of the greatest assets of the original The People Under The Stairs is its diverse cast. Unusual for the time and even until just recently, the movie focused on a mostly Black cast with a Black main character in Poindexter “Fool” Williams. Fool lives with his family in a predominantly Black area in Los Angeles and is behind on rent to the very white and very rich Robesons. The new movie absolutely should maintain this aspect of the film and it’s hard to imagine that it won’t.
9 Continued Focus On Social Issues
The movie didn’t just cast diverse people for the sake of it. The People Under The Stairs tackled a host of challenging social issues including race, poverty, and inequality. It’s debatable how well it did in regards to these, but there’s no doubt that this wasn’t a typical horror movie with mindless gore. Jordan Peele’s films to this point have had strong social commentary and cultural relevance as their distinguishing features and it’s easy to see that the remake will as well.
8 Less Broad Humor
The People Under The Stairs is not the usual horror movie to be sure. Beyond its focus on social issues, it also takes big swings with its tone. Not all of it works. One of the best things about the movie is the villains, the Robesons. Mommy and Daddy (as they call each other, but are in fact brother and sister) are played with broad, gonzo zeal by Wendy Robie and Everett McGill (who also played a couple in Twin Peaks). A lot of it is great crazy fun. Some of it is too broad and the new movie should tamp it down.
7 More Horror
Consequently, with the need to turn down the humor a little, the new movie should ramp up the horror. The original walks a very fine line between horror and comedy with the broad performances of the Robesons and Home Alone-style antics of Fool inside their old house. The setpieces also tend to recall The Goonies, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s a different kind of movie.
The not-great make up of the actual people under the stairs in the movie diminished how scary they were as well. Hopefully, the new movie makes them more frightening.
6 More Meta
The People Under The Stairs came out in 1991, a few years before Wes Craven took a sharp turn into meta territory. His subsequent films, particularly A New Nightmare and the original Scream movie, pushed the horror genre into self-awareness that completely subverted common tropes. The original The People Under The Stairs wasn’t really meta but the new movie might benefit from taking some of the cues from Craven’s later movies.
5 A Stronger Backstory
The story of The People Under The Stairs is pretty straightforward. Fool needs to pay rent and get his mother the medical care she needs. He decides to steal the rumored stash of gold coins the Robesons have in their house. It proceeds simply from there. The new movie might try and make the backstory of the Robesons in particular, who fans don’t learn a lot about, more involved. Who they are and why they act the way they do would keep them from being stock villains.
4 A Different Location
Los Angeles was a great location for the original film. As the acclaimed new HBO series Lovecraft Country has shown, racism and classism are not unique to any one area. Exploring a different community in a different time would help distinguish the new movie for a new audience, perhaps even taking it to a smaller community where tensions could be higher. Lovecraft Country is a good template but it drew from a lot of influences, including A Nightmare on Elm Street.
3 Easter Eggs
Fans love easter eggs. It’s pretty much a prerequisite that remakes and reboots include references to the original source material, and the new version of The People Under The Stairs will be no exception. Callbacks to the original film would be very much appreciated by its fans.
Some big ones for the new movie might involve those rare gold coins or perhaps the tarot cards Ruby played in the original.
2 A.J. Langer
Not all of the actors can or will return for the remake, but some would be great to see. One of the most obvious choices is My So-Called Life alum A.J. Langer, who played Alice. Alice was the ‘daughter’ of Mommy and Daddy, kidnapped and abused by them in their twisted house of horrors. Langer hasn’t acted in a while, but could conceivably return. She is busy these days playing another role as the Countess of Devon, a member of the extended royal family in Great Britain.
1 Brandon Adams
An absolute must for the new movie is Brandon Adams. Like Langer, he hasn’t acted in a while, but the new movie would feel incomplete if he didn’t make some kind of appearance. Fans would appreciate seeing where Fool ended up thirty years later (especially with all that money). Perhaps he and Alice married and had kids, or he’s using that money in his community. If he doesn’t appear, some kind of reference would be great (unless it’s a complete reboot with no connection to the original). Adams is also well known to fans of great ’90s films as Kenny DuNunez from The Sandlot, one of the greatest baseball movies of all time.
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