"See Daddy hates Roach because he got out of the cellar and into the walls…and now Daddy can't find him." - Alice
I grew up next to a funeral home. And after seeing this movie I never looked at my neighbors the same way again.
A brother and sister live in incest in a creepy old mansion/funeral home filled with booby traps, a man-eating rottweiler, a cache of gold, and a bunch of mutilated boys locked in the cellar.
Why this has yet to become a reality show I have no idea.
Wes Craven's little-seen, but still incredible, classic "The People Under the Stairs" features Brandon Adams reprising the role he played in "The Mighty Ducks" and "Mighty Ducks 2." This time instead of playing championship pee-wee hockey, Jesse (who we learn is called Fool in the hood) is off on a whole new adventure when Ving Rhames convinces him that the only way to pay for his dying mother's cancer surgery is to rob their stupidly rich, very deliberately Reagan-esque landlords (who are both clear proxies for Ronald and Nancy Reagan). Funny how a decade later the idea of poor people not being able to afford adequate healthcare is still relevant…but I digress.
Doesn't seem all that Fool-ish right? Well it doesn't until they actually break into said house and discover it's not just built to keep black people out, but also to keep mutilated, cannibalistic white people in. Turns out the landlords (who are called Daddy and Mommy respectively, despite being actually brother and sister…eew) are crazier than a carousel of cat shit and have been kidnapping children for years. Of course kids don't take too kindly to being snatched from their parents and abused (presumably sexually…Daddy is kind of a freak) and when they inevitably misbehave Daddy and Mommy are left with no choice but to mutilate them and lock them in the cellar (as you do).
But what happens if one of the kids escapes? Well, that brings us to Roach. At some point Roach got out of the cellar and now makes his home in the abnormally thick walls of the funeral home. Daddy wants him back in the cellar. And Mommy worries about where Roach might be going to the bathroom.
So what's a crazed Ronald Reagan stand in to do?
Put on a "Pulp Fiction"-style gimp/bondage suit and blast the walls at random with your SPAS-12 shotgun. I wonder if there's a Modern Warfare achievement for that?
I think what makes this scene work for me is that it's so incredibly random and unexpected. It's scary because you seriously begin to wonder about Daddy's mindstate and what kind of shit Fool as found himself knee-deep in. But yet…the dude is also wearing a gimp suit. I'm sure being chased by a crazy proto-Tea Partier with a shotgun is frightening as hell in any context, but isn't it just a little easier to handle if the guy is in a gimp suit?
I've heard that Craven himself admits that this film is an allegory for Reaganomics. The parallels are pretty clear – poor people (black and white) getting the shaft, overpriced healthcare, wealth that isn't trickling down, and I'm told that Ronald and Nancy were actually prone to calling each other "Mommy" and "Daddy."
Once you understand this the politcal message of "The People Under the Stairs" becomes abundantly clear: Strange men in gimp suits are carrying shotguns and coming for your children. And there's nothing you can do about it…nothing.