20 Socially Conscious Horror Movies

17 of 21

The People Under the Stairs (1991)

The Issues: Racism, income inequality

The Movie:

In which a black family is evicted from their home by literally blood-sucking white landlords.

Fool and his family are being evicted from their L.A. apartment by a couple called Mommy and Daddy Robeson. Fool and his friends plan to break into the Robeson home by having Spencer go in and pose as a worker. He does, and never comes out, so Fool and his other friend Leroy sneak in to find them. They find Spencer dead in the basement surround by pale children locked in cages. The Robesons come back home and catch Leroy, shooting him to death.

Fool tries to hide and finds Alice, the Robeson’s daughter. She tells him the kids broke the Robesons’ rules of see/hear/speak no evil and were locked in the basement, where they’ve resorted to cannibalism. The only ones who avoided this fate were Alice, and a boy, Roach, who lives in the walls. Daddy finds Fool and throws him to the basement, but Roach helps him escape. He gives Fool a bag of gold and a note asking him to save Alice.

The gold is enough to pay his family’s rent, and also take care of his mom’s medical bills. He also research the Robesons and finds that Mommy and Daddy are inbred siblings from a rich family. Fool reports them to child services and sneaks back into the house to save Alice, who was kidnapped from her real parents as a baby. Mommy finds out and tries to kill Alice, but the cannibal children attack her. Fool sets off explosives at their vault, killing Daddy and destroying the house. Alice and the cannibal children are all able to escape, and money from the vault has floated outside for anyone to collect.

What It’s Saying:

At one point in the film, Fool notes that the richer the Robeson family got, the crazier they got. As the family got more money they closed themselves to the outside world, took advantage of anyone they could and punished those who didn’t follow their rules. The bourgeois are literally evil cannibals!