Craven aims for an archetypal confrontation between childlike innocence and wicked step- parent cruelty, but the results are more grim than Grimm. Black ghetto child Fool (Adams) joins a pair of neighbourhood burglars planning to steal a legendary hoard of gold coins from the Old Dark House of weirdo couple McGill and Robie. Once inside, things go badly wrong: Rottweilers go for the throat, mutant children lurk beneath the stairs, and while maniacal Robie invokes the wrath of the Lord, wigged out McGill rampages in leather fetish gear, firing a shotgun at the brats in the walls. Trapped with tongue-less mutant Roach (Whalen) and abused stepdaughter Alice (Langer), Fool barely escapes being fed to the voracious People Under the Stairs. There are a few push-button frights, but a total dearth of mind-disturbing terror; the humour, too, is broad, crowd-pleasing stuff.
Cast and crew