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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The People Under the Stairs (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]


(Wes Craven, 1991)



Arrow's Region 'B' Blu-ray came out in November 2013:

A French Blu-ray is also available:


Coming to 4K UHD in May 2023 from Shout! Factory:


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Universal

Video: Shout! Factory



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:41:56.110 

Disc Size: 47,930,322,943 bytes

Feature Size: 33,672,364,032 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Release date: August 11th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3586 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3586 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2118 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2118 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH), none



• Audio Commentary with writer/director Wes Craven
Audio Commentary with actors Brandon Adams, A.J. Langer, Sean Whalen, and Yan Burg
House Mother – an interview with actress Wendy Robie (19:26)
What Lies Beneath – interviews with special make-up effects Artists Greg Nicotero, Howard Berger and Robert Kurtzman (15:02)
House of Horrors – an interview with director of photography Sandi Sissel (16:09)
Settling The Score – an interview with composer Don Peake (10:13)
Behind-The-Scenes Footage (6:39)
Vintage “Making of” Featurette (3:43)
Theatrical Trailer (1:18)
TV Spots (1:21)
Still Galleries - Original Storyboards (6:55) and Official Stills





Description: Wes Craven, the director of A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Hills have Eyes, takes you on a terrifying journey inside the most demented house on the street. Trapped inside a fortified home owned by a mysterious couple, a young boy is suddenly thrust into a nightmare. The boy quickly learns the true nature of the house’s homicidal inhabitants and the secret creatures hidden deep within the house.

Starring Everett McGill (Twin Peaks, Dune), Wendy Robie (
Twin Peaks), Brandon Adams (The Mighty Ducks), Ving Rhames (Piranha 3D, Mission: Impossible), A.J. Langer (Escape From L.A.) and Sean Whalen (Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, Hatchet III), The People Under The Stairs will grab you when you least expect it… and never let go.



The Film:

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.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Wes Craven wrote and directed this surrealistic horror-comedy, which was inspired by a true story of parents keeping their children locked in a basement for years. Fool (Brandon Adams), an African-American teen, breaks into the home of the wealthy landlords who evicted his family from a ghetto tenement. A fortune in gold coins is rumored to exist inside, but Fool discovers that the mansion is a chamber of horrors presided over by a pair of incestuous, serial killer siblings (Everett McGill and Wendy Robie). The twisted couple has also tried to raise a succession of kidnapped boys. Each botched effort is handled the same way -- the victim's eyes, ears and tongues are removed, and he's sent to live in the sealed-off basement, where a colony of similarly deformed "brothers" resides. Fool is able to avoid the evil lovers as he moves through the house's maze of hidden passageways. He discovers that the occupants have a daughter, Alice (A.J. Langer), who has survived their abuse, so he rescues her and they attempt to free the "people under the stairs." Adams, who made his feature debut with in film, was familiar to viewers as the star of rock singer Michael Jackson's Moonwalker (1988.)

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The People Under the Stairs looks rock-solid on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory - it's on a dual-layered disc  with a max'ed out bitrate.  There is consistent texture and the film's many dark scenes show no noise whatsoever. I don't have the European BD but this is about as perfect as I could expect. Colors are passive and accurate. Contrast is at as high a level as the production source will permit. There are no flaws - the video is clean and produces, what appears to be, a highly authentic visual presentation in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.


NOTE: There was a bare-bones Blu-ray released before this, in region 'A', that no longer seems available.















Audio :

Audio comes with two options - a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a healthy 3586 kbps or a similar 2.0 channel stereo at 2118 kbps. The surround is impressive with plenty of head-turning surprises and intense depth. The score is by Don Peake (The Hills Have Eyes) and it does the job in building suspense sounding very clean and crisp via the, robust, lossless, transfer. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'A' Blu-ray disc.


Extras :

Many supplements are included in Shout! Factory's Blu-ray release. Two audio commentaries - one with writer/director Wes Craven and a second with actors Brandon Adams, A.J. Langer, Sean Whalen, and Yan Burg. They compliment each other well - sharing different information, anecdotes and production details. There are also some featurettes; House Mother is a 20-minutean interview with actress Wendy Robie, What Lies Beneath provides 15-minutes worth of interviews with special make-up effects Artists Greg Nicotero, Howard Berger and Robert Kurtzman on the effects of The People Beneath the Stairs. House of Horrors is a 16-minute interview with director of photography Sandi Sissel and Settling The Score spends 10-minutes with composer Don Peake. There is also Behind-The-Scenes Footage, a short vintage “Making of” piece, trailer, TV Spots, and stills galleries with both storyboards and official still photos.



Craven tackles some family-oriented themes in this 'uncomfortable' horror. It may not be his best, but for aficionados of his brand of creepy horror - this will certainly satisfy. The Shout! Factory Blu-ray produces a fine presentation and CE package with plenty of extras to wade through after. There was a lot of effort put into this and, without owning another BD release, this certainly seems the definitive one. Recommended to fans of the genre. 

Gary Tooze

August 5th, 2015


Arrow's Region 'B' Blu-ray came out in November 2013:

A French Blu-ray is also available:


Coming to 4K UHD in May 2023 from Shout! Factory:


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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