Master of the macabre Wes Craven directs this pair of nightmare-inducing films.
THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS: Fool, a 13-year-old boy, lives in the ghetto with his sister and sick mother. When his family doesn't have enough money to pay the rent, Fool is persuaded by Leroy (Ving Rhames) to break into his landlord's house to steal a valuable coin collection. Once Fool and Leroy are inside the huge and heavily fortified house, they realize they've gotten more than they bargained for, as the landlords turn out to be an insane brother-and-sister couple (Everett McGill and Wendy Robie) who murder visitors and keep their kidnapped "sons" locked up in the basement as deformed monsters. Only Alice, an imprisoned girl, can save Fool from the horrors within, and a frantic chase begins between the walls of the bizarre house as Fool tries to save himself, Alice, and his community from the evil landlords. A unique and inventive horror film, THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS combines the structure of a classic fairy tale with modern social criticism and imaginative production design. Director Wes Craven based his film on real-life news reports of parents who kept their children locked up at home.
SHOCKER: After a series of unusual dreams, young football star Jonathan Parker (Peter Berg) captures serial killer Horace Pinker (Mitch Pileggi), a diabolical television repairman responsible for the deaths of several families. Pinker is sentenced to die in the electric chair, but the execution goes awry and more people are mysteriously killed. Jonathan realizes that Pinker has used black magic to transfer himself into electricity, able to travel through power lines into homes through television sets. Despite the skepticism of his police detective father (Michael Murphy), only Jonathan can track Pinker down and destroy him once and for all. Director Wes Craven combines his serial-killer thriller with a dash of social criticism, satirizing the modern obsession with the media in ways similar to his later hit SCREAM. Horace Pinker is a tough slasher in the Freddy Krueger mode, making wisecracks between murders, making SHOCKER a tense but funny horror movie, with appearances by John Tesh and Dr. Timothy Leary (as a televangelist), as well as a cameo by Craven himself. The film climaxes in a wild chase between Jonathan and Pinker through the dangerous television landscapes, a realm where anything can happen.