Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Hills Have Eyes

Director - Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm St, Vampire in Brooklyn)
Starring - Robert Houston (1941, Shogun Assassin), Michael Berryman (The X-Files, Tales from the Crypt), and Martin Speer (The Greatest American Hero, Wonder Woman)
Release Date - 1977
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "A nice American family.  They don't want to kill.  But they don't want to die"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Sometime when I was in high school, 2001 - 2005, my county finally got a movie theater.  We never had one until then so I was forced to drive an hour or so to see a film.  Traveling those mountainous roads made traveling anywhere troublesome.  Especially during the winter months.  In 2006 a few friends and myself went to that theater to watch Alexandre Aja's remake of The Hills Have Eyes.  We were all fans of Aja after his phenomenal Haute Tension.  I really enjoyed the remake and it made me want to see the original.  I felt like a shitty horror fan because I had never seen the original but the opportunity never presented itself.  I was able to finally watch it while I was in college and a night of heavy drinking was involved so I don't remember much about it.  Not long ago my friends over at MVD and Arrow Video released the original Hills Have Eyes on blu.  I reached out to them and they were kind enough to hook me up with a review copy.
     The film follows the Carter family who are traveling to California and decided to make a pit stop at an old mine out in the desert.  That stop by a small gas station and the owner, Fred, warns them about the dangers of the desert.  They do not listen and head out into the dessert anyway.  They have an accident and wreck the car.  Unable to drive, the father Big Bob (Russ Grieve) and his son-in-law head out in opposite directions for help.  Big Bob walks back to Fred's where he learns that Fred had a monstrous son who lives out in the desert with a woman he kidnapped and the their offspring who now hunt down and eat anyone that goes into the desert.  While he is there his family starts to get harassed by Fred's grandchildren forcing them to band together before they are turned to food.
      The Hills Have Eyes remake is one of my favorite remakes aside from John Carpenter's The Thing and House of Wax starring Vincent Price.  I like all of these films for different reasons.  One of the reasons I love the remake of The Hills Have Eyes is because it is raw and unnerving.  I find rape and child endangerment to be very unsettling so this film made me uncomfortable while I was sitting in the theater.  I thought the original film would not be able to capture that same feeling but I was not considering that the film was made by the same demented mind that brought us Last House on the Left.  The acting in this one is good but can easily be split down the middle.  The Carter family is very believable.  The viewer can really sense their turmoil and struggle.  With that being said, Jupiter and his family is a little over-dramatic.  They all felt like characters out of a late 60's b-movie which was out of place for this kind of film.  The film was not that campy and cheesy aside from the cannibals in the desert.  The story for this one is a true horror experience.  By 1977 we had seen horror movies following people stranded in different lands, cannibals, and the rise of the slasher but this film was able to combine them all into one truly terrifying experience.  The cannibals, as I said earlier, did not really fit the rough and raw story but did not really take away from it.  With that being said, the film really delivered on the suspense and tension with just enough action to take away from the slow developing plot.  The viewer will not lose interest or feel bored.  Finally, the film does have a few death scenes but they are really not that graphic or gory.  However, the film does offer up some blood with different bodily injuries that look great.  One in particular is when Pluto gets attacked by the dog.  The effects are great but those of you that dislike the 3M red blood may be turned off with this one.  Overall, The Hills Have Eyes is a welcomed addition to any horror fan's collection.  The story hits hard and this Arrow release is phenomenal.  Check it out.


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