The Hills Have Eyes (Blu-ray)

The Film:

Fairly considerably each low-price range, raw, yet influential horror classic from the 70s has been remade into glossy mainstream fare during the final decade or so. Why is it that these remakes finish up looking gratuitously vile, disgusting, and in the end useless even though the originals become even bigger classics over time? The 2003 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre followed every story beat of the original however it ended up as barely more than torture porn, gross entertainment for the sleazier underbelly of the audience. Meanwhile, the 1974 version that started it all is nonetheless heralded as a single of the most genuinely terrifying genre masterpieces ever created. Both are about a bunch of dumb teenagers going to a property in the middle of nowhere and obtaining hacked in inventive approaches. What’s the difference?

Yes, Tobe Hooper’s version played with us psychologically instead of viscerally, by making a dreary tone that did not rely on sensationalistic graphic violence throughout. But I feel the primary reason is seeped into the fact that the 70s originals, due to lack of budget and/or directorial ingenuity, match the unpleasant tone of their topic matters. If you’re going to show the audience genuinely off-putting stuff like a lady being hung on a meat hanger, or a bunch of cave-dwelling cannibals kidnapping a infant with the intent of consuming it, your style and tone better match the grisliness of the narrative.

The trademark grainy, raw, and grimy appear of these films locations us into the point-of-view of the victims, it makes us really feel the terror they feel, and end up disturbing and scaring us. The glossy, conventionally desirable mainstream appear of the remakes puts us in the POV of the killers, asking us to take pleasure out of the carnage we see. Soon after seeing the originals, we are stunned and shaken. Soon after the remakes, we just want to take a extended shower.

We get the very same predicament with The Hills Have Eyes. The disgusting 2006 remake brings us a common monster movie where we’re supposed to locate empty entertainment value out of watching a teenage girl get brutally raped and a shot of a gun becoming directly pointed at a infant. Wes Craven’s 1977 homage (Exploitation lingo for “rip off”) to Texas Chainsaw tells the exact same shoestring story as the remake a family on their way to California gets stuck in the wilderness and is haunted by cannibals who reside, you guessed it, in the hills. Yet Craven’s raw method to the material, maybe due to the low budget he was provided, creates a tightly wound and unsettling expertise that the remake can not capture. It really is not a fantastic film the way Texas Chainsaw is, but it deserves its place as an efficient early operate in the horror legend’s filmography.

The principal purpose The Hills Have Eyes functions is in the way the cannibals are made and depicted. They’re not the roided-up monsters of the remake, but human beings altered to appear slightly deformed. Even although the make-up perform is not prime notch, we believe that these monsters would appear this way right after decades of living away from society. That, and the unsettling performances from all involved, tends to make us believe in their existence and in turn cleverly eases us into identifying with the victims’ plight. Fairly a lot the whole film requires location around the desolate desert region exactly where the loved ones is stuck. The way the best horror filmmakers do, Craven utilizes the first half of the film gradually ramping up the suspense whilst displaying as small of the cannibals as feasible. That way, as we’re lulled into a slow pace, he confronts us with an utterly disturbing midpoint set piece that sucks our breath away with its uncut brutality. The rest of the film organically turns into a lean study about how even the most civilized amongst us can turn into savages when pushed to the limit. The haunting final shot of the film makes this point completely within a couple of seconds, although several comparable films can’t get there with pages of exposition.

To be sincere, The Hills Have Eyes suffers from the many awkward writing and execution problems that have an effect on a lot of low price range exploitation films from the era. One particular of the characters’ fascination with “human French fries” resembles the out of tune dialogue of “so undesirable it’s great” flicks like Troll 2. Another character’s selection to not inform the rest of the family about the dangers they are facing is naturally there in order to stretch into a feature runtime. The hauntingly minimalistic score occasionally switching to 70s upbeat funk does not support either. That getting said, The Hills Have Eyes is still a 70s low price range horror classic that shows a talented genre director becoming capable to squeeze a near-classic out of the meager possibilities he was given.

The Blu-ray:

Video/Audio:

Considering that Arrow only sent us a BD-R copy, with the retail copy on the way, we can not but evaluate the A/V specs. Please check back later, given that we’ll be capable to ratify this problem when the retail copy arrives.

Extras:

Hunting Back on The Hills Have Eyes: This is a Criterion-high quality introspective documentary on the producing of the film, with interviews with Wes Craven and the rest of the cast and crew. This is invaluable stuff for fans of the movie.

Family members Organization: A fun and informative interview with actor Martin Speer, who played the patriarch of the victim family. This is a new interview that’s exclusive for this release.

The Desert Sessions: A ten-minute interview with composer Dan Peake.

Alternate Ending: This ending switches the placement of two sequences and offers a much more standard finale. You can also watch the whole film with this ending attached. I extremely recommend against this, given that the original ending delivers a haunting final note that’s much far more efficient.

Outtakes: 18 minutes of the cast flubbing lines and goofing about. Outtakes on a residence video release is commonplace with contemporary films, but it really is often enjoyable to get the same from older material.

Audio Commentary with Cast: Most of the major cast is right here to give background into how they got their components, and what the encounter of the shoot was like.

Audio Commentary with Wes Craven and Peter Locke: Not so surprisingly, this is the commentary to listen to if you only have time for 1. The director and the producer go into great detail describing every single aspect of the production.

Audio Commentary with Mikel J. Koven: On the other hand, this one particular may possibly be much more vital if you are a lot more interested in the themes and the aesthetics of the film as it relates to horror history. Lecturer and horror cinema historian Mikel J. Koven creates a fascinating study on The Hills Have Eyes as it relates to ancient legendary storytelling.

We also get Trailers, Television Spots, and an Image Gallery complete of poster art.

Final Thoughts:

With a bevy of extras, the new Blu-ray release of The Hills Have Eyes is a godsend for fans of the film.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter primarily based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

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