The Hills Have Eyes Cover What type of a name is that to call a movie? 'The Hills Have Eyes'. Why not something like: 'The Valley Has Nose'? 'The Train Station Has an Elbow'? Or 'The Parking Lot Has a Limp'? Ha! Maybe these chaps will know the answer? Director: Alexandre Aja; and Actors: Ted Levine, Aaron Stanford, Kathleen Quinlan, and Vinessa Shaw. But only in 2006 and for 107 minutes.

The Hills Have Eyes (Unrated Edition)

All the Carter family wanted to do was to drive to California, and have a nice holiday together. But no. During their travels their trailer strangely gets a puncher, and they find themselves stranded in the middle of the desert, with nowhere else to go.

OK, not exactly 'nowhere' per say. As the head of the family, Bob (Ted Levine), decides that he and his son-in-law, Doug (Aaron Stanford) should both split up, and search for salvation one way or another.

Now Bob's wife, Ethel (Kathleen Quinlan), is just fine about this. And so too is his son and daughter, Bobby and Brenda (Dan Byrd and Emilie de Ravin), plus Doug's wife, Linda (Vinessa Shaw), and newborn baby.

Heck, I'm sure that even you would find it a reasonable plan too. Although I am afraid to say that nothing reasonable plays out in the way it should.

You see, living in this barren wasteland are a group of deformed nomad's, all corrupted by nuclear fallout which happened quite some time ago. Bobby is the first one out of this group to suspects something is amiss, when he goes searching for his dog and has an accident. This is then quickly  followed by Doug, who comes across a group of abandoned vehicles left destitute in a large crater. And finally Bob realizes that something is really-really wrong, when he treks back to a service station that he and his kin previously frequented, and gets attacked by these nomads rather savagely.

Sounds pretty bad, don't you agree? However, it is not a bad as when these same nomad's flambé Bob, rape Brenda, shoot Ethel and Lynne, and kidnap the baby to boot.


Well, that's most probably why what next transpires is a rather blood stained and harsh affair all in all. As fortifications are made - nuclear test sites are surveyed - baseball is played - and everyone is left very-very dismayed.  

Possibly the end.

'The Hills Have Eyes' starts off in a most unusual and baroque manner. The prologue involves two men wearing nuclear protection outfits getting chopped up by an unseen hand. The title sequence is a mixture of startling images mixed in with a kitch fifties montage. And the first ten minutes or so of this film is about a rough looking gent busying himself with his service station and someone that only he can see.

Very strange that, huh? Strange and benign. But I find this flick to be very clever at the same time as well. Hell yes! You see, this initial gumf sets the stage for a very scary and simple horror movie, which has all the hallmarks of being a classic slice of cinema from days past. Just like it's original counterpart of the same name. 

Attack in The Hills Have Eyes

The Hills Have Eyes
Here, check out some of these filmic-facts before I give you my 411: (1) Film originator, Wes Craven, and one of the producers of this remake, Peter Locke, wanted this new version to be filmed on the exact same desert location as the original 1977 movie. But regrettably a condominium was built there at the time. (2) The actress who played 'Big Mama', Ivana Turchetto, agreed to have her head shaved for an extra $1000. (3) The photos playing over the opening title sequence were of birth defects caused by the use of 'Agent Orange' in Vietnam. (4) This project was recorded in Morocco with a multi-cultural film crew. (5) The make-up artist on this project, Greg Nicotero, also worked on 'Evil Dead 2' [click here for review]. (6) The gas station film-set was so authentic, that on occasion people who did not know that it was an aperture, actually stopped by to buy gas there. (7) Aarons Stanford character was based on Dustin Hoffman's character from the film 'Straw Dogs' [click here for review]. (8) Temperatures exceeded 120 degrees Fahrenheit on the Moroccan desert set. (9) Most of Ted Levine's behavior and dialogue was improvised. (10) The cast and crew on this production shared a Moroccan hotel with the cast and crew of the mini-series, 'The Ten Commandments', because they were filming nearby. And (11) Certain scenes in this picture were physically difficult to shoot. It took three days to record the family's car and trailer being smashed up. Plus the inside of the trailer had to be expanded by 30% on a soun-stage to be captured on film. 

The Dad in The Hills Have Eyes

Now in many ways 'The Hills Have Eyes' harks back to its original works, because it has a very intriguing way of building up tension within the scene's, by adding a precursor for each startling event.

For example, that scene where 'The Carson family get slaughtered worked so well, due to the fact that the previous thirty minutes of this film did three things om retrospect: (1) It introduced you to all the main characters, and made you relate to each of them on a personal level. Like the bold Dad, the comely Mum, the newlyweds, and the brat-ish children. (2) There were a couple of quite moment's played out in-between character pieces, allowing the suspense to build and build and build, without any real pay off. Holding this emotion in check. And (3) The plot touched upon the 'back-story' for the 'bad-guys', so you had a sneaking suspicion what to expect when they eventually reared their ugly heads.

The Hills Have Eyes Film

OK, so some of what I just said may sound like 'horror 101' to you. But I am sure that if you have followed this genre of entertainment as I have, you'll know how many films have failed to acknowledge these very simple rules.

Overall this horror movie is very horrifying for all the right reasons. All of the actors stamp their grounds. The pretext is a simple one to follow. And it allows for the audiences 'emotion wilderness' to play out to the 'terrors of the unknown'. Agreed Aaron?

Fair enough.