THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977)

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The Hills Have Eyes Original Cover I kid you not; two of the requirements needed to star in this film, entailed the actors to cry on cue and run very fast. Yeah. I'm not messing about. If you don't believe me, why don't you ask the Director: Wes Craven; plus the Actors: Robert Houston, Russ Grieve, John Steadman, and Janus Blythe. But only for 87-minutes and in 1977. OK?


The Hills Have Eyes


THE STORY:
Dear Carter Family,

Recently I noticed that you have all packed your bags and are driving to California to have a nice holiday together. However, amidst your travels, I'd like you to take note of the following pieces of advice.

  • Step One: Once you've reach the desert, listen to the service station attendant when you stop and fill up for gas -- 'Don't drive any further'.
  • Step Two: If you choose to ignore these words of wisdom, for the love of God don't break down in the middle of nowhere, OK? Nobody would be happy about that.  
  • Step Three: Oh! You've broken down, haven't you? Just make sure that Big Bob Carter (Russ Grieve) and his eldest son, Doug (Martin Speer), attempts to look for help as soon as possible.
  • Step Four: Can someone who's been left behind, gracefully give young Bobby Carter (Robert Houston) the opportunity to tell them he's seen their dog being eaten out in the wilds by parties unknown?

OK. So I'm sure you're wondering to yourself why I've imparting this advise onto you. Right? Well, there is a family of mutated nomads living in the vicinity. Capable of rapping, killing, attacking, burning, and abducting whoever they so wish.

Now I hope you have taken heed of my words, Carter family. Or else what next transpires all kicks off when animals attack. As please don't take my baby - families can't help but go crazy - a cleaver plan goes up in smoke - and when this sabbatical ends, trust me, it'll be no joke. 




THE REVIEW:
Now I've got to be honest with you, folks, I've watched the 2006 version of 'The Hills Have Eyes' prior to me watching this original version. But don't fret though. It didn't spoil my enjoyment one little bit. This is a masterful piece of film-making, and it had me perched at the edge of my seat even though I kind of knew what was going to happen next.

The Hills Have Eyes French Movie Poster
Yeah! Straight up! It was that good. All the way through this horror classic I winced, yelped, and swore at the screen, terrified about what else is going go bump in this flick. Heck, at one point, I was even cheering a dog for biting off one of the main bad-guys legs!

Granted, I know that some people may say this production isn't as well-polished or slick as the present-day production. Furthermore, they may also gripe about how the actors appeared stiff or wooden, without having the same visual impact either. But for me, personally -- nah! -- this wasn't a problem at all. From my point of view the charm of this film propelled it way beyond any 'update' possibly could. The story was solid. The thrills worked. The production values had a nice seventies charm to them. And overall, I can see why someone else would want to remake it 29 years after it was unleashed.  


The Cast Of The Hills Have Eyes 1977


The Hills Have Eyes 1977
Here, check out these filmic facts for the full 411. (1) 'Vanguard' first released this $230 thousand dollar production on the 22nd of July, 1977, and eventually clawed back $25 million dollars at the box office. (2) This film was loosely based on the 14th century Scottish legend, Sawney Beane and his cannibalistic family, who would roam around the East Lothian countryside, near Edinburgh, and eat whoever they fancied. (3) The majority of this movie was shot in blisteringly hot weather on locations thirty miles away from nowhere. This mainly included the Apple Valley and Victorville districts of California. (4) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Beast' in Norway, 'Night Eyes' in Finland, and 'Sadistic Gang' in Brazil. (5) Wes Craven, who directed this horror movie, considered this film to be his homage to the Tobe Hooper classic, 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre'. Also, on a side note, quite a few of the props seen in the feral family's cave were actually lifted from 'Massacre' too. (6) Originally this picture was going to be called 'Blood Relations', and it was going to be about a family that came across a group of cannibalistic adolescents roaming around a forest in 1994. Moreover, the ending of this piece was going to be a lot less stark: All the surviving members of said family were going to embrace and then walk off into the sunset. (7) According to the actress that played Brenda, Suzie Lanier-Bramlett, both she and Michael Berryman, who played Pluto, pretended to 'make out' during the shooting of the infamous rape scene, just to break the tension in it. (8) No word of a lie, Janus Blythe landed the role of Ruby because she beat the rest of the actresses auditioning for this role in a race.


The Hills Have Eyes Original 1977 Film Poster


The Hills Have Eyes Movie Poster
Now in closing my review for 'The Hills Have Eyes', I like to add that I enjoyed how it included an 'origin' for the 'bad guys'. To me, this conceptual layer gave these so-called 'nomads' a more menacing vantage point to 'feed' off of, bestowing them with an almost mannered take on a tried an tested concept.

Well, it only stands to reason, that if you give the main villain a reason to do what they are actually doing -- no matter how brief it may appear in context -- it does give you something to associate with on a subliminal level.

Also, something else I would like to add, is how I loved the way that the overall narrative progressed in stages. First you had the tease. Then you had the set-up. Then you had to dilemma. And finally you had the dynamic conclusion to a well-thought out premise.

OK. I know this doesn't sound like anything new in this more modern day and age. Yet, what you have to remember, folks, is that this horror film came way before the likes of 'Evil Dead' or other movies of this ilk.

So if you haven't seen this 1977 version of 'The Hills Have Eyes', go on, pick it up when you can. I don't think you'll be sorry that you did. Agreed, Mike?




Ha! Nuff said.

THE RATING: A