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THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART II (1984)

The Hills Have Eyes Part II - CoverArrow Video’ have recently released a digitally enhanced version of the horrific sequel to ‘The Hills Have Eyes’. It was directed by Wes Craven; it starred Michael Berryman, Lance Gordon, Tamara Stafford, Kevin Spirtas, and Janus Blythe; and it lasts for 86 minutes. Plus, as an extra added bonus, the Blu-ray edition comes with the original theatrical trailer, an image gallery, a brand new audio commentary provided by the podcasters over at 'The Hysteria Continues', as well as a new documentary about the making of the film. Please enjoy.


The Hills Have Eyes Part II [Arrow Video]


THE STORY: 
Hello. Is anybody there? Come on, I know someone is out there, floating in the breeze, because I can hear you moving about amongst the rubble, the litter, and the trash, sprawled out across the wilderness!

So who is it? Who wants to surprise little ol’ me? Cass (Tamara Stafford), the blind babe! Is it you, Roy (Kevin Spirtas)? Do you want to take me in your arms and get to know me better? Or is it you, Rachel (Janus Blythe)? As I have a feeling that you want to tell me more about that sad story you told us earlier! A story about a group of savage cannibals who killed a family quite some time ago!

Well, whoever it is, please reveal yourself right now. Otherwise, me and my friends won’t be able to get back on our bus and continue driving towards a biking competition we’re hoping to attend! But then again, that’s most probably why what next transpires goes, chomp-chomp, crunch-crunch, stab-stab, when I suddenly hear my name being called out in the distance. As a group of kids slowly gets killed - a family of cannibals refuses to yield - a lot of blood is eventually spilled - and at the end of the day, please remember, arms and legs should never be grilled.




THE REVIEW:
Before we begin, please allow me to make one thing perfectly clear. This film is crap, really crap, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t enjoyable or fun to watch. In fact, ‘The Hills Have Eyes Part II’ can be quite interesting at times, as it manages to come up with a variety of smart concepts, notions, and ideas, even though none of them were fully fleshed out due to the circumstances surrounding its development.

The Hills Have Eyes Part II - The Reaper
You see, back in the early eighties, Wes Craven found himself in a pretty difficult situation because he desperately needed two specific things: money, and to keep himself relevant within an industry that didn’t respect the genre he’s known for... horror! But then, one day, he was approached by a group of businessmen who presented him with a fairly simple proposition. They said, ‘Make a sequel to your earlier success, ‘The Hills Have Eyes’, and we will get you the money you need to fund it’. Which they did, in part, until the money started to run out (two-thirds before it was completed), and resulted in it being shelved for an entire year. Maybe a bit more, give or take a month, because it only saw the light of day again when Wes’s next film, ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, hit it big at the Box Office, and he was asked to dust off this unfinished sequel, despite not being able to continue shooting any more footage. Heck, the only thing he could do, was to edit what he shot already, including footage taken from the first film. So, in a roundabout way, that kind of explains why the end product was full of smart concepts, notions, and ideas, which were never fully fleshed out.

For example, at the start of the film, we’re reintroduced to a character that starred in the previous movie, Bobby, with the implication that his exploits would now continue. But no, they don’t continue! Far from it, in fact, because he’s only used as a narrative device to set up the plot and establish that ‘something bad’ is going to happen soon. Similarly, the overall construction of this film seemed somewhat deceitful as well. After all, none of the villains were scary, none of the cast were completely developed, and more or less, the story in itself wasn’t evenly paced due to the laborious execution of its generic, narrative structure.


The Hills Have Eyes Part Two - The Cast


Well, from a literary standpoint, it’s pretty safe to say that this was a moderately conventional horror movie that followed the usual horror guidelines. Step One: We're introduced to a group of diverse teenagers who each have a notable trait or character flaw (Nerd, Jock, Babe, Biker, Blind, etc). Step Two: We're then shown how stupid they are as they keep on doing the wrong thing, time and time again (wrong turn, road closure, daylight saving time, and so on, and so forth). And Step Three: The villains are suddenly established and people get killed (Arrrghhhh!). All of which, goes to show that this isn’t a particularly innovative movie, yet it is a fairly bipolar one!

The Hills Have Eyes Part II - Michael Berryman
But before I tell you what I mean by this, let’s relax, sit back, and check out the following filmic facts: (1) ‘Castle Hill’ first screened this seven-hundred thousand dollar production at the Italian film festival called ‘MystFest’. They did it on the exact same month Bruce Springsteen released his seventh studio album, "Born in the USA", June, 1984. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled ‘Sadists Gang 2’ in Brazil, ‘Devilish Affair’ in India, and ‘In the Death Valley of the Wolves’ in Germany. (3) In an interview he gave to the press, Wes Craven said that he made this movie solely for the money and has since disowned it. (4) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, states, ‘So you think you're lucky to be alive...’. (5) The majority of this movie was shot on location within the American state of California. This includes Joshua Tree, San Bernardino, as well as Bronson Caves, Bronson Canyon, Griffith Park. (6) Quite a few of the actors who starred in this film now go by slightly different names. Susan Lanier is now called Suze Lanier-Bramlett, Kevin Blair is now called Kevin Spirtas, Willard Pugh is now called Willard E. Pugh, and Penny Johnson is now called Penny Johnson Jerald. (7) Wes didn’t think that John Bloom's voice was strong enough for his role as The Reaper, so he hired Nicholas Worth to redub all of his lines during post-production. (8) The music for this movie was composed by Harry Manfredini, who also provided the musical scores for such horror classics as ‘Friday the 13th’ [1980], ‘Swamp Thing’ [1982], ‘House’ [1985], ‘Jason X’ [2001], and many, many, more.


The Hills Have Eyes Part Two - The Kids


Okay! So where was I? Oh yes! I remember now! I was about to tell you why ‘The Hills Have Eyes Part II’ was a fairly bipolar movie. Or as some people like to call it, a good/bad movie, saying so because everything it had going for it also worked against it. Take the character of Cass, for instance, who initially seemed like a very interesting character because she occasionally used her blindness to her advantage. But sometimes, some of her actions were taken to the extreme and she came across like a female version of Daredevil, dodging obstacles, fire, and villains, as if her senses were superficially enhanced. Likewise, I wasn’t quite sure why some of the other characters were professional bikers either. Although, in their case, my confusion stems from them not having enough time to strut their stuff on screen, as we only got maybe three or four minutes at best.

The Hills Have Eyes Part II - The Collection
Admittedly, I could continue being cynical about this film, and pose theoretical questions ranging from: Why did the two main villains look like drunk wrestlers? How come the dog experienced a flashback? And why did it take 45 minutes for the first victim to get killed? But hey, if I did that, I’d be stating the obvious like the rest of the critics. Besides, as I said at the beginning of my review, this film is fun and entertaining to watch. Genuinely fun and entertaining to watch! After all, how can anyone hate an 80s movie with an 80s cast of characters? Characters that were silly, serious, stoic, sexy, and symbols of an era where people could take a joke and didn’t mind living life instead of watching it on a phone. I also have to applaud the overall aesthetics of this movie too! Not only because visually everything looked rather rustic, dark, or angelic on screen, but in addition to this, the movies lopsided pacing inadvertently increased the tension and suspense, especially during the last third.

Anyway, all that aside, and on the whole, I’d like to say that this film is a good/bad film, and I would highly recommend it to those of you who like your monsters... beatable, your horror... watchable, and your story... full of bull... 80s bull!

THE RATING: C

THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART II (1984) THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART II (1984) Reviewed by David Andrews on September 16, 2019 Rating: 5

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