The Hills Have Eyes
The Carters are a normal, happy Christian family from Cleveland on their way to California. But retired police officer and patriarch Big Bob (Russ Grieve) wants to stop by a silver mine and takes a detour which leads to a car accident that unintentionally puts them in the crosshairs of Jupiter (James Whitworth) and his family. Jupiter was deemed evil upon birth, after which his father left him in desert to die. But Jupiter persevered and took a prostitute for a bride, and now he has his own cannibalistic clan who pit themselves against the Carters for survival. What they didn't count on was that the Carters are a resilient bunch, and they won't go down without a fight. Wes Craven's follow-up to his controversial and highly successful Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes (1977) is a seminal '70s horror film and a perfect example of what other great horror scripts of the period embodied: a fast pace, as little fat as possible, a tense rising arc, and then payoff loaded with shocks and gore (be they false or real). Craven was a leading figure in the horror movement in the '70s, and though this movie resembles Tobe Hooper's earlier Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it's a strong variation on the topic. Hooper's film is the ultimate in streamlined terror, while Craven's effort builds a subtext by drawing parallels between the two "families" and then blurs the lines between the "good" family and the "bad." Unfortunately, (like many horror films of its era), it was produced by a small independent company, and though it saw video release in the early '80s, Hills has long been hard to get ahold of; it's one of the last of the more-prominent horror films of that era to get the digital treatment. But thanks to companies like Anchor Bay, it's now not only readily available, but comes in a two-disc special edition. The Hills Have Eyes is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) with DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1, and original monaural audio tracks. The transfer is grainy but acceptable, since the film was shot in 16mm. On the first disc is an audio commentary by director Craven and producer Peter Locke, while on Disc Two there's the documentaries "Looking back at The Hills Have Eyes" (55 min.) and "The Directors: Wes Craven" (59 min.), a restoration demonstration (4 min.), and alternate ending (10 min). Also included are trailers, TV spots, stills galleries, and a Craven bio. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case.
(Trivia note: In The Hills Have Eyes, a ripped poster of Jaws appears. This was paid homage by Sam Raimi in The Evil Dead by having a ripped Hills poster, to which Craven then paid homage to Raimi by putting footage of Evil Dead in A Nightmare on Elm St. to which Raimi paid homage by putting Freddy's glove in Evil Dead 2, to which the final payoff seems to be the appearance of Sam's brother Ted Raimi in Craven's Shocker. Tres homage!)