The Hills Have Eyes Unrated Edition

Cover Art: 8/10
This is one creepy cover, which I love. It’s rare that I like to look at a cover of a DVD. Most of the time they are annoying and make my brain go to sleep before I get a chance to see the movie. I like unsettling images, and once you see the movie you will know more why this image is uncomfortable, to say the least. The menus are nothing special, but then again, when I get a cover I like, I know not to be too greedy when it comes to the graphic design of a DVD. If one or the other, menu or cover, are good enough for me to actually like, anything else is gravy.

Extras: 8/10
First of all this is the extended unrated version of the movie, so that’s an extra in itself. You get to see more blood and more yucky stuff to be disturbed by for years to come. As for the other extras:

  • Commentary By Director Alexandre Aja Gregory – This guy loves making movies and it shows in the documentary listed below and in listening to the commentary. The French accent makes it that much more sexy to listen to…oh yeah
  • Audio Commentary By Producers Wes Craven & Peter Locke – It’s great to hear the guy (Craven) who started it all so many years ago talk openly about have his story retold, and liking it. He’s a Hollywood big hitter with that certain twist of rebelliousness about him that makes him more interesting that most producers.
  • Surviving The Hills The Making Of Hills Have Eyes – This is an excellent extra. I was so impressed with how much time and effort they took to make this behind the scenes feature. It shows the writers/directors through most of the process and how they got it made with limited budget and with a few other obstacles in the way. They are true lovers of making films and it shows. I wish every DVD would have this kind of extra tagged in with the movie. It makes buying a DVD that much more exciting and rewarding. Love it!!
  • Production Diaries – Even more information and behind the scenes of the making of this blood fest flick. There is more technical work going on than we realize with so many stunts and special effects. Keep these kinds of extras coming people…I like more bang for my buck.
  • Music Video – blah – I couldn’t care any less if you paid me.

The Movie: 8/10
Scary movies, what are they good for? I shouldn’t say SCARY, exactly. I haven’t been truly scared by a movie for a long time. It takes a lot to put fear in me at my ripe old age. I like psychological creepiness, Hannibal Lector kind of stuff. Not in Hannibal with Ray Liotta’s exposed and devoured brain for all to see, that’s not scary, that’s just weird. I’m talking about the emotional and intellectual acknowledgement in the deepest wrinkles of my mind where I have to admit that the guy next door could have 12 bodies buried in his backyard, or have his landlord’s head in his freezer, or that he could be eyeing me up day to day wondering when it would be the prime time to trap, kill, and cook me for lunch.

That’s the crazy scary shit that can give me a chill down my spine. The blood, guts, gore, and cheap gags don’t get me excited. That’s why it can be hard to review a modern day “scary” movie, or gore thriller, or whatever you want to call it. The story has to be as interesting as the visual effects or else it just comes across as cheap and boring. There are too many examples to list, but I think you get what I’m saying.

The original The Hills Have Eyes was one of the classic 70’s revolutions in creep fest movies. It was innovative for its time in terms of untamed attempts at terrorizing the audience. Like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it featured people who did unspeakable things without conscience or a sense of morality that we all apply to our own behavior. We might not all be saints, at least I know you surely aren’t, but most of us don’t severe human heads and eat the rotting flesh for breakfast, or better yet, wear other people’s skin as our Sunday best. It’s those behaviors in characters, who have no resemblance to us except that they are humans, that stir up something inside us all when we see them doing what they do best, gruesomely and relentlessly annihilate their prey.

The story hasn’t changed. The “bad guys” haven’t changed. They aren’t aliens or monsters, or supernatural creatures from hell. In the new The Hills Have eyes they are, once again, the poor people left behind after nuclear testing in the desert. They are deformed and mutated on the outside, but something worse, they have become so bitter about society that they take every chance they can to hurt everyone outside their damaged lives. That theme never gets too worn out, or so it seems. We now have this new version of Hills that can bring some bloody goodness to a new generation.

The victims who get blown away, stabbed, beaten, mutilated, and other unmentionable physical disgraces, aren’t big strong hero types who come to save the day and put themselves at risk to save the women and children. The victims ARE the women, children, the weak, the strong, brave, cowardly, or anyone else unlucky enough to be in the mysterious circumference of isolation where these fellow citizens of the human race live away from prying eyes, setting the trap for their deviant desires.

In the latest version of The Hills Have Eyes the family in jeopardy is fairly average and even though I resisted, they are likable. The cast doesn’t consist of any mega movie stars, but some semi familiar faces keep it interesting. I like the dynamic of lesser known performers (and I mean that in the nicest way, big stars are very boring abut 98% of the time) in a movie like this. The story is hard enough to get your head around. I mean, it’s hard for me to suspend my beliefs in the real world, even for an hour or two, to accept that radioactivity in the desert distorted and mutated a group of people so severely that they are motivated to murder and torture, and cannibalize anyone “normal” who passes by. To try and accept that Clint Eastwood, Glenn Close, Tom Hanks, or anyone else with that kind of profile will fall victim to some bloody onslaught would be even harder as a viewer. Keep the big names away from these little gems of horrible delight.

The stunts and special effects are really really good. I ain’t joking around here people. I know these kinds of movies can look crappy and fake, but this time we get treated to some quality stuff. The mutants look amazing. The action sequences are interesting and have a lot of personality. The writers/directors were in love with the first Hills so they took great care to make their version as engaging, if not more, than Wes Craven’s original.

The sound effects and music are seriously well done. With full on surround sound cranked up in your living room or home theater it makes scenes that might not be that intense, that much more unsettling when you can hear the subtle creeks and cracks, grunts, groans and under track of sounds that sneak around in your head while your brain tries to comprehend what your eyes are seeing.

I have mentioned blood and brutality a lot in these few paragraphs, but not nearly enough to express the true nature of this movie. If you love all the gore, you will dig it for sure. If you like stories of survival against all odds (well, some survival), it’s a gripping tale considering it’s a remake. What will these innocent people do to salvage what’s left of their family and what can any of us be driven to do when we are put to the test of kill or be killed? That’s always an intriguing dilemma to put characters in under any circumstance.

If you want to be truly scared, well, it might not be scary, but it will go deep into those wrinkles back there in your own mind and make you think twice the next time you might be driving through some desolate place and need to stop for gas. I’d say that makes it worth the time to watch it. Leave the lights on if you are sissy. Turn them off if you want to pretend you aren’t.

Value: 7/10
I would say this is a DVD worth the investment. Put it in your Craven collection, your gore collection, your mutants collection. Wherever you put it this movie will surely be watched more than once. You will have to show your friends the one scene when that guy did that thing, oh that was so cool! Seriously, the extras ad a lot of value to make it more of a well packaged deal. It’s not just a remake of an old movie to cash in during this renaissance of classic horror. It’s a solid stand alone movie that looks great on DVD, and along with the extras it’s a good purchase to make this Summer.

Overall Score 8/10