THE HILLS HAVE EYES

PrintE-mail Written by John Higgins

Sandwiched between The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Halloween (1978), Wes Craven's 1977 follow-up to the controversial The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes remains one of the key tent-poles of horror history. To the 1980s generation of horror kids, it is part of their initiation into a lifelong love of the genre.

Arrow Video once again strike gold with this 40th Anniversary Blu-ray Special Edition, a magnificent transfer that gives the film a lovingly greater impact than it had back in its original pre-VRA release through World of Video 2000 (which also distributed the first UK releases of Nightmares in a Damaged Brain (AKA Nightmare) and Don’t Answer the Phone. This new updated edition includes not only the original theatrical cut, but also a version with an alternate ending, as well as brand new interviews (with cast member Martin Speer and composer Don Peake), the standard audio commentaries, a reel of outtakes - and the Anchor Bay documentary which looks back at the making of the film, featured on an earlier DVD release.

Made for under $500,000, The Hills Have Eyes is loosely based on a real-life cannibal family legend. It chronicles the trials and tribulations of the Carter Family, out on a trip to Los Angeles with their dogs Beauty and Beast. They are in search of a silver mine, allegedly a present to the parents celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, but, due to misunderstanding the map in their possession, take a wrong turn and crash their vehicle. Unbeknownst to them, a whole cannibal family is happily living in the vicinity, and taking not too kindly to this Cleveland-based combo trespassing on their desert patch. With no vehicle and limited supplies, the stage is set for a disturbing and prolonged ordeal…

Horror icon Michael Berryman, whose image adorns early VHS covers (one of which can be glimpsed early on in the cabin in Sam Raimi's original classic Evil Dead), confirmed his status as Pluto, and Dee Wallace, still ahead of her appearance in Joe Dante's werewolf classic The Howling (1981), acquits herself admirably as one of the Carter clan. Indeed, every single member of the cast, much like those on show in Sean Cunningham's original Friday the 13th, heighten the dynamic throughout.

What has elevated The Hills Have Eyes above other films is its more extreme guerrilla filmmaking situation. Whilst Chainsaw and Halloween were both shot in more accessible areas like Texas and suburban California, the desert location here (which according to the documentary interview with the filmmakers was about 114 degrees at times in the day and freezing in the night) makes the overall result all the more incredible to experience to this day.

It is high time for horror fans old and new to experience the late director legend's best work of the 1970s.

Special Features: Two brand new audio commentaries / Audio commentary with Wes Craven and Peter Locke / Looking Back on the Hills Have Eyes documentary / Interviews / Alternate ending / Outtakes / TV spots / Trailers / Image gallery / Original screenplay / 6 postcards / Fold-out poster / Limited edition booklet 

THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977) / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: WES CRAVEN / STARRING: SUSAN LANIER, MICHAEL BERRYMAN, DEE WALLACE, JOHN STEADMAN, ROBERT HOUSTON, MARTIN SPEER, JAMES WHITWORTH / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 3RD

 



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