*. The pattern holds. I wasn’t a big fan of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes (1977), and his follow-up The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1985) was truly awful. Alexandre Aja’s 2006 The Hills Have Eyes was a movie I much preferred to the original. This sequel to that movie (the hill folk are again mutant fallout from atomic bomb testing) isn’t as good as Aja’s movie, but it’s not bad, and much better than Craven’s own Part II.
*. Craven again produced here, and co-wrote the screenplay along with his son Jonathan. It’s a good story, not content with just rehashing the same idiot plot of young people who take a wrong turn and end up in slasher country. Instead, the army has been sent in to clear out Area 16, but before they can finish the job the mutants come out of their mine shafts and start killing people off.
*. Caught in the middle of this mutant uprising is a squad of National Guard soldiers on a training mission. They’re well armed and at least partially trained so you’d expect them to be able to hold their own. Alas, they are only partially trained, and that part not very well. Despite being introduced to us by way of an absolutely insane live-fire training exercise (seriously, that’s not even close to being realistic), they still seem pretty shaky on the basics. Not only do they leave their rifles lying around for anyone to pick up, they also lean them up against walls and tables. This is something you never do with an army rifle. You always lay it down flat. Even I learned that much basic training.
*. Well, we might say, despite their being green, they do as well as the space commandos in Aliens and Leprechaun 4: In Space, with the former being a movie very much on point with this one. Only Craven didn’t want tough-ass real soldiers but kids with guns instead.
*. I point to the connection not just for the soldiers-vs.-monsters idea, but for the way these particular mutants have a thing for nasty breeding practices. The movie begins with a really harsh birth scene where the chained mother is immediately killed by the chief mutant for some unspecified reason. Later, one of the two female National Guards will be raped in an equally horrific manner. So you could think of the mutants as like the Xenomorphs.
*. A note on rape. The original Hills Have Eyes had a scene where rape is threatened, and some see it as fitting in with the whole rape-revenge exploitation genre. The rape is taken further in Aja’s film, especially in the unrated version where it goes on for quite a bit. In this movie they ramp up the violence more, as the victim is beaten badly at the same time. Yes, the villain is killed — several times over — at the end, including having his crotch smashed in with a sledge hammer not once, not twice, but three times by the woman he raped, but it’s still a road I wish they hadn’t gone down. There’s just no need for it here.
*. The two female leads are, by the way, named Missy and Amber. Ah, man. Really? Plus it was standard around this time to have our heroines in horror movies running around in tight (and often wet) tank tops. Which happens again here, even though there’s no reason for Amber to have taken her combat shirt off.
*. I liked finding the guy in the basement of the outhouse, but that was another point I had trouble with. How did her get in there? “Who would do this to someone?” Napoleon asks. Good question. Also why?
*. What’s with Colonel Redding? He seems to know an awful lot about the mutants and their lifeways, yet is out stalking them with no back-up. There’s a hint with the Area 16 label that the government is up to some kind of dirty work out in the desert that they’re keeping secret, which may also explain why, given all the people the mutants have been killing, the area isn’t notorious for being the Bermuda Triangle of New Mexico.
*. Why is it that Papa Hades (he’s the biggest and baddest mutant, played by the same actor who played Papa Jupe in the previous film) can only bark out words like “Die!”, “Cunt!” and “Bitch!” and nothing else? Is this a result of years spent watching Divorce Court, which according to Aja’s movie is the only program they like to watch?
*. Apparently the mine shafts were designed by the same people who did the caves in The Descent. I was reminded of that (much better) movie a lot here. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the shift from the bright sunlight of Aja’s movie to so much darkness. In the earlier film the mines were just a place to go through to get to the town on the other side. Here they’re where we spend most of our time. Which isn’t as much fun.
*. Critics dumped on it, but I don’t know what they could have been expecting. It’s not great, but it’s head and shoulders above most of the other horror trash that was coming out around this time. They built on Aja’s work and managed to take things in a slightly new direction. Most of it is pretty conventional, but entertaining all the same. It also seems to have done pretty good box office. But there has, as of yet, been no sequel. I’m not sure why. Franchises have sputtered on with far less fuel in the tank.
This looks like even more horrid, that picture at the botton, blerk! So you did basic training as a space commando? Me Too! Where did you serve?
I hearby nominate this review for the Best Review of 2021, and nominate you for Best Writer in Human History. For now, you’re just part of the top 20000000000 but I’ll be allowing cats and other animals to start voting on the results before 2025. Congratulations et Bonne Chance!
I spent some time on the attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. Also watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. Also Meaford and Pettawawa, but they had less CGI.
I’ll have to clear off some shelf space if I’m going to keep getting these awards. Time to throw out some of my old hardware. Too many golden statues piling up . . .
You have won ‘best comment’ ! Congrats Alex! You’re Blade Runner/Ontario Transports system mash-up delighted our judges. You win again! So much winning!
I’m blushing. You can’t see it, but I’m blushing.
We like you Alex, We really like you! The industry is ready to pay tribute to your endless devotion to cinema! It’s a Lifetime Achievement Award for services to Critters!
It’s been a long road that has led you to this poimt, but it’s all clear now; you were a star from day one! Sending you the warmest and fuzziest, on this your day of days!
Blimey o’reilly this sounds sick. Blerk blerk and thrice blerk. And nope.
Well, this one is probably blerk-worthy. I’ll grant that.
Can’t believe there’s so many hills have eyes movies and they did two of all of them, that’s mad! And awful. When’s Shakespeare coming back? I need a break from yuckiness.
Shakespeare is on Tuesdays! But he had lots of blerkiness too. Macbeth. Lear.
Yes but it’s refined blerkiness, no visceral rapes or the like. I can’t cope with that sort of thing at all.
Wellllll, you could drag in Titus Andronicus. But he didn’t write all of that. And this week will be something sweet and wholesome so don’t worry.
OK.I have strong feelings re showing rapes in fictional movies, I get it in war movies where it truly happened and where someone is making a serious movie about it, but in this sort of movie it makes me angry. Who wants to be angry watching a pop movie? To me it smacks of titillation at women’s expense. And I’m not being triggered here, it’s never happened to me. I always wish they’d rape a bloke and see how they like watching it, Deliverance is the only one I can think of where that happens.
Oops sorry got all serious 🙄
No problem. It’s a perfectly justifiable position. I don’t like to see it either, especially if there’s no real purpose to it. Of course it’s the driving force in any rape-revenge plot (Last House on the Left, Death Wish, etc.). I don’t think there’s much point to it here and wish they hadn’t bothered.
Jesus Christ, they made another? These slasher films get old fast.
But in terms of slasher franchises these movies were all fairly original. Far more so than most of the Friday the 13th or Halloween entries (I won’t get into Critters and Leprechauns). Aja went in a new direction with his atomic-age mutants and the way it was shot. This was was kind of interesting with the gang of baby soldiers blundering around. They did at least try to mix things up.
I appreciate that, but at the end of the day, you can only get so original. We know what’s going to happen. Some crazy guy is going to come after and try and kill a family or group. Put in as many atomic-age mutants and baby soldiers you want, mixing it up will only take you so far.