A family going to California accidentally goes through an Air Testing range closed to the public. They crash and are stranded in a desert. They are being stalked by a group of people, which have not emerged into modern times. Written by
Paul Popiel <email@example.com>
The Carter family are travelling through the desert on their way to California. Head of the family Bob (Russ Grieve), a retired police officer, decides to visit an inherited silver-mine on the way, and ignoring the advice of Fred (John Steadman), a local filling station owner, drives off the main road towards the hills. An accident leaves the family stranded and easy pickings for a family of cannibals lead by Jupiter (James Whitworth). Following a savage attack by this family, which leaves a number of the Carter's dead, the survivors realise that to continue surviving they too will have to become savages.
Wes Craven followed his controversial debut The Last House on the Left' (1972) with this far greater arranged and compelling tale of family warfare. The Hills Have Eyes' is a movie with a raw brutality that has been unsurpassed in any of Craven's films to date, and is possibly the finest horror movie to be directed by Wes Craven. Despite not being as graphic as one would expect the movie never ceases to unnerve or alarm. The atmosphere, which bears a slight resemblance to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (1974), maintains an unsettling air from beginning to end as the viewer is sucked into the nightmare that the Carter family is forced to endure. The desolation and hopelessness is portrayed beautifully by Craven, who utilises intelligent camerawork and a haunting soundtrack to fully create the feelings of terror. For everything that the screenplay lacks, Craven's direction more than makes up for and one wonders why Craven is no longer able to make such raw, gripping and emotional movies such as this. During the movie it becomes easy to identify with some of the characters and then feel fulfilled when they exact their retribution.
The acting, while not up to the standard of Craven's more recent offerings such as Scream' (1996), is of a fairly high standard for a low budget 70's horror flick and certainly helps in aiding The Hills Have Eyes' to accomplish a brutal, psychological edge. James Whitworth offers a fantastic performance as the despicable Jupiter and should probably be thought of higher as a horror film villain. His performance demands respect for its power and authority and is accompanied well by Michael Berryman and Lance Gordon. Producer Peter Locke even had a small role as Mercury, the watchdog for this contemptible family of savages. Interestingly the cannibal family come across as deranged hippies, which explains their planetary names. Virginia Vincent was the only performer that I really could not tolerate, but that could be because of the poor scripting for her religious-nut character Ethel. A very special mention has to go to Stryker the Alsatian, who `played' the part of Beast.
I highly recommend this for horror fans. Those people who think that the Nightmare on Elm Street' series is the be all and end all of horror should certainly check this out. The Hills Have Eyes' is, in my opinon, Wes Craven's most thought out and gripping horror film to date which features some good performances, excellent camerawork, enthralling sequences and some first-rate special effects. The Hills Have Eyes' is an excellent example of classic Wes Craven and is one of his most creative movies. My rating for The Hills Have Eyes' 8/10.
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