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The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

On the way to California, a family has the misfortune to have their car break down in an area closed to the public, and inhabited by violent savages ready to attack.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Steadman ...
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Peter Locke ...
Mercury (as Arthur King)
Russ Grieve ...
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Brenda Carter (as Susan Lanier)
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Brenda Marinoff ...
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Martin Speer ...
James Whitworth ...
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Lance Gordon ...
Cordy Clark ...
Flora ...
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Storyline

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 <marekp@interlog.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A nice American family. They didn't want to kill. But they didn't want to die. See more »

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Horror | Thriller

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R | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

22 July 1977 (USA)  »

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Budget:

$230,000 (estimated)
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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Michael Berryman's condition (Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia) means he has a lack of sweat glands, among other things. Despite this, he worked on the movie for five months in 100+ degrees heat out in the desert. See more »

Goofs

One brief nighttime shot of "Bobby" has been flipped: a cut on the right side of his face can be seen on the left hand side. See more »

Quotes

Big Bob Carter: Twenty-five years I'm a cop in the worst goddamn precinct in Cleveland. Niggers shoot arrows at me and the hillbillies throw dogs off the roofs at me and I'm even shot at on two separate occasions by my own men, but none of these bastards ever come as close to killing me as my own goddamn wife and her goddamn road maps and her wrong turns and her goddamn hysterical screaming and her...
Ethel Carter: Watch your language. And you watch your heart, too. You know what Dr. Springer said.
Big Bob Carter: Well, Dr. Springer can ...
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User Reviews

 
Heavy On Atmosphere, Heavier On Brutality.
28 December 2004 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

"The Hills Have Eyes" is personally one of my favorite horror films of the '70s era, I'd say this one is just below Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". I love the whole atmosphere the film gives off, and how brutal the film is. "The Hills Have Eyes" follows a normal American family on a camping trip who accidentally crash their station wagon and trailer in the middle of the California desert. The gang consists of Bob and Ethel, and their teenage children Bobby and Brenda, and their adult daughter Lynne and her husband and infant. Their father goes out for help, while the rest of them wait at the trailer, but they are unknowingly being watched by a family of cannibalistic mountain people that are hungry for flesh. As night falls, the clan of mountain-dwelling cannibals close in on the family, attacking their little safe-haven Airstream trailer, and begin to brutally slaughter each of them as they fight to save their lives.

One of the more memorable exploitation films from the 1970s, this gruesome little chiller is a nice addition to the list. Wes Craven, writer and director of this movie, does a great job at setting a mood, atmosphere, and having plenty of scary moments throughout. The desert in the film is eerie itself, it's such an empty and genuinely creepy landscape for a horror film to be set in. Along with this is the brutality factor - this is a harrowing little movie. The violence is shocking and strangely realistic, and it makes it more unsettling than it could have been. I can see why Mr. Craven has gone on to direct so many other successful horror films, such as "Scream" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street", because he's good at what he does.

The acting here isn't bad, we have Dee Wallace Stone ("E.T.", "Cujo"), but most of the other actors are unknowns, who give decent performances. Some of the acting was admittedly over the top and a little laughable at times, but what could you expect from a low-budget '70s horror flick? This film comes to a close in a rather odd way, fading out into a red screen. The ending was surely abrupt and I'm sure there were other, better ways to conclude the story. But, again, the rough abruptness is another addition to the movie's raw atmosphere and visceral quality. This isn't a pleasant movie, and I think anyone who has seen it can agree on that.

Bottom line - "The Hills Have Eyes" is one of the best horror/exploitation films to come from the '70s era. Not the best, but it is definitely close to it. It's brutal, raw, unsettling, and it made me uncomfortable. Any movie that has the power to do that must really have something going for it. Definitely worth a watch, it's a classic midnight-movie. One of my many personal favorites. If you like this, I'd also recommend Craven's debut picture, "Last House On The Left", which is also a visceral exploitation B-movie classic. 9/10.


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