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>
If Wes Craven had retired after the double punch of 'The Last House On The Left' and 'The Hills Have Eyes' he would be a horror legend. Unfortunately he didn't.
Wes Craven's 'The Last House On The Left' is a horror milestone. It's a very crude and uneven movie, but still for me a very powerful one. It contains some scenes that are still extremely intense and disturbing, and that have rarely if ever been surpassed in subsequent horror movies. I don't known if Craven is embarrassed by it or what, but he seems to have distanced himself from it in his subsequent career. He went on to make several movies that were much more commercially successful, but were a lot tamer and much more viewer friendly. 'The Hills Have Eyes' is almost a transitional movie, the beginning of the slow journey from "old" Craven to "new" Craven. Compared to 'Last House...' it's a walk in the park, but alongside say the 'Scream' trilogy it looks the Manson family's home movies! Craven was still working with a very low budget compared to the mainstream, but for him it was a big step forward from 'Last House...' the results are not as shocking and confronting but it's a lot more consistent and technically more efficient, so I can understand why some horror buffs regard this as his best movie. Personally I find it difficult to choose between the two. The story concerns a family on a road trip looking for a silver mine they have acquired. There's Dad (Russ Grieve) a retired cop, Mom (Virginia Vincent), and three kids - Brenda (Susan Lanier), Bobby (Robert Houston) and Lynne (Dee Wallace). Also along for the ride is Lynne's husband Doug (Martin Speer) and their baby. Despite warnings from a local old coot (John Steadman) they stray from the main road and soon find themselves stranded in the desert. Little do they know that Jupiter (James Whitworth) and his cannibalistic clan, which includes sons Mars (Lance Gordon) and Pluto (Michael Berryman) have sniffed them out and are miiiighty hungry! Craven manages to create a lot of tension in this movie, the "normal" family are realistic and convincing, especially when things begin to fall apart, and Jupiter, Mars and Pluto are three fantastic baddies. Michael Berryman really capitalizes on his naturally odd looks (the results of multiple birth defects), and steals every scene he's in. Of all the cast Dee Wallace went on to the highest profile career ('The Howling', 'Critters', 'E.T.' etc.), but this movie made Berryman into a horror icon. James Whitworth is also terrific, and Lance Gordon gets THE line of the movie ("Baby's fat. You're fat... fat and juicy."), but Berryman outshines them both in the same way that Krug (David Hess) dominates his gang in 'Last House...' I like this movie a lot. I don't think it's as impressive as 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' or 'Dawn Of The Dead', but it still deserves a place among the best of 1970s American horror, and should be watched by anyone with an interest in the genre. If Craven had retired after the double punch of 'The Last House On The Left' and 'The Hills Have Eyes' he would be a horror legend. Unfortunately he didn't, and went on to be involved in some very lame movies (especially the sequel to this which should be AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS!) This decision has obviously proved to be very financially rewarding for him, but it is one that will forever divide horror movie fans.
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