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The Hills Have Eyes, although a remake of the original, was everything
a horror movie should be. Typically, I'm not a fan of slasher flicks,
but this movie had elements I like to see in a movie. I don't like to
see the protagonists making stupid mistakes (the old "curiosity killed
the cat" syndrome), I don't like being able to guess the villain 20
minutes into the movie (although this wasn't the scenario in this
particular movie). I don't enjoy picking out who's going to do die
first, and being correct. I don't think sex scenes have any place in
horror movies. I like things to be important and advance the plot.
Although the movie had some "MTV" elements to it, it still adhered to the classic horror movie thrills. The thing I liked about this movie was the fact that they repeatedly "crossed the line", doing things that you wouldn't expect modern movies to do, nothing is off limits in this movie. Horrifying elements that made you, well, terrified. Lots of "boo" surprises, but also more complex and twisted than modern movies have allowed. I spent most of the movie with my mouth agape... It's not just the gore, although there is a lot of that. They didn't leave anything to the imagination, did not imply anything...they showed you everything.
It was admittedly a little slow at first, but then all of the sudden things began to take a turn for the wicked. One thing this movie did that most horror movies don't bother to do is go into character development. Not a lot, but more so than a typical thriller will bother to do.
This movie was so disturbing, I'm not sure I'd want to see it again. That "Deliverance" mentality...you see it once, you're glad you saw it, but so disgusting you're pretty sure you don't want to experience that again.
Any horror aficionado should see this movie.
Alexandre Aja, you have a new fan.
Before this movie was released in theaters, I made sure to watch Wes Craven's original endeavor. Let me just start out by saying that compared to today's standards and conventions, Craven's classic "The Hills Have Eyes" seems almost mild when compared to Alexandre Aja's remake. However, purists too skeptic to check this movie out should rest assured that the film is very, VERY faithful to the original. The characters, story, and overall progression of events remain unchanged, however, the quality of all said elements has increased dramatically since the original 70s release. Furthermore, like any other quality remake, there are twists, there are surprises, and for people who think they're getting the same film with updated technology, think again.
The film starts out with the nuclear bomb test-radiation disclaimer, and from there, to those who've screened the original, the familiar New Mexico desert setting is presented for all to take in. Make no mistakes, though. Aja never misses a beat, and he makes sure to take advantage of any opportunity he can when it comes to scaring the living crap out of the audience.
After a very vivid and graphic opening, the film gets rolling, mixing elements of freshness with both nostalgia and familiarity. People who saw the original will know what they're looking at, however their eyes will also be glued to the screen due to the overall difference in presentation and cinematography. The familiar gas station attendant is shown to the audience, and soon after, the Carter family + in-law stroll in. From there, the real fun begins.
Aja and his fellow screenwriter did an amazing job adding depth and dimension to the family members, ensuring that throughout the course of the film, people in the audience would certainly be able to connect with or identify with at least one member of the Carter family. This is accentuated by very strong performances by all the actors. Recognizable, seasoned actors are chosen for the older family members, while younger, relatively lesser known actors are chosen for characters like Bobby and Brenda.
I really could not complain with any of the performances. With all the craziness and gruesome things happening to the family, the actors' reactions are all portrayed very realistically, with emotions dead-on with very few hiccups in line delivery. One performance that stood out in particular to me was definitely that of Aaron Stanford (Pyro, X2 and the upcoming X-Men 3). Despite the fact that Standford was merely a year old when the original 'Hills' was released, he more than proves his acting credibility and fits the role of Doug very well. He does the role justice, and fills the shoes of the protagonist very well. I could go on and on about the performances of the rest of the cast (which are all extremely solid), but you want to know more about the movie, right? One cannot help but compare this film to original. There are 3 reasons I feel Aja's remake tops Craven's original: 1) the emphasis Aja places on the Carters, 2) the make-up effects, 3) the excessive gore.
Whereas Craven gave the deformed family clan plenty of screen time in 1977, Aja opts to shroud them in mystery for much of the film's duration. In many ways, the family emphasis is almost reversed in either film. Aja makes sure to hide the deformed family members from the viewers until just the proper moment, while Craven made their names and personalities as clear as day. I personally think the less information there is about something, the scarier it becomes to the person dealing with it. Aja realized this, and presented it very well.
Speaking of presentation, one cannot help but watch in sheer awe and amazement at some of the deformities displayed by the irradiated family members. I personally have not seen such drastically deformed individuals first hand, and I'm not sure how accurate their portrayals were in 'Hills' '06, but one thing is for sure: they were damn gruesome. Do not be fooled, the little child shown in the commercially televised trailer is NOT representative of the rest of the film.
And then there's the gore. Ah, the gore. Monsieur Aja, you are the brainchild of modern horror, and you definitely know how to ride with the best of them. No body part is taboo in this film, and for all you gore fanatics out there, there are no annoying instances where the camera "looks away" when someone or something is, say, struck with the menacing swing of a weapon. For all those who've said "But I wanted to SEE what happened to him!", rest assured, you will indeed see what happens to everything in this film.
The Hills '06 will satisfy your blood-lust. Alexandre Aja takes Craven's original film and builds on it in just about every way. Better acting, better visual effects, better make-up, better story presentation (i.e. no unanswered plot holes or abrupt "halts"), and much, MUCH more gore. This film is not for the squeamish, and it is my opinion that it will suppress the doubts of any skeptics who, upon seeing this film, may have badmouthed horror movie remakes in the past.
Only thing that caused me to dock it a point were the questionable courses of action some of the characters took. Alas, such things may always fall into the category of "typical horror movie no-no's." Furthermore, I wasn't really horrified while watching this movie. A more accurate description would be that I was highly impressed and satisfied.
Horror movie fans: see this film as soon as you can. Non-horror movie fans: if you see this, prepare to have your world rocked.
See this movie people, it's pure gold.
We've seen dozens of remakes in the past several years: Texas Chainsaw
Massacre, The Ring, Dawn of the Dead, The Fog. None could hold a candle
next to the original films.
Could it be? After all this time, do we finally found a remake that's actually superior? You're damn right! The Hills Have Eyes is not at all like the other remakes in this ungodly trend. It's not a cheap cash-in. It's a movie made with respect by horror filmmakers for horror fans.
Sure, it has its share of problems: There are too many cheesy false scares, they added a corny patriotic subtext, and it sticks so close to the original that fans will find little in the way of surprises. But it's a leaner, meaner animal than Wes Craven's original film. The characters are more believable, the mutants are scarier, and the whole thing is incredibly visceral! This is the first studio horror film in years that I've liked...mainly because it doesn't feel like a studio horror film.
Funny side note: A girl next to me in the theater was silently weeping through the last half of the movie. Guess it made an impression.
I haven't seen the original, but I now want to because this movie rocked. The movie starts as a slow-boil suspense/horror movie, provides some decent jump-scares (at least in the theater) and spends some time building up character. The movie then switches gears and turns into a gritty, brutal horror movie more the likes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and further switches to gears to a action/revenge movie, but still with horror elements. It's scary, sick, nearly uncompromising (the unrated cut will undoubtedly be so) and disturbing, but also adrenaline-filled and riveting. Certainly NOT for the weak-stomached person. People were leaving the theater, and the IMDb boards are rife with people damning the movie for it's 'lack of moral substance' and 'taste'. This movie isn't for the average movie-goer. It's for the horror buffs. Alexendre Aja should be proud, and is 2-for-2 in my book having done this and High Tension.
Shocking. Disturbing. At times hard to watch. All words to describe the
horror of being forced to watch Michael Moore take his shirt off. But
these terms also accurately describe this brutally vicious upgrade on
Wes Craven's 1977 low-budget horror classic.
What would you do if you were traveling through the desert and became stranded amongst a group of genetically-mutated freaks who were intent on killing you? You'd probably die. Granted, I would kick all sorts of genetically-mutated butt (not an easy accomplishment when said butt has a foot growing out of it kicking right back), but the average human would be in some major trouble, just like the Carter family.
The father looks like he could handle himself in a fair fight, after all he is a detective, but what are three girls, a boy, a cell phone-selling geek, and a pizza place (maybe two of you will get that lame joke) going to do against a bunch of unnaturally strong psychos? How will they survive? Will it be through might or strategy? You'll have to watch the movie to find out. And if you're squeamish then you'll most likely find yourself cringing in your seat and watching with your hands over your eyes. The Hills Have Eyes is a movie that knows exactly what it needs to do to satisfy its target audience, and it does it well.
Case in point... I'm not very vocal during movies. I usually don't clap and scream and hoot and holler like most the dorks sitting around me, but there were a couple of scenes where I literally said aloud, "Ooooooooooh, crap!" Of course, one of those instances was during a trailer for Phat Girlz, but one scene of violence left my mouth hanging open for about 30 seconds. Then I realized that my mouth was agape like some buffoon, so I quickly closed it.
It takes a lot to shock and disturb me these days, so congrats go to The Hills Have Eyes for accomplishing that. It comes at you fast and hard and isn't interested in sugar-coating the violence it's about to serve up. The intensity level starts high and never gives you an opportunity to take a bathroom break. I highly recommend you address any and all bladder issues before the movie begins.
For me, the main drawback of the movie was the "hero." You can argue that he was more of a "regular guy" and not a typical macho hero, but I felt he transitioned a little too quickly from a gun-hating wuss to an ax-wielding killing machine. My hat's off to the dog though; that canine rocked! Easily the coolest dog in a movie since the German Shepherd in The Lost Boys.
"I like horror movies, Johnny, but I liked to be creeped out more than being subjected to a lot of gore. Would I like this?" It's very doubtful. I'll make this as blunt as possible: this is a movie that contains severed body parts, brutal shootings, axes to the head, a person biting off a bird's head and drinking its blood, and disturbing violence to helpless women.
If that description turns you off then you know to save your money. However, if that fits your style then the movie will succeed in giving you exactly what you want. But I have to say that if you think this sounds like fun for the entire family then I'll have to decline any invitations to sit down with you for a family dinner.
What made early Wes Craven movies so special were these eary and
daunting atmospheres he was so good in creating ; And this is what
Hills Have Eyes 2006 totally lacked. Firstly the music through out the
movie was awful and totally cliché and unfortunately diminished any
depth that HHE was trying to show. I did like the nuclear mutant idea ,
but then seeing them reminded me on how the original HHE villains had
way more presence on the screen and they had no make up !!
Now I did like the actors , they played their respective roles well The effects were good + I did like how they twisted the original script and added some new ideas instead a complete knock off of the original So my final word not a bad movie , but lacked atmosphere/suspense , which is so important in horror/slasher movies , shame !
I dislike the nowadays and boisterous remakes of classic horror movies
as much as the next person but, ever since the news came that an update
of "The Hills Have Eyes" was in talks, I had great expectations towards
it. There are reasons for this rather enthusiast anticipation,
actually. Unlike "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" or "The Fog", to name
just two examples, Wes Craven's original 1977 screenplay was open for
improvement AND Alexandre Aja would be just the right man for the job,
as his own project "Haute Tension" is definitely one of the best horror
films since the year 2000. That particular film wasn't really a
masterpiece of plotting, but it was genuinely grim and barbaric and
those are exactly the qualities a film like "The Hills Have Eyes"
require as well. The new screenplay follows Craven's original fairly
strict, except that the eyes in the hills aren't of members of an
inbred family anymore but of an entire community of horribly mutated
ghouls. Deep in the New Mexican deserts, a small village of coal miners
once refused to leave the area at the time the American government
decided to test nuclear weapons there, and now they still prowl the
wasteland, assaulting travelers that dare to leave the main highways.
The Carter family is next on the menu, and the mutants really don't
care whether the victims are females, elderly folks or even newborn
Alexandre Aja delivers the exact right amount of disturbing tension and really a lot more gore than you could possibly dream of. Much more than the overrated Eli Roth, this young French filmmaker is the new prodigy of horror. Strictly talking in terms of cinema, "The Hills Have Eyes" is also a more than decent production. The dialogs are fluently written and the characters are a lot more likable than in the original. By them I primarily refer to the members of the Carter family, as Michael Berryman's charisma as creepy Pluto remains unequaled. Altering the background of the desert-people into mutants was a pretty intelligent move by Aja, though. Despite being sadistic and utterly repulsive-looking bastards, these people are basically a sort of "victims" themselves, which brings a lot of extra depth and unsubtle social criticism in the overall simplistic story. I'm sure this film also had its share of flaws, like the editing being a little too MTV-ish perhaps, but the thrills and fast pacing were just too overpowering to have me bother about them. Kudos also to the terrific selection of songs, the convincing cast of actors and actresses and last but not least the personal trainer of those brilliant German Shepard dogs!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(Synopsis) The movie begins with the showing of original footage from
some of the 311 nuclear tests that were carried out by the U.S.
government in the desert of New Mexico during the years 1945-1992. The
government had ordered the local residents to move so they wouldn't get
hurt by the atomic tests. But some of the residents (miners) refused to
leave their homes, and were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation.
The miners went to the mines and survived, but their newborn children
were genetically altered. The children are now adults, and to survive
in the desert, they murder and rob tourists going through the desert.
They are not only insane murderers, but they have become blood-thirsty
cannibals. The Carter family has an accident in the desert, and they
are about to become the next victims. However, Big Bob Carter, (Ted
Levine), a retired police detective, isn't going to let that happen.
(Comment) If you like horror films, you are going to like this one, because it was made for the horror fan. Be prepared to see a lot of blood, gore, and guts. This is a remake that is actually better than the 1977 original. You will applaud for the actions of a German shepherd named Beast, and even the tech geek Doug (Aaron Stanford) when he takes on the mutates. There are several scenes that will make you jump out of your seat. By the end of the movie, you will want to hit some of these mutates in the head with a pick-ax yourself. (Fox Searchlight, Run time 1:45, Rated R) (8/10)
A remake it was... yes a remake, and of a classic horror movie too that was good enough as it was, however... in a world of terrible remakes and sequels, this was something that was far from terrible. I would like to say first and foremost, that I was pleased with Aja's first film "High Tension", the man has talent, and he put it to good use here: A gory, insane, slasher type horror thriller that was the opposite of cheesy. It really was creepy, and that is extremely hard to do these days. It had great character structure, you can identify with and care for the people who are going through this hell. Not many horror movies do that, it's not even their job, however, it worked for this film. now that we know the character structure was believable, The story, oh yes, the story itself, which we already seen in the original, was a bit far fetched... but it was interesting and thrilling. In a way, believable, because there wasn't much of anything in the movie happening that one would refer to as bull**** like what tends to happen in most of the rather bad films they make nowadays. Great fight scenes, well choreographed, great realistic, really disturbingly graphic looking gore FX, the acting for both the victims and the killers all done well by these mostly relatively newer, lesser known actors, who all did great jobs at portraying. All that I can say about this film, in my humble opinion is: one of the thrilling, more fun horror films that has came out in the past few years. Right on par with Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this beats the hell out of crap like the Ring, The Grudge, Boogeyman, The Fog and other watered down, pussified horror remakes. If you want scary, than see this film. But I must warn thee: It is definitely not for the faint of heart, so leave the littl eones at home.
The question most people ask when it comes to modern day remakes is
"why remake a classic?", but the question I ask of this one is "why
call it The Hills Have Eyes?" Many films have been made before and
after Wes Craven's original shocker with similar ideas, so why not take
the basic plot idea and give it a new title; thus making it a new film.
Judged on its own merits, Alexandre Aja's exploitation horror flick is
actually a good film, but it loses credibility unnecessarily just
because it's a part of the remake crowd. After an explosive beginning
which gives you an idea of what Aja intends to do with the remake; the
pace relaxes a little as we get to know the doomed family at the centre
of the piece. While this may not be very exciting, it pays dividends
towards the end when the mutant cannibals start to get their own way.
We follow a family who decide to take a holiday that involves driving
through the desert. After fuelling their car, the helpful petrol
station attendant tells them of a shortcut in the desert; but after
they have a crash, it soon becomes apparent that they aren't the only
ones amidst the nuclear hills.
Towards the start of the film, Aja packs the film with references to nuclear testing which leads us to believe that he wants to go deeper with the plot. However, by the end it all feels very half-arsed, as apart from a few references towards the mentality of America - these ideas never really bear any fruit. Ted Levine heads a capable cast in a role that is a world away from his turn as Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs, and actually feels a lot like a Sid Haig impression. The rest of the cast have some impressive film and TV credits between them, but nobody is a particularly 'big' actor, which actually does this sort of film credit. The real stars of the show are the make-up department, who do a great job with the mutant cannibals. They all look very realistic, and it's easy to believe that the people in the film actually are mutants. The violence and gore is fairly heavy, although Aja is actually quite restrained in this respect, as it only occurs when needed and never goes too over the top. Aja also does well with the scare factor, as he continually creates a foreboding atmosphere by way of lots of scare tactics, including the backwater desert atmosphere, glimpses of the killers early on and my personal favourite - the voices that come over the walkie talkies.
The main reason that this film works is not because of the violence, however, it's the way that Aja almost makes the audience a part of the central family. The characters are all well defined and realistically done; and this means that once we get to the horror of the piece, it really is horrific. Aja does go over the top with this towards the end, but in general the characters are very well defined, and I certainly cared a lot more about the family in this remake than I did in Wes Craven's original. It seems obvious that Alexandre Aja approached this film with care, and he definitely did have a lot to live up to after the surprise hit 'High Tension' the year before. The director certainly has talent, maybe even the potential to become one of the modern masters of horror; but I'm disappointed that this was his second film, as I really think that if he'd created something original, it could have been something really special. The fact that this film feels like an attempt for him to break into the American market is too obvious also. I do have faith that some day he'll top his debut film - but he hasn't done it with this. On its own merits, however, The Hills Have Eyes 2006 is a good film, and Aja can certainly be proud of himself for doing Craven's original justice.
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