"The Hills Have Eyes"
Directed by Alexandre Aja.
Written by Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur. Based
on the 1977 original by Wes Craven.
Starring Aaron Stanford, Dan Byrd, Kathleen Quinlan and Ted
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 3/7/06
Derwin, Tena and I went to see a freebie
showing of "The Hills Have Eyes" tonight, and it should be made
clear upfront that this is not a great movie. No--it's a
thrill ride, best served with a large, fired-up audience. If
you are lucky, you will see it with a crowd that was having as much
fun as we were, because if you can get yourself an audience this
great, it changes the whole production.
Based on the Wes Craven film of the same
name from the late 70s, "The Hills Have Eyes" is about a family of
seven that is trying to make a family road trip back to southern
California, only to be derailed somewhere in fallout New Mexico by a
flat tire that sends their SUV/RV combo careening off of a deserted
dirt road...the same road where a large number of really
fucked-up-looking people also dwell. The family members have
to find a way back to civilization before these mutated New Mexico
radiation leftovers make them their next breakfast!
The film is an oppressively slow starter,
but thanks to good casting, the performances by the group of regular
humans (led by the dad, played by Ted Levine, and mom, played by
Kathleen Quinlan) keeps you off-balance until the family gets stuck
in their injured RV about midway through the action. Then,
"The Hills Have Eyes" just turns into this depraved, nasty, violent
roller coaster, complete with death, much dismemberment, and many
people that face death by way of pickax, which just made Derwin and
I howl all movie long. People just start getting served up in
the second half, which is what makes this movie such a blast!
Again, since our audience was so good, we had people applauding
after scares and death sequences, boos when heroes took the safer
path to breaking out of their awful situation and "WHOA!" moments
every time somebody took a gunshot blast to the chest.
The makeup effects of these nuked-out sickos
are also quite cool; radiation has not been kind to the baddies in
this movie, but that makes their close-ups even more disturbing.
Equally strong are the bloody devices used to make you feel like you
are right there, which many of the people in our audience (and Tena,
who whimpered throughout this movie) will cringe at as the movie
rolls along. Although it's not for the squeamish (or the kids,
but that didn't stop many parents in my theater), "The Hills Have
Eyes" still makes for a fun thriller since the body count is
moderate but not out of control.
Directed and written by the same team that
gave us the French thriller "High
Tension", "The Hills Have Eyes" is a quality remake and one that
will leave you with bad dreams. Very bad dreams. That's
why I'm still up right now writing this review...man, that use of
the American flag was just so wrong...
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard