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"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 Levine.
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, 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 "Office Space"). 

"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, 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 half stars." 

"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 Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09