The Hills Have Eyes 1977


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(39) IMDb 6.4/10

Horror auteur Wes Craven followed his threadbare but horrifically compelling cult classic Last House on the Left with this wonderfully demented morality fable about a bloody war of attrition between two extremely different families. The story opens on the journey of the Carters, a mildly dysfunctional extended family led by patriarch Big Bob Carter (Russ Grieve), as they travel across the California desert in search of an inherited silver mine. When a broken axle leaves them stranded in the middle of a former nuclear testing site, their attempts to find help lead them unwittingly into the territory of a savage family of cave-dwelling cannibals, the apparent progeny of the bearlike Jupiter (James Whitworth) and an abducted prostitute. Jupiter's eldest son Pluto (professional movie weirdo Michael Berryman) leads the first brutal attack on the defenseless Carters who, through necessity, are driven to equally extreme measures in order to survive. Though the film is not overtly bloody, the scenes depicting this confrontation are rendered with an unflinching directness, and the violations visited on the Carters are so brutal as to make the survivors' regression into savagery all the more convincing. No one is spared from the nightmare: Jupiter's boys have even kidnapped the youngest member of the Carter family -- a mere infant -- to serve as fodder for their next barbecue, and the baby becomes the main point of contention between the rival clans. Craven nevertheless refuses to take the easy way out by depicting his monsters as soullessly evil; parallels between either family's values are clearly drawn as the differences between the two clans begin to blur.~ Cavett Binion, All Movie Guide

Michael Berryman, Susan Lanier
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Product Details

  • Feature ages_18_and_over
Runtime 1 hour 29 minutes
Starring Michael Berryman, Susan Lanier, James Whitworth, Virginia Vincent, Robert Houston
Director Wes Craven
Genres Horror
Rental release 29 September 2003
Main languages English

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L.J.F.64 on 10 May 2015
Format: DVD
Whilst on a road trip a large family's car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, suddenly they are attacked by the rural savages and must fight for there survival.

Wes Craven's tension filled survival horror is one of his best. Unlike a lot of similarly themed movies (& frankly the remake) this really does maintain a suspenseful feeling throughout, with many jump scares maintaining a high fear factor. Craven keeps up pace expertly from the opening through to the slightly sudden end, the action really doesn't let up and the writing is very tightly done with the emphasis on story never really wavering off track, all this clearly showing that big things were obviously destined for Craven. There are many strong sequences in the film including, the trailer attack, very well done and scary to boot. Performance wise this doesn't disappoint, soon to be big 80's star Dee Wallace and the striking Michael Berryman are arguably the 2 biggest standouts but the entire cast do a good job, as is the make-up effects which do a convincing job of adding to the overall horrific feel of the picture. The only (very small) negative is the silly dog sequence, pushing someone to their death & helpfully carrying a radio back the trailer, it's a little far fetched but doesn't detract from a hugely enjoyable film.

Definitely one of the most enjoyable and easy to watch of the Section 3 nasty titles. Along with Nightmare On Elm Street & Scream, The Hills Have Eyes is most certainly one of Wes' top 3 pictures, intense and scary that puts many bigger budgeted films o shame.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Puzzle box on 9 Feb. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Wes Craven began his film career in 1971 co-directing Together, a soft core documentary with Sean S. Cunningham. Cunningham would later go on to produce and direct the original Friday The 13th in 1980. Craven made his feature film debut with the gruesome Last House On The Left, beginning a lasting affair with the horror genre. Craven then gained some morbid inspiration for his next film, The Hills Have Eyes. Made in 1977 on a budget of around $250,000, this is one of the most influential horror films made. The story is about a family the Carters, that decides to celebrate Mom and Dad's Silver Anniversary by driving cross country and camping in a trailer along the way. Well, actually it's the father that decides that this a good idea and everyone else must go along with it.

As they trek along a "shortcut" through New Mexico they have serious car trouble, and are stranded in the middle of nowhere. This situation is made much worse by the fact that there are people living in the isolated desert hills... A deranged family of cannibals that terrorize the typical American family for different reasons: surviving, and the pleasure of torturing. The family, now, must try to survive in their tiny little dot of civilization stuck right in the middle of an unforgiving, big and bad primitive world. This is no contest Cravens best in my mind, he delivers a real, gritty, intense horror movie that in my mind is one of the best of the 70's.

The themes in The Hills Have Eyes can be interpreted as very deep, or merely as a scenario that leaves a family vulnerable to attack and terror. It's brutal and makes you wonder if it could happen to you and your family. Craven improved a lot and created a suspenseful, violent, raw movie.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Budge Burgess on 25 July 2005
Format: DVD
A derelict dump in a dismal, dusty desert. An old timer is planning to leave, hurriedly harbouring a feral girl who also seeks escape. A family of tourists - big car, bigger caravan - arrive in search of fuel and directions to a old silver mine. Despite the old timer's protestations that they go back to civilisation and stick to the main road, you know there's something out there and it might be crazed and demonic, but it's got more sense than they have. They're doomed, all doomed. This is a nuclear testing site and Air Force bombing range, and nobody is going to come looking for them. Did I say nobody?
What follows is a siege of the broken down car and caravan, the tourists slowly being picked off by a family of feral cannibals who watch from the hills then come looking for excitement and food.
Although marred by the cliché of the women doing a lot of emotional screaming while the men try to remain taciturn and phlegmatic, this is a superior horror movie. It's reminiscent of the Sawney Bean tradition famous in my part of Scotland. The horror gets a touch sentimental in places, and the bad guys are really just ugly nasties - there's little attempt to explain or elaborate their characters. The good guys, meanwhile, are probably just a touch too clean cut and stereotypical - and, I repeat, the women scream a lot.
"The Hills Have Eyes" builds on the tensions created by isolation and environment. This is civilised man confronted with the gradual stripping away of the trappings of civilisation - loss of wheels and mobility, loss of contact with the outside world, loss of food, loss of firepower, loss of life, loss of innocence. Surely anyone in this environment would return to the wild, become red in tooth and claw.
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