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The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 (1984)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/24/2019
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/23/2019
When we look back on the career of the late Wes Craven, we often think of a horror icon who burst onto the scene in the 1970s with The Last House on the Left, solidified himself as a master of horror in the 1980s with A Nightmare on Elm Street and reinvented himself and re-energized the genre in the 1990s with Scream. But, like so many others, Craven often fell on hard times during the early part of his career, and while 1984 would see him forever change the horror landscape with Elm Street, it was also a time of desperation for the filmmaker. Thus, we get the bizarre, uneven sequel The Hill Have Eyes Part 2.
Itís been seven years since the Carter family made their ill-advised detour through the desert where they encountered a group of savage cannibals. Bobby (Robert Houston) is still traumatized by those horrific events and thus, canít join his new friends on their journey to a motocross bike race. Therefore, Cass (Tamara Stafford), Roy (Kevin Blair), Hulk (John Laughlin), Foster (Willard Pugh), Harry (Peter Frechette), Jane (Colleen Riley), Sue (Penny Johnson), and Rachel (Janus Blythe), board a repurposed school bus for their trip. Also along for the ride is Beast, Bobbyís dog, and one of the few survivors of the encounter with the desert crazies. As the trip progresses, the group finds themselves running behind. Fearing that they might miss the race, they take a shortcut through uncharted territory and the bus soon stalls. Seeking shelter, they soon realize that they arenít alone and it appears that the deadly cannibals are back.
Given that A) 1977ís The Hills Have Eyes had become somewhat of a cult classic and B) nearly every horror movie made during that era had a sequel, itís not necessarily surprising that The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 exists. However, the story behind the film is a bit more surprising. Basically, following a string of poorly received films, Wes Craven needed work, so he agreed to make this movie on a shoe-string budget. But, when the money ran out, Craven was forced to utilize scenes from the original film in order to pad the running time. Therefore, we get the most flashback-laden film this side of Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2.
The result of this approach is a film that is not very good. With A Nightmare on Elm Street and A New Nightmare, Craven proved that he had a very vivid imagination. However, the lack of any sort of creativity to the story here bemoans the lack of any real dedication to the movie. The motocross angle is somewhat of a unique idea (for the time), but the notion that another group would take a shortcut and end up in the same desert is simply lazy writing. While the motorbike crew has too many characters, the lack of any money rears its ugly head with the fact that there are only two cannibals here, Pluto (Michael Berryman) and The Reaper (John Bloom). (And Pluto supposedly died in the first film.) Once the group gets stranded, the movie turns into a fairly standard slasher film, as they are stalked around an abandoned building, where they are killed off one-by-one.
But, while all of those things are bad, itís the footage from The Hills Have Eyes which really derail this film. That is a pretty good film, and some flashbacks wouldnít be unusual, but the frequency and length of the flashbacks here is simply ludicrous. Entire scenes from the original movie are shown, ostensibly to update the viewer on the story, but they run on for far too long, immediately signaling to us that something is not right. But, the ultimate insult comes when Beast has a flashback. Yes, you read that right Ė the dog has a flashback. Iím not trying to imply that dogís donít remember things, but itís simply ridiculous. Movies like this can sometimes fall into the ďSo Bad, Itís GoodĒ category, but even that is a stretch for The Hills Have Eyes Part 2. The movieís reputation precedes it and itís only worth watching for the dog flashback and to remind us of just how good Cravenís good movies were.
The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 also expects us to believe that one of these guys has invented a new kind of gasoline on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Arrow Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 36 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a mild amount of grain and a few scant defects from the source materials. The colors look good and unlike the original film, the nighttime scenes donít get too dark. The depth works surprisingly well (movies like this can look flat), but the picture is notably soft in spots. The Disc carries a Linea PCM Mono audio track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant 2.3 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Being a mono track, we donít get any dynamic audio effects, but the actors are always audible and the music never drowns out the other audio.
The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 Blu-ray Disc contains a few extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from The Hysteria Continues. ďBlood, Sand, and Fire: The Making of The Hills Have Eyes Part II (sic)Ē (31 minutes) is a fairly detailed featurette which offers interviews with Producer Peter Locke, actors Michael Berryman and Janus Blythe, Production Designer Dominick Bruno, Composer Harry Manfredini, and Production Manager/ First Assistant Director John Callas. The speakers provide frank and honest anecdotes about the film, sharing their memories of Craven and the short-comings of this low-budget movie. The extras are rounded out by a ďStill GalleryĒ and a TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2019 by Mike Long