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Original Vs. Remake: The Hills Have Eyes

Feb. 26, 2014by: Mike Catalano
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Hello, my fiendish friends! And welcome to a brand new column we are trying out here at AITH! It's Horror Originals Vs. the Remakes and it's very similar to the Face-Off column we already run. Now, it is true that many horror remakes really piss us off by basically pissing all over the original. However, sometimes, a remake comes along that gets it right in the updating department. This is the column that will break it all down! I think the rest will be pretty self-explanatory. So, here we go!

Our very first Original Vs. Remake will concern those lovely mutant, inbred cannibals in the desert! Time to break down both versions of The Hills Have Eyes!

Story
A very ideal set up for a survival horror movie. A family heading out west ends up having major car trouble in the middle of the desolate desert and soon become the prey of a cannibalistic clan of inbreds. When the shit hits the fan and the family's young baby is taken, the civilized humans must tap into their primal sides in order to survive.
The basic structure of the original is completely lifted here in the remake. However, a major upgrade is made in having the evil antagonists mutated refugees from nuclear testing out in the desert. This adds a much more compelling, intense, and sickeningly believable element to the story.
Special Effects
This was low budget 1977 horror here. So, all the special effects are completely practical. There isn't even a whole lot of blood. I will say that when one of the cannibals kills the family's parakeet, it looks pretty believable. Aside from a nicely rigged explosion, that's all we get.
Now here with the remake, the make-up and gore effects were amped up ridiculously. The look of the mutants is nothing short of gnarly (in the best possible way). These freaks are absolutely hideous and terrifying. And in terms of the red stuff, we are given an all-out feast. The gore flies all over the place! And it only enhances the experience!
Acting
Again, taking into consideration the era, the players in this film, although just a tad corny at times, do a fine job of conveying both fear and intensity. A prime example would be when Brenda is being savaged in her bed by the inbreds. This scene is so harsh and uncomfortable, it feels real.
Much like the original, everyone involved does an excellent job of displaying fright and authority. The proceedings may not have worked if the cast wasn't so proficient at expressing the true desperation of their predicament. A great example is Doug's transformation from nerd to savage hero.
Intensity
Although there is plenty of intense situations in the original, it is surprisingly pretty short of scares for a horror movie. The aforementioned attack on Brenda definitely brings some hardcore intensity as well as the kidnapping of baby Katie. Maybe if the cannibals didn't wear those kooky, fury outfits, the actions onscreen would seem more foreboding.
I still remember my heart beating like a jackrabbit upon watching this remake in the theater. From the opening scene, to the stand off at the gas station, to Big Bob being burned alive, to Doug's rampage to get back his baby, the tension was non-stop. The remake's intensity puts the original's to shame.
Hot Chicks
A young Dee Wallace as older sister "Lynne" definitely turns some late 70's heads. And, of course, a young, nubile Suze Lanier-Bramlett as "Brenda" is the chick that really anchors the hotness factor for the original. She'd be totally easy on the eyes in any era.
Vinessa Shaw's "Lynne" is an incredibly sultry choice to play the big sis. Her eyes and mouth are works of art and my heart breaks when she is killed. And feisty Aussie, Emilie de Ravin, as "Brenda" represents the epitome of horror movie hotness when she's sunning herself with her bra on.
Directing
There's no denying that Wes Craven was a pioneer for the low budget horror film. And to take into consideration what he pulled off with The Hills Have Eyes is definitely a monumental achievement. He got the setting, the performances, and the sense of dread down to a tee. The brilliant ideas that went into this horror survival film all stemmed from his sick, genius mind.
It completely makes sense that Alexandre Aja would be the one to direct this remake. This man has an eye for horror imagery! And if someone is going to redo a cult classic, you're gonna want someone smart and respectful. That's Aja. The sights are so stylishly sadistic. The tension is very high (pun intended). And the emotions feel real. It all makes for one hell of an experience.
The Hills Have Eyes '06
So, who says that most horror remakes suck? Here we are, right off that bat with a pretty clear cut victory for The Hills Have Eyes remake. This definitely goes to show that if done properly, a remake can easily match and surpass its predecessor. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Was the result of this comparison obvious? Does Craven's original deserve to be king? That's the whole point of this column! Let us know! Please spit your opinion bullets down below! And if you have any flicks you'd like to see in this column, give me a shout at mikecatalano@joblo.com.

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5:25PM on 02/26/2014
While I like the original, I agree the remake is better! In fact the remake of The Hills Have Eyes is probably my favourite horror remake out there :) It's a near masterpiece to me.
While I like the original, I agree the remake is better! In fact the remake of The Hills Have Eyes is probably my favourite horror remake out there :) It's a near masterpiece to me.
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4:23PM on 02/26/2014

Great Column

although i'm thinking you shoud've waited to play this card b/c from here on out it's going to get crazy lopsided in favor of originals...
although i'm thinking you shoud've waited to play this card b/c from here on out it's going to get crazy lopsided in favor of originals...
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6:30PM on 02/26/2014
You'd be surprised man, this is the horror genre, way more good remakes than you'd think!
You'd be surprised man, this is the horror genre, way more good remakes than you'd think!
12:54PM on 02/26/2014
I totally agree with the outcome. I hated the original when I saw it as a teen and I still hate it now. Too goofy to be scary. The remake bettered it and then some!
I totally agree with the outcome. I hated the original when I saw it as a teen and I still hate it now. Too goofy to be scary. The remake bettered it and then some!
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