Reviews & Counting
# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
The Hills Have Eyes(2006)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Alexandre Aja

Aaron Stanford/Doug Bukowski
Dan Byrd/Bobby
Kathleen Quinlan/Ethel
Ted Levine/Bob
8 10
An all American family on a road trip to San Diego get stranded in the New Mexico desert via “mysterious” circumstances. They then wind up fighting for their lives against a clan of loony, murderous and mutated cannibals who want their buttocks for dinner. DING DING! Let the battle begin!

The lucky ones die first

Two powerful jabs got me in a tizzy about kicking it with THE HILLS HAVE EYES remake. 1- I never cared much for Wes Craven’s original. I found it dated, annoying and “trailer attack bit” aside, fairly un-scary. So, personally, I welcomed a remake of it with zipped down zipper. 2- French Director Alexandre Aja’s debut Haute Tension severely kicked my ass to genre heaven and was my fav fear flick of 2004. I couldn’t wait to see his follow-up! So did my trek through these Hills live up to my hopes, desires and gore drench wet dreams? Mostly yes and a pinch of no. Lets dissect.

How refreshing was it to see a remake that actually improved on its forefather (for me anyways, I can’t speak for you guys) starting with the background story that was given to the baddies. As opposed to the original, the Hills clan here was tagged with a reason/motivation as to why they were the way they were and did the things they did. I so grooved to the opening credits reel that explained their back-story by using real life stills of mutated folks (from the Chernobyl incident) hence lending credibility to what was to follow. All was golden with the "good guys" too with better characterization and acting than in the original. In consequence the stakes of the action was jacked up since I felt like I was dealing with real people. Furthermore, the new locations at play so rocked my palace! That “nuclear testing” village with its creepy mannequins looming about added to the chill factor of the proceedings and gave me a welcome break from seeing sand and an RV trailer. I dug it the most! The sugar on top was Aja's steadfast directing style which served up gritty yet polished visuals that communicated the action with maximum impact.

With that axed out of the way the major improvements over the original for my sorry ass were definitely the scares and the gory goods. As per Aja’s last plasma-drenched opus Haute Tension, this evil puppy was suspense filled, to the point of chewing one’s ear in anticipation as to what will happen next. The "trailer attack bit" in this version was a visceral tour de force of strain, mayhem, uncomfortable moments and cruelty. Good news was; the flick was filled with those type of nail biting scenes right down to the end. Talk about getting a vicious cinematic beating and loving every damn second of it! The graphic and abundant gore in this R-Rated house ruined me as well. The opening, “pickaxe fun kills” alone should’ve gotten this film an N-17 and the rest of the film’s nasty candy brought it all to the next level. Hey, I’m not complaining! Keep em coming as grisly as this one…PLEASE! The final potent fear injection out of this genre syringe was the “happy go kill” mutants themselves. To me, the great Michael Berryman aside, the villains in the original looked and acted like like a bunch of bums wearing Mommy’s stuff. The clan here were imposing, utterly psychotic and deformed monsters. I loved the realistic makeup jobs (courtesy of the fine folks at KNB), where tagged with the fine performances, they created evil mofos that frightened me more than any creditor I’ve ever encountered.

On the stale side of the pickaxe, the movie’s pacing was its worst flaw. The opening and the last block could’ve been tightened up as they lost some of their oomph due to their lagging pace. The characters also annoyed me a tad. Real people or not, the good guys constantly bickered and whined like bitches, making it hard for me to FULLY care about them, specially early on. It didn’t help matters either, that most of my fav characters died first; leaving me with the ones that was so-so on. And why the hell couldn’t anybody shoot a gun properly? I saw lots of bad aiming to serve the plot here and that kinda pissed me off. The same could be said about some of the heroes' reactions to what was going down. At times, they weren't on the ball from my standpoint as some didn’t “lose it” enough when their loved ones died while at other times they processed the happenings in trivial ways (All about the car graveyard scene and how "he" perceived it...come on dude, work with me man!)

But for all of its flaws, THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2006 made up for them through its big bulldog balls. This was the real deal, a horror film that rarely held back and that aimed to crush our larynx with its overt violence and thick suspense. I don’t know about you psychos-a-go-go, but a film of this ilk should be celebrated hardcore! So whip out the Champaign and the hookers…and lets party till the Hills burn up! KILLLLLL!

Was this an R rated film? Sure felt like an NC 17 to me! YIPPEE-F*CKING-A! Listing all of the goodies would take eons and might ruin some gags for ya so all I’ll say is that pickaxes and shotguns were put to good use while grisly injuries & human remains/body parts were red wet plenty. Moreover, the freaks were a sight to behold makeup wise. Grade G — for GREAT SHITE! KNB does it again!
The acting at hand easily eclipsed the original’s cast (Dee Wallace Stone aside of course) in terms of credibility. Aaron Standford’s (Doug) role was far from sympathetic for me, but it was interpreted in a plausible fashion. Good job! Kathleen Quinlan (Ethel) has always been a talented and classy thespian (always wanted to use that word) and here was no exception. Sexy Emilie de Ravin (Brenda) did okay, I kept hoping that she’d get more hysterical, taking into account the events she was going through.

Dan Byrd (Bobby) was a revelation here. I hated his performance in Mortuary but here he showcased some true chops. Ted Levine (Bob) FINALLY went against his usual “scumbag” typecasting and tackled a down home Yankee badass. I bought it and loved him in this type of role. Do more of them bro! Vinessa Shaw (Lynn) was solid all around and a hottie to boot! I want to see more of her in every way shape or form.
T & A
Nothing to write home to perv Pops about but I sure wanted to live in Emilie de Ravin’s bikini…yum, yum!
Thank Zeus that Aja didn’t sell out with his first US studio picture. Au contraire, he applied the same gut wrenching, balls to the walls, stylish yet grounded vibe that he had so proudly showed off in Haute Tension. Another thing is for sure, the man knows how to generate and sustain incredible levels of high tension…get it…high-tension…”high”, “tension”…LOL! LOL! LOL! LOL! I suck…
For the most part the intoxicating score by Tomandandy was on the ball in terms of backing up the harsh images on display. Unfortunately it missed the mark during a few key moments hence lessening some powerful bit sin the process.
I think this remake will divide many horror fans. Either you love the original and will feel so-so about this one, or you'll love this one cause you don’t care for the original. Then again what the f*ck do I know! THE HILLS HAVE EYES remake was for me quite the improvement on its stepfather. It was bigger, badder and better when it came to acting, plot, visual style and straight for the jugular thrills/chills/kills. Granted, the pace could’ve been tightened and the characters made to be more likeable but all in all this superior bitter pill took me on a trip of chaos, monsters, gore, brutality and tension. And for that I say: muchos gracias for the fix amigos! Can't wait for the DVD!
Alexandre Aja was hand picked by Wes Craven to direct this remake.

Funny how FOX dumped the similarly themed WRONG TURN (2003) cause they were ashamed of it (violence wise) but embraced this one. How times have changed...