Combustible Celluloid
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With: John Steadman, Janus Blythe, Peter Locke, Russ Grieve, Virginia Vincent, Suze Lanier-Bramlett, Dee Wallace, Brenda Marinoff, Robert Houston, Martin Speer, James Whitworth, Michael Berryman, Lance Gordon, Cordy Clark, Flora, Striker
Written by: Wes Craven
Directed by: Wes Craven
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 89
Date: 07/27/1977

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Family Sty

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Wes Craven's second major movie after his senses-shattering debut The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes was very definitely inspired by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but has its own distinctive feel. It's creepier... and squirmier, helped a great deal by the iconic image of Michael Berryman as one of a family of cannibal mutants. When family in a station wagon and an RV takes an unwise shortcut, they break down in the desert, near where the creeps live. They attack, steal food and ammo, and kidnap a baby, which they intend to have as a snack. The movie has an intense visceral impact, with Craven using the dark and the craggy natural landscape as elements of the unknown; anything could be anywhere at any time. It might be easy to assume that the "normal" people are the heroes, but actually the only hero here is a four-legged one. Craven directed an astoundingly bad sequel, The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1984) and produced a remake, The Hills Have Eyes (2006). Then, a remake of the sequel -- or a sequel to the remake -- followed in 2007. (I haven't seen it.) Best to avoid all those and stick with this one.

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