Last House on the Left was legendary horror director Wes Craven’s first big film and the impact it had was huge, pushing boundaries and kicking ass. His second major feature to follow would only solidify his status as a renegade of horror.
The Hills Have Eyes, like Last House, is simple but full of layers. The Carter family is on vacation, driving through the desert after receiving the deed to a silver mine as a anniversary gift ( I know, WTF but let’s go with it.) They come by a grizzly old guy who runs a rundown gas station who gives them a short cut, a short cut that leads to disaster as they break down in the middle of the desert with there RV, miles from anywhere. The oldest men set out for help, leaving 2 women, 2 teenagers, and 2 dogs behind. They aren’t alone however. The hills are inhabited by a group of incestuous cannibals that are watching the Carters and when night falls, they strike on family. The father is burned alive, the mother and oldest daughter are killed and a baby stolen leaving the daughter’s husband alone with the teens and 1 dog left. the husband rushes into the desert to face the cannibals and get his daughter back while the kids are left to fend for themselves. Can they survive?
I have a massive amount for this movie and the influence it had and the boundaries it pushed but I cannot lie, it didn’t age great. Back then, Hills struggled not to have an X rating; in 2018 it could pass for PG-13 I’d d wager if reevaluated. There is almost no bad language, not much blood and no real nudity. I have a glaring issue with the narrative itself. I feel the beginning and end are too abrupt, especially the ending; I feel there should be more to the beginning to either give the characters more time to develop or develop the situation and the end feels like a car crash, you just slam into it. The cannibals mostly feel like the family from Texas Chainsaw Massacre only with a more deformed, Mad Max twist. Michael Berryman, the iconic face of the film, is great and is a genuinely eerie presence on screen. It’s filmed alright and the score is there but nothing memorable. In the end, by today’s standards the original Hills Have Eyes is an ok horror movie that had some groundbreaking ideas for it’s time but has softened with time but worth a watch. May the gaming gods bring you glory.