Monday, October 29, 2012

629. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Running Time: 88 minutes
Directed By: Wes Craven
Written By: Wes Craven
Main Cast: James Whitworth, Dee Wallace, Robert Houston, Russ Grieve, Michael Berryman
Click here to view the trailer


The original plan was to save at least one horror film until Halloween night (or the night before Halloween, at least), but I go back to work tomorrow, from vacation, and I figured I'd better finish off "Frightfest" while I still had the energy.

The Carter family is traveling on vacation, to Los Angeles, in their station wagon (with a trailer hooked on back), when they take a detour through a deserted area. When they stop for gas, the elderly gas station attendant warns them to stay off the back roads, as it's dangerous. They ignore their advice and the family - consisting of a father, "Big Bob" (Grieve), his wife Ethel, their two daughters, Brenda (Wallace) and Lynn, their son Bobby (Houston), their son-in-law Doug and their granddaughter - continue down the back road, relying on a map to get them to California. When certain members of the family believe that they're lost, bickering leads to Bob driving off the road and breaking an axle on the car. With nothing in sight for miles, Bob decides to head back to the gas station to call for help and Doug takes off in the other direction to see if he can find anything or anyone. This leaves behind Bobby, Ethel, Brenda, Lynn and their two german shepherds. What the family doesn't know is that the old man at the gas station was speaking the truth, as the road is dangerous. It seems there is another family lurking in the hills, a much more demonic family. Headed up by Papa Jupiter (Whitworth), the evil doers converge on the Carter family with bloodshed on their minds.

This BOOK had really made me realize that I'm not a fan of Wes Craven. I used to think I liked him, but over the years and especially after watching his three "must see" movies, I realize that he is one of my least favorite directors. I thought "A Nightmare on Elm Street" was extremely overrated and only included in THE BOOK because of it's popular status in mainstream horror and because of it's big box office numbers. The same could be said about "Scream", a film that I used to love and one that did absolutely nothing for me when I reviewed it a few years back. When looking over the rest of his filmography, it seems to be filled with a lot of cheap horror films, of which I've only actually seen two: "The Last House on the Left" and "Vampire in Brooklyn" - both of which were, in a word, awful. Is it possible that when taking into account his popularity and status in the directing community and his actual ability to direct a quality film, that the difference equals one of the most overrated directors in film history? I think so.

It's not that "The Hills Have Eyes" is a terrible film or anything and actually, when watching it with someone else (like my wife and I did) it kind of works. It is my theory that horror movies should always be watched with a partner, because you need someone to make fun of the plot with and most horror films have plots that are easy to poke fun at. The plot is very basic, there's nothing particularly stand-out about it. The film relies on gore to get it's cheap thrills and when you compare the gore levels of 1977 to today's standards, gore was a lot more restrained back then. It worked for me as a Halloween time feature, but I wouldn't even entertain the notion of including it as one of 1001 movies that must be seen. It simply isn't that good. The truth is that most horror films aren't THAT good, but I realize that THE BOOK had to include some, so I can forgive the entry.

RATING: 5.5/10  Well that concludes "Frightfest 2012" and it might be the last Frightfest I do here on the blog, because I'm desperately running out of horror films. However, if there happen to be four or five left, I'll be sure and save them for next year. Happy Halloween!


October 29, 2012  12:17pm

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