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Mike's Strange Cinema Cavalcade - THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART II

the hills have eyes part 2 review
Craven's cannibal clan returns.


Review by Mike Vaughn

Directed by: Wes Craven

Starring: Robert Houston, Janus Blyth, Lance Gordon, Michael Berryman, John Bloom

the hills have eyes part 2 bluray

The original The Hills Have Eyes is a film that seems to divide fans of the horror genre. Some enjoy it for its raw late '70s nihilism while others see it as a lesser work in Wes Craven's filmography. As for the sequel, well everyone seems to hate it. In fact, when I posted on Twitter that I would be reviewing this movie, I got a lot of "Good luck" and "Oh brother is that bad" responses.

Even though I’ve seen the original film and remake numerous films, this is my first time viewing this one. The film opens with Bobby (Robert Houston), a survivor of the last film, who recounts the events of the first film to a therapist. It seems not only has Bobby invented a super-fuel but also owns a biker team, as one does. To test the fuel and also get some racing done, the biker group decide to dirt bike in the desert. But of course, those hills still have eyes and one by one the unlucky racers get picked off.


the hills have eyes part 2 review

The Hills Have Eyes Part II ditches the creepy, bleak and oppressive tone of the first film for generic slasher fare in a post Friday the 13th (1980) landscape. In fact, Craven has a direct connection with Jason Vorhees, as Wes was good friends with Sean S. Cunningham (the original Friday the 13th director), who served as producer on Craven’s breakout The Last House on the Left (1972).

In interviews, Craven has not been shy about the fact that this movie was simply a paycheque, and it really shows. The plot is slow, characters are hollow and plot holes are massive in size. Are we really to believe the wild girl Ruby (Janus Blyth) (now going by Rachel) has completely adapted to normal society in record time?

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The movie also pads its runtime with many flashbacks. Even the dog gets a flashback, which may be the one and only time this happens in a movie. All the actors seem to be simply going through the motions, doing an alright job given the laughable dialogue they are gifted.


the hills have eyes part 2 review

It’s a real shame because Craven is one of my favourite directors, and he always had an exciting and provocative take on the human condition. Here he had a chance to really expand on the interesting mythology he set up in the first film. Instead he opted to make just another run-of-the-mill and forgettable slasher. I really wish I could, at the very least, say this was enjoyable in a cheesy over the top kind of way, however it was just kinda meh. Even Craven’s lesser loved works like 1981’s Deadly Blessing (of which I am a big fan) seem to have some fire behind it. This does not.

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Arrow Video previously released the original The Hills Have Eyes in a Deluxe Limited Edition (along with The Last House on the Left) and they've rolled out the red carpet for this release as well. The picture is great, sporting a brand new 2k restoration scanned from original film elements - it looks fantastic, especially when compared to the previous release.


the hills have eyes part 2 review

The highlight of this release is a brand-new documentary called Blood, Sand and Fire: The Making of The Hills Have Eyes II, which features entertaining new interviews. A feature length commentary with the gang from The Hysteria Continues is also a joy to listen to. Rounding out the features are original trailers and a still gallery. And being a Limited Edition, Arrow decks this release out with a fold-out poster featuring new artwork by Paul Shipper, six postcards and a 40 page booklet.

It's awesome that even a movie like The Hill Have Eyes Part II can get the deluxe edition, and this release is a must for Craven completists. Seeing how Arrow have released at least three Craven films that I’m aware of, I'm excited to see what else they have in store. A director's cut of Deadly Friend would be nice.

The Hills Have Eyes Part II is on blu-ray now from Arrow Video.



Michael Vaughn is a rabid horror and cult fan who turned that love into a career. He is a writer, blogger and film historian and now author of 'The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema' which Shock Wave Podcast named their pick of the month, and Chris Alexander of Fangoria called “recommended reading.”


His other credits include Scream Magazine, Fangoria and websites like Films in Review and Bloody Flicks(UK). Please follow his Twitter @StrangeCinema65 and Instagram @gorehound_mike.




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