THE HILLS HAVE EYES. 1977. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY WES CRAVEN. PRODUCED BY PETER LOCKE. STARRING SUSAN LANIER, ROBERT HOUSTON, MARTIN SPEER, DEE WALLACE, RUSS GRIEVE, JOHN STEADMAN, JAMES WHITWORTH, VIRGINIA VINCENT, LANCE GORDON, MICHAEL BERRYMAN, JANUS BLYTHE, CORDY CLARKE, BRENDA MARINOFF AND ARTHER KING. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
Legendary US film director and screenwriter Wes Craven died of brain cancer this week. His most well-known successes include THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS, SCREAM and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. This last features Freddy Krueger, as recognisable a horror icon as impassive killer Michael Myers from the HALLOWEEN franchise and Jason Voorhees, the hockey mask-wearing villain-slash-Mummy’s Boy from the FRIDAY THE 13TH films.
THE HILLS HAVE EYES was the maestro’s second horror film. (THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT came first.) If you’re anything like me, that is to say, not yet jaded by or hardened to horror movie violence, it’s the kind of film you watch with your eyes bugging out of your head and your mouth hanging open with shock. Man, it’s hardcore, haha. Yes, of course there have been a plethora of more violent films in the years since but this film surely paved the way for at least a few of those.
It’s the story of the Carter family, a really nice all-American family taking the world’s most unsuccessful road trip across the Nevada desert sometime in the ‘Seventies. Daddy Carter is a lovely cuddly ex-cop, Mammy Carter a lovely dithery homemaker-type, and then there are their grown-up kids, their son-in-law and baby grand-daughter and their lethal canines, Beauty and The Beast. Bobby and Brenda are good-looking blonde twins. Their older sister Lynne is married to Doug, who reminded me an awful lot of Ringo Starr. Their adorable Baby Katie is their first rugrat.
The plot is uncomplicated enough. When the Carters have an accident en route to California and their car becomes unable to pull their Recreational Vehicle any further, they are attacked by the ugliest group of mutant cannibalistic savages/hillbillies/mountainy folk I’ve personally ever come across. ‘Ugly’ is probably too kind an epithet. ‘Fugly’ might be nearer to the mark.
The badly-scarred Papa Jupiter (they’re all named after planets, apparently) is the patriarch of this repulsive clan. His ‘marriage’ to a hideous fat crone has produced a passel of severely pulchritudinously-challenged offspring, a bunch of plug-ugly sons and a daughter who miraculously manages to retain a shred of normality. They live in the mountains and eat what they can kill, as far as I could make out. When the Carter family have the eternal misfortune to find themselves stranded on the cannibals’ turf, the Uglies naturally think that all their birthdays and Christmases have come together.
They have a little ‘fun’ with the terrified city folk, needless to say. I don’t want to spoil the film for anyone who hasn’t seen it but it’s presumably safe to say that utter mayhem ensues when the two families collide. There’s killing, rape, disembowelling and baby-napping going on to beat the band, but I’m not saying to whom or by whom. Well, you can probably work out who gets baby-napped, but my lips are sealed as regards the rest of it. The lucky ones do die first, though…
The pace never flags and the horror intensifies with each passing scene, some of which are accompanied by jaw-droppingly gorgeous sunsets or night skies.
I doubt if I’m the only person who plans to indulge in a Wes Craven-fest at the first possible opportunity. I intend to includes remakes and sequels too, because even though the horror maestro wasn’t hands-on involved with all of them, his name has become synonymous with the different franchises and horror icons he created.
In any case, he painstakingly oversaw remakes of some of his films and apparently went to endless trouble searching for the right directors and writers to breathe new life into THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and THE HILLS HAVE EYES. These remakes appeared in 2009 and 2006 respectively.
Goodbye, Wes Craven, and God bless. The horror genre won’t be the same without you. I hope your well-earned sleep is sweet and your dreams forever Freddy-free…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY