Hills Have Eyes, The (1977)

Hills Have Eyes, The (1977)

“I’m going to get those bastards.”

A retired police officer (Russ Grieve) travelling across the Arizona desert with his wife (Virginia Vincent), kids (Dee Wallace, Susan Lanier, and Robert Houston), son-in-law (Martin Speer), granddaughter (Brenda Marinoff), and two German shepherds suddenly finds his family’s life in danger when they wander off the beaten path and encounter a family of backwoods “atomic-test mutant” cannibals (James Whitworth, Cordy Clark, Lance Gordon, Michael Berryman, Arthur King, and Janus Blythe).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Cannibalism
  • Deserts
  • Horror Films
  • Mutant Monsters
  • Survival
  • Wes Craven Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this picture about a “middle-class family from Cleveland” who “must give up civilized notions if they are to live” — has “extreme violence” but “differs from director Wes Craven’s previous film, The Last House on the Left, because this time you never forget that it’s ‘only a movie’.” As he points out this is “a relief, considering what we must watch” — and he adds that while the “film is as vicious as its reputation”, it’s unfortunately “neither well-made nor scary”. It’s notable for featuring “bald Michael Berryman (whose frightening face was used on the film’s posters)”:

… and Dee Wallace in one of her first feature-length film roles.

Other noteworthy performances include Houston as a back-flipping teenager who suddenly finds himself at the head of a posse for survival:

… and Blythe as the only sympathetic cannibal.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Some effectively terrifying moments

  • Must See?
    No; you can skip this one unless you’re a Wes Craven fan.

    (Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)


    2 thoughts on “Hills Have Eyes, The (1977)

    1. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

      Nightmarish, effective horror set in a western desert setting. A solid, scary film but not must see for FFs.

    2. Not must-see – but, ‘naturally’, it’s thought highly of among horror fans.

      Craven made this film as an homage to ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ but it’s likely that the real reason the film got made was due to the latter film’s phenomenal financial success.

      It could be ‘TTCSM’ that served as the mainstream pic which ultimately led to the genre known as ‘torture porn’. ‘Hills…’ follows down that road (though that road becomes progressively worse).

      Some think of this as a horror masterpiece (and feel Craven lost his ‘flair’ after his early films!); others think of it as a comedy (!). (Yeah, whatever.) The film has little to offer but its bizarreness – so, really, what’s the point?

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