Tomorrow Wes Craven’s depraved The Hills Have Eyes turns 40 and what better way to celebrate its birthday than by spending your Friday night with the lights out, revisiting the film the cemented Wes as a true horror master. Better yet, turn it into a double feature and segue into Alexandre Aja’s surprisingly fresh remake from 2006. But if you can only watch one, which do you choose?There was a lot of expectation on Craven, with his debut film The Last House On The Left being very memorable and not for all the right reasons. Explicit and heavily censored, this new struggling director had stumbled into notoriety, which would only grow exponentially into cult icon status. Initially Craven wanted to branch out and not be pigeonholed into the one genre, but agreed to do another tight budgeted horror outing and put the cast and crew under massive duress in the process. What came out of the experience though, was something macabre and at the time extremely original.
Based on a ”true” story, The Hills Have Eyes is a film about a family on vacation who cross paths with a violent inbred family that have been living on a nuclear testing ground (and the effects of that are disturbing to say the least). Look, if a gas station attendant advises you to stick to the path, stick to the path! The stand out is Michael Berryman’s Pluto, not only the dedication of continuously suffering from heatstroke due to his condition and the temperatures during filming, but his character’s durability in spite of this.Alexandre Aja made a slow but good start to his horror credentials with Furia (1999) and then High Tension (2003). His 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes sums up the next decade of horror movies in general; hit and miss. Good horror movie remakes are few and far between; there are some really good examples and there are some really good examples of some truly awful ones. Aja’s remake is neither, on the one hand, it is true to the original, and as a stand alone movie pretty solid. On the other hand, it’s let down by its slow pacing and not very convincing acting, with the exception of Ted Levine as Big Bob, and even Aussie actress Emilie De Raven from Lost. However, it’s the nuclear-affected family that seem more like super mutants from Fallout 4 and feels a little too much.The remake lacks a certain atmosphere that Craven’s original possesses in spades, but that’s saying more about his raw talent as a director. The remake is a good movie, but the original is fantastic and was just the start of Craven’s mesmerizing cinematic resume, which would seep into influence countless horror films after it.
Which version of The Hills Have Eyes do you prefer? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook!