Thursday, March 8, 2012

"The Hills Have Eyes" the grand-daddy of the genre

BASIC INFO:
TITLE: "The Hills Have Eyes"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1977
DIRECTOR: Wes Craven
STARS: Dee Wallace, Robert Houston, Michael Berryman
EDITOR: Wes Craven
AWARDS: N/A
BOX OFFICE: $25,000,000 (Worldwide, 1992)
RUN TIME: 89 min.
RATING: R
VIEWING FORMAT: DVD

SUMMARY:
The Carter family vacation goes terribly wrong when their RV gets stranded in the middle of the desert. The resourceful group works to get out of the situation, unknowingly being stalked by a clan of cannibals living nearby.

WHY THIS IS THE FILM OF THE WEEK:
Wes Craven is considered one of the great directors in the horror genre. His early films, and even later pieces, helped to define what horror and slasher films could be.

This movie, like many others of his, features incredibly strong family ties, and strong female characters. The impact of these ideas (especially when combined with Tobe Hooper's earlier "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974)) pushed the archetype of "the final girl" or the female character who eventually outwits the killer and survives (also see "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984), "Scream" (1996), and "Red Eye" (2005)).

One more stamp that this film helped cement was Craven's signature style of not simply incapacitating the killer. Craven's first film, "The Last House on the Left" (1972), along with this movie, created an idea where the protagonist gets a chance to gets vengeance against the killer, by the climax of the story. He continued this trend in the "Scream" series, and more.

CRITIQUE:
"The Hills Have Eyes" is far from perfect, but it's influence is felt. It spawned two sequels, and a remake series. All in all, five films were made in this franchise. That's incredible considering it was a no-budget piece made by then unknown talent.

The camera work can be shoddy at points, but the unique story, somewhat decent acting, and gratuitous violence make it easy to forgive. The tone of the film is set from the first scene, and stays taught throughout. This is a movie that has earned its reputation, and any horror fan should see it. It has much to offer to newcomers as well. This writer would highly recommend it.

MY IMDb RATING:  8 out of 10


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