Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: The Hills Have Eyes 1977

The Hills Have Eyes 1977
Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Wes Craven
Starring Susan Lanier, Robert Houston, Martin Speer, Dee Wallace, Russ Grieve, Michael Berryman and James Whitworth

Craven had already solidified himself as a new and exciting visionary with The Last House on the Left, but with The Hills Have Eyes he became a master of the genre. It is a film that takes the idea behind the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and ups the tension and the brutality and you have a film that really leaves you breathless. One scene that always leaves me aghast is the camper siege scene. IT is brutal and relentless and you cannot believe how brutal the monsters are. This is a film that ratchets up the suspense with each scene and you really cheer for the lead after he finally goes full postal on the family. The film is loosely based on the story of the Sawney Bean family and that is a great launch pad for this great horror film.
The plot basics are this, a family is traveling cross country and stop at a secluded gas station and ask for directions and the owner gives the father (Grieve) directions for a short cut to cut some time off of his trip. Little do they know that they are being herded to a family that lives out in the desolate dessert that survives on travelers who are corralled into this area. This cannibal family is run by the father Jupiter (Whitworth) and he controls the family with a iron fist. The traveling family camps out when their RV mysteriously breaks down and the father goes to get some help at the gas station and is attacked and we see him taken by Jupiter and burned alive. Soon, the camper is attacked and women are killed and raped and their little baby daughter is stolen for a meal. The father of the baby (Houston) goes on the hunt to find the baby and soon finds a inner strength he never knew he had and shows as much or maybe even more brutality than Jupiter's brood.
I really love this film, it is brutal and relentless from beginning to end. The direction by Craven is perfect, he ushers you into the cruelty and brutality with an unflinching eye. Craven's script is tight as well, you really loathe Jupiter and his ilk, tough you do have sympathy for Ruby. The cast is great I really enjoyed Wallace and Whitworth and Berryman are unforgettable as Jupiter and Pluto. Berryman really steals the movie. The effects are great, especially the dead dog and the attack on Pluto by the dogs. The centerpiece of this film though is the Camper attack scene, it's the scene that always comes to mind when I think of this film. When Mars rips the birds head off and drinks down its blood, that is just so unnerving. This film is a great horror film and one of the finest of the films from the 70's.
This one gets 5 out of 5

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