The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1985)
Rating: * out of 4
“…none can forget that far out
in the unmapped desert, beyond the towns and roads, the hills still have eyes.”–
from Opening Intro.
Cast: Michael Berryman, Kevin Blair, John Bloom, Janus Blythe, and Peter Frechette.
Writer: Wes Craven
Director: Wes Craven
In the years coming off his back to back failures of Deadly Blessing and Swamp Thing, Wes Craven found himself very much in need of a job. It got so bad that he decided to go back to the well with the last bit of success he had and sequelize The Hills Have Eyes. According to the trivia section on IMDB.com, he got through with filming about two thirds of the movie before production was halted indefinitely. Years passed and nothing came of the movie. Then A Nightmare on Elm Street hit huge at the box office and suddenly Craven was a marketable name again and the studio sitting on the footage for Hills 2 decided to release the flick, but rather than handing the film back to Craven to complete, tweak or revise they opted to release the film as was and pad out the runtime by adding flashbacks to the first film. Needless to say, the film is an absolute failure on every level.
The premise of the movie finds a few of the survivors, who have now taken up motocross…for some reason, venturing back into the same bit of desert that they were massacred in eight years prior only to find that a few of the coyote people have survived and start picking them off one by one. Weirdly, the film feels like less of a Hills movie and more like Jason in the desert. It could be that Harry Manfredini, composer of nearly all the Friday the 13th movies, lent the score for this film, but even in structure it is like those films. There are many moments where you have the lone character backing around harshly shadowed sets to be pulled under a bus by an unseen killer, or grabbed through a window. I have a feeling that as Craven was filming the movie, he was getting heavy pressure from the suits to make it more Jason-y because that was what they felt movie goers wanted as this was being filmed, but even by the mid-eighties Paramount was trying to rid itself of the whole Jason vibe, because it was a tired formula. And, by the time Nightmare hit, the Jason films became much more steeped in the supernatural because Craven brought forth that craze with Freddy.
It is a shame because this film really is everything Nightmare or even the first Hills was trying not to be. On the commentary of the first film, Craven said that he kept trying to shift the direction of the story every time the film felt like it was venturing into territory that had already been explored before. This film lacks any of the texture of the first film and offers no commentary about the world as the first one did. What we are left with is a film that is very plainly incomplete, that feels so disjointed from the first film one would like to argue that it is a sequel in name only, but unfortunately a few characters offer reprisals, including Pluto who died in the first film (?), and is trying so hard to cash in on the then hot horror fad of the silent killer preying on meek college party kids. It is no wonder that Craven has since disowned the movie.
I will say this for the movie, though. The film is nicely paced. I liked the intro. It was very Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but whatever. It was effectively chilling. I liked the idea of the final girl being a blind woman. Done right, that could be hella scary and fun. It is not here. But, as I said, I like the idea. I also laughed out loud at the famous dog flashback. Pure genius!
Image 1: www.dvdsreleasedates.com
Image 2: veehd.com