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Overall Rating

Awesome: 24.51%
Worth A Look: 25.49%
Pretty Bad: 15.69%
Total Crap: 3.92%

8 reviews, 54 user ratings

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Hills Have Eyes, The (2006)
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by Scott Weinberg

"Didn't These People See the Original Version?"
4 stars

Throw a rock through your local video store's New Release shelf and you're bound to hit at least three horror remakes. Ever since the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Dawn of the Dead re-dos hit the screens with a noticeably profitable splat, we've been "treated" to quickie rehashes of The Fog, House of Wax, The Amityville Horror, When a Stranger Calls... Hell, good ol' Tobe Hooper even dusted off The Toolbox Murders and churned out a remake. And with even more of these flicks on the way, we take this week to welcome the newest one. Good thing it's a pretty solid flick, I can tell you that much...

Wes Craven's original The Hills Have Eyes is one of my very favorite horror titles. I put it right up there with Halloween, Evil Dead 2, and the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. So when I heard that the recent wave of horror remakes was about to yield a second rendition of this beloved classic, I was more than a little skeptical. My optimism meter raised a few ticks when I learned that High Tension creators Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur would be the ones behind The Hills Have Eyes V2, but I still had my doubts. Craven's original is a nasty and ferocious little terror tale, but it's most certainly a product of its mid-70s era.

Seems that I needn't have worried about it all that much, because this pair of freaky Frenchmen have put together a harsh and intense treat that capably doles out the jolts while delivering a sly little slap in the chops to America's inherently cannibalistic nature. (I don't want to read too far deeply into what's essentially a gristly horror thriller, but I get a kick out of the whole "you reap what you sow" subtext that runs through both films, although Aja's remake digs a little more deeply into the cyclical nature of violence: One generation pays for the previous one's ignorance.)

Plot synopsis in less than 18 words: A bickering nuclear family gets lost in the desert and is preyed upon by a real "nuclear" family. To say much more than that would be pointless, as you've no doubt already seen the original version. (Right?) Suffice to say that deep in the desert lives a clan of long-since mutated miners, humanoid freaks who love nothing more than dining on unlucky motorists and their loved ones.

The big misstep here lies in the "new stuff" added to an (admittedly threadbare) plot structure: Aja and Levasseur opt to add a few new touches: a prologue featuring the slaughter of three government scientists, a giant crater filled with abandoned vehicles, and an isolated "town" that was once used as a bomb testing site. Combined, these three additions do the movie a serious disservice, as they'll leave any audience member wondering "How the hell have these mutant cannibal freaks not been caught yet??" Craven's mutants were feral and hidden; Aja's freaks practically advertise their location.

The cast does a fine job a shrieking, running, and (occasionally) getting shot. While virtually all of the characters (including the muties) are disappointingly one-note, performers like Ted Levine and Kathleen Quinlan bring some color to Act I. As the eventual hero, Aaron Stanford does a fine job with his transformation from cell-phone yuppie to raving vengeance-seeker. Emilie De Ravin and Dan Byrd also contribute some fine work as siblings in peril. As the mutatoes, character actors Robert Joy and Billy Drago are virtually unrecognizable, but they sure do swing a mean axe.

Aside from the slick-looking but ultimately unnecessary additions, The Hills Have Eyes overcomes a slow start before amping up into a seriously shock-laden affair. Monsieur Aja has a real knack for setting an settling mood, and he's certainly not one to shy away from harsh violence or disturbing visions. As a pure dose of "survival horror" madness, this flick works, and at times it works exceedingly well.

Chock full of gruesome jolts, wonderfully gooey mutants, shocking doses of intense violence, and an overall tone of dry, bleached-out, desperation, The Hills Have Eyes might not be any sort of improvement over Craven's original flick, but it does a fine job of delivering the goods ... and with just a little more beneath the surface than you might expect.

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originally posted: 03/10/06 17:08:50
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Horror Remakes: For more in the Horror Remakes series, click here.

User Comments

2/13/17 morris campbell harsh but alot better than the original 4 stars
4/01/16 Aj wales This is better than the original. 4 stars
1/04/14 Marty Pretty solid horror movie with some gross-out moments and good acting/action. 4 stars
8/12/11 jiropan best brutal and intense movie 5 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles EXCELLENT 5 stars
9/07/10 art never saw the original!,so this verison is GET"s a "THUMb's up'' from your's truly! 4 stars
3/07/10 randy todger awesome 5 stars
12/31/09 art AN EXCELLENT HORROR FILM!,and this was a remake?,you could knock me with a feather! 1 4 stars
10/20/08 Shaun Wallner Scary Film! 5 stars
7/20/08 Shaun Wallner Bloody Awesome!!! 5 stars
7/12/08 John Millheim Creepy, good horror, the dudes are gross looking in the hills 5 stars
6/28/08 Danny See the original instead. Trust me on this one. 1 stars
12/09/07 Vincent sick horror movie 5 stars
7/21/07 al smith fucking amazing nuff said 5 stars
4/27/07 Total Crap Very disturbing, but it's no "Last House on the Left" 3 stars
3/01/07 Beau So disgusting !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i wouldnt see it again but not too bad horror 3 stars
2/16/07 Axel Leos boring and why make remakes, they only ruin the original movie 2 stars
12/30/06 Pavid Smorpal33ni bad film. 1 stars
11/03/06 David Pollastrini good gore. 4 stars
10/23/06 WTF Ugh, Man! What the Fuck?! This is Ultra-Disturbing. And the gore. I could not eat a chip. 4 stars
10/09/06 Booksworm Aww, I was hoping you'd like it.That way I could say it was crap. 1 stars
10/01/06 Soraya ROBERT JOY was incredible as LIZARD! What a great movie and well acted too... 5 stars
8/29/06 Nick A lot of gore! And good emotions! Nice Job Wes! 4 stars
8/12/06 Indrid Cold Does a great job bringing the pain and otherwise defying expectations. 4 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist Not enough cannibalism,the head psycho resembledRubberJohnny&that dog kept being the hero 1 stars
8/02/06 dan alot like the original but worth watching 4 stars
7/24/06 Samuel I'm not sure it's a sgood as the origional, but it's right up there...damn good remake!! 4 stars
7/11/06 Kyle Technically better than orig., but the main characters are a bit more wooden. 3 stars
6/27/06 Dillon This movie has balls. Props to Aja and his crew. 4 stars
6/25/06 MP Bartley Goes on a bit. Satisfying for the gorehounds but little else. 3 stars
6/24/06 Mike How is this different than Wrong Turn? Wrong turn into desert and attacked by cannibals 3 stars
6/13/06 Tasia I loved this movie...even if it was a little different from the was worth it! 5 stars
6/05/06 misty great 5 stars
5/12/06 Marcia Zarwetten-Grassi Like 3 kids & a baby could survive in desert after blowin up their food & water. Yeah! 3 stars
4/30/06 Alex de Fig I'm glad thats over. Entertaining but very unsettling. 3 stars
4/23/06 Dan I liked this... Alexandre Aja is a top director 5 stars
4/18/06 Dave Pretty good, but not a classic horror film at all 4 stars
4/13/06 San Lamar A MUST SEE!!!! AMAZING!!!! 5 stars
4/06/06 Troy M. Grzych Predictable and Reminisent of "Texas Chainsaw" but provides some scares. 3 stars
4/04/06 haney awesome!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/04/06 y2mckay first half drags, last half is gruesome fun (I counted at least four axe-to-head scenes) 3 stars
4/03/06 JRE it's really scary, but disgusting at the same time. if you're squimish, stay away 4 stars
3/30/06 M. Dido Ted Levine is a demigod! Everyone else pales by comparison! 3 stars
3/24/06 jesika umm.. if uve seen texas chain saw/wrong turn- my friend - uve seen this one - ugh! 2 stars
3/24/06 Ole Man Bourbon Pretty shittty really 2 stars
3/23/06 ROY L. CAIN JR. What a horror movie should be. Pass the kayro syrup ! 5 stars
3/22/06 Bryan Locks This film is alot more disturbing than scary.Unless your'e a sick freak, don't waste your $ 2 stars
3/20/06 Dk Not scary enough just ultra bloody 3 stars
3/16/06 bob furgerson Best horror movie I have seen in a long time 5 stars
3/15/06 great surprised at all the bad reviews, i thought it was really good, really disturbing scenes 5 stars
3/14/06 Lester M. Davis What more can you ask of a horror flick. 3 stars
3/14/06 Tyler L Awesome movie, Aja is someone to keep an eye on. 5 stars
3/13/06 Juicy J I puked from this glory!! 5 stars
3/12/06 lee Although intense and brutal, the film runs out of steam. 3 stars
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  10-Mar-2006 (R)
  DVD: 20-Jun-2006



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