It’s hard to forget sometimes all the films that Wes Craven had to offer. Every fan has their favorite (in some cases, a favorite franchise as he helped create some of the most infamous characters in horror). His themes ranged from guerrilla style filmmaking (Last House on the Left), mass hysteria (A Nightmare on Elm Street), social economics (The People Under the Stairs), and a group of self aware characters where these movies exist in their universe (Scream). There’s plenty others in between all those, but it’s debatable amongst fans which were hits and which were misses.
One of his early offerings was The Hills Have Eyes, now popularized in pop culture by it’s memorable artwork and an actually decent remake in 2006. Craven’s original even starred now genre favorites Michael Berryman and Dee Wallace. It’s take on an isolated family being terrorized in the desert was utilized to explore political theme with a western vibe as well as play into the rape revenge subgenre. This played as a great companion to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a 70s offering where both films looked just plain dirty and felt like you could smell the body odor and sweat off these characters as they attempt to survive in filthy environments.
In good old Hollywood fashion, a sequel was green lit after The Hills Have Eyes financial success. For some odd reason, this one carried a much lower budget and it shows on the screen. Bobby Carter is a survivor of the original events and still traumatized by them. His biker team plans on riding through the same desert grounds where his family was killed. Inappropriately, his psychiatrist attempts to convince him to go, but instead Rachel (Ruby from the first film) goes and brings Beast, the dog from the original. Naturally, oil starts leaking, directions get lost, and the group finds themselves in the middle of another bloodbath as they are terrorized by Pluto from the original and a new mutant character referred to as The Reaper.
THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART 2 has no reason to exist. It doesn’t play up any themes that Craven is known for. It’s not funny (minus the now infamous dog flashback scene) and it’s definitely not scary. Not much can be said about the characters as they feel like generic meat packages for the villains to feast on. It’s not a movie that I hear discussed often and upon this first viewing, it’s clear why.
Ironically, Arrow Video has given it a beautiful, limited edition treatment that goes perfectly with their release of the first film. A sturdy outer box hold a reversible fold out poster along with some postcards for those collectors that love this shit (I’m one of them). Other physical offerings include a 40 page booklet with new writing and an archival Fangoria set visit. Along with a new commentary track and 2k restoration, my favorite aspect of this release is the new making-of documentary “Blood, Sand, and Fire: The Making of the Hills Have Eyes Part 2.” While Craven is absent due to his passing a few years ago, many of the cast and crew have come back to discuss their experiences on the set as well as why Craven would be involved in such a disaster. Trust me, this is something you don’t want to miss. For more on THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART 2, visit https://mvdb2b.com/b2b/s/AV223.