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Aja sees Craven's 1977 and raises him one HELL of a remake
jackalman2215 March 2006
Alexandre Aja, you have a new fan.

Before this movie was released in theaters, I made sure to watch Wes Craven's original endeavor. Let me just start out by saying that compared to today's standards and conventions, Craven's classic "The Hills Have Eyes" seems almost mild when compared to Alexandre Aja's remake. However, purists too skeptic to check this movie out should rest assured that the film is very, VERY faithful to the original. The characters, story, and overall progression of events remain unchanged, however, the quality of all said elements has increased dramatically since the original 70s release. Furthermore, like any other quality remake, there are twists, there are surprises, and for people who think they're getting the same film with updated technology, think again.

The film starts out with the nuclear bomb test-radiation disclaimer, and from there, to those who've screened the original, the familiar New Mexico desert setting is presented for all to take in. Make no mistakes, though. Aja never misses a beat, and he makes sure to take advantage of any opportunity he can when it comes to scaring the living crap out of the audience.

After a very vivid and graphic opening, the film gets rolling, mixing elements of freshness with both nostalgia and familiarity. People who saw the original will know what they're looking at, however their eyes will also be glued to the screen due to the overall difference in presentation and cinematography. The familiar gas station attendant is shown to the audience, and soon after, the Carter family + in-law stroll in. From there, the real fun begins.

Aja and his fellow screenwriter did an amazing job adding depth and dimension to the family members, ensuring that throughout the course of the film, people in the audience would certainly be able to connect with or identify with at least one member of the Carter family. This is accentuated by very strong performances by all the actors. Recognizable, seasoned actors are chosen for the older family members, while younger, relatively lesser known actors are chosen for characters like Bobby and Brenda.

I really could not complain with any of the performances. With all the craziness and gruesome things happening to the family, the actors' reactions are all portrayed very realistically, with emotions dead-on with very few hiccups in line delivery. One performance that stood out in particular to me was definitely that of Aaron Stanford (Pyro, X2 and the upcoming X-Men 3). Despite the fact that Standford was merely a year old when the original 'Hills' was released, he more than proves his acting credibility and fits the role of Doug very well. He does the role justice, and fills the shoes of the protagonist very well. I could go on and on about the performances of the rest of the cast (which are all extremely solid), but you want to know more about the movie, right? One cannot help but compare this film to original. There are 3 reasons I feel Aja's remake tops Craven's original: 1) the emphasis Aja places on the Carters, 2) the make-up effects, 3) the excessive gore.

Whereas Craven gave the deformed family clan plenty of screen time in 1977, Aja opts to shroud them in mystery for much of the film's duration. In many ways, the family emphasis is almost reversed in either film. Aja makes sure to hide the deformed family members from the viewers until just the proper moment, while Craven made their names and personalities as clear as day. I personally think the less information there is about something, the scarier it becomes to the person dealing with it. Aja realized this, and presented it very well.

Speaking of presentation, one cannot help but watch in sheer awe and amazement at some of the deformities displayed by the irradiated family members. I personally have not seen such drastically deformed individuals first hand, and I'm not sure how accurate their portrayals were in 'Hills' '06, but one thing is for sure: they were damn gruesome. Do not be fooled, the little child shown in the commercially televised trailer is NOT representative of the rest of the film.

And then there's the gore. Ah, the gore. Monsieur Aja, you are the brainchild of modern horror, and you definitely know how to ride with the best of them. No body part is taboo in this film, and for all you gore fanatics out there, there are no annoying instances where the camera "looks away" when someone or something is, say, struck with the menacing swing of a weapon. For all those who've said "But I wanted to SEE what happened to him!", rest assured, you will indeed see what happens to everything in this film.

The Hills '06 will satisfy your blood-lust. Alexandre Aja takes Craven's original film and builds on it in just about every way. Better acting, better visual effects, better make-up, better story presentation (i.e. no unanswered plot holes or abrupt "halts"), and much, MUCH more gore. This film is not for the squeamish, and it is my opinion that it will suppress the doubts of any skeptics who, upon seeing this film, may have badmouthed horror movie remakes in the past.

Only thing that caused me to dock it a point were the questionable courses of action some of the characters took. Alas, such things may always fall into the category of "typical horror movie no-no's." Furthermore, I wasn't really horrified while watching this movie. A more accurate description would be that I was highly impressed and satisfied.

Horror movie fans: see this film as soon as you can. Non-horror movie fans: if you see this, prepare to have your world rocked.

See this movie people, it's pure gold.
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Not bad , but still prefer the original by a mile
sebastianhennessy18 November 2006
What made early Wes Craven movies so special were these eary and daunting atmospheres he was so good in creating ; And this is what Hills Have Eyes 2006 totally lacked. Firstly the music through out the movie was awful and totally cliché and unfortunately diminished any depth that HHE was trying to show. I did like the nuclear mutant idea , but then seeing them reminded me on how the original HHE villains had way more presence on the screen and they had no make up !!

Now I did like the actors , they played their respective roles well The effects were good + I did like how they twisted the original script and added some new ideas instead a complete knock off of the original So my final word not a bad movie , but lacked atmosphere/suspense , which is so important in horror/slasher movies , shame !
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Finally, an excellent horror movie
mecha_meg11 March 2006
The Hills Have Eyes, although a remake of the original, was everything a horror movie should be. Typically, I'm not a fan of slasher flicks, but this movie had elements I like to see in a movie. I don't like to see the protagonists making stupid mistakes (the old "curiosity killed the cat" syndrome), I don't like being able to guess the villain 20 minutes into the movie (although this wasn't the scenario in this particular movie). I don't enjoy picking out who's going to do die first, and being correct. I don't think sex scenes have any place in horror movies. I like things to be important and advance the plot.

Although the movie had some "MTV" elements to it, it still adhered to the classic horror movie thrills. The thing I liked about this movie was the fact that they repeatedly "crossed the line", doing things that you wouldn't expect modern movies to do, nothing is off limits in this movie. Horrifying elements that made you, well, terrified. Lots of "boo" surprises, but also more complex and twisted than modern movies have allowed. I spent most of the movie with my mouth agape... It's not just the gore, although there is a lot of that. They didn't leave anything to the imagination, did not imply anything...they showed you everything.

It was admittedly a little slow at first, but then all of the sudden things began to take a turn for the wicked. One thing this movie did that most horror movies don't bother to do is go into character development. Not a lot, but more so than a typical thriller will bother to do.

This movie was so disturbing, I'm not sure I'd want to see it again. That "Deliverance" see it once, you're glad you saw it, but so disgusting you're pretty sure you don't want to experience that again.

Any horror aficionado should see this movie.
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Excellent Survival Horror Film
beckmen14 March 2006
I haven't seen the original, but I now want to because this movie rocked. The movie starts as a slow-boil suspense/horror movie, provides some decent jump-scares (at least in the theater) and spends some time building up character. The movie then switches gears and turns into a gritty, brutal horror movie more the likes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and further switches to gears to a action/revenge movie, but still with horror elements. It's scary, sick, nearly uncompromising (the unrated cut will undoubtedly be so) and disturbing, but also adrenaline-filled and riveting. Certainly NOT for the weak-stomached person. People were leaving the theater, and the IMDb boards are rife with people damning the movie for it's 'lack of moral substance' and 'taste'. This movie isn't for the average movie-goer. It's for the horror buffs. Alexendre Aja should be proud, and is 2-for-2 in my book having done this and High Tension.
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If you're in the mood for one of 2006's most brutal movies...
TheMovieMark14 March 2006
Shocking. Disturbing. At times hard to watch. All words to describe the horror of being forced to watch Michael Moore take his shirt off. But these terms also accurately describe this brutally vicious upgrade on Wes Craven's 1977 low-budget horror classic.

What would you do if you were traveling through the desert and became stranded amongst a group of genetically-mutated freaks who were intent on killing you? You'd probably die. Granted, I would kick all sorts of genetically-mutated butt (not an easy accomplishment when said butt has a foot growing out of it kicking right back), but the average human would be in some major trouble, just like the Carter family.

The father looks like he could handle himself in a fair fight, after all he is a detective, but what are three girls, a boy, a cell phone-selling geek, and a pizza place (maybe two of you will get that lame joke) going to do against a bunch of unnaturally strong psychos? How will they survive? Will it be through might or strategy? You'll have to watch the movie to find out. And if you're squeamish then you'll most likely find yourself cringing in your seat and watching with your hands over your eyes. The Hills Have Eyes is a movie that knows exactly what it needs to do to satisfy its target audience, and it does it well.

Case in point... I'm not very vocal during movies. I usually don't clap and scream and hoot and holler like most the dorks sitting around me, but there were a couple of scenes where I literally said aloud, "Ooooooooooh, crap!" Of course, one of those instances was during a trailer for Phat Girlz, but one scene of violence left my mouth hanging open for about 30 seconds. Then I realized that my mouth was agape like some buffoon, so I quickly closed it.

It takes a lot to shock and disturb me these days, so congrats go to The Hills Have Eyes for accomplishing that. It comes at you fast and hard and isn't interested in sugar-coating the violence it's about to serve up. The intensity level starts high and never gives you an opportunity to take a bathroom break. I highly recommend you address any and all bladder issues before the movie begins.

For me, the main drawback of the movie was the "hero." You can argue that he was more of a "regular guy" and not a typical macho hero, but I felt he transitioned a little too quickly from a gun-hating wuss to an ax-wielding killing machine. My hat's off to the dog though; that canine rocked! Easily the coolest dog in a movie since the German Shepherd in The Lost Boys.

"I like horror movies, Johnny, but I liked to be creeped out more than being subjected to a lot of gore. Would I like this?" It's very doubtful. I'll make this as blunt as possible: this is a movie that contains severed body parts, brutal shootings, axes to the head, a person biting off a bird's head and drinking its blood, and disturbing violence to helpless women.

If that description turns you off then you know to save your money. However, if that fits your style then the movie will succeed in giving you exactly what you want. But I have to say that if you think this sounds like fun for the entire family then I'll have to decline any invitations to sit down with you for a family dinner.
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Scary and intense! A remake that beats the original!
HarryWarden4 March 2006
We've seen dozens of remakes in the past several years: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Ring, Dawn of the Dead, The Fog. None could hold a candle next to the original films.

Could it be? After all this time, do we finally found a remake that's actually superior? You're damn right! The Hills Have Eyes is not at all like the other remakes in this ungodly trend. It's not a cheap cash-in. It's a movie made with respect by horror filmmakers for horror fans.

Sure, it has its share of problems: There are too many cheesy false scares, they added a corny patriotic subtext, and it sticks so close to the original that fans will find little in the way of surprises. But it's a leaner, meaner animal than Wes Craven's original film. The characters are more believable, the mutants are scarier, and the whole thing is incredibly visceral! This is the first studio horror film in years that I've liked...mainly because it doesn't feel like a studio horror film.

Funny side note: A girl next to me in the theater was silently weeping through the last half of the movie. Guess it made an impression.
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Don't watch it right before bed!
DaynaSu7 August 2006
My husband did not make it past the first hour of this movie. I had to watch the rest alone. It is psychologically of those movies that takes hold of you, makes you scream at the screen, and leaves you with a disturbed feeling for hours after the final credits roll. There was nothing profound about the premise, and nothing Oscar-worthy about the acting, but it was an all-around great horror film. The special effects were good...lots of gore and violence. It's suspenseful, dark, and is guaranteed to leave you with a creepy feeling that won't let you go to sleep right after watching it. I watched three hours of SEINFELD reruns, and had nightmares anyway. That's the way it should be! ;)
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The Hills are Alive with the Sounds of ... SLAUGHTER!!
Coventry18 March 2006
I dislike the nowadays and boisterous remakes of classic horror movies as much as the next person but, ever since the news came that an update of "The Hills Have Eyes" was in talks, I had great expectations towards it. There are reasons for this rather enthusiast anticipation, actually. Unlike "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" or "The Fog", to name just two examples, Wes Craven's original 1977 screenplay was open for improvement AND Alexandre Aja would be just the right man for the job, as his own project "Haute Tension" is definitely one of the best horror films since the year 2000. That particular film wasn't really a masterpiece of plotting, but it was genuinely grim and barbaric and those are exactly the qualities a film like "The Hills Have Eyes" require as well. The new screenplay follows Craven's original fairly strict, except that the eyes in the hills aren't of members of an inbred family anymore but of an entire community of horribly mutated ghouls. Deep in the New Mexican deserts, a small village of coal miners once refused to leave the area at the time the American government decided to test nuclear weapons there, and now they still prowl the wasteland, assaulting travelers that dare to leave the main highways. The Carter family is next on the menu, and the mutants really don't care whether the victims are females, elderly folks or even newborn babies...

Alexandre Aja delivers the exact right amount of disturbing tension and really a lot more gore than you could possibly dream of. Much more than the overrated Eli Roth, this young French filmmaker is the new prodigy of horror. Strictly talking in terms of cinema, "The Hills Have Eyes" is also a more than decent production. The dialogs are fluently written and the characters are a lot more likable than in the original. By them I primarily refer to the members of the Carter family, as Michael Berryman's charisma as creepy Pluto remains unequaled. Altering the background of the desert-people into mutants was a pretty intelligent move by Aja, though. Despite being sadistic and utterly repulsive-looking bastards, these people are basically a sort of "victims" themselves, which brings a lot of extra depth and unsubtle social criticism in the overall simplistic story. I'm sure this film also had its share of flaws, like the editing being a little too MTV-ish perhaps, but the thrills and fast pacing were just too overpowering to have me bother about them. Kudos also to the terrific selection of songs, the convincing cast of actors and actresses and – last but not least – the personal trainer of those brilliant German Shepard dogs!
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A horror film made for the horror fan
the-movie-guy9 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
(Synopsis) The movie begins with the showing of original footage from some of the 311 nuclear tests that were carried out by the U.S. government in the desert of New Mexico during the years 1945-1992. The government had ordered the local residents to move so they wouldn't get hurt by the atomic tests. But some of the residents (miners) refused to leave their homes, and were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. The miners went to the mines and survived, but their newborn children were genetically altered. The children are now adults, and to survive in the desert, they murder and rob tourists going through the desert. They are not only insane murderers, but they have become blood-thirsty cannibals. The Carter family has an accident in the desert, and they are about to become the next victims. However, Big Bob Carter, (Ted Levine), a retired police detective, isn't going to let that happen.

(Comment) If you like horror films, you are going to like this one, because it was made for the horror fan. Be prepared to see a lot of blood, gore, and guts. This is a remake that is actually better than the 1977 original. You will applaud for the actions of a German shepherd named Beast, and even the tech geek Doug (Aaron Stanford) when he takes on the mutates. There are several scenes that will make you jump out of your seat. By the end of the movie, you will want to hit some of these mutates in the head with a pick-ax yourself. (Fox Searchlight, Run time 1:45, Rated R) (8/10)
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Bloodthirsty mutant cannibals in the American wasteland
The_Void13 March 2006
The question most people ask when it comes to modern day remakes is "why remake a classic?", but the question I ask of this one is "why call it The Hills Have Eyes?" Many films have been made before and after Wes Craven's original shocker with similar ideas, so why not take the basic plot idea and give it a new title; thus making it a new film. Judged on its own merits, Alexandre Aja's exploitation horror flick is actually a good film, but it loses credibility unnecessarily just because it's a part of the remake crowd. After an explosive beginning which gives you an idea of what Aja intends to do with the remake; the pace relaxes a little as we get to know the doomed family at the centre of the piece. While this may not be very exciting, it pays dividends towards the end when the mutant cannibals start to get their own way. We follow a family who decide to take a holiday that involves driving through the desert. After fuelling their car, the helpful petrol station attendant tells them of a shortcut in the desert; but after they have a crash, it soon becomes apparent that they aren't the only ones amidst the nuclear hills.

Towards the start of the film, Aja packs the film with references to nuclear testing which leads us to believe that he wants to go deeper with the plot. However, by the end it all feels very half-arsed, as apart from a few references towards the mentality of America - these ideas never really bear any fruit. Ted Levine heads a capable cast in a role that is a world away from his turn as Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs, and actually feels a lot like a Sid Haig impression. The rest of the cast have some impressive film and TV credits between them, but nobody is a particularly 'big' actor, which actually does this sort of film credit. The real stars of the show are the make-up department, who do a great job with the mutant cannibals. They all look very realistic, and it's easy to believe that the people in the film actually are mutants. The violence and gore is fairly heavy, although Aja is actually quite restrained in this respect, as it only occurs when needed and never goes too over the top. Aja also does well with the scare factor, as he continually creates a foreboding atmosphere by way of lots of scare tactics, including the backwater desert atmosphere, glimpses of the killers early on and my personal favourite - the voices that come over the walkie talkies.

The main reason that this film works is not because of the violence, however, it's the way that Aja almost makes the audience a part of the central family. The characters are all well defined and realistically done; and this means that once we get to the horror of the piece, it really is horrific. Aja does go over the top with this towards the end, but in general the characters are very well defined, and I certainly cared a lot more about the family in this remake than I did in Wes Craven's original. It seems obvious that Alexandre Aja approached this film with care, and he definitely did have a lot to live up to after the surprise hit 'High Tension' the year before. The director certainly has talent, maybe even the potential to become one of the modern masters of horror; but I'm disappointed that this was his second film, as I really think that if he'd created something original, it could have been something really special. The fact that this film feels like an attempt for him to break into the American market is too obvious also. I do have faith that some day he'll top his debut film - but he hasn't done it with this. On its own merits, however, The Hills Have Eyes 2006 is a good film, and Aja can certainly be proud of himself for doing Craven's original justice.
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Alexandre Aja will be the next Wes Craven
octagon8816 March 2006
A remake it was... yes a remake, and of a classic horror movie too that was good enough as it was, however... in a world of terrible remakes and sequels, this was something that was far from terrible. I would like to say first and foremost, that I was pleased with Aja's first film "High Tension", the man has talent, and he put it to good use here: A gory, insane, slasher type horror thriller that was the opposite of cheesy. It really was creepy, and that is extremely hard to do these days. It had great character structure, you can identify with and care for the people who are going through this hell. Not many horror movies do that, it's not even their job, however, it worked for this film. now that we know the character structure was believable, The story, oh yes, the story itself, which we already seen in the original, was a bit far fetched... but it was interesting and thrilling. In a way, believable, because there wasn't much of anything in the movie happening that one would refer to as bull**** like what tends to happen in most of the rather bad films they make nowadays. Great fight scenes, well choreographed, great realistic, really disturbingly graphic looking gore FX, the acting for both the victims and the killers all done well by these mostly relatively newer, lesser known actors, who all did great jobs at portraying. All that I can say about this film, in my humble opinion is: one of the thrilling, more fun horror films that has came out in the past few years. Right on par with Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this beats the hell out of crap like the Ring, The Grudge, Boogeyman, The Fog and other watered down, pussified horror remakes. If you want scary, than see this film. But I must warn thee: It is definitely not for the faint of heart, so leave the littl eones at home.
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What you can't see , can kill you!
HiddenVoice9 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This film is genuinely creepy and effective.Mostly due to its atmosphere.The cinematography serves as an effective technique to scare people.Here is one film that is disturbing and fun at the same time. The story is quite interesting and thankfully not ruined by its execution.It doesn't play like the usual horror slasher ,where a madman starts slashing teens throughout the film with endless amount of gore.This movie is more of a psychological horror thriller.

An American family goes on a trip where they are stranded in the middle of a desert.It just so happens to be a place where governments once tested atomic bombs.Little do they realize that this atomic zone has hidden eyes watching all over them.Slowly the tension rises as the deadly mutants ,who are obviously hungry ,are angry with their visitor breaching their territory leading the whole family to a horrifying conclusion.

Throughout the film,I was hooked,especially from it's opening sequence and I knew I was in for something special.It was an interesting setting and the execution was impressive.The film Directed by Alexandro Aja, recently directed french thriller HIGH TENSION, really understands the basis of the film and gives you a frightening experience.The movie may just be too gory and disturbing but it's intriguing shots and effective cinematography and atmosphere makes it a stand out horror remake.The mutants are scary as hell ,especially when they come out of no where.It's also scary to see a family entering into the predators zone ,it's their territory and there is no escape for the prey.Leading them to a terrifying and gory conclusion.The empty desert is breathlessly scary.It's a fantastic setting for a horror film.A group of people in the middle of desert with no signs of life whatsoever,not knowing what their surrounded by.

The writing is decent and acting is by the numbers,better than most horror films or remakes.This could be considered as cult horror remake.I enjoyed this thriller.Still the film relies more on gore than psychology.It is unnecessarily too gory at times.Though still not as gory as the interesting but disgusting horror film HOSTEL.

An intense experience for anyone,quite possibly disturbing for everyone.Horror fans have been waiting for something like this.
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Quite Possibly the most Mind-Numbing Movie I've ever Seen
odrailgaug12 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Another remake, another waste of everyone's time. Hollywood has become a thrift store for tired plots. Take this garbage movie for example: A family takes a road trip. Guess what happens next? The car breaks down! Guess what happens next? Psycho mutants pick off family members one by one. Guess what happens next? A main character emerges from among the survivors and proceeds to decimate the mutants in ludicrous fashion. It's like The Evil Dead meets an even crappier version of The Evil Dead with mutants modeled after that ugly fellow from The Goonies.


And now, here's everything I hated about the movie's premise. First of all, why is it that Hollywood believes that radiation makes you some sort of super mutant? Shouldn't the victims just get cancer or radiation sickness? But the baddies in this film weren't merely free of such maladies; they were, in fact, enhanced with physical strength and apparent resistance to shot gun blasts, 80 foot falls, and pick axes to the lungs. Second, even if radiation could give you super powers, what about radiation provokes a primal urge to kill normal-looking people--and only normal-looking people? Why didn't these rabid uglies ever turn on each other? Does radiation poisoning lead to strong communal bonds or something? Third, if the mutants have not been eating each other and only been dining on unsuspecting vacationers, then are we to assume that they've been eating an entire family of "normals" each month since the fifties? AND, they've been reproducing--instead of having been left sterile? Fourth, Doug and Bob abandon their defenseless family to seek out help--and Doug's instructions are to just wander aimlessly until he stumbles upon someone able to provide assistance. Like someone who has a gun, perhaps. Like Bob, who just goes of by himself like the macho lone wolf no one needs in this predicament.

By the way, only Republicans can use guns, apparently. Thanks for the political commentary, Hills Have Eyes.

Unredeemable characters making unredeemable decisions. The most respectable protagonist was the dog.

Taking a cue from the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wolf Creek, and The Devil's Rejects, the monsters were--surprise--rednecks. What is this trope? Do people in Hollywood think country people are frightening? Granted, rednecks irritate me just as much as the next guy, but I'm tired of seeing these cousin-diddlers in every single horror flick committed to film these days.

This movie was God-awful. I went to see it in hopes it would at least be enjoyable in the "it's so bad it's funny" sorry of way, but I was just left with deep regret and self-loathing.
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Not scary, just deeply unpleasant.
Colmo2k419 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not sure why anyone would watch this - to watch graphic violence, to be grossed out by the moronic mutants, or laugh as the armed male protagonists turn tail and run when presented with a clear opportunity for a killing blow on those that have terrorised them? One minute, the boy is running away from an unarmed mutant, shooting blindly behind him, the next he has the awareness to set a booby-trap for the same mutant - and when it blows, he laughs, having witnessed his mother's heart being eaten moments before? There's no dark humour, and it's difficult to care for most of the protagonists, apart from the young mother, who gets killed anyway. Awful.
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Why you should not see this movie
lauram198511 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I am a big fan of horror movies and have am fairly good at watching gore. I went into this movie expected a bloody, slightly frivolous, but fun, movie. I left about an hour into it crying hysterically and about to vomit. Bloody deaths are one thing, but watching a father being burned alive at the stake while his teenage daughter is being raped by mutants and his other daughter is having her breast milk sucked out of her by another mutant who is holding her BABY AT GUNPOINT is another. I was getting my coat when the girls' mother comes into the trailer to defend her daughters and gets shot in the chest by the mutant with her (now crisp) husband's gun. I was too distraught to ask for my money back but I wish I had. The "blood bath" in this film was not-only excessive, but offensive. If this movie had an underlying message behind the deaths, I may have been able to objectively quantify the film, but gruesomeness for the sake of shock value alone is not worth $9.50 and my Friday night.
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Horrific Attempt at Horror
miokey200429 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The Hills Have Eyes is yet another unnecessary horror remake that relies on shock and gore instead of true horror that comes from playing upon our fears.

Set in the barren deserts of New Mexico, a happy family is besieged by a group of individuals hideously mutated by radioactive fallout from the US Government's testing of nuclear weapons in the area roughly fifty years ago. They look terrifying, they murder and cannibalize their victims and communicate mostly in grunts. They are in fact so over the top, so hideously deformed, that there is no sense of reality to their existence. They are the monsters of this film, yet they are not frightening because they do not play upon our fears. They are so fictionalized, so distanced from our reality, that they exist outside of it and are rendered harmless to the viewers.

Watching this film I was reminded of Tobe Hooper's horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which I consider to be one of the most frightening films ever made. What makes it so frightening is not the attractive teens being picked off one by one, what is frightening are that film's monsters; Leatherface and his family. They are a family, just like the family everyone has. We can instantly relate to them, which makes the fact that they are murderous cannibals truly horrifying because the film intimately drags the viewer into their world. Family is a safety zone, and to destroy such a comfort as family the way The Texas Chainsaw Massacre did is quite terrifying.

The Hills Have Eyes attempts to play up this same kind of familial terror, but fails. The family of monsters are, of course, all hideously deformed. We are given glimpses of a matronly figure, and are introduced to a giant-headed father figure who doles out the orders. Yet there is no sense that this family is connected, that they are functional, that they are even human. The viewer therefore cannot relate and therefore cannot be as terrified as the filmmaker thinks we should be.

Yet one more reason why the film fails in creating horror is that it paints the monsters as victims. In the original, the murderous mutants were simply murderous mutants, but in the remake they are victims of Big Government testing. We are shown a graveyard where the mutants laid to rest the victims of the nuclear testing, we are constantly made aware of the horrible effects the testing had on those who linger on (even getting glimpses of mutant children--not children, poor things!). If we can feel pity for the monsters in even the slightest ways, then they are no longer as monstrous and the horror is no longer as horrifying.

On to the much publicized gore of the film. The blood flows freely as a woman's organs are consumed in front of her son, a man is burned alive, fingers are chopped off and pickaxes plunge into craniums. This use of excessive gore adds nothing to the films, in fact it distracts from it. By having so much violence, so much ridiculously elaborate gore, the film creates a bloody other world for the film to exist in. The viewers are not part of this world, so they cannot be frightened by it.

In summation The Hills Have Eyes fails completely as a horror film. Its creations of monsters is over the top, as is the violence and Emilie De Ravin's American accent. At an hour and 48 minutes (unrated cut) this film is not worth your time. Rent the original or better yet rent Texas Chainsaw and see how a horror film should be made.
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hard to "top" this movie
hscholler11 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers

You are either a) a witness of this movie b) a person to be informed about it

ad) a): I am curious how you liked it?! Are you on of those who liked it? Or one of the couple of total dislikers? Well, opinions about this kind of film are impossible to judge.

ad) b): It is hard to find words for it. Let me tell you my first viewing experience: I went with my girlfriend to see it in the theaters. I guess, one could choose a more convenient flic to watch with your girl, maybe. But the interesting part was, we both fell asleep after an hour. From time to time I woke up by the actions scenes with its special gabba sound. And I never fall asleep in movies. It felt like having a disturbing nightmare with you realizing it is just a very strange surrounding. My girlfriend and I left the movie before the ending slightly amused about this surrealist trip. 1 year later I held the "The Hills have Eyes" in my hands in my local DVD store recalling the special movie experience in the theaters. The gabba music scenes finally got me interested in re-watching it. Maybe I had fallen asleep because of working too much? A second analysis should clearify my opinion....

My "objective" observations:

  • The nuclear testing areas have mostly been cleared in the USA. The rest is heavily guarded by military area (I've been there, no way to get in unless you like to be arrested by the military or shot) Sounds realistic that common people just walk in there... - The nuclear ignition grounds, like the ones the democrat walks into, may still exist. But the radioactive dust you inhale there would kill you within several days/hours (depending on the kind of nuclear bomb). Guess why the scientists/technicians wore suits and gas masks to explore the area that were obviously not even the ignition grounds. - The politically satirical parts with the gun raising republicans and the gun-hating democrat are attempts to bring some wits or laughs in the movie. Except from that, there is absolutely no (funny) message. - Brutality: Showing the gas station guy blasting his head of in detail, burning a man alive, raping a teenager by two guys, aiming a gun at a baby. I have seen many gory movies but this one really showed it all - in total detail. Some movie makers have the talent to present brutality either in "funny" way ("Braindead") or in a way that tells you brutality is not at all funny ("Platoon"). The first kind is a parody/satire, the second kind is criticism. But this movie fails for both categories. - Music/Sound is a necessary tool to stimulate a movie's atmosphere. Listen to the action sequences and you know what I mean. I think, this added perfectly to make the sadistic and gory scenes even more extreme. There seems no limit to this visual and acoustic slaughterhouse. - The storyline is so low, you can tell it in 2 Minutes. Typical logic of splatter movies with mutants without any logical explanations (it is the nature of this special horror genre) No explanations of the character's motivations, the scenery and the plot framework. Of course not, this movie only focuses on visual/acoustic experience: a movie expressing unexplainable homicide - and ONLY that.

One remarkable scene is the following: The giant mutant gets killed by the democrat sticking the American flag in his neck. This is the only scene that has symbolic character: The US have nailed these victims of nuclear testing. Apart from that, don't expect any further stylistic elements.

In terms of entertainment in its basic sense this movie has not totally failed: I have to admit that it did not at all bore me, there was a certain fascination how far a movie can go. At least it keeps you wondering how the intensity of physical violence can still be increased (Thought this would be impossible after having watched "The Thing")Maybe showing the raping scene in pornographic detail and killing the baby with a shot in the head could be worth another remake. The next increase can only be taking an axe yourself... In terms of "quality" of a movie (I don't mean high cost CGI effects or expensive cast) the films fails on all lines:

  • no imaginatory power - no real suspense - too high paced cutting - poor cinematography - poor acting - poor plot - senseless violence - stereotype choice of soundtrack

To sum up: Apart from the "meta-entertainment" of the brutality experience, "The Hills have Eyes" is the worst I have ever seen. It succeeded in topping another all-time-worst-movie (unfortunately forgot the title). The worst about it is, that some people really like it. Enjoy!
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Total garbage
zombiehelldeath12 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
**SPOILERS** Utterly idiotic, sadistic garbage. If watching underage girls get raped by deformed freaks and then turning into superheroes and defeating the freaks' evil plot is your thing, you might like this 'film'. Totally unrealistic, the bad guys' motivations are never really explained- we know they were deformed from 'nuclear fallout', but we're never told why the freaks turn to cannibalism. The film moves along from one 'jump out and yell boo' scare to the next, stopping occasionally to rub the viewer's face in some sort of gross-out scene, and then it's back to the predictable cardboard cutout scares.

Mature content, but no one mature would want to see this tripe. 1/10, because this site won't let me give it a 0/10.
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Another Wrong Gas Station movie
oykas1312 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
It always begins with the Wrong Gas Station. In real life, as I pointed out in my review of a previous Wrong Gas Station movie, most gas stations are clean, well-lighted places, where you can buy not only gasoline but groceries, clothes, electronic devices, Jeff Foxworthy CDs and a full line of Harley merchandise. In horror movies, however, the only gas station in the world is located on a desolate road in a godforsaken backwater. It is staffed by a degenerate who shuffles out in his coveralls and runs through a disgusting repertory of scratches, splittings, chewing, twitching and leering, while thoughtfully shifting mucus up and down his throat.

The clean-cut heroes of the movie, be they a family on vacation, newlyweds, college students or backpackers, all have one thing in common. They believe everything this man tells them, especially when he suggests they turn left on the unpaved road for a shortcut. Does it ever occur to them that in this desolate wasteland with only one main road, it must be the road to stay on if they ever again want to use their cell phones?

No. It does not. They take the fatal detour, and find themselves the prey of demented mutant incestuous cannibalistic gnashing slobbers, who carry pickaxes the way other people carry umbrellas. They occupy junkyards, towns made entirely of wax, nuclear waste zones and Motel Hell ("It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent's fritters"). That is the destiny that befalls a vacationing family in "The Hills Have Eyes," which is a very loose remake of Wes Craven's 1977 movie of the same name.

The Carter family is on vacation. Dad (Ted Levine) is a retired detective who plans to become a security guard. Mom is sane, lovable Kathleen Quinlan. A daughter and son in law (Vinessa Shaw and Aaron Stanford) have a newborn babe. There are also two other Carter children (Dan Byrd and Emilie DE Ravin), and two dogs, named Beauty and Beast. They have hitched up an Airstream and are on a jolly family vacation through the test zones where 331 atmospheric nuclear tests took place in the 1950s and 1960s.

After the Carters turn down the wrong road, they're fair game for the people who are the eyes of the hills. These are descendants of miners who refused to leave their homes when the government ordered them away from the testing grounds. They hid in mines, drank radioactive water, reproduced with their damaged DNA, and brought forth mutants, who live by eating trapped tourists. There is an old bomb crater filled with the abandoned cars and trucks of their countless victims. It is curiously touching, in the middle of this polluted wasteland, to see a car that was towing a boat that still has its outboard motor attached. No one has explained what the boat was seeking at that altitude.

The plot is easily guessed. Ominous events occur. The family makes the fatal mistake of splitting up; dad walks back to the Wrong Gas Station, while the dogs bark like crazy and run away, and young Bobby chases them into the hills. Meanwhile, the mutants entertain themselves by passing in front of the camera so quickly you can't really see them, while we hear a loud sound, halfway between a swatch and a swatch, on the soundtrack. Just as a knife in a slasher movie can make a sharpening sound just because it exists, so do mutants make swatches and swatches when they run in front of cameras.

I received some appalled feedback when I praised Rob Zombie's "The Devil's Rejects" (2005), but I admired two things about it: (1) It desired to entertain and not merely to sicken, and (2) its depraved killers were individuals with personalities, histories and motives. "The Hills Have Eyes" finds an intriguing setting in "typical" fake towns built by the government, populated by mannequins and intended to be destroyed by nuclear blasts. But its mutants are simply engines of destruction. There is a misshapen creature who coordinates attacks with a walkies-talkie; I would have liked to know more about him, but no luck.

Nobody in this movie has ever seen a Dead Teenager Movie, and so they don't know (1) you never go off alone, (2) you especially never go off alone at night, and (3) you never follow your dog when it races off barking insanely, because you have more sense than the dog. It is also possibly not a good idea to walk back to the Wrong Gas Station to get help from the degenerate who sent you on the detour in the first place.

It is not faulty logic that derails "The Hills have Eyes," however, but faulty drama. The movie is a one-trick pony. We have the eaters and the ea-tees, and they will follow their destinies until some kind of desperate denouement, possibly followed by a final shot showing that It's Not Really Over, and there will be a "The Hills Have Eyes II." Of course, there was already "The Hills Have Eyes II" (1985), but then again there was "The Hills Have Eyes" (1977) and that didn't stop them. Maybe this will. Isn't it pretty to think so.
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Highly recommended for strictly hardcore horror, blood, gore fans
ringdown7 July 2006
Firstly I would like to agree with the first reviewer. If it is graphic violence and gore you want then this will be the equivalent to a Wet Dream for you. The make up artists should have had an Oscar nomination for the mutants. When Ruby takes the baby to protect her and the baby's father searches the house and the deformed kids ask him to play was one of the highlights for me.

If it's violence you want then you cannot go past this. I was totally gob smacked by its impact and if you are a horror freak and this does not satisfy then you are hard to satisfy. I enjoyed this more than Wes Craven's original version.

A 100% kick butt movie that will take a lot of beating. I will not disclose its plot as it will take away the film's impact.
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I cant believe that people can consider this a good horror
shizel_me_nizel13 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I knew the movie was going to be horrible when the plot is based on the fact that there was nuclear testing.

After the horrible nuclear testing seen (it was kinda sad cause I saw the same nuclear testing clips on just gets worse when the attendant tells them to take a 'shortcut' well it becomes obvious that they are gonna become stranded. But then you found out that their are super humans that live in mines that feed off humans because instead of getting cancer and dieing they become an uglier version of the x-men.

The movie isn't scary and doesn't keep you on the edge of your seat because even a 5 year old could foreshadow the corny surprise jump in front of the camera stab him the skull scenes.

So instead they add flavour by having diformed anti-everythingexceptforthemselves cannibals raping a teenage girl, in fact they have two people committing that disturbing ****.

And now you have the 16 year old kid that is stupid enough to chase a dog into the desert while he is well aware their are ravage beasts thirsty for his blood but yet he is smart enough to create some elaborate traps in order for them to see when the zombies coming and also a self-destructing trailer and he also has the ability to tie the nearly invincible zombie's hand with some ****ing rope.

Now I am not saying I am some up tight person who cant sit through a horror film. In fact I'm quite the opposite but I think I have better things to do then watch some diformed beings rape a girl.

Sorry if I'm not coherent its late :)
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an unoriginal piece of garbage
shadowstriker8621 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
now I've seen the original and I've seen the remake, and i gotta tell ya it's becoming a trend to make horrible remakes of original movies. Let's use Dawn of the Dead for example, the original was great because it focused on surviving from a horde of undead flesh eating monsters. But what kills it in the new one is the fact that the Zombies do 2 things, shuffle and eat. That's what made them scary, you could run away from a bunch of them, point and laugh, then look behind you and there'd be 100 more, making them run ruins it. But back to this pile of garbage called a remake of a classic. It's really almost the same movie only they tried to add a back story and just put in items that are in the same time period. Hey genius', what made the old ones great is that they were simple, family lost in desert attacked by weirdos. But this one "ooh they didn't wanna leave this nuclear test site and now we're freaks, whaaa" Oh, and also to reiterate just how horrible this movie was, I asked a bunch of people why they wanted to see it and you know what the told me? "Oh I wanna see it because it has a rape scene in it". Is that what this world has come to? Is that how low we've evolved to as human beings? That some retards actually WANT to see a woman carnally assaulted? I pray for you people, that in some small hope that you go beyond that mind set. -2 stars.
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A good, gory retelling
Gafke10 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Three generations of the Carter family - father Bob, mom Ethel and their kids, Brenda, Bobby, Lynne, Lynne's husband Doug and their baby Catherine - are driving across the New Mexico desert en route to San Diego. Looking to cut some time off of their drive they unwisely follow the directions given them by the slightly creepy gas station owner and head out onto a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Unbeknownst to the Carter's, another family lives in the high desert hills, a clan of irradiated mutant cannibals who set a clever trap for the Carter's. One minor car crash later, the Carter's are stranded in the middle of nowhere. Bob Sr. and Doug head off in opposite direction looking for help, leaving the women and children alone. When night falls, the cannibals descend upon the Carter's, raping, killing and stealing baby Catherine away. What's left of the Carter's must now become as savage as their tormentors if they want to survive and get the baby back.

This is a shockingly faithful remake in some ways and an entirely new story in others. Fans of the original film will be happy to see that the storyline does not deviate very far from Wes Craven's original tale, but fans of Aja will be quite pleased with the gratuitous gore on display as pick-axes, baseball bats and even po'd German shepherds are used as weapons. The film is very bloody and tense with a grim, filthy atmosphere; you can almost smell the rotting body parts. Everyone turns in great performances despite some moments of clunky dialog. The desolate scenery is a character all its own; hellishly hot and red, littered with vultures and crows.

My only major gripe with this film was that not a lot of time was spent with the cannibal family. They don't have a lot of dialog and what they do have isn't the greatest. The idea of Family Versus Family that was so prevalent in the original film is missing here, and instead it's Family Versus Monsters. Which is fine, but as a fan of the original, I really would have liked to see the mutants interact with each other more and been given a sense of their family dynamics. And Billy Drago, perhaps the most severely underrated actor of his time, has perhaps three minutes screen time total and one line of dialog despite the fact that his name is in the opening credits and he's playing Jupiter, the head of the mutant family. Will somebody PLEASE give Billy Drago some decent screen time for gods sake!

That said, I did enjoy this remake very much. It was impressively faithful, but it was also willing to present some new ideas. The script is idiotic in several places and there's some downright silly music towards films end, but these are perhaps petty gripes on my part. All in all, it's a fun two hours of blood, scares and horror. As far as remakes go, this is one of the better ones I've seen.

It may take place in 95 but this film feels very 70s-ish; gritty, brutal and nasty. Fans of the original will want to see it at least once, as will fans of films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Wrong Turn.

Pretty good.
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Save your money, rent the DVD if you must see it
kathy-mims13 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
What a disappointment. Complete garbage, an utter waste of time and money.

--Just gore, no suspense

--Really bad, unbelievable "mutants". Hello latex.

--So much gore that it didn't take long to become numb to it. Ho hum, more red splatter.

--Family was SO freaking annoying that you couldn't WAIT for them to get it (except the baby, who didn't have enough personality to be annoying)

--The people who think this was a great horror flick must be really, really young or haven't seen too many horror flicks
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S10 Reviews: The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
suspiria1010 March 2006
Plot: A family taking a road trip to celebrate the mother and father's silver anniversary run afoul of another type of nuclear family, one that is cannibalistic and mutated.

Alexandre (High Tension) Aja wrote and directed this remake of the 1977 Wes Craven (who is attached as a producer) semi-classic. It sticks pretty much to the source material story-wise. Almost all of the original is replicated here but a few new wrinkles were thrown into the mix mostly having to do with Jupiter's clan and their origins. A little bit of a political slant is thrown in for good measure but it's not awfully heavy-handed and most will glance over it. The remake turns up the style quite a bit over the original no surprise considering the better budget and change in directors. The gore got bumped up significantly and the family looks more disgusting than ever. Now for the big question, how does it stack up to the original?. I say it did pretty well. The original had it's flaws as well as this one but I think they were both done honestly and Aja did an excellent job trying to pay homage to the original and breathe more life into it. The acting is as good as you'd expect with a pretty good cast. Lovers of the original should be OK with it, I am.

Both the original and the remake score a 7.5 or 8 on my scale.
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