Director: Wes Craven
Screenplay: Wes Craven
Starring: Robert Houston, David Nichols, Virginia Vincent, Janus Blythe, Michael Berryman, John Bloom, Kevin Spirtas, Tamara Stafford), John Laughlin, Peter Frechette, Willard E. Pugh, Colleen Riley, Penny Johnson
Running Time: 86min
BBFC Classification: 18
The Hills Have Eyes Part II is the sequel to Wes Craven’s infamous 1977 classic The Hills Have Eyes, the hills are once again over-run with vapid kids roaming the desert looking for fun, but why pick this one, people keep going missing in it. The Hills have Eyes is based on a true story according to Wes, it’s inspired by a Scottish clan lead by Sawney Bean who enjoyed killing and eating his victims in the Middle Ages. The ill-fated gang this time are a motocross team who travel to the desert to test a new fuel, unknown to them one of their team Rachel (Janus Blythe) is an ex-member of the cannibal gang who lurk in the hills. The group take no heed of tales of the Carter family and terrifying hill cannibals, deciding to take the ubiquitous short-cut through the desert. The party soon run into trouble as they come across the remains of the cannibal band and get the pleasure of Pluto’s (Michael Berryman) and The Reaper’s (John Bloom) company. The Hills Have Eyes Part II was made before Wes’s hit, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and aims to be slightly more fun than its predecessor, but does it hit the mark?
Bobby Carter (Robert Houston) relives the nightmare of his cannibal ordeal, eight years earlier aided by his psychiatrist, just in case we have forgotten all the grisly deaths from part one we are treated to a steady supply of disturbing flashbacks. He and Rachel have invented a super fuel for bikes and decide to test out their invention in the infamous cannibal riddled desert. Bobby can’t be convinced to go back, but Rachel seems fine with the idea of returning to the doomed desert, so the team pile on a bus and set off. The ill-fated group are made up of Roy (Kevin Spirtas) and blind girlfriend Cass (Tamara Stafford), Hulk (John Laughlin), Harry (Peter Frechette), Foster (Willard E. Pugh), Jane (Colleen Riley), Sue (Penny Johnson) and of course Beast the dog. You’ve guessed it, once in the desert the fuel line on the bus springs a leak and they take refuge in an old mine where the dreaded Pluto makes an appearance. At first the group do not believe what is happening but as the body count starts to rise they have no choice but to fight for their lives amidst a torrent of rocks, spears and machetes.
It must be admitted that The Hills Have Eyes Part II did not achieve the ground breaking shocker status that part one managed to acquire, however I still enjoyed it, for its retro charm, although the flashbacks do feel like a bit of a cheapo option to bulk out the horror. This is not one of Wes Craven’s finest moments, which he seems to agree with, as he apparently disowned it. Having said that Michael Berryman is excellent as Pluto, while Robert Houston and Janus Blythe shore up the rest of the cast in this mis-adventure. Quite a few aspects of the film are confused; why would Bobby want to live with Rachel and be constantly reminded of his anthropophagus hell and it’s rather odd that Rachel has assimilated into conventional life with such seeming ease. Rachel appears quite happy wearing fashionable clothing and living a normal life after the depravity of being in a cannibal gang, which is handy for the plot, but perplexing. The Hills Have Eyes Part II seems to be riding on the back of the notoriety of part one but even if you decide that this is not your favourite film, it’s one you have to watch, so that you have crossed it off the list.
The Hills Have Eyes Part II is out on Blu-Ray on the 16th of September 2019, I reviewed the Blu-ray and I found it to be of high picture and sound quality. The original film is low budget so expect some graininess and marks as it is transferred from the original film, Arrow have done a great job of the transfer. It’s also got the original uncompressed mono audio which further adds to the authentic feel of the film, you could be back in the cinema in the 80’s.
Limited edition contents includes
- Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original uncompressed mono audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues
- Blood, Sand, and Fire: The Making of The Hills Have Eyes Part II – brand new making-of documentary featuring interviews with actor Michael Berryman, actress Janus Blythe, production designer Dominick Bruno, composer Harry Manfredini and unit production manager/first assistant director John Callas
- Still gallery
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- 6 Postcards
- Reversible fold-out Poster
- Limited Edition 40-page booklet featuring new writing on the film by Amanda Reyes and an archival set visit from Fangoria
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shipper
A splendid selection of extras helps to make this a fascinating addition to your collection. You can see that the extras are the same great quality that you have come to expect from Arrow, including the good quality box, excellent booklet, cards and double sides poster, there’s a lot of nice extra detail here to delight you. The film gets three stars, but the box set is faultless for quality and the sheer quantity of extras.