For horror-movie aficionados, Wes Craven’s 1977 The Hills Eyes is regarded as one of the hidden gems of the genre. This brutal tale of a civilized family doing battle with a group of murderous mutants in an atomic-test-zone desert remains a classic, and its 2006 remake directed by Alexandre Aja also garnered acclaim. One of Hills’ unique aspects was how the besieged family’s pet dogs played a key role by defending their masters. When a particularly vile and detestable mutant gets its (his?) offscreen comeuppance at the paws of a German Shepherd in the remake, one can’t help but jump to their feet and cheer.
Like most movie sequels, The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 falls short of its predecessor in every department, which is probably why director Craven disowned it and it sat on a shelf for years before release. Bad as the movie is, it contains a classic moment of pure absurdity: a dog has a flashback. Part 2 relies heavily on scenes from the original — so much so that it’s as if they ran out of characters who could recollect previous events, so they gave some to the family dog (who remembers things in full color).
Wes Craven went on to create A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984, which made Freddy Kruger one of the most famous horror icons. Craven struck gold again in 1996 when he directed Scream, a clever take on the clichés and formulas of the slasher genre that ruled cinema in the late 1970s and early 80s.
Hills Have Eyes Part 2 is available on Blu-ray for $14.95 (MSRP), but it’s cheaper at big-box retailers like Best Buy, or online at Amazon.com.