0/4, 1980s, Horror, Review, Wes Craven

The Hills Have Eyes: Part II

#24 in my ranking of Wes Craven’s filmography.

Well, it was in focus, at least. Made before A Nightmare on Elm Street, left uncompleted with only three-quarters of the film actually shot, and then hastily assembled with a heavy amount of footage from the first film right afterwards to try and capitalize on Wes Craven’s suddenly saleable name, The Hills Have Eyes: Part II reminded me a lot of Halloween II. Both are rushed sequels from the original creators (Carpenter just wrote the Halloween sequel without directing it) that have no real concept of where to go with the limited concepts of the original. Carpenter at least went a bit outrageous with his sequel. Craven obviously was in it only for the check. In a filmography where I’ve found myself using the word “dull” a lot, this takes the cake. This movie is outright boring from beginning to end.

Beginning with Bobby (Robert Houston), the younger brother survivor of the first film talking with his psychologist about the events of the last film which allows for heavy use of flashback to fill out the runtime. He never appears in the film again, though. Instead we get a handful of dirt bikers who worked with Bobby to develop a new super fuel that they hope to sell at a big race. In order to get there, though, they have to pass close to where the cannibals that Bobby had encountered and defeated live. Because of course.

They’re all incredibly stupid, though, and they forgot about daylight savings time, leaving an hour later than they should have, which means they’ll be later than they can get into the race. They must take a shortcut, and it cuts right through the cannibal territory. The gas line gets cut as they go, and they end up stuck near a seemingly deserted set of buildings in search of gas. They also suddenly seem to be in no hurry and just kind of wander around. There was no thought that went into any of this. It’s lazy to the extreme.

Out of the characters, none of them really matter, but the most prominent are Cass (Tamara Stafford), a blind girl, her boyfriend Roy (Kevin Spirtas), and Rachel (Janus Blythe), the eldest member of the group who was actually Ruby in the previous film, having run away from her cannibal family with Bobby to live a new life. Once there, we get a sequence where Pluto (Michael Berryman) sneaks up on Rachel, hits her in the head, and then runs away with one of the dirt bikes, chased by Roy and Harry (Peter Frechette), and it’s just such an odd little sequence. It’s just a dirt bike chase in the middle of this supposed horror film/slasher. Not terribly exciting stuff, and it ends really oddly with Harry forcing Pluto forward with a noose around his neck while Pluto pushes the bike through a rocky terrain after they had gotten to where they are over sandy terrain. Whatever. Harry dies because he’s an idiot.

I’m not the biggest fan of slashers, but I get their appeal. Their appeal is technical, exploitative, and visceral, which means that people go in looking for sex and violence. Well, here, the sex is barely there and the violence is hidden or an afterthought. One person gets crushed by a boulder, but all we see is his arm sticking out from the side. One is killed by being dragged under a bus, later to be found with an ax in his head, but we don’t see the actual act. It’s surprisingly tame, and it has the hallmarks of a production rushing towards completion as fast as possible.

So, the characters don’t matter and are generally stupid (my favorite being Cass, the one established as having super hearing and smell because of her blindness, not hearing the horrible screams a few hundred feet away from her or being able to tell the difference in smell between water and blood), it drags for about an hour as they wander around, splitting up, and getting themselves killed, and when it’s not silly it’s just boring. The movie didn’t even have enough footage to fill a feature length runtime, so Craven just used at least ten minutes of footage from the original while probably utilizing everything he shot, which increases the boringness.

There is nothing to this film. From a basic narrative point of view, it’s dead on arrival. From a visceral, just enjoy the gore, point of view, there’s literally nothing to enjoy. There’s barely even any T&A. This is probably the worst movie of Craven’s career, and I can see why he would disown it.

Rating: 0/4

9 thoughts on “The Hills Have Eyes: Part II”

  1. I’ve heard of this, but never had the desire to see it. The more of these reviews I read, the more I think Craven was great at coming up with a concept, but had little talent in turning that concept into a story. Or at least a story worth telling.

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    1. I agree completely. It’s why I keep thinking he needed a really good writing partner. Someone to sit in a room with for weeks on end as Craven talked about what he wanted to do while the writer figured out how to do it.

      This sequel is a bit of an exception, though. He was desperate for cash and just took it. It was an act of desperation disconnected from artistic intent.

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  2. Zero. That may be a first. I don’t recall another one anyway. Have not seen it, would not see it even without your scorched earth type review.

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