Michael Bailey Smith
Lee Thompson Young
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The Hills Have Eyes 2 - Unrated (2007)
6th Feb 08
This time round there is no American family turning feral to combat New Mexico desert dwelling cannibal mutant attackers, but instead wet-behind-the-ears National Guard trainees who have popped by to drop off equipment to a group of atomic scientists who just happen to have gone missing.
On this occasion our dribbling mutant friends, who seem very angry much of the time, have taken to nabbing women and forcibly impregnating them to ensure the survival of their clan.
With a release date set for March 2007, almost a year to the day that the remake was released, Wes Craven and his son Jonathan starting beavering away on a script for a quick sequel to the $40million plus grossing remake to his 1977 classic. To say that the project was ‘fast- tracked’ was understating things.
However Craven Senior was confident that the deadline could be met given that it only took him three days to script the notorious Last House of the Left. The online fan base was not so enthusiastic at the news stating that they want something more substantial than a quick cash in. Those that had seen Craven’s original sequel The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1985) had reason to lack enthusiasm. Surely Craven was not going to dish out a similar dog’s dinner this time round?
Craven and his son had previously worked together on Mind Ripper (1995), a movie which was originally written with the notion of being a planned The Hills Have Eyes Part III. Craven Senior came up with the idea of having the National Guard take on the mutants initially by having surviving character Brenda (played by Emile de Ravin) joining to overcome her fears. In doing so Brenda has a Ripley-in-Aliens moment when she gets to face the source of her fear back out in the New Mexico Desert, as she is only one who knows where the mutants are. However, due to de Ravin’s commitments to the TV show Lost her character was dropped but the idea of the National Guards kept.
After remake helmer Alexandre Aja passed on directing this sequel Craven cast his beady eye upon British director Michael J. Bassett whose 2006 movie Wilderness earned him festival acclaim if little in the way of box office recognition. Alas Bassett could not commit due to scheduling conflicts and Martin Weisz, director of a number of pop videos and 2006’s horror entry Rothenburg A.K.A. Grimm Love stepped in.
With a terrific teaser trailer and poster showing a mutant from behind as it dragged along another apparent victim the $15million budgeted movie opened to the standard hostile critical reception and standard box office for a second installment in a horror franchise that isn’t called Saw. Everyone knows that unless it’s The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens or The Godfather Part II, the general consensus is that sequels are rubbish and going to get a bad reception generally, more so if it is a horror sequel, and The Hills Have Eyes 2 was no exception.
It’s refreshing that the plot does not rehash the year before’s remake by having yet another family stranded in the middle of the desert or indeed opting for the standard of pretty young teens on vacation. The National Guard idea feels like it is cribbing from James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) by having ‘grunts’ go up against the beasts, thinking they are on a rescue mission.
The cast are the standard nobodies dragged in to be bloodied and assaulted by our desert living mutant chums with the women managing somehow to retain their marvelous make-up through all the violence and gore. One of them even manages to retain her clothing after a particularly daft rape scene which some critics labeled as being too graphic – if they think this is graphic they ought to try and sit through the grueling Irreversible (2002). Oddly the victim of the rape is later rescued only for all her clothes to still be on her and in good condition too! Yeah right!
The mutants are less convincing than last time round and also appear a little dumb except for the odd surprise attack but somehow they still manage to kill off the majority of the National Guards, who quite astonishingly are even dumber.
The Hills Have Eyes 2 is big dumb fun that works well on the big screen that will ideally enjoy a bigger audience on the rental market. Any movie that starts with a naked woman squeezing out a mutant baby only to get viciously killed off the moment she had dropped her ugly load is hardly gearing itself to be subtle and quite rightly so. Gear your expectations at the right level for a sequel and you may just find yourself giggling and enjoying the gore on show. Expect the bar to be set any higher and chances are that you are just as dumb as the National Guard characters in this movie.
As for the differences between the cinema release and this DVD ‘Unrated’ release there are no notable differences. One would imagine that the moniker stuck from the American release where much of the more excessive material had been trimmed for its theatrical release or that it’s just a marketing gimmick to make punters think they are getting something extra.
In the DVD extras department you get the following:
Mutant Attacks – This feature reveals the thought process behind the monsters’ make-up and character development. People that have seen the film might be genuinely shocked to discover that any thought had gone into it at all.
Birth of a Graphic Novel - The best feature on the disc is also a shameless plug-in for an associated graphic novel that details the origin stories for the hill-dwelling mutants.
‘Fox Movie Channel Presents: Life After Film School with Wes Craven’ - Three youngsters interview Wes Craven. Whilst Craven does provide some interesting anecdotes, the three young interviewers are so sycophantic that they are actually creepier than anything in the movie.
Exploring the Hills: The Making of The Hills Have Eyes 2’ - In listening to the cast talk you have to wonder if they knew how daft they were sounding when recounting their experiences on set.
Deleted Scenes – And quite rightly so
Gag Reel - Why did they bother? Desperately unfunny