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THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977)

Article 3466 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-4-2011
Posting Date: 2-9-2011
Directed by Wes Craven
Featuring Susan Lanier, Robert Houston, Martin Speer
Country: USA
What it is: Family feud

A middle-class family gets stuck in the middle of nowhere looking for a silver mine, and find themselves the target of a family of cannibalistic mutants.

It was a good half a decade before Wes Craven returned to horror movies after his notorious THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, and this is the result.  It lacks that gritty sense of reality that made his earlier movie so memorable, but the production values are higher, it's better paced, and it avoids the comic relief that badly marred the other movie.  Yet, I find myself somewhat disappointed by this one.  The first half of the movie works the best; with one exception, our glimpses of the mutant family are so fleeting and quick that a genuine sense of dread is built up.  However, once we start seeing the mutants regularly, the dread starts to dissipate; they're overly chatty and even a little bit cartoony.  Furthermore, the concept that this middle class family will prove just as violent and brutal as the mutants (the element that is supposed to make the movie disturbing) isn't new, even for Craven; that was one of the whole points of the last part of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT as well.  Still, Michael Berryman is scary just standing there.  There would be a sequel, as well as a remake.

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