*** Out of 5
Tagline- So You Think You’re Lucky to be Alive
Release Date- August, 1985
Running Time- 90-Minutes
Writer/Director- Wes Craven
Starring- Tamara Stafford, Kevin Blair, Janus Blythe, John Blood and Michael Berryman
Wes Craven has had a very odd career as he’s made several films that I and many horror fans hold in very high regard, but then there is the other side of Craven where you wonder how a filmmaker with such classics can make such awful movies. It seems Craven is very hit or miss from one film to the next. After is classic debut The Last House on the Left he followed that up with the Hills Have Eyes in 1977, but his career wouldn’t really get going until 1984 with A Nightmare on Elm Street and even after that he had a few ups and downs. From what I read The Hills Have Eyes Part II was shelved for a couple of years and released in 1985 after the box office success of Elm Street. In Hills Have Eyes Part II its stated the events of the original are 8-years ago, which would make the year 1985, but I suppose that doesn’t mean much; Wes Craven has stated this film was done simply for the money and many fans consider this one of his worst films, but I would actually disagree (My Soul to Take for me takes the worst), but I actually find this a fun movie. Bottom line yes this is a bad movie and far inferior to the original, but when you get past that you can have some fun in how poor the movie is.
There really wasn’t much of a plot and the movie does feature some characters from the original Bobby (Houston) and Ruby (Blythe) now under the name Rachel run a dirt bike team and they’re on their way to their first race when the bus breaks down in the very same desert Bobby and his family were tormented by years ago. The first movie is often dubbed a slasher film, but I personally wouldn’t label it on, but Hills Have Eyes Part II very much plays up to the slasher movie set ups and I suppose that might have something to do with the popularity of the slasher film at the time. The score was by Harry Manfredini best known for scoring the Friday the 13th films and at times the score is the exact same with some tweaks here and there and for a moment you might think you’re watching a Friday the 13thsequel.
The screenplay by Craven is an absolute mess filled with very annoying characters that are obnoxious and the sooner they die the better. While in some ways the characters can be fun, but more often than not they are annoying with some fun moments here and there. Not much of a shocker, but they lack any depth and are simply here to pad the body count. There is a lot of footage from the original film, which are flashbacks and even the dog Beast from the original movie has a flashback!!! When a dog has a flashback not much of a surprise you got a bad movie waiting to be trashed, but it is rather funny if you ask me. Not all is totally lost with the characters since Cass (Stafford) is a fairly interesting character and the only likeable character as well. Cass is blind and what she lacks in sight she makes up in other areas. The idea of a blind woman as the final girl isn’t really new as the thriller Wait Until Dark had a blind Audrey Hepburn terrorized. However the idea while interesting isn’t played to its full potential, but with that said I did like the character of Cass even if she lacks any depth.
As director Wes Craven crafts a sloppy film and it’s hard to believe this was the same filmmaker behind Last House on the Left and A Nightmare on Elm Street, but as I stated earlier Wes always seemed to be hit or miss, but when it’s a hit he’s as good as any horror filmmaker from any era. The first half of the movie doesn’t really feature a lot of action, but the idiocy of the movie though does keep things fairly entertaining. The action kicks in during the 2nd half and they aren’t very gory or disturbing and overall they play out like a slasher flick and again the score makes it seem like you’re watching a Friday the 13th movie. While the action scenes might lack they are also entertaining at times. The direction might be sloppy and the film poorly made, but yet these elements instead of hurting the film make it entertaining and while most of the reviews have trashed the movie it has built up a cult following and I am one of those people that actually enjoys the movie.
Overall The Hills Have Eyes Part II is a very poorly made and sloppy effort from Wes Craven, but yet there is just something about the movie I really enjoy even if at times in can be annoying. Again I like the movie, but it’s easy to understand why so many consider this Craven’s worst or one of them. It’s far inferior to the original film, but with all that said again I cannot help, but enjoy it.