Review: The Hills Have Eyes (1977)


By Sean Gardner

The Hills Have Eyes is written and directed by horror legend Wes Craven. Craven gave us scary movie icons like Freddy Kruger from A Nightmare on Elm Street and Ghost Face from Scream. The Hills Have Eyes was one of his first films however, and to be honest, it shows.

The concept is simple yet terrifying: a family on its way to California for vacation, decides take a side trip and visit a silver mine. As can be expected, they skid off the road and never make it to the mine. So they are stranded in the desert and begin to be terrorized by a pack of radioactively mutated, inbred cannibals.

Sounds pretty creepy, right? Even the title evokes that all too familiar feeling of being watched by something unseen. On paper it has potential, however in execution it is mediocre.  The acting is needlessly over the top; especially one female character that, at times of safety, would be screaming for no reason at all.  The family’s dog, Beast, is unrealistically intelligent and shows up to save the day in ways that are just too convenient to believe.

To be fair there were some truly unsettling moments. The fight in the trailer was claustrophobic and heart-pounding. Craven showed glimpses of a bright future of cinematic darkness, but only glimpses.

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