Friday, March 10, 2006

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Actor Michael Berryman suffers from Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia, a rare condition leaving him with no sweat glands, hair, fingernails or teeth.

Genre: Horror Thriller

Starring: Dee Wallace-Stone (The Frighteners; Cujo), Michael Berryman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; Weird Science)

Directed By: Wes Craven (Scream; A Nightmare On Elm Street)

Overview: When a family ends up stranded in a desert wasteland once used for nuclear tests, they find that the cannibalistic inhabitants are a little less than human.

Acting: The Classic Horror of the late 70s... Oh, the acting is actually pretty decent, if you compartmentalize it. The old man at the store, Mom, Berryman, these people do really well, it was the family itself I had a few issues with. The eldest son, honestly? Way out there fruity.
Rating: 7

Cinematography: The look of the 70s was really well captured. This opened up in a similar fashion to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, all empty desert highway. They did a great job of highlighting the hills themselves, and the camerawork was immersive enough. It could have had more special effects though, the gore just didn't seem like the point.
Rating: 7

Script: "I guess dog's too good for a runaway slut like you."

The movie opens up with a disturbed lamenting old man. His words are telling without being afflicted with the common horror factor of "here's the plot, guys". Throughout the film the characters speak harsh truths and witty quips, while the family conveys a pretty clear sense of fearful survivalism about the whole situation. Wes Craven did an amazing job of writing this, and by far this is the best part of the film.
Rating: 9

Plot: The biggest problem I had with this was the eldest son, when he starts sensing trouble, decides to keep it from the rest of the family. Rather than preparing them for the worst when they needed to know that there's murderers up in them thar' hills, he keeps his mouth shut to satisfy some writer's whim at not bothering to tie up a loose end. The end was abrupt too, but other than that, some decent work.
Rating: 7

Mood: The costumes were laughable, sorry Wes. The freaks dressed up in this crappy skin tight tribal wear was not frightening at all, think wolf-teeth headbands, yeah, fromage. As for the hills and the isolation and the oppressive sense of being surrounded and spooked? Good enough.
Rating: 6

This dude's just plain ugly.

Overall Rating: 72% (Just Got Over The Hump)

Aftertaste: I actually was quite pleased with this one. I left my place on the way to go see the remake, happy that the story was a good one. Wes Craven did a fine job, though try to get over the outfits. It needed fixing a little, because special effects and a bigger budget really could have done this film justice. Things like enhancing the mood cinematographically, dressing them up in human skin instead of fur would have been more intimidating, everyone with mutations, standard stuff.