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The Hills Have Eyes Part 2(1984)
A group of bikers, which includes some of the survivors from the original film, embark on a journey by bus to a biker race near the desert of the infamous incidents. However, because of a mistake they are late and decide to take a shortcut through the desert. Halfway through the desert the bus breaks down. While trying to repair the bus, some of the group wander off, and wind up in the traps of the survivors of the mutant family of the first. Then the mutants go after the rest...
For more about The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 and the The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 Blu-ray release, see the The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on April 21, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 1.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tamara Stafford, Kevin Spirtas, John Bloom, Michael Berryman, Colleen Riley, Penny Johnson
Director: Wes Craven
» See full cast & crew
The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 Blu-ray Review
The biggest horror let-down since Exorcist II.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, April 21, 2012
Awful, unnecessary sequels aren't unusual in the horror genre, but they're rarely as bad or as inessential as The Hills Have Eyes II, Wes Craven's 1985 cash-in of a follow-up to his 1977 classic. The original, even today, is a disturbingly brutal exercise in terror, upping the ante set by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and serving as an eventual template for the "travelers stalked by crazies" subgenre--see Hostel, Wolf Creek, etc.--that in the 2000s came to be called "torture porn." Part II, on the other hand, is far goofier than it is scary, a very nearly bloodless desert escapade that has little going for it beyond 1980s nostalgia. It's hard to believe the director made this dross just a year after Nightmare on Elm Street, another bonafide genre game-changer. Craven has long-since disowned the film, claiming he only did it for the money, and that's blindingly obvious in every frame. The only thing shocking about The Hills Have Eyes II is how little thought and passion went into the finished product.
The film's start is actually halfway promising. As any child of the '80s knows, there were few things more badass in the Reagan era than dirt bikes, so it initially bodes well that Bobby Carter (Robert Houston), one of the traumatized survivors from the first movie, has started a motocross team in an attempt to move on with his life. He's even invented a "super-fuel" that gives his riders a competitive boost. Radical. But it's all downhill from here. Bobby's team is scheduled to compete in a tournament out in the same desert where his family was murdered, and he's understandably wary about returning, especially after he has a psychotherapy-induced flashback to the time he had to use his mom's corpse as bait. Gnarly.
But it's not just Bobby who's plagued by flashbacks; the first third of the film itself pads its runtime generously with clips from the previous film, and it's telling--and depressing--that these are by far the best scenes in Part II. It gets worse. Bobby flat-out refuses to go back to the desert, so that's it--he's out of the story completely. Going in his stead is team co-owner Ruby (Janus Blythe), the reformed cannibal clan member who turned on her kin in Part I and now goes by the name Rachel. (Of course, nobody knows about her secret past.) She gathers up the team members and their vacuous girlfriends--mutant fodder, all--and drives off into the desert in a bitchin' school bus. Later, in the backseat, Bobby's dog, Beast, dreams of his canine triumph over the deformed Pluto (Michael Berryman). Yes, you read that right--even the dog has a flashback.
Naturally, the team decides to take a dirt road shortcut through the missile range where Rachel grew up, and naturally, the bus breaks down outside a semi-abandoned mining camp with an animal bone-adorned sign out front that says "WELCUM." Did I mention the team was forced into the taking the shortcut because they forget to set their clocks forward and are in danger of missing the race registration deadline? (So, not only does The Hills Have Eyes II have a dog flashback, it's also probably the only film ever with a plot turn that hinges on Daylight Saving Time? Brilliant.) You can probably guess what happens next.
Yes indeedy, them thar hills still have eyes. The cone-headed Pluto--who was merely incapacitated by Beast, apparently--still lurks on the range with his impressively bearded, seven-foot-tall uncle, The Reaper (John Bloom), both antsy to kill anyone who stumbles onto their property. And they proceed to do so, albeit in the most boring, unimaginative and gore-free ways. Where the first movie featured cruelly sadistic and borderline realistic violence, this one goes for lame boobie-traps and off-camera kills, the stuff of eye-rolling horror fan disappointment. And you will be disappointed, even if you're expecting some kind of so-bad-it's-good scenario. This one's just all-around bad.
It's hard to even know where to start when cataloging the movie's let-downs and head-scratching incompetencies and general signs of just- don't-give-a-damn-ness on the part of Wes Craven, who also penned the script. Plot holes, coincidences, and unlikely motivations abound. The film's "last girl," the blind Cass (Tamara Stafford), has semi-psychic abilities and heightened senses of hearing and smell, but her powers are frustratingly inconsistent, leading to more than one moment that will leave you thinking wait, shouldn't she have heard that coming? Another character thinks it wise--after the killings have already started--to take a shower out in the open, with nary a curtain to protect her. And Craven doesn't even give us the gratuitous T&A you'd expect from that kind of otherwise pointless scene. Pluto, so ominous in the original film, is turned silly, played for lame-brain comic relief. The biggest disappointment, though, is that Bobby doesn't show up at the end like you'd hope for a heroic showdown; his part in the film is literally confined to the first ten minutes. I could run through the entire litany of the movie's cinematic offenses, but you already get the point. The Hills Have Eyes II is a careless, charmless cash-grab that never even remotely channels the terror and dread of its predecessor.
The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Image Entertainment's Blu-ray release of the original Hills Have Eyes last year was an unmitigated disaster, a standard definition up-convert plagued by edge enhancement and aliasing, fuzzy textures and splotchy colors. It looks horrible. Part II, however, gets a bonafide 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer courtesy of Kino-Lorber, and the results--while not what you might call eye candy--are satisfying and faithful to source. First of all, there's no doubt that you're getting an actual high definition image this time. Though the picture is often quite soft--this is, after all, a dingy low-budget 35mm feature from the mid-1980s--there's more fine detail here than you'd ever spot on the equivalent DVD. If you watch a lot of cheapo horror from this time period, you've probably got a good idea what you're in for, clarity-wise. Color reproduction seems as good as can be expected as well, with no major tone fluctuations and a picture that's decently saturated. The only issue here--and this stems from the way the film was shot, I'm sure--is that the black levels during some of the nighttime scenes are seriously oppressive. In some of the underexposed and under-lit shots it's even hard to tell what's going on. I wouldn't advise watching this one with any bright lights on--or in a window-filled room during the day--particularly if your screen is prone to glare. The print itself features some negligible damage--white/black specks, mostly--but nothing especially distracting. There's no sign of overt edge enhancement, DNR, or compression woes either.
The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
While I'm pretty tolerant of age-related print damage, poorly recorded and reproduced audio grates a bit more forcibly on my nerves. The Hills Have Eyes II features an uncompressed Linear PCM 2.0 stereo track that's brash, overly loud, and even occasionally distorted. I have no doubt Kino did what they could with the original audio--which probably wasn't much--but the end result is a peaky, bright and brittle-sounding crackle-a-thon that, at best, might generously be described with a wince and a shrug as listenable. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's an endurance test--you'll get through it with only mild aural discomfort--but the mix is far from a pleasurable experience, with tinny effects and a top-heavy score. The dialogue, even when murky, is at least understandable, but if you need or want subtitles you're out of luck--none are supplied.
The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The lone extras on the disc are a theatrical trailer, a gallery with 23 stills, and a collection of trailers for Redemption's Jean Rollin releases.
The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I can forgive Wes Craven for this one. We all gotta get paid. But let's just put The Hills Have Eyes II back on the trash heap of cinematic history where it belongs and forget about it. Agreed? What's really sad here is that Part II looks immeasurably better on Blu-ray than the original--a true travesty. Unless you're some sort of Hills Have Eyes completist--and I'm sure there are at least a few of you out there--I wouldn't bother with this release.
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