31 Days of Halloween – Day 8 – The Hills Have Eyes
The Hills Have Eyes (1977) reminded me of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, mostly because of the grim and gritty nature, though both stories deviate a lot in plot development. In both cases, there are a bunch of innocent characters attacked by outsiders and strange people living nearby on the alien landscape. I say alien because both movies include a road trip to a new place, which the family takes in an RV, in the case of The Hills Have Eyes. They intend to go somewhere on vacation, but end up in an unfamiliar place with strange surroundings.
In continuing my comparison with Texas Chainsaw, I would say that The Hills Have Eyes has better performances, but the villains lack the visceral nature of Leatherface and his pals. As an odd, inhuman killing machine, Leatherface fits the bill. There are a number of scenes and little details thrown into The Hills Have Eyes to humanize the killers. It’s doesn’t make you want to hug them or anything, but it has way more character building than Leatherface ever got.
Also, the kills are a little more drawn out and creative in The Hills Have Eyes. The family’s father is tied to a tree and set on fire, while the mother gets shot and used as bait for cannibals. Until all that happens, I guess you could say the pace is a little off. I mean, it’s a little slow in Texas Chainsaw Massacre too, but I thought the kids were a little more likeable.
The desert is a good place to characterize as foreign and desolate. I think Wes Craven may have been trying for a stark juxtaposition against other more comfortable films or 70s war movies set in the jungle. Also, the Deliverance-style killings hold nothing back. In contrast to a purely nihilistic film, there is some hope thrown in as the family strikes back and tries to rescue each other. This is the ultimately why The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is much more effective in keeping the foot on the gas pedal and the tension high.
In the end, it’s just splitting hairs in comparing those two movies. One is gruesome, and the other is a little less gruesome. Either way, it’s gruesome. The Hills Have Eyes definitely has more going on and the plot is more complex, but that hurts the tension and the focus. I guess it might depend on how much you like the characters. To some, a single girl just running around is boring, but The Hills Have Eyes has double the amount of victims and killers to compensate. I was pleased by the good performances when I wasn’t expecting them, but I wasn’t expecting much to begin with.
31. Poltergeist (1982) vs Poltergeist (2015)
30. Blair Witch Project (1999)
29. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
28. The Wicker Man (1973) and The Wicker Man Remake
27. Tales from the Darkside, the Movie (1990)
26. Saw (2004)
25. The Prophecy (1995)
24. The Hills have Eyes (1977)
23. House of the Long Shadows (1983)
22. Creepshow (1982)
21. Phantasm (1979)
20. The Omen (1976) vs Damien: The Omen II
19. We Are Still Here (2015)
18. The Guest (2010)
17. Return of the Living Dead (1985)
15. The House that Dripped Blood (1971)
14. Army of Darkness (1992)
13. In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
12. Friday the 13th Part III
11. Theater of Blood (1973)
10. House of Wax (1953) vs House of Wax (2005)
9. Hellraiser Inferno (2000)
8. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
7. The Changeling (1980)
6. The Eye (2002)
5. The Hitcher (1986)
4. Paranormal Activity (2007)
3. 28 Days Later (2003)
2. Suspiria (1977)
1. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – This review will be published October 31st!