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The Hills Have Eyes

The Original 1977 film from Wes Craven

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The Bible and gender bias (neither intentional but both fit)

  • Oct 24, 2007
Pros: Plot, pacing, performances by the men

Cons: Performances by the women.

The Bottom Line: As far as horror movies go, this one is campy but still fun. The gore factor isn't that high and the story and pacing are both nearly top notch.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

And Cain went from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden (Gen 4:16).

The Hills Have Eyes has a bit of a prologue. A scavenger dressed like someone from any stock caveman flick shows up at a dusty, last gas station for scores of miles and tries to trade her stolen goods for food. The old man running the gas station will have none of it; however, it is obvious that Fred (John Steadman) and Ruby (Janus Blythe) have at least a business relationship and that Fred is terrifically frightened of her.

Enter the Carters. They are heading to California with their children and one grandchild. They stop for gas and mention wanting to go to an abandoned silver mine because it is Bob’s (Russ Grieve) and Ethel’s (Virginia Vincent) silver wedding anniversary. Fred warns them away from it and all but orders them to keep to the main road to California.

This wouldn’t be a horror film if the Carters listened, so they go down the dusty, unpaved road until, as cliché would have it, they have an accident. Here is where the fun starts. Using walkie-talkies, a group of cannibals zero in on the family who will provide for their next several meals. Some make it, some don’t: required horror movie stock.

The strange thing is that The Hills Have Eyes is good. It is a B movie, but the quality of all but part of the acting rivals that of many films of the late 70’s (1977 in this case).

A couple of decades earlier, Fred’s wife gave birth to what amounts to a monster child. When this child becomes a young man he is sent into the hills, on the west of the gas station (ok, not a perfect copy of the biblical reference, but the metaphor still works). Somehow he is able to scratch out an existence and to grow his community. There are a couple of ways to account for this, but you will either have to use your imagination here or watch the film and use your imagination there. All of the male cannibals have planetary names: Mercury, Mars, Pluto, Jupiter. I have two fairly major problems with The Hills Have Eyes and the first is the serious difficulty trying to keep track of which cannibal is which planet. It is enough to know that they are what they are as a group and their individual names are unimportant. They are genuinely gross and their behavior vis a vis the Carters is both gross and frightening (to a point, given that the movie entered the “camp” category years ago).

The other major problem is the women. Except for war movies that have no women (or women who are briefly remembered in flashback)--The Thin Red Line and Jarhead immediately come to mind—I cannot think of a film that is more gender biased than The Hills Have Eyes (however this is certainly not the intention).

Each character fits a required part in a movie of this sort; these roles are predictable and too well known to waste words on. The problem is that all the males do a very good job at playing their parts. All the women though are awful. It was as if they came to the set totally unprepared for their parts. Their expressions are blank or “horrified” but even the blankness is not convincing. One woman in particular requires that you mute the sound. Susan Lanier (Brenda Carter) screams with such a loud and shrill voice it could shatter brick; half a step higher and only dogs could hear her and their ears would likely explode. Anyone can scream, but apparently in The Hills Have Eyes not everyone can act.


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January 23, 2011
great review!!
More The Hills Have Eyes (1977 movi... reviews
review by . April 29, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
** out of ****    An American family, California-bound by RV and car, stop at a creepy gas station ran by a shady old man. We know that the gas station is creepy - and that the old man is shady - because the scene that comes before the arrival of the family, which involves a strange conversation between the old man and a young and ragged woman (who the old man hides in a closet when he hears the car door slam outside the establishment), tells us so. The family finds themselves …
Quick Tip by . September 24, 2010
I was surprised at how slow and low key this film plays considering its inbred, radioactive hillbilly villains. I felt that Craven could have pushed this flick way further...
review by . May 06, 2009
The Sawney Bean story as told by Wes Craven.
The Hills Have Eyes is one of the classic and essential horror films of the seventies. Whilst his first horror flick LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT was a product of the late sixties (despite being made in the early seventies, HILLS HAVE EYES is a definite seventies era movie. Loosely based upon the old country tale of Sawney Bean, this updated tale is about a mutated family of inbred monsters who live off the dying and radiated deserts of the southwest.      An extended family traveling …
review by . March 10, 2006
Pros: A perfectly good flick     Cons: People eating     The Bottom Line: The hills are alive ....   with the sound of screaming ...                    Yes folks, it was horror movie weekend at the Dee house (except for Into Thin Air and that was scary enough).      Basic story   Picture this - loving family and extended family on a vacation. While …
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Paul Savage ()
Ranked #29
I name and describe everything and classify most things. If 'it' already had a name, the one I just gave it is better.
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About this movie


Loosely based upon Sawney Bean and his cannibal clan.

Was submitted several times to the MPAA in order to receive an R rating.

Filmed on a budget of $230,000.

Followed by two sequels and two remakes.

When their camper breaks down in the desert on their way to California, a desperate family struggles to survive the attacks of a bizarre cannibalistic family, hungry for fresh meat and determined to terrorize the innocent vacationers. As members of the Carter clan fall prey to these inbred marauders, only a son and daughter remain to rescue their kidnapped infant and seek vengeance against the savages who have destroyed their family.
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Director: Wes Craven
Genre: Horror
Release Date: July 22, 1977
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Wes Craven
DVD Release Date: March 07, 2006
Runtime: 89 minutes
Studio: Blood Relations Co.
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