The Hills Have Eyes (1977) [review]

The brilliance of this film is that it is not a story centred on teens dealing with some evil that wishes to kill them. We have the whole family here, from the two parents, two sisters, a brother and one of the sister’s husband. Who must all come together to fight the murderous group of a family who live in the hills and seem to come unhinged.

While the film does give some reason to why those living in the hills are set on murder, we never really go into any depth, leaving the audience to come up with their own reason and therefore build up the tension and give us reason to fear them. Although this may seem tame by today’s standards.

This film feels more like one that does not need to rush to the next big moment of gore and brutality. It lets us see the family in turmoil as they deal with what is going on, in ways of what each family member feels towards each other. A normal family that is stuck in a situation where there is nobody to come and save them in the middle of nowhere, the phones and radios are useless due to the hills blocking the signals. Therefore, there’s only the wits of the family to use what they have at hand.

There are a couple of moments of dialog which are a little obvious and unnecessary, as we can see what is happening on screen and don’t need the information presented to us verbally as well as visuals. But these moments are so quickly over and done with that we barely notice them.

The only thing that bugs me with this film is that Doug Wood (Martin Speer) for the majority of the film refers to his and Lynne Wood’s (Dee Wallace) child as The Baby, instead of Katy (Brenda Marinoff). For whatever reason, it has always felt as if he is distancing himself from his own child, as if he cannot come to terms with the idea of Katy being his. Only towards the end of the film does he begin to call her by her name. Then again, this could be seen the growth when it comes to Doug, who does seem to grow from being a man a who feels a little up himself to a person we begin to like towards the end of the film.

Then again, all the characters seem to grow and change over the period of the film, being something more than when we first meet them. As you’d expect in a situation like this; becoming stronger and understanding that the world is more than their pleasant lives have been up to this point. That the world is not the safe place they’ve come accustomed to

This is a film that is worth your time and enjoyable for the journey we go on with all the characters we come upon.

The score by Don Peake is another great part of this, never outdoing the moment in which is features, while simultaneously sounding good on its own.

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