Quint spies THE HILLS HAVE EYES!!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a little look at the newest big studio remake of a classic '70s horror movie, THE HILLS HAVE EYES.
Let me start off by saying that I really like Wes Craven's original film. I like the harshness, the rugged shooting style and the overall feeling of ordinary people overcoming these brutal freaks in the desert. I love the trailer, too, where the 70s trailer voice guy talks about this family "turning anything into a weapon... the family station wagon... the family dog..." Seen that trailer at least a dozen times at the Alamo Drafthouse and have seen the original film a couple of times there as well.
However, THE HILLS HAVE EYES isn't one of those films I feel is untouchable, that any remake is automatically blasphemous. I felt that way about DAWN OF THE DEAD, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and I feel that way now about BLACK CHRISTMAS, just because I know that 70s style of film won't be done justice by modern moviemaking... at least in the hands of those that made FINAL DESTINATION 3.
I also loved Alexandre Aja's HAUTE TENSION (and yes, I am one of those that thinks the ending is retarded and almost negates the whole movie that happened before it). Talk about brutal, inventive and intense. Aja was the right guy to do this movie and the early word was phenomenal as were the advertising materials... trailers, posters, etc.
For those that don't know the original, the film is about a family driving cross country, headed for San Diego. There's a mom and pop (Kathleen Quinlan and Ted Levine), their married daughter (Vinessa Shaw), her husband (Aaron Stanford) and child (some baby). Her siblings, teenaged Emilie de Ravin (Claire from LOST) and Dan Byrd are along as well. Oh, and don't forget the two family pets, German Shepherds named Beauty and Beast. They get stranded in the middle of the desert and some mutated hillbilly people fuck 'em up. Real bad.
I have to say I was a little let down by the movie. It's not bad, mind you. Actually, there are some really great things about the movie. However the film is one rewrite away from being the movie it wants to be.
Aja and long time co-writer Gregory Levasseur's script is almost there. The first act is nothing but repeated exposition. "It's my folks' silver anniversary... Did I mention they've been together 25 years and are road tripping it because it's their anniversary? That's why we came along, it's their anniversary..." and they also set up the fact that the cell phones have no reception about 3 times too many.
Throughout the story, they get most of the movie right. It is a good movie, just not a great one. Every time they seem to find their flow, a character does something incredibly stupid in order to get from one point in the story to another. For instance, there's a character in the movie who has gone through hell, seen many family members die... Is pissed off and is ready to blow the hell out of any of these guys... This character notices that one of the family members' body has been dragged away. The character finds a hillbilly eating the body... and while this character has a gun and catches the hillbilly completely unawares they decide to suddenly make him afraid, not pissed off like this character has been throughout the movie. So, this character gets chased, deciding to shoot only when he's running so fast he can't hit anything... all so there can be a really nice set piece back at the broken trailer.
There's also the classic Jamie Lee move where the hero drops their weapon at the feet of a bad guy they think they've killed.
The good far outweighs the bad, though. Aja isn't afraid to push the limits of the R-rating and the limits of what audiences will take. He waves guns in the faces of babies, he kills off a ton of the family, making you feel like no one is safe... and he kills them in fucked up ways.
The look of the film, like HAUTE TENSION is slightly saturated, but it feels a lot like the 70s-esque cinematography on THE DEVIL'S REJECTS. It's not as flashy as REJECTS, but you get that grainy feeling.
I liked all the characters, despite them doing some really stupid shit. Emilie de Ravin is hot as ever and gets traumatized something awful, Ted Levine is as gruff and badass as he's ever been, Kathleen Quinlan reminded me a lot of Shaun's mom from SHAUN OF THE DEAD in this... very likable, the heart of the family, Vinessa Shaw is also gorgeous and has some great moments and Dan Byrd is solid as the youngest boy with too much responsibility as the movie progresses.
The real star of the movie is Aaron Stanford, though. He doesn't escape the screenwriting problems (in fact he has to suffer through the majority of them), but he has a great arc from pacifist to the vengeful protector of the family unit. I just found out Aaron Stanford also played PYRO in X2 and that is fucking with my mind because he looks so completely different in HILLS HAVE EYES. I expect we'll see many toys made from Stanford's character in this one.
KNB does solid work as always... their dead body work can't be beat. They do up corpses right. However, the decision was made somewhere down the line to make the Hill people more monstrous than this kind of unrelenting evil. There's one fella that has a fight with Stanford that felt very much out of JASON X or something. This big hulking dude that looked like Sloth mixed with Gothmog. This also leads to much, much too much exposition on government bomb testing and how these people were created.
So, in the end I'd call this film a flawed, but still really good horror movie. The only real gripe I have, overall, is just seeing how close this film was to firing on all cylinders... with a little more work this could have been a great movie, not just a really good one. But it is a hard R rated horror film, thank god. One of these days Aja is going to really knock one out of the park. I can't wait for that day, but until then I'm happy to watch him keep putting men on bases, gearing up for his grand slam.
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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March 8, 2006, 4:51 a.m. CST
Just thought I'd take a punt.
March 8, 2006, 4:52 a.m. CST
Like EVERY horror film then!
March 8, 2006, 5:10 a.m. CST
by Virtual Satyr
with the chick going to the killer's house, rescuing a girl, and killing the the killer who turned out to be a sheriff...oh wait, if they done that, they would have called it "Intensity".
March 8, 2006, 5:18 a.m. CST
I love the original and feel the same about Switchblade Romance (stupid stupid fucking ending). I'm not looking forward to this so much. The trailer was okay but I do feel a bit like, what's the point in this movie? They already remade it when they did Wrong Turn. Making everybody related and putting it in the desert's not gonna justify another overpriced cinema ticket. Sounds like this Aja guy needs better writers. If it wasn't for the writing slacking off at the end, Switchblade Romance would be one of the greatest horror movies of all time, as it is it's merely half of one.
March 8, 2006, 5:50 a.m. CST
by Bicycle Thief
I find these new horror remakes too flashy. They need to slow down a little. The fast MTV style editing reminds me too much that I'm watching movie so the sense of immersion is lost.
March 8, 2006, 5:56 a.m. CST
...she's damn foxy!
March 8, 2006, 5:57 a.m. CST
...she's damn foxy!
March 8, 2006, 6:16 a.m. CST
by Det. John Kimble
She is teh sexy.
March 8, 2006, 6:42 a.m. CST
by Mr. Profit
This has nothing to do with Hills. TCM3 wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be... I enjoyed it. But it kinda reminded me of the 2003 remake. Fast paced, clean looking. Also High Tension is a great film, ending and all. I don't see why the ending pisses everyone on AICN off so much. Then most of you turn around and love Land of the Dead.
March 8, 2006, 6:59 a.m. CST
It was lame and utterly illogical. It felt cheesy and tacked onto what had previously been an awesome fucking film. Barbed wire to the face!!
March 8, 2006, 7:43 a.m. CST
by Negative Man
...finally choke on his own crap. You kids rant about Brett Ratner being bad and let this guy get off easy. Yeah, many don't like Alexandre Aja, but you don't hit him with the passionate hate he deserves. Sorry. Ranting. But here's a guy that has ONLY made crap. His short film were crap and his features were crap. He and Uwe Boll may both 'hit one out of the park' if they direct long enough to get the chance. I say: Stop them BOTH now!
March 8, 2006, 8:20 a.m. CST
Don't even rent it. The FX are great, but that is to be expected. Our audience was laughing at the screen -- and there were no jokes being told. I even overheard someone whisper: "This was worse than Underworld: Evolution".... does that tell you anything? Oh well.
March 8, 2006, 9:29 a.m. CST
made me want to rip my eyeballs out of my head and hurl them at the screen in defiance of the utterly illogical and completely reTAHded twist ending...I will forever approach Aja's work with EXTREME caution.
March 8, 2006, 9:51 a.m. CST
by Childe Roland
It was a special flavor of overly contrived, revisionist ass. Insulting to the intelligence and just fucking mastubatory. Ooooh....evil, hot lesbian! Like Sharon Stone from Basic Instinct but with a self-hate complex. It was so fucking French it made me want to invade and occupy it just so I could crap all over it and leave. That said, I will probably rent the Hills remake because I have a special place in my heart for the original and am curious to see how it translates into the modern era. My bet is: not well.
March 8, 2006, 10:03 a.m. CST
please dont get confused... the little girl's deformed face isnt from some nuke like the rest of em... she just couldnt handle what i was packing.
March 8, 2006, 10:19 a.m. CST
by heywood jablomie
Genre-geek filmmakers take the horror classics of their youth and decide to remake them...taking out everything they liked about them in the first place, except shots of gore-bespattered hot chicks screaming. What the fuck is Tobe's Texas Chain Saw Massacre if not a grimy, grainy, pseudo-documentary look at a bunch of inbred hayseeds...that looks like it was MADE BY a bunch of inbred hayseeds? What the fuck is the point of turning that into a fucking slicked-up Michael Bay horror movie about Jessica Biel's abs? (Though I like them. To the brink of tears.) Or the even more stupid, even more slicked-up When a Stranger Calls remake? Hills Have Eyes was an angry movie about the violence of the seventies. This will be another dumbass A-ha movie about "How X-TREME can I be?" A-ha and Eli Roth should be tied together, back to back, and burned alive. That'd be extreme.
March 8, 2006, 10:30 a.m. CST
We need more non bullshit writing like this on the site, a deft mix of opinion and fact, with just enough history to know where the reviewer is coming from, and without all the transitory backstory of my day bullshit for paragraphs upon paragraphs first, or the often over-indulgent prattle that many too often fill their reviews with. Great stuff, kudos.
March 8, 2006, 10:40 a.m. CST
quint's review is spot on, and for all those sound freaks out there the mix for the first 45 minutes is one of the best ive heard in the lats six months...
March 8, 2006, 11:19 a.m. CST
I live in Alberta, man, which is the world capital for mutated inbred rednecks (just look how we treated Wolverine in the first X-Men movie!), and a lot of my personal friends happen to be deformed hicks. All they want is some love, y'all. Share the love.
March 8, 2006, 11:20 a.m. CST
The sound was so over-the-top. The movie totally depended on the cheap audio surprises. And the music at the very end? What in the hell were they thinking?
March 8, 2006, 11:51 a.m. CST
People don't like "Haute Tension" because the first act and a half is taken directly from Dean Koontz's "Intensity," and because very likely they saw the so-called twist coming thirty seconds into the picture when the hot French chick tells her horse-faced friend about the weird dream she had. There are some great bits in that movie (fellatio by decapitated head, for example) but the hype it received was unwarranted. That said, I am going to rent "The Hills Have Eyes" remake because I am a sucker.
March 8, 2006, 12:09 p.m. CST
the cast of Big Love is on the View and they came out of nowhere and asked Chloe Sevigny about giving a Blow Job in Brown Bunny. she was shocked to say the least. Bill Paxton jumped in and told them that it was out of bounds. good for him. douche-chills, though. those View bitches are gangsta.
March 8, 2006, 12:33 p.m. CST
by Doom II
Well, myself and the 4 people I saw Underworld Evolution with LOVED that film, so "being worse than Underworld Evolution" isn't really a bad thing. If you DIDN'T like Underworld Evolution, then you didn't like the first Underworld, because the sequel is nearly flawless. This makes me wonder what you were even doing in the theater watching Evolution in the first place. I rarely see movies that I don't like, because I only go to films that truly interest me.
March 8, 2006, 12:35 p.m. CST
The ending really wasn't that bad. The only real bad thing about the ending was that i guessed it when i saw the commercial for the first time. It was mad predictable. nothings origina.
March 8, 2006, 12:37 p.m. CST
by dirty old len
Where this bad boys concerned "YES" Not to take anything away from the pioneer that is wes craven, but i never thought the original hills.. actually gave all it could. It was a great idea but never really got the full give it deserved (credit, craven couldn't command his budget back then). That said though the original did have some genuinely unnerving moments (like chainsaw massacre the whole spider thing still gets me everytime). So i sat down sunday night to watch a copy borrowed drom a friend of a friend of a friend (you know how it goes). So i sat their with my crate of stella artois, my underpants and my scratching stick to watch what i thought would be yet another pile of teeny bopper shit. How wrong was i? This movie is great. Yes, its got some cheesy shitty "cliche" horror moments, but you cant help but think that this was done simply to add to the tongue in cheek appeal of this film. Yes its been marketted as a horror movie, but isn't that the trendy thing to do in these post scream days? The bottom line is this films actually really good, if you have a group of desensitised young men, plenty of beer and wanna watch a decent horror movie, this is a better choice than the laughfest that is final destination 3.
March 8, 2006, 12:53 p.m. CST
Instead of hiring Berryman, they hire an actor to make him up like Berryman. WTF? Not even a cameo.
March 8, 2006, 1:19 p.m. CST
I find her hot
March 8, 2006, 1:39 p.m. CST
If you actually take the time to read what I wrote, you will see that I didn't say I ever bothered to see Evolution. I saw the first Underworld and absolutely hated it. When the second one came out, the trailer was so bad that I didn't even bother to see it. That is why I quoted another audience member. I was in no position to make statements about movies that I haven't seen. The majority of the audience members that I heard were clearly disappointed. Sure, there is always one person in the audience who will cheer wildly and totally enjoy themselves. I am glad that we are allowed to have our own opinions. I was just reporting the reactions of audience members that I encountered.
March 8, 2006, 1:58 p.m. CST
Quint liked it more than I but he's dead-on. There is a moment late in the proceedings where the film literally turns on a dime. Up to that point it's been a grim and gruesome experience, the stuff really memorable horror is made of. Then two of the characters do a 180 and turn into variations of Rambo and MacGyver, laying waste to every mutant in sight for the sake of set pieces and ham-handed "hero moments." It's entertaining but cheesy and not what I came to expect from the first ninety or so minutes. Even though the filmmakers are pushing the gore envelope, it feels as if they are also pulling their punches.
March 8, 2006, 2:38 p.m. CST
by Childe Roland
...Cuchulain! Just had to throw that out there.
March 8, 2006, 2:41 p.m. CST
It's only a paradox if you see the events in the movie as taking place from YOUR point of view. For example, being involved in a car chase with yourself is impossible from OUR point of view. However, once you realize the whole movie is being told from HER point of view, it makes perfect sense. Some mentally ill people can have conversations with themselves, fights with themselves, and yes, even car chases in the forest with themselves. It is a visualization of the struggle going on in her diseased mind, and in that i believe it succeeds brilliantly.
March 8, 2006, 3:21 p.m. CST
by El Scorcho
It seems like Quint was really disappointed... and ya know, that's the feeling I hate most when leaving a theater. I know what I saw was good, but I'm just not all that satisfied because it didn't meet my expectations. So I don't know if I should even go this even though I was really looking forward to it. Meh... But Haute Tension rocked. All of it.
March 8, 2006, 4 p.m. CST
The kid looked up to his badass father, and tried to emulate him with the gun. EVERY TIME the kid goes badass like daddy, he whimpers away - because he's a friggin' kid. Thus his scaredy-cat response to the mutant cannibal. No poor screenwriting there, my friend. -------- The movie though is near perfect. It trumps Craven's version in every way. If it didn't have those damn cheap scares in the first half, it would be one of the best of 2006. Loved the Morricone-flavored music as well in the finale.
March 8, 2006, 4:05 p.m. CST
by I Dunno
How many movies like that are they going to make?
March 8, 2006, 4:10 p.m. CST
by Mr. Profit
I did not get caught up in the hype for High Tension. I didn't know there was any. I just saw the movie one day last year at a friends house. It was a region 0 movie and I enjoyed it. Then I bought a copy from Ebay. Then it was released and bashed like crazy. But maybe not knowing about the film, I enjoyed it more. But all in all, there was more hype for the retarded Cabin Fever that I saw for High Tension. And I never read the book "Intensity". But did he deliberately steal from it? Because there have been lots of movies based on inbred weirdos stalking people who take wrong turns. It doesn't mean they ripped off Chainsaw. One more thing before I go back to work :) Biel's abs are crazy. I love that fucking girl. She is insanely hot.
March 8, 2006, 5:27 p.m. CST
by Childe Roland
...that, compared to Cabin Fever, High Tension was a masterpiece. I'll go even further and admit to thoroughly enjoying much of High Tension up until it became evident where they were headed with it (I figured it out in the gas station/convenience store sequence well before the inspector looked at the surveillance video). That just felt like a cop out twist that wasn't necessary and invalidated the parts of the film I'd enjoyed leading up to it.
March 8, 2006, 6:40 p.m. CST
AND WTF DO I CARE?? SICK OF SEEING THIS STUPID HEADLINE. NEXT PLS
March 8, 2006, 7:11 p.m. CST
by frank cotton
i have with the HIGH TENSION ending is that it makes the severed head blowjob entirely gratuitious - it was movie creepy up til the ending, after that it was just plain old sick creepy.
March 8, 2006, 7:15 p.m. CST
by Doom II
The douchebag next to you should have stayed out of Underworld Evolution as it is a rare sequel that is way better than the original. If he hated Evolution, there is NO WAY he could have enjoyed Underworld. So why go? I haven't seen Big Momma's House and you won't catch me at Big Momma's House 2 EVER. I don't see movies OR sequels that have subject matter that tortures my fragile mind.
March 8, 2006, 7:18 p.m. CST
by El Scorcho
Like it wasn't before? ROFL
March 8, 2006, 8:17 p.m. CST
Sorry to disappoint you, but I happened to talk to the guy, and he liked the original Underworld. I know it is hard to accept, but there are people out there that don't like movies that you like. Thanks for you input.
March 8, 2006, 8:18 p.m. CST
Sorry to disappoint you, but I happened to talk to the guy, and he liked the original Underworld. I know it is hard to accept, but there are people out there that don't like movies that you like. Thanks for your input, but I am done talking about Underworld.
March 8, 2006, 8:35 p.m. CST
by Red Ned Lynch
...was that the movie had you by the throat, then threw up its hands and yelled "Just kidding!" And I know Aja says he wanted to do the twist differently, but wherever in the film it happened it still would have been the same. And a couple things. Yeah, there are some similarities to Intensity, and maybe the sink bit was a direct steal, but I've read more than one noir that had the same bit that predate Intensity by a couple decades, so who knows? And the whole idea that the twist is somehow okay because we're supposed to believe the whole movie came from the girl's viewpoint doesn't work, BECAUSE of the scene with the head in the pickup. If this scene, of THE KILLER WHO DOESN'T EXIST, takes place in her head, why doesn't she react to it? (Not that, from her viewpoint, she "saw" it, which would mean what...that we're being shown something from her viewpoint that she never saw? Right). Now tell me it was an image that was just coiled in her unconscious, and that we're now seeing the movie not only from her deranged fantasy point of view, but also from the viewpoint of the hidden sickness in her id that made her what she is. And then tell me some other stuff, if you want, but all you're doing is making excuses for a film that absolutely failed itself. And yeah, I'll still watch the Hills remake, because on the way to the indefensibly stupid ending there were some great bits in that movie.
March 8, 2006, 9:37 p.m. CST
I just cued up my copy of the movie to check out that scene. Since there is no one else in that scene, there is nothing tying it into the timeline of the rest of the movie. It could easily have been an (intentionally misleading) flashback of the girl giving herself "head" with the severed head of a previous victim. There is actually a fan edit out there of this movie removing all references to the twist. The fan group is called "Minus One" if anyone is interested. I watched the edit, and honestly, it's just not as cool.
March 8, 2006, 10:24 p.m. CST
I'm with you on the Cabin Fever point, but I won't go into it because if I get started I will not be able to stop. With regards to intentional theft, I am in no position to comment because I honestly don't know. It isn't an issue that I had with the film, nonetheless, since I saw "Intensity" (starring the radiant Molly Parker) after I saw "Haute Tension". I mentioned it because it seems to be an issue for others. My problem was that I immediately knew what the ending was going to be. Through the whole movie, I kept repeating in my head like a mantra, "Please don't let me be right. Please don't let me be right." But you know what? I was right. I hate being right!
March 9, 2006, 12:05 a.m. CST
by slappy jones
and she is surprised to be asked about it?
March 9, 2006, 12:15 a.m. CST
by Red Ned Lynch
See though, what you just wrote illustrates my point perfectly. Throughout the entire movie, from the girl's perspective, we see the killer EXTERNALIZED. But your apologia for the scene in the truck counts on either: 1. The girl INTERNALIZING the killer for just this one scene...or... 2. This one scene being shown to us from a different perspective than the rest of the film up to the twist. And at that point, yeah, you're just rationalizing in the service of the movie. And for any explanation of the two vehicles and a lot of other things to work you have to be able to say that all the movie up until the twist was just the girl's perception, in much the same way that all of the flashbacks in The Usual Suspects was just a story Verbal was weaving. The scene in the truck doesn't fit into that, and if we as the audience see it, and we did, then it must be because the girl did, and to maintain the consistency of her viewpoint the killer must be externalized as he was later, and we have no hint of that. Any other explanation of the scene surrenders the entire rationale for the stupid twist that stopped in its tracks a gutwrenching, elemental horror show and replaced it for the final act with Happy Birthday To Me.
March 9, 2006, 6:29 a.m. CST
..to be" SIGH. Please cut the film geek bullshit and review the movie. thank you.
March 9, 2006, 1 p.m. CST
But it sounds from this talkback like it's the movie that Adaptation is making fun of.
March 9, 2006, 1:54 p.m. CST
That slapdash mound of sputum titled Identity turned out to be the real world version of the movie the brother was writing in Adaptation - The 3, was it? Disappeared up its own arse anyway - much like Haute Tension.
March 10, 2006, 12:31 a.m. CST
it'll be really good the 3rd time, and in 3D.. 3 Freaking Dimensions!!! Good God my juices are a flowin now! Great Googalie Moogalie.
March 10, 2006, 3:16 a.m. CST
by heywood jablomie
UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION is not "better than" anything, including the act of shoving sliced-up jalapeno peppers up your own urethra.
March 12, 2006, 2:36 p.m. CST
ok it's not a masterpiece, but i don't think anyone was expecting it to be. it's still pretty damn good for a remake though.
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