This morning, my microwave, stove and toaster oven all lost power and restarted at the exact same moment. Nothing else in the house was affected and it happened for no reason whatsoever. My husband joked it was a demon - ever since the Paranormal Activity franchise, we make jokes about demons lurking in the house if something strange happens. I laughed and agreed it must be that and then I said, “That event was more terrifying than The Hills Have Eyes Part II in its entirety.” We both laughed because I was joking, but more so because it’s true.
Few things in horror are more upsetting than the inevitable drop in both quality and creativity from a film to its sequel. It happens more often than not and is always depressing. You watch a horror film and it’s amazing, or hell - it’s not amazing, but really good. You hear there’s a sequel and you groan because you know the sequel will suck and ruin the horror for you. This doesn’t always happen, but it happens enough that I now dread horror sequels. Like Wes Craven, I think they are more likely to ruin horror than save it.
Oddly enough, Wes Craven wrote and directed the sequel to his cult classic The Hills Have Eyes. Seven years after the first, the sequel follows a mostly new group of kids as they venture into the desert for a bike race. They get lost and their bus breaks down virtually right next to the cave dwelling of the cannibal family from the first film. All hell breaks loose and the viewer is on the edge of their seat as they watch the cannibals gnaw biker flesh off the bone. Actually, that’s what I wished happened. What really happens is the viewer is treated to an extremely dull and boring 90 minutes full of a few lame death sequences and not much else.
The only thing this film has going for it is references to the first that make you remember why it was so good. Several flashback sequences are used to catch the audience up on the franchise, even one from the perspective of a dog, and those scenes kept me interested. A couple of the surviving characters from the first are present in this film and their story is a bit more complex. Even one of the cannibals from the first is back again.
Sadly, a trip down memory lane isn’t enough to drive this film. The movie is boring and the plot, if you can call it that, is stupid. It felt like Craven took a page from the campy horror handbook for this movie by adding an overly-diverse cast (a blind girl, really?!) and by using a score that sounded very much like the theme from Friday the 13th. The Hills Have Eyes isn’t supposed to be a campy horror film. It is supposed to be gross and gruesome because it centers around cannibals. Other than a few throwaway lines, this movie doesn’t focus at all on the cannibalism. It wastes its golden ticket and spends 90 minutes following bikers around. The graphics are terrible and often the lighting is so poor I couldn’t see what was happening on screen.
Rumor has it Craven disowned this film after it was released and I can see why. It’s slow, uneventful and far from scary. And maybe this film is the reason Craven hates horror sequels, maybe this is where it all started.
If you liked The Hills Have Eyes Part II, you might also like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes or Cannibal Holocaust.