Wes Craven started out with back to back horror classics with The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes. He pushed the nightmares of what could go wrong going into the city for a show or out in the desert for a vacation. Drive-ins and creepy theaters across the countries played these films for years before home video. His box office hot streak went cold with Deadly Blessings and Swamp Thing. Wes found his career dead in the water. He needed a project and so he did what director’s in the ’70s and ’80s had to: propose a sequel to a hit. The Hills Have Eyes: Part 2 reunites Jupiter’s Family and someone needs to bring the deviled eggs.
Bobby Carter (The Hills Have Eyes‘ Robert Houston) is nervous about an upcoming trip. He and Rachel (THHE‘s Janus Blythe) sponsor a dirt bike team and have developed a new blend of super fuel that they hope to launch at a major rally. Problem is the rally takes place at the same desert where they met years before. You might remember the situation. His family’s car broke down and her family ate a few members. She was known as Ruby back then. It’s an awkward situation, but the loving couple can’t pass up this major opportunity. What can go wrong driving an old school bus through a wasteland? Naturally something went wrong, they get lost and a shortcut places them in familiar territory. While looking for help, Rachel gets to reconnect with her old Ruby self as she encounters her brother Pluto (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest‘s Michael Berryman). We get to meet a new family member in The Reaper (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country‘s John Bloom). He’s Rachel’s uncle. Can the kids that are part of the dirt bike team survive this reunion in the country?
The Hills Have Eyes: Part 2 isn’t nearly as terrifying as the original mainly because the “what the odds of that happening” is an overwhelming of the action. Pluto is still a menace as he lurks and picks off the dirt bike kids with The Reaper. There are quite a few gross moments including a scene where a blinded character feels herself around a strange room and you want to scream at her to not touch certain objects. There’s also a feeling that the teenagers don’t take the danger after dark as serious as they should. But that’s what teenagers do in real life.
There’s plenty of flashbacks to the original film that may seem annoying now. Even the dog gets a flashback. It made sense to do it in the early ’80s since the home video market wasn’t quite in overdrive. Not every family had a Betamax when Part 2 went into production in 1982. The Hills Have Eyes was not a film that got a lot of replays on the Saturday afternoon movie slot on your local UHF station. Although when the movie finally came out in 1984 as a straight to video special, there was a healthy market for people who would want to rent both films for a double feature at home. As a straight to video offering, The Hills Have Eyes: Part 2 is an entertaining cinematic quagmire. If you bought a movie ticket and a large bucket of popcorn, you’d be screaming, “What are you thinking, Wes Craven!” at the screen. Even at the end of the film a character shouts, “Come on!” when an unexpected, but expect attack occurs. But sitting at home on the sofa, you can just enjoy the pleasure of a little more time in the desert with Pluto and his family. The Hills Have Eyes: Part 2 is best appreciated at home.
While Wes Craven dealt with the frustrations of getting The Hills Have Eyes: Part 2 finished and released on the remnants of a shredding shoestring budget, he ended up reviving his career. Not with this film, but with Nightmare On Elm Street.
The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the wasteland qualities of the desert location. The audio is LPCM mono. The levels are fine. You'll hear a lot of groans in the dark. The movie is subtitled.
Audio Commentary with The Hysteria Continues has the folks from the podcast doing an international commentary track that covers elements of the film. They love the film so it's not a razzing.
Blood, Sand, and Fire: The Making of The Hills Have Eyes Part II (31:16) is a brand new making-of documentary featuring interviews with actor Michael Berryman, actress Janus Blythe, production designer Dominick Bruno, composer Harry Manfredini and unit production manager/first assistant director John Callas. There's talk of how they didn't immediately make a sequel. The crew talks about how Wes Craven had hit a major career bump. They didn't have a lot of money in the production budget. There's talk of how the flashbacks from the first film came about from running out of budget and needing a running time. There's a lot of talk of how they worked fast, furious and cheap in the desert. Craven passed away in 2015
Stills gallery (6:52) are plenty of production photos and VHS boxes.
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:44) is from when Thorn EMI released the film. We're going back to the desert with Michael Berryman.
6 Postcards from the film.
Reversible fold-out Poster of the film.
Limited Edition 40-page booklet featuring new writing on the film by Amanda Reyes and an archival set visit from Fangoria. Even more facts about the movie.
Arrow Video presents The Hills Have Eyes: Part 2. Directed by Wes Craven. Screenplay by: Wes Craven. Starring: Tamara Stafford, Kevin Spirtas, John Bloom, Michael Berryman, Penny Johnson & Janus Blythe. Rated: R. Running Time: 90 minutes. Released: September 17, 2019
Tags: Arrow Video, Micheal Berryman, The Hills Have Eyes, Wes Craven