Directed by Wes Craven, 1977
I’ll admit that I hadn’t seen the original before seeing the remake. You’d expect someone who has a horror site to have all the cult classics crossed off their list, but I guess I’m just a failure.
Having seen the remake it is a little redundant for me to praise the original because I’ve already seen a version that is exponentially better. The problems that lay with Craven’s version are almost entirely due to its budget. The make-up effects simply aren’t there, neither was the cinematography. The night shots are too dark, and not in the intense Texas Chainsaw sense either. The hill people themselves are almost too silly, too caveman to be taken seriously. It is a dissapointing result of a production that ultimately just didn’t have the resources to stack behind it.
But the story still works and works excellently. The idea of a family trapped in the desert, being assaulted by a band of inbred cannibals is freightenigly cool enough on its own to still be watchable, but really only if you’re trying to cross it off your horror classics list. I’d never thought I’d say it, but this is one of those rarities in which I’d highly recommend the remake, while completely snubbing the original.
And yes, it pains me to anachronistically review the original of a film negatively – a film that is dubbed by all other horror fans as a true cult classic – after having seen and heavily praised the superior and much more modern remake. I feel like one of those people, but oh well. The Hills Have Eyes was certainly ripe for a revisit. It has a strong heart and good intentions, it just doesn’t have the body to run the distance.
My age is showing…