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John’s Horror Corner: The Hills Have Eyes II (2007), the brutal sequel showing us that sometimes more is just… well… more.

December 28, 2018

MY CALL: Barely a worthy sequel to its 2006 predecessor, but entertaining nonetheless for fans of brutal, shocking, gory, disturbing cinema. And if you are, the opening scene alone is worth a blind purchase. MOVIES LIKE The Hills Have Eyes II: If you hadn’t seen it yet, start with the similarly brutal prequel The Hills Have Eyes (2006). You could also see how it all started with the original The Hills Have Eyes (1977) and The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 (1984), classics which today feel overly tame. Then go with movies like Just Before Dawn (1981), the Wrong Turn franchise (2003-2014) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise and remakes (1974-2000s).

The Hills Have Eyes (2006) was brutal; so brutal that many loathed it simply for that alone. It delivered a bit more of the implied “potential” rape of the 1977 original and doubled down with some perverse forced breast-feeding just for the sake of making us uncomfortable. Despite all that, for some reason it drew the line at nudity. Now, as if scoffing at its mild-mannered predecessor, this sequel opens with a scene every bit as gross, brutal and inappropriate as anything to be found in 2006. We find a long-imprisoned pregnant woman (Cécile Breccia), topless and covered in filth down to her inch-long curled toenails, screaming her way through this viscerally exploitative birth scene. It’s gory and it really wants to test our limits as we see way more than we should of the mother and her monstrous child as he emerges from her and not just the child, but the umbilical cord, is forcefully yanked out of the suffering woman and we see it all happen! That’s the kind of movie you’re in for… you know. Classy.

Unlike Alexandre Aja’s 2006 remake, this sequel makes no effort to emulate the plot points of The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 (1984) but makes every effort to cross the boundaries of our comfort. Director Martin Weisz (Grimm Love) has only ever made three feature length films (including this one), and I’m surprised he never returned to horror. Whereas this film is clearly inferior to the 2006 film, it’s still quite entertaining to fans of disturbing cinema (e.g., Saw (2004-2017) and Hostel (2005-2011) films).

In this sequel there is no mystery to the monsters. Everyone knows they exist. After the events of the first film, the army conducted a series of search and destroy missions to rid the lands of these disfigured flesh-eating mutants. And if you think it sounds crass to pit a bunch of forgettable military characters against a bunch of forgettable cannibals, you’re right! These characters are ill-written and I found myself ill-invested. We eventually come to care for some of them and they do have distinct fleshed-out personalities. But there’s no comparison to the Carter family from the original or remake.

Our monstrous cannibals’ appearance is both exaggerated and a bit inferior to 2006, but every bit as feral. The monster make-up isn’t exactly bad but, for lack of a better description, it just seems cheaper. Papa Hades (Michael Bailey Smith; A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5, The Hills Have Eyes) is a thick mucus-slobbering hulk (striking like Victor Crowley in Hatchet) and the reproductive rape-y elder of the tribe. The others have their own distinct appearances, but none particularly interesting. However, as far as effects go, the slippery rubber guts are not only more abundant, they look great!

The action (i.e., weapon swinging and striking) behind the execution of the death scenes also falls a bit short of 2006, and the acting before the death scenes is stiff. But the death scenes themselves, oh they’re still fun! We have a mean contorting leg-break (think the castle window back-break in Lurking Fear), some massively lacerated head wounds and headwound-gauging, a gooey eye-gauging, and a chunky sloppy head smash. There’s also a gross port-a-potty gag that reminds me of the silly outhouse scene in Friday the 13th Part V (1985), although the feces-smeared victim is much more disgusting. All told, it doesn’t match Doug’s gruesome final act of 2006. Only the opening scene reaches that level.

Despite some vicious scenes/moments and that epic opening sequence, the movie finds very little tension or dread. And for all the unpleasantness of the rape scene, the utility of such a scene felt squandered. Really, instead of using it to realize the animalistic nature of the cannibals, it was just mean for the sake of meanness.

We explore deep into the subterranean mine lair, which is labyrinthine and full of chambers sorting the belongings of past victims (as in Wrong Turn) and severed-head trophies (a la The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). And let’s not forget the macabre butcher shop accoutrements complete with meat grinders, bloody chopping blocks and slabs of human like hanging sides of beef.

Not a very good movie, per se, but this sequel has its place for lovers of brutal cinema and disturbing scenes. Overall, this clearly falls short of the quality of its 2006 predecessor. But it remains highly entertaining for those with the stomach to endure its more difficult scenes.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2018 9:25 am

    I watched this for the kill count article I wrote for RT. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It’s silly and also very violent. It was a unique experience and better than I would’ve thought.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      December 29, 2018 1:57 pm

      Did you enjoy it more or less than the 2006 remake?

      • December 29, 2018 2:05 pm

        I really like the remake and think it’s a good movie. The sequel is fun nonsense that is better than I expected.

Trackbacks

  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. John’s Horror Corner: Dead Snow (2009; aka Død Snø), an extremely bloody Norwegian movie about Nazi zombies inspired by Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi. | Movies, Films & Flix

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