Tuesday, May 02, 2006
The Hills Have Eyes
I was totally revved up to see this movie, but from what I had read here and there it seemed like I was in for another sickening experience, similar to other recent horror movies like Wolf Creek and Hostel. I've always loved horror movies, but there were scenes in those that made even me feel sick. I guess that's what horror is all about, but it seems that the latest wave of horror on film is really pushing torture elements to a degree never before seen, and to a level of realism that can be hard to take, even for seasoned horror fans. But this one wasn't nearly as 'bad' as some people made out.
The movie starts off with quotes that during the fifties (or whenever it was) the government conducted nuclear tests in the New Mexico desert. Footage of nuclear blasts are intercut with photographs of horribly deformed babies and small children.
In the present day, a family are travelling through this desert, it's Bob and Ethel's wedding anniversary and Bob wants to drive through the nice picturesque desert, but none of the family seems to think it's a very good idea and they won't stop grumbling about it. Not only that but the eldest daughter Lynne has brought her husband Doug along, and there is some tension between Bob and Doug because Bob is a gun-lovin' Republican while Doug is a gun-hatin' Democrat. There are two other teenage kids, Brenda and Bobby.
They stop at a gas station and the filthy, surly, cigar-chomping attendant tells them about a shortcut that will take two hours off their trip. Ho ho! A shortcut, eh? A shortcut to HORROR, no doubt!
The shortcut through the hills turns out to pass right through the area where the mutants live. They were miners during the nuclear testing and refused to leave like the governemnt advised them to, instead they went down their mines and still ended up mutated anyway by the radiation.
Pretty soon one of the mutants throws onto the road one of those spiked things that cops use to stop car chases, and the family crashes into a big rock. The axle is broken and they can't go anywhere. Pretty soon after that the mutants begin tormenting them. They are a nasty bunch, and it seems that they have been doing nasty things to non-mutated folk for a long time, as we learn when Doug comes across a crater while he is going for help. There are dozens of abandoned cars in the crater.
The mutants terrorise the family, really making their lives a living hell. At one point we hear the classic line, You made us what we are! Boo hoo! You idiots should have got out of there when you were told about the nuclear bomb testing. Everybody else did. Why the hell didn't you, ya dumb retards? Plus they got superpowers anyway. When Doug shoves a baseball bat in the stomach of one of them, he pulls it out like it was nothing and continues beating Doug senseless.
But the cool thing about this movie that is different to a lot of other recent horror movies is that the victims fight back, and turn the tables. The transformation of Doug from a gun-hating hippy into a pickaxe-wielding, blood-soaked Viking of violent retribution was celebrated with loud cheering from the audience, and one of the highlights of the movie. OK, it's not very realistic. Wolf Creek was realistic, but Wolf Creek was also very depressing.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed the movie. It was much better than the lame original. The acting was fine, the soundtrack was very good, there was real tension created, and most of all the bad mutants really got what they deserved after killing so many nice people who were only driving through the desert trying to look at the nice scenery.
I had a 'first time' audience experience: There were two goth girls sitting behind me and to one side and they must have brought something in to eat which had a strong smell. At first the smell repulsed me, but by the end of the movie I liked that smell, and even when I got home and was lying down reading my book I could still smell it. Even now I'm still wondering what it was they were eating.