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October 30th, 2006:
On their last day of a training mission in the New Mexico desert, a group of young and inexperienced National Guard trainees stop by an isolated outpost to deliver some much needed equipment to the military scientists stationed there. Upon their arrival, they discover that the camp has been mysteriously abandoned, with no living soul anywhere in sight. When they hear a distress call come through on their walkie-talkies, they set off on what they assume will be a routine rescue mission. They make their way into the nearby hills, unaware of the ravenous group of mutants that live there. Damaged by secret nuclear testing conducted in the past by the military, the mutants now prey on stray humans that wonder into their hideouts. The trainees will soon be forced to battle for their lives in ways they could not have conceived when they joined up for duty.What to Expect:
The Hills Have Eyes, which was released early in March to mixed reviews, was a remake of horror master Wes Craven’s 1977 flick of the same name. The low-budget original mixed familiar zombie movie conventions with a Texas Chain Saw Massacre type of storyline. It was a bit of a rip off, but it served its purpose. It could be argued that the 2006 remake equaled its predecessor in that regard. Article continues below
The latest version did little in terms of original storytelling as it relied on the same basic principles of introducing a desolate gas station, a revolting degenerate that runs it, and an idyllic family not bright enough to avoid the dangers associated with taking detours through unexplored back roads. That sort of mentality eventually led the family to a rather unpleasant encounter with the local mutants. Years earlier, nuclear tests conducted by the government had a very damaging effect on a colony of miners that refused to move out of the testing grounds. Naturally, the radioactivity in the area and in the water they drank altered their DNA. Their continued reproduction spawned new generations of mutants. It just so happens that the short cut that the family decided to take through the wastelands led them directly to the descendants of the original mutants, who love to feed on the people that drive through their backyards. Needless to say that the flick adopted a relatively clichéd, although still scary at times, pattern of having the mindless pursuers chase the absolutely helpless pursuees and punish them for each wrongheaded decision.
Just as the original eventually inspired Craven to make an awful sequel in 1985, the 2006 version will now have its very own follow-up as well. Martin Weisz
is making his American directing debut with The Hills Have Eyes II, which will introduce a new context for the same familiar elements. Weisz’s only other credit is the horror film Rohtenburg, which is based on the true story of cannibal Armin Meiwes. The excessively sick content in the movie actually caused it to get banned in Weisz’s home country of Germany so I fully expect Weisz to mold The Hills Have Eyes II into quite a disgusting piece of filth. Since Craven and his son Jonathan actually wrote the script for the sequel there’s a possibility that the director may have to hold back a little.
The only actor returning from the first part is Michael Bailey Smith
, who will play a mutant once more, but a different one this time around. He has been cast as Hades, the group’s leader. Derek Mears
, a genuinely creepy, hulking, bald guy, who also plays the demon in Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny
, will play Chameleon, Hades’ sidekick. Unfortunately, the sequel is missing stars like Ted Levine
and Kathleen Quinlan
that gave the first part a little more credibility. They have been replaced by a cast of young, unknown actors, who are not as likely to be missed as the death toll rises throughout the duration of the picture.
The 2006 version managed to garner in $15.7 million on opening weekend on a relatively modest $14 million budget. It eventually brought in just under $42 million in its domestic theatrical run. A low-budget sequel seems like a profitable endeavor and truthfully, “profit” is the name of the game with all of these horror franchises. No matter how predictable they get, audiences just cannot seem to be able to say “no.” With January officially “Hostel
month” and October already crammed with the ongoing “Chainsaw Massacre
,” and “Saw
” sagas, the producers seem to have chosen March as the home of “The Hills.” It’s a little sad how formulaic Hollywood tends to get right down to the last detail.In Conclusion:
For the sequel, the filmmakers are taking a page out of the Aliens book. Just as Aliens upped the death toll from Alien by introducing a group of Marines ripe for the picking, The Hills Have Eyes II will revolve the plot around a bunch of inexperienced and probably quite stupid National Guard trainees, who are likely to have several individuals among them just dying to become the mutants’ latest victims. Of course, I realize that the analogy is probably very unfair to the far superior (at least in the first two parts) Aliens movie franchise, but I am once again unable to control myself from illustrating Hollywood’s frequent lack of originality. One positive aspect about The Hills Have Eyes II is that much of the story will take place underground in the mines where the mutants live. However, the type of atmosphere that I envision will probably be replaced by much more generic scares. I believe that The Hills Have Eyes II will be the typically gory, predictable, zombie-type flick that younger audiences still find very amusing. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is much of a need for a “Hills” franchise and I think the lack of familiar names in the cast will hurt the movie’s box-office performance.Similar Titles: The Hills Have Eyes
, Cabin Fever
, House of 1000 Corpses