Directed by Martin Weisz
Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment
There’s no question about it. Wes Craven’s own sequel to the cult favorite The Hills Have Eyes, aptly named The Hills Have Eyes Part II, was one of the single worst sequels in the history of film. Despite having Michael Berryman back and a badass named The Reaper who sported sharpened teeth, it just couldn’t get much worse or more ludicrous. There were flashbacks aplenty to be found in it. Just about everyone had at least one. Even the dog! I shit you not! When Alexandre Aja brought his own tension filled spin to The Hills Have Eyes remake (review here) things were looking pretty good for the franchise. A sequel was inevitable. I hoped and prayed it wouldn’t be as bad as Craven’s first sequel. The good news is it’s a much better film than that particular film. The bad? It still kind of sucks. Journey with me back to the hills …
After the attack on the family from the original film was reported, the government sent in the National Guard as a means to wipe out the mutant contingent, and they got them all. All except for a pissed off few that live within the mines of the hills themselves. After a high ranking officer disappears, a team of beautiful people are sent in to search and rescue. It isn’t long before they start getting picked off one by one. The men mostly meet horrible deaths, while the women — they’re kept for breeding purposes, a fate worse than death. While threadbare, that’s about as in-depth as the storyline gets, and you know what? That should have been enough. So what went wrong?
Firstly it’s the commando team. With the exception of two of them, they’re about as annoying a group of people you could ever suffer the burden of meeting. Not to mention the fact that each one of them is entirely too pretty to be taken seriously as soldiers of any kind. From the second the wind starts blowing through their hair, you’ll be transported right out of the film. Of special mention here is Flex Alexander (yes, his name is actually Flex) as the sarge who spouts his dialogue as if reading from R. Lee Ermey’s Handbook of Wartime Snaps with all the conviction of an automaton, and the most annoying Latino character to hit the screen in the last twenty years — Jacob Vargas as PFC Crank. This guy is just embarrassing. Think Carlos Mencia if he had gone to war. He’s here to show his machismo and spout profanities to the point of distraction for absolutely no reason at all. These characters could simply not die quickly enough for me.
Then there are the mutants. Aja’s Hills sported some seriously fucked up looking monstrosities. Here we have two kinds of mutants: large with boils and extra large with misshapen heads. There are times you won’t even be able to tell them apart much less remember them. On top of that Michael Bailey Smith (Pluto from Aja’s Hills returning to play a new mutant, Papa Hades) returns to the series just to be completely under utilized. In the remake he was a near unstoppable train wreck of violence. Here he punches things and says “Die” a lot. Joy.
I know, I know, the DVD is unrated so how about the gore? Each scene that features the red stuff is slightly longer but nothing to write home about. In fact, just like the main characters and the mutants, each gag is of the mediocre variety. Nope, nothing new to see here.
So how about the extras? Fox has given us quite a package for such a bland film. We get about four minutes of deleted scenes, a (sort of) bloodier alternate ending, and a gag reel that is void of any entertainment. From there we head to the meat of this package, the making-of featurettes. The first, entitled Birth of a Graphic Novel, is a thirteen-minute piece that explores what went into making the very good Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning comic book. Next up is a look at the film’s (not-so-fantastic) creatures called Mutant Attacks that clocks in around ten minutes, and finally is the thirteen-minute making-of featurette, Exploring the Hills, which delivers the standard yadda yadda. But wait! There’s more! Rounding out the package is a ten-minute segment from the Fox Movie Channel titled Life after Film School with Wes Craven. Basically this is like a mini version of Inside the Actors Studio in which three film students get to go one-on-one with Craven. Like I said, a pretty good haul here. On a personal note: THANK GOD THERE WAS NO COMMENTARY! YAY!
So there you have it, kids — the skinny on the sequel that by all rights should have been pretty good. It had a great trailer! Remember? The first-person view of someone being dragged over the sand — good stuff! Pity that was more original than anything else to be found in this instantly forgettable snooze fest.
What was I talking about again?
Mutant Attacks featurette
Birth of a Graphic Novel featurette
Exploring the Hills making-of featurette
Life After Film School with Wes Craven segment
Trailer for The Hills Have Eyes remake (included to add insult to injury)
2 1/2 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
Discuss The Hills Have Eyes 2 in our forums!