The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
A nice American family. They didn't want to kill. But they didn't want to die.
Year of Release: 1977
Running Time: 90 minutes (1:30)
Director: Wes Craven
Robert Houston ... Bobby Carter
Susan Lanier ... Brenda Carter
Martin Speer ... Doug Wood
Dee Wallace ... Lynne Wood
Russ Grieve ... Big Bob Carter
Virginia Vincent ... Ethel Carter
James Whitworth ... Jupiter
Michael Berryman ... Pluto
Lance Gordon ... Mars
Janus Blythe ... Ruby
Peter Locke ... Mercury
Cordy Clark ... Mama
John Steadman ... Fred
This is the ninth in a series of flicks I'm reviewin' in tribute to the ten guys that I feel made the biggest, and in some cases, most important contributions to the Horror genre, and this week's accolades go to the man who sent Folgers coffee futures through the roof and into the stratosphere with the creation of Freddy Krueger - the man, the myth, the maniac, Wes Craven.
The Carters are an all-American family on their way to California when their car breaks down far from civilization in the remote southwestern desert. But they are not alone: Watching from the hills is a very different kind of clan, a family of marauding inbred cannibals with an unspeakable taste for human flesh and monstrous brutality. In the nightmare that follows, what depravities must this wholesome family endure to survive? And in a primal wasteland ruled by lust and rage, who will become the most shocking savages of all?
The Hills Have Eyes, remindin' all the lazy naysayers out there that a home in the scruburbs is still attainable to anyone willin' to hustle for it.
And speakin' of workin' your way to an early grave, I didn't mean to scare anyone when I took off sans notice last week but it's gettin' to be that time of year when it starts hittin' 93 in the house and leavin' me with no alternative but to take my leave of the big city doins and go splash around in Swine Lake with the guys until we all freeze our giblets off.
Edgar Mastrude called it "a violation of the employer/employee contract," but then he's pushin' 400lbs and calls himself "big boned" too, so as far's I'm concerned he can take his righteous indignation and stuff it in Bambi's purse next to his balls and charge cards. Some people'd say that we're "setting a bad example for the next generation" or "disrupting the local economy," but that's only 'cause nobody ever invited them to ditch work and get schlitzed in the land of sky-blue waters on a Tuesday mornin' and I don't have time to address the opinions of every bitter, jealous old coot who's just now realizin' they wasted their lives buildin' an image nobody's gonna remember two years after they're dead.
Anyway, like I was sayin' - Billy Hilliard, Cleave Furguson, Roxanne Bigelow, Duke Tankersley, Apollo, Mindy, the Ladies Sadie and I all squeezed into Sadie's Bronco, loaded up with heavily processed provisions, and gunned it into the mountains before anybody could grab us by the ear and force us to grown-up against our will. I'm not tryna encourage middle-aged delinquincy or anything, but I gotta say, there's nothin' better'n the moment just before you go crashin' into the water of an alpine lake on a hot summer day. It's actually a whole lot better'n the moment when you actually achieve splashdown, since that's about the time you realize there's still six inches of snow on the hillside and that man was not mean to swim in water hoverin' around 60 degrees.
"I c-c-can't feel my l-l-legs," Mrs. Sadie chattered.
"Oh quitcher bitchin', it ain't that bad," Duke retorted, examining an old Walkman he'd fished up offa the lakebed.
"Easy for you to say, sasquatch," Sadie snarled, chuckin' a piece of driftwood in Duke's general direction.
"Ow! Watch it Thunder Woman!" Duke whined, diggin' a chunk of waterlogged stump out of his fur.
"Wha'ya fink?" Billy nudged, motioning toward the ruckus.
"She'll never catch 'im," I asserted.
"Five vuckf?" he wagered.
"You're on," I agreed.
"Hey! Come on, Sadie, let 'im up!" Cleave pleaded as Duke's arms waved wildly above his submerged head.
"Damnit," I grumbled.
Once Duke finished spittin' up a coupla pints of water that'd ordinarily go for $12 a bottle in a yuppie juice bar we fired up the grill, enjoyed a bounty of bovine buns ('cept Mrs. Sadie who partook of various garden vegetables in lieu of food), and lounged around camp until it was dark enough to set up the projector.
I blame myself for what happened next, 'cause if I hadn't taken so long to pick out a flick maybe that poker game woulda never happened and we coulda just gotten skunked on Pole Cat and passed out with our faces in the mud like God intended. Don't get me wrong, I got nothin' against poker when it doesn't involve drunken hotheads, but in hindsight, a few haymakers mighta been preferable to what ended up happenin'.
I think the biggest problem with poker is that the drunker everybody gets the better the idea of goin' from low-stakes to "let's see what all our friends look like nekkid" begins to sound, and about the time the cardboard housing of our sixth case was spittin' sparks into the air this proposed change was adopted unanimously. Okay, *almost* unanimously.
"You perverz juth wanna see my woman'th tits!" Cleave slurred.
"So? What's it to ya?" Sadie trolled, taking a playful slap from 'er utterly trashed missus in the process.
"Maybe I'll just whip 'em out for funzies right now - how's that grab ya, Captain Caveman?" Roxanne threatened.
"Hang on... I godda idea... how 'bout we play... BUT... when you lose a hand *I'll* juth take off somefin' for ya," Cleave compromised.
You can forgive Cleave for forgettin' Roxanne's smarter'n he is even under sober conditions, but this hadda be the stupidest thing I've seen 'im do since... well, every time he's let me borrow one of his vehicles.
"Okay," Roxanne agreed, grinnin' like a jackal on a zebra carcass.
On the first hand Roxanne went all-in (or all-off, as it were) with a failed straight and Cleave spent the next hour buck nekkid tryna pretend he wasn't embarrassed about it, and by the time Bill and Ellie were discoverin' the reason why their truck wouldn't start in Madman (I may take my time pickin' a movie, but it's always worth the wait) Duke, Sadie, and I were down to our skivvies, Billy and Roxanne remained largely covered, and Mrs. Sadie... well, let's just say none of us guys were gonna be standin' up anytime soon.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the image seared into everyone's brains when the night was over.
"How many?" Cleave mumbled, having been reduced to dealin' ever since his galaxy-brained plan went supernova on 'im.
"Two," Sadie said.
"One," Roxanne replied.
"Free," Billy murmured.
"Four," I griped.
"Three," Duke barked.
And then, it happened.
"All-in," Sadie grunted.
"I'm out," Roxanne caved.
"Nope," Billy folded.
"Lick me," I grumbled.
"Call," Duke smirked.
"Seems you're down to underoos only, and even then you're at an unfair advantage," Sadie insisted, grabbin' a handfulla Duke's facial fur.
"Alright, fine - you win and I'll shave it all off," Duke spat.
"You'll what?!" Cleave choked, coughin' up a coupla ounces of beer into his lap.
"You fure 'bow vah?" Billy asked.
"What's the big deal? It's easy! See!" Mrs. Sadie giggled, standin' up on the picnic bench to reveal 'er hardwood flooring.
"Would you help her?" Sadie groaned, gesturing to Roxanne.
"Come on, hon, let's go over here next to the fire and have some nice hot coffee," Roxanne coaxed, supporting Mrs. Sadie's rubber-legged frame.
"Okay... you're real nice... and pretty!" Mrs. Sadie giggled en route to a lawn chair.
"Well?" Duke challenged.
"Fine. Let's see 'em," Sadie agreed.
"Funny, I's just about to suggest the same thing," Duke laughed, layin' down three Kings.
Sadie's eyes shifted between her hand and Duke's for a long time like she was tryna decide between selecting a silverware pattern and fleeing the country.
"I'm not sure I wanna do this," Sadie muttered under her breath.
"Oh heck, you don't gotta if you don't wanna. I mean, it's not like you could compare to them anyway," Duke gloated, motioning toward the campfire where Roxanne was puttin' a towel over Mrs. Sadie's shoulders.
"Not what I meant, but, on second thought..." Sadie shrugged, tossin' four sevens onto the table before breakin' into a maniacal cackle.
Conveniently, Roxanne'd packed a set of clippers to use on Cleave, having finally gotten 'im away from his workbench, and... man, I take it all back - just go to work, folks. It may not be glamorous, fulfilling, or even safe, but it sure beats a trip through the Twilight Zone. I'm not quite sure how to describe it, Duke without his coat, I mean. You ever seen one of them hairless cats? It was kinda like... nah, that ain't it. Actually, just forget it. Forget I ever brought it up.
When it was all over Roxanne's clippers were useless as tits on a hog and it took 45 minutes before Apollo and Mindy would quit growlin' at the intruder who'd somehow infiltrated their camp while they were off chasin' chipmunks. And I know Duke's furcoat'll grow back in three weeks and he'll be back to normal, but I'll never be able to look at the guy the same again. I mean, it's one thing seein' your werewolf buddy trimmed down to his bare hide, but I just wasn't prepared for the Wham! tattoo on his chest, ya know?
By that point I figured we all needed some pretty strong cinematic horror to help us forget the real-life horror we'd just experienced, so once everything'd settled back down I quit screwin' around and went straight for The Hills Have Eyes. There're a lotta folks who think Wes Craven's greatest triumph was A Nightmare on Elm Street, or The Serpent and the Rainbow, and a few whackadoos that might even tell ya it's Scream, but I say The Hills Have Eyes is the best picture he ever did and I'm not just sayin' that 'cause he used The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as a blueprint. It's true that Wes thought a great deal of Chainsaw when it came out in '74 and that the two films share some similarities, but Craven had a knack for uncovering unique, previously untold historical events that he could use as the basis for something truly original, and he struck gold when he discovered the story of the Sawney Bean family.
It just doesn't get any better'n this when you're talkin' gritty '70s horror, and for all the scoffers out there who'd have you write it off as nothin' more than a Chainsaw rip-off tryna ride the strings on Leatherface's butcher's apron, I'm gonna introduce three pieces of evidence into discovery that prove the hills had their eyes on the prize.
First, sweepin' the leg is one thing, but sweep a man's face and there will be disproportionate retribution. Second, if a relationship sours and leaves a bad taste in your mouth - have the guts to tell the person to their face. And third, vacation romances never work out the way you want 'em to.
The movie begins with a sandblasted old desert rat (Fred) fixin' to pull up stakes so he can live out his remainin' years someplace a little less God-forsaken, only when he takes one last look back to remember his former life as a service station franchisee in Snatchrash County he runs into this gal who looks like she's doin' court-ordered community service at the Salvation Army after pleadin' guilty to stealin' 19 packages of Sudafed from Walgreens (Ruby). She begs 'im to take 'er with 'im 'cause she's been on the verge of starvin' to death ever since that RINO Eisenhower mortgaged the future of America to build the national highway system and diverted all the traffic away from her family's unsanctioned salvage operation, but Fred tells 'er to piss off 'cause he doesn't wanna risk gettin' arrested for smugglin' underaged cavewomen across county lines. Then a camp trailer fulla dude ranch demographics (Big Bob, Ethel, Bobby, Brenda, Doug, Dee Wallace, and baby Katy) pull into the station to fill up on extra-leaded and Bob tells Fred that they're headin' into the back country lookin' for an old silver mine he recently inherited and Fred tries warnin' 'em off but they don't listen to 'im 'cause he's so old that he gets a veteran's discount at the True Value for his service in the Mexican-American War. 'Course if Fred'd given 'em a *reason* why they oughta remain intimate with pavement he mighta gotten a little more traction, but he doesn't hafta dwell on this mistake long 'cause next thing you know one of those reasons (Mercury) shows up wearin' high-ranking Indian headgear and turns Fred's truck into a barbecue pit while he hunkers inside his shed lookin' like he just woke up married to Bette Davis.
Meanwhile, off the beaten path, the family is makin' everyone at Rand McNally cry with their navigational inadequacies until their Chrysler Town & Country starts gettin' buzzed by F-16 pilots huntin' coyotes with sidewinder missiles and Big Bob ends up runnin' off the road and bustin' an axle when he swerves to avoid a jaywalkin' jackalope. So now the family members with the highest concentrations of testosterone (Big Bob and Doug) hafta go hoofin' it in opposite directions in search of the nearest Western Auto, only one of their two German Shepards (Beauty) picks up the scent of Sawney Beans and Weenies and follows it out into the hills where she gets euthanized by a creepola weirdo in buckskin britches (Pluto). Bobby goes lookin' for 'er but gets spooked by Pluto and takes an unscheduled cliff dive onto a boulder where he enjoys a sagebrush siesta that lasts until a little past nightfall and by the time he makes it back to the camper he's more shook up than a six-pack in a dune buggy. Elsewhere, Bob reaches Fred's Last Stop Swap Shop where its proprietor is tryna hang 'imself before the FBI can compel 'im to tell 'em about all the famous public figures that've visited his establishment and what they did with the cattle. Big Bob is P.O.'d, so he orders Fred down off the ceilin' beam and does a lotta snarlin' until Fred spills his guts about how 50 years back his wife gave birth to the missing link and that when he (Jupiter) was ten years old he burned the homestead to the ground along with Fred's wife and daughter and left 'im no choice but to perform a little deconstructive surgery on the kid's face with a tire tool and dump 'im in the desert like a dead hooker on the outskirts of Vegas. Only problem was, instead of havin' the decency to die the kid dusted himself off, went cruisin' for chicks with a bat and a burlap sack, and settled down to raise a family in the middle of the nearby Air Force bombing range in search of the American Dream as interpreted by Charles Manson.
Bob thinks Fred's been cuttin' his peyote with road apples until the 'squatch in question comes crashin' through the window, crowbars a receipt into Fred's face, and tacks 'im to the outhouse door like the Claudia Jennings centerfold from the November '74 issue of Playboy while Big Bob tries to avoid becomin' embroiled in the middle of a family squabble and starts beatin' cheeks back toward the trailer. He makes it about 12 miles before his heart starts doin' the spinarooni inside his chest cavity and blows out like a bass speaker in the back of a Dodge Omni, allowin' Jupiter to nail 'im to a Joshua tree, douse 'im with gas, and create a big red spot out in the desert that's visible from space. Bobby and Doug see the explosion and follow the aroma of bacon drippins till they find Bob and put out the fire before it can spread to neighboring, racist curmudgeons, only it's really just a diversion to split the family up so Pluto and his snaggletoothed bushwhacker brother (Mars) can get inside the trailer and raid the fridge. Unfortunately, once they get inside Mars finds some groceries he likes better (Brenda) sleepin' in the back and starts headin' for the dark side of the moon until Ethel and Dee come back to get some Crisco for Bob's burns. Pluto tells Mars to get his angry red ass in gear but Mars gets pummeled by a broom when he tries grabbin' a side order of veal and ends up havin' to shoot Mama and then Dee after she plunges a shiv into his thigh and knocks 'im off his axis. By the time Bobby and Doug realize Mars needs women he and Pluto've already escaped into the night, and once things settle down long enough for the city folks to take stock everyone pretty well loses their heads; everyone but the Beast, that is, 'cause while the nuclear family's been raisin' hell down on the road he's been up in the hills lookin' for his bitch, and when he finds 'er in pieces he tracks down Mercury and jumps 'im from behind - sendin' 'im hurtlin' off a cliff and spiralin' completely outta orbit.
When Jupiter finds out what's happened to Mercury he's so hacked off that he hasta hack off Big Bob's head, run a pike through it, and literally chew his ass while issuing a scathing critique of his parental skills before offerin' up a prelude to what's in store for the rest of his family once he's gotten a good night's sleep and had a chance to digest the day's events. The next mornin', Jupiter and Pluto move on the trailer and yank Bobby's crank over the CB radio not realizin' Doug and the Beast've infiltrated the hillside overlookin' the cannibal campsite, and once the crag is clear Doug sends the Beast after 'em until Pluto hangs a little too far back from his papa and gets Beastmastered. Papa Jupe is rapidly runnin' outta celestial bodies, so he radios back to camp and tells Mars to prepare the baby back ribs, 'cept then Ruby turns traitor, passes 'im a pig in a blanket, and hands the baby off to Doug while Mars chases after 'em like a stray dog on a taco truck. While that's goin' on, Brenda finally gets 'er head screwed back on straight and comes up with an idea involvin' a length of rope, a drive shaft, and the ripening corpse of their dead mama, and when Jupiter finally reaches the camper and begins inspectin' the body that's been set out in a lawn chair he realizes just a teensy bit too late that he woulda gotten away with everything if not for these meddling kids. Gonna go ahead and stop here even though doin' so means leavin' both of the two remainin' threads hangin', but if you haven't seen this one and you think Wes Craven hasn't got the guts to kill a baby, it'd be wise to remember that in 1977 the flick he was best known for was The Last House on the Left.
Alrighty then, glad I could finally get around to coverin' Wes's crowning achievement in cinema even though he borrowed some of the elements (includin' Bob Burns and his prop collection) from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The only reason I mention it is that a lotta people would have you believe that A Nightmare on Elm Street is Wes's best flick, so I just wanted to set the record straight for posterity. And don't even get me started on the ones who claim Scream is his legacy to the world of genre filmmakin', I mean, everyone's entitled to their own opinion and all, but sometimes I wonder if these people did too many lines of pixie sticks back in the '90s and had their brains leak outta the holes they burned in their nasal septums. It's kinda funny too, 'cause back in 1977 Craven wasn't real keen on the idea of doin' another horror flick after The Last House on the Left upset quite a few people and probably got mosta his holiday invitations revoked. Unfortunately for Wes (but fortunately for us), after a few years passed it became apparent that nobody was gonna hire him to make dramas about nuns teachin' underprivileged blind kids in impoverished nations how to read braille, and so he eventually accepted a request from friend and producer Peter Locke to write a horror script set in the desert where Locke was staying at the time. Eventually, while rootin' through the card catalog at the New York Public Library he came across the story of the Sawney Bean family from 16th Century Scotland who used to lie in wait off the backroads and ambush travelers before killing and cannibalizing them, and this story would become the basis for The Hills Have Eyes.
The similarities to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre are prevalent throughout the film, and considering how much money Chainsaw made three years earlier you can't fault the decision to run with a similar story. But one important distinction between Chainsaw and Hills is that the former is wholly clinical in its depiction of events with no message or deeper meaning to be found, while Hills has something to say about savagery and "civilized" man's ability to match and even exceed his undomesticated brethren in terms of barbarism. And like Chainsaw, it's one of those rare films that pass the true test of all great exploitation pictures - anybody can die at any moment. There's just something about the combination of unbearable shooting conditions and a young cast/crew willing to take risks and give their all that positions even the lowest budgeted of flicks with a unique opportunity to catch lightning in a bottle and produce a once-in-a-lifetime flick, and The Hills Have Eyes did exactly that.
I can see there're still a few doubters out there among the Elm Street faithful, so let's break out our forensics kits and find out which set of charred remains truly inspired the greater nightmare. The plot is simple but unfolds perfectly with a slow build that culminates in an amazing exposition scene wherein the origin story of the cannibal family is revealed to Russ Grieve by the terrified John Steadman some fifteen miles from the trailer where Grieve suddenly realizes his family is in grave peril. From that point on the terror and tension are relentless as the desert dwellers attack the camper and demonstrate their complete control of the situation, as well as the direness of the city folks' predicament. The brief respite following the raid on the camp trailer lasts just long enough for the audience to absorb the horror of what's taken place without allowing us to regain any sense of balance before the sun rises and the final confrontation begins, and with half the normies already wiped out and their baby stolen, there's a genuine sense that the film may come to a very unhappy conclusion for the Clevelanders. By the standards of 1977 this would have been one of the most horrific films movie-goers had yet experienced, and to draw one more distinction between it and Chainsaw - Chainsaw nearly got a PG rating, while the first draft of Hills got an X. So a simple idea, yes - but plotted out flawlessly with phenomenal pacing and a conclusion that leaves you guessing how far the filmmakers are willing to go until the final frame.
The acting is also exceptional, with excellent performances by just about everyone who didn't get the part because they were also producing. Only kidding, Pete, you did fine. There really are no weak points, but the two performances that stand out to me are those of John Steadman (who lays the foundation for the film with that great origin story in the darkness of his service station), and Susan Lanier who shifts from catatonia to total hysteria following the assault in the camper and the murder of her family members. Is her near-constant shrieking annoying at times? Very. But is it unnatural or out of place under the circumstances? Absolutely not.
Bobby Huston also does a nice job as the youngest male member of the family trying to hold himself together lest he bring shame to his lineage of gruff, domineering forebears; Virginia Vincent is likable and genuine as the naive, well-meaning matriarch who goes to pieces following her husband's demise; Martin Speer doesn't get much to do but elicits profound despair following the death of his wife and the kidnapping of his child; Dee Wallace secures her future as the all-time greatest hysterical mom of horror during the sequence where Mars and Pluto are trying to kidnap her baby; and James Whitworth's over-the-top psychopathy is so entertaining and chilling that he manages to overshadow the simultaneously sadistic/goofball antics of Michael Berryman, the hideous savagery of Lance Gordon, and Janus Blythe's sympathetic portrayal of Ruby. You've also gotta give a lot of credit to everyone who had to negotiate some incredibly dangerous terrain, as well as extra credit to Janus Blythe for having the guts to pick up and carry that visibly P.O.'d rattlesnake, and Michael Berryman for braving 110-degree temperatures without the benefit of sweat glands. Very solid cast, and if your name wasn't called it doesn't mean you were bad - only that you were merely decent.
Here's who matters and why (besides legends Dee Wallace and Michael Berryman): John Steadman (Dark Night of the Scarecrow, Fade to Black, Summer of Fear), Janus Blythe (Eaten Alive 1976, The Hills Have Eyes Part 2, Phantom of the Paradise, Drive-In Massacre, Spine, The Incredible Melting Man), Russ Grieve (Dogs, The Dead Don't Die), Virginia Vincent (The Return of Dracula, Invitation to Hell, The Baby, Night Slaves), Susan Lanier (Beneath the Black Veil, Area 51, No Solicitors, Cut!), Bobby Houston (The Hills Have Eyes Part II), Martin Speer (Big Man on Campus, Killer's Delight, Coma), James Whitworth (Planet of Dinosaurs, Sasqua), Lance Gordon (Twice Dead).
And the mainstream credits: John Steadman (Old Timer in Things are Tough All Over, Pop in The Longest Yard).
The special effects are hit and miss, as the movie features a lot of that really vibrant '70s blood mixture that looks like paint. Strangely, when the blood is smeared on linoleum it actually looks pretty good, but the stains on clothing and particularly the stuff gushing from wounds is rough. The charred, severed head is a bit silly and the facial appliance worn by James Whitworth is dicey, but the torn Achilles tendon is well done (if you discount the fact that it would have rolled up and the top section wouldn't be visible), the two explosions (the illegal destruction of the Joshua tree and then the camp trailer) are superb, and the dead dog was a real animal that had been procured from the local sheriff's office, so it obviously looks the part. In general, the movie is more about mood and tension so the mediocre effects that show up from time to time aren't that damaging, but I do kinda wonder if the trailer explosion may have looked better had it been presented in slow motion. Regardless, the effects are decent, but not on par with the plot or the acting.
The shooting locations are harsh, imposing, and project a phenomenal sense of isolation. The film was shot on the outskirts of Victorville, California, and nearby Apple Valley located at the southern edge of the Mojave Desert, and both locations would regularly see temperatures of 110 during the day and 30 at night. You could argue that filming in an area where the highs stayed below the century mark could have yielded the same performances (after all, 95 in July is plenty miserable), but when you look at the endless sagebrush and those inhospitable primordial rock formations that've probably been jutting up into the sky for tens of millions of years the message is clear, and that message is - you don't belong here. The gas station used for the opening sequence was an abandoned building that had to be retrofitted with pumps, but otherwise looks precisely like the kind of aging Mom & Pop place you've probably visited while traveling the backroads of nowhere. Lastly is the cannibal camp, which included a cave that was expertly decorated by Bob Burns with the props leftover from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and my only gripe is that the camp didn't get enough screen time during daylight hours to really show off Bob's handiwork because it is exceptionally nasty. Serious respect for everyone who endured the terrain and temperatures, and I hope there're no regrets, because they really contributed to something special.
The soundtrack is oppressive, ominous, and becomes progressively chaotic following the events of the film. This is a score that's not about harmony or even melody and features only one track that bears any resemblance to actual music, and consequently, that track feels out of place even before accounting for the fact that it sounds like something pulled from a police procedural. The rest of the tracks have a disorganized primal sound that's more noise than music, with the primary instruments being bass guitar, piano, bongo drums, and a synthesizer. Don't get me wrong, when I refer to it as noise I don't mean that as an insult, on the contrary - it's a really effective score that contrasts perfectly with the sense of confusion that's taken hold among the characters in the flick and piles on additional servings of unease that work in perfect conjunction with the surreal events of the movie. It's not something you'd ever want to buy on vinyl and play on loop in your living room, but as a collection of tracks meant to enhance the atmosphere of a gritty piece of cinematic insanity, it's very effective.
Overall, The Hills Have Eyes is the best flick Wes Craven ever made, and one of the very best horror titles ever committed to film. It's raw, gritty, and ferocious in its intensity - with an atmosphere that makes you briefly wonder if what you're watching was actually made by a maniac. It helped launch the careers of Dee Wallace, Michael Berryman, and perhaps most importantly of all, Wes Craven, who may never have gotten the chance to make A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, The People Under the Stairs, or the Serpent and the Rainbow had he not knuckled under and accepted the risk of typecasting himself as a horror guy. He may well not have ended up where he had hoped to on the day he resigned his teaching gig to make movies, but he certainly made his mark on the horror genre, and fans of this genre never forget our heroes.