The Hills Have Eyes Part II:
Wes Craven's barely-warranted, dorky cash grab sequel to his semi-classic original The Hills Have Eyes staggered pathetically into theaters almost a decade after the first. It's not a horrible movie, packing a good deal of stupid action and beautiful scenery into 90 minutes. What's horrible is that all the action in the first 30 minutes comes in flashback form, so what you're getting is about an hour's-worth of new material - more action adventure than horror movie - and a bunch of scenes reminding you of a far superior movie.
Featuring the ever-familiar group of plucky young adults stranded in the evil wilderness, Hills II sets up with those kids (including survivors from the first film) rushing to enter the world's least environmentally friendly bike race around. Forgetting to set their clocks forward an hour for Daylight Saving Time (at least it's an unusual way to set up the kids for slaughter!) the racers foolishly hope to make up time by taking the same deadly shortcut through the desert that leads to where the racer's family was ambushed and eaten a few years ago.
Though composed of mostly affable types, this is a group with which it's hard to sympathize. Not only could we not care less if they make the race, we're also less-than-invested in their desire to keep breathing. At least they have a beautiful, blind psychic to help out. (Or am I mistaken that a beautiful, blind psychic is a standard motocross crewmember?) But this is par for the course for Craven's half-hearted effort, which gets ever more improbable as it goes along.
Comedic elements inhibit feelings of peril as the racers ride willy-nilly all over beautiful plants and animals in the desert. It's not even clear if they actually make it to the race, as no other racers or officials seem to be present. That doesn't stop them from having noisy fun, though, until the hyper-violent cannibals from Papa Jupiter's family find them. Strangely, this discovery doesn't seem to rattle them much; they're even able to kick plenty of cannibal butt before things get serious.
And yes, things do get serious, but not by much. In amongst fabulous rock formations and flora recently crushed by a motocross bike, our heroes find themselves hunted by those two woeful cannibals. The bikers adapt remarkably well, spotting and avoiding wicked traps. They celebrate by yelling, "missed me! Missed me! Nanananana!" before getting righteously crushed by boulders. With motocross racers carrying switchblades and raccoons living in the desert, it's clear no one involved in making this movie was really trying. Craven himself has since disowned the movie as a desperate cash grab as well. Judging from the quality of the final movie, I'm guessing he'd run out of money for cocaine, but that's only my opinion. Fact is, The Hills Have Eyes Part II is barely for completists, but it's certainly a bunch of dumb fun. If you've never seen it, and you've got the beer, Rent It for a few laughs.
The remastered anamorphic 1.66:1 widescreen transfer is of decent quality. Of course the movie is heavily larded with flashbacks, which are of a little different, and slightly lesser Picture Quality. With a credits sequence sporting lots of print damage, hopes don't start in a lofty position. While the print quality improves thereafter, there are still scratches and tiny bits and bobs, flecks, etc. throughout. The transfer appears to be adequate in other regards, with good black levels and no readily apparent compression artifacts. I guess for this redheaded stepchild of a film, it gets what it deserves.
Digital 2.0 Stereo Audio is perfectly adequate. Dialog is boringly easy enough to understand, without much in the way of distortion. The mix is solid, too.
The only extras are some Trailers and a Stills Gallery.
I'll be brief; this is one of the original unneeded sequels - coming 8 years after the first Hills - crafted only as a cash grab, with little thought or care. Worse, it's written and directed by the original Hills maestro Wes Craven himself! Weak! With only two-and-a-half returning mutants, zero tension, not enough bloodshed, tons of flashbacks, and numerous plot weaknesses, this is a movie not even its mother could love. Big old completists might Rent It, but since they are completists, they will probably buy it anyway. Just bring the beer, whatever you do.
- Kurt Dahlke
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