10 Years: “The Hills Have Eyes II”

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Oh, the horror sequel. If only there were ever a purpose for another entry. Well, then we’d all be happier and more and more, not to mention better, horror sequels would probably come out. Sadly, as this film itself shows, the only purpose a sequel of this sort serves is to try and make a quick buck. Lazy remakes aren’t enough, so it’s time to force horror fans to sit through films they didn’t want or, as is increasingly becoming the case, ask for. When will studios learn that what die hard fans want isn’t more of the same?

The Fox Atomic film “The Hills Have Eyes II” is about as pointless as sequels get. I honestly can’t tell you why I even thought watching this film would be a good idea. I knew there was a reason I’d been avoiding watching this one again, for the better part of the last decade, but I guess I wasn’t fully convinced. I needed to see the terrible finished product to understand the why. Now I wish I hadn’t even done that, let alone think it could be fun. The only upside, for those not tuning in purely for blood and gore, is that it’ll quickly fade from memory. That’s how truly forgettable and unoriginal this film is in every way.

Practically Real

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If you can call it a positive, there’s at least one thing that might make this film worth sitting through. The relatively realistic looking blood and gore. The violence overall is one thing, but this film, like so many of the films of the time, were all about the blood and gore. One film would come out, be somewhat gross, if not completely, and then another would come out with the sole goal of trying to outdo the level of grossness achieved previously. If ever there was an exhausting cycle, this was it.

But it’s not just that what was delivered could satisfy those looking only for blood and guts, it’s that the practical effects look good. While the film as a whole is a piece of shit, the practical effects make it somewhat better. You can tell what’s real and how much the actors probably enjoyed being able to touch things and even feel grossed out themselves. You can even, when you can stand to look at them, enjoy the practical makeup effects that were done for the mutant people. I don’t know fully if it’s at all realistic, but what was presented and what I know of their backstory, it looks real enough for me. It definitely gives you enough of an ick factor, but sadly, that’s all this film was. If there’d been a better story, maybe, just maybe, all the gross out effects could’ve been well worth it.

Body Count

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And now we enter the negative aspects of this film, which basically sinks any chances of it being even slightly good. The characters are bland. There’s nothing there. You don’t care, don’t have a chance at all at caring, and you don’t want too. As I noted whilst watching, “Don’t have any reasons to give a shit about any of them. Most are just assholes anyway.” As much as you want to root for them and watch them go all savage on the mutant people, you barely even have a reason to do that. These characters, whom I never could place a name to, even though they’re stated multiple times, are only good for one thing.

They up the body count.

That’s right! While this isn’t at all surprising as this is a “horror” film, a sequel to a very specific film, and is written by Wes Craven and Jonathan Craven, plus the cast is huge. However, it doesn’t stop it from being somewhat annoying. Even when I know there will be a lot of death, I still want it to be impactful. I want to feel it, so the characters need to be more than just victims. But, when you have an incredibly flimsy plot guiding the way, the kind of fleshed out characters I want can’t be had. Then there’s the fact that the writers would’ve needed to steer clear of all the clichés they gleefully used and thought nobody would notice. I can only take stupid for so long before I really stop caring and just want the film to be over.

Porn That Tortures

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I’ve alluded to this once already, but seeing as it’s its own problem, and deserves its own section, I can’t skip it. This film, contrary to whatever people may want to think, isn’t a horror film. It’s a “horror” film. It’s not scary in any way, shape or form, nor is it able to deliver frights or something that would otherwise make the film worth it. No, as the title suggests, this film is just torture porn. That’s it.

Instead of making sure the violence and gratuitous gore have purpose, which would’ve first required a plot that was at all interesting and didn’t move at a pace to make you bored, this film and all involved, only sought to gross out the audience. The previous film was pretty damn brutal, so why change anything? There’s even an unnecessary rape scene, and while not as brutal as the previous film’s scene, from what I can recall, it’s still unnecessary. So, judging by that, things are going exactly as planned.

Well, except when it comes to showing that there was a purpose for another bad torture porn film. I feel like it should’ve been easy to come up with a story that would’ve been fun and made good use of gratuitous blood and gore. I really like that word. Gratuitous. Ahem. Anyway. I think of such films like “The Descent” and even the first few “Saw” films as good examples of how to use blood and gore in a narrative that’s actually compelling. You certainly have more of a reason to give a damn about those that end up as victims. But, again, this film is a product of its time.

However Hollywood studios got stuck on this idea of ultraviolent movies, much like what came about at the end of the ’60s and in the ’70s, this became a trend. A trend, even then and not helped by time, that worked only so well. It was the reason people came back to the “Saw” franchise, but for most other films that took this approach, it mostly backfired, hence the sub-genre title, “Torture Porn” and the not so stellar reputation. Thankfully horror has moved beyond this, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some films that still suffer from unnecessary gratuitous blood and gore.

The gross original trailer, not that I think this will be much incentive to watch the film:

Originally released: March 23, 2007

Director: Martin Weisz

Writers: Wes Craven and Jonathan Craven

Starring: Michael McMillian, Jessica Stroup, Jacob Vargas, Flex Alexander, Lee Thompson Young, Daniella Alonso, Eric Edelstein, Reshad Strik, Ben Crowley, Michael Bailey Smith, Derek Mears, David Reynolds, Jeff Kober, Jay Acovone, Philip Pavel and Archie Kao

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