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The Hills Have Eyes Reviews

With this film and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, Wes Craven assured himself a place in the history of the horror film as an important filmmaker whose work has had an immense influence on the genre. THE HILLS HAVE EYES opens as the Carters, an ostensibly typical middle-class suburban family, drive through the desert in their mobile home headed for California. Trouble starts when the vehicle's axle breaks and the travelers are left stranded in the desert, miles from help. Unfortunately, they've accidentally trespassed on the domain of another family, a brutal, almost atavistic, clan of cannibals who live on the desert mesas. Soon the rival families collide with the twisted desert clan attacking the "all-American" suburban clan to loot, kill the men, rape the women, and eat the tasty-looking baby. Though not particularly bloody, THE HILLS HAVE EYES is an extremely intense and disturbing film. As is the case with Sam Peckinpah's classic, STRAW DOGS, it becomes oddly and distressingly exhilarating to watch the nice family become increasingly savage in their efforts to survive. Not for the squeamish, this low-budget potboiler is one of the prime examples of the what was so fascinating about American horror films in the 1970s. It can be profitably read as the kind of thematically rich meditation on the dark side of the American family that could only be done in the exploitation horror genre.