Friday, June 18, 2010

You're being watched by the Hills

So, I just finished watching "The Hills Have Eyes" (2007).

If you like horror movies and haven't seen this one, do yourself a favor and watch the original instead (1977, Wes Craven).

This was crappy, predictable, horror-film cliche ridden drivel at its finest.
No, not its finest... there is such a thing as FUN cliche ridden drivel, but most of those horror movies KNOW they're drivel and don't take themselves seriously.

This one didn't, and did, respectively.

Interestingly, guys like Wes Craven created most of the things that are now "horror movie cliches," but "The Hills Have Eyes" didn't fall as neatly into the mold as most horror movies do, and the remake (at least it said "based on" the Craven film) was nothing at all like its predecessor.
The only things it had in common were: a gas station, a desert road to nowhere, mutants and an Airstream. (It was mentioned in the film that the Airstream was an '87; you would THINK they might have made it a '77 to pay a little homage, but no.)

I will give nothing away here. Not that you can "spoil" a movie in which you'll know exactly what's going to happen anyway, but if you might see the original horror masterpiece, THAT can be ruined. (Though, not really by watching the remake.)

In fact, there's really no point in saying anything at all.
If you're a horror fan, you know exactly what is going to happen in this one before you even see it... minute by minute, almost word for word.

As I watched, however, I DID allow myself a LITTLE BIT of suspense because of a certain thing that I know about the Craven film. Every time I "knew" what was about to happen in THIS film, as it stands alone, I thought, "well... what I'm expecting ISN'T what happened in the original, so let's wait and see."
Which was then followed by, "yep, well, there it is. Craven be damned, I was right after all."

Having learned to watch horror films in the still continuing "cliche" era, and watching Craven's film later in life, it "got me" at every turn, and in the end something had happened that very few modern filmmakers have the sand to do, though of course I'm not going to tell you what it is. (The truly savvy horror fan could maybe guess what it is from what I've already said. But then, the TRULY savvy horror fan has already SEEN 1977's "The Hills Have Eyes," and probably realizes exactly what I'm talking about.)

Modern horror films go for shock, gross-outs, and cheap startlings. Not true of the earlier masters.

Craven's film genuinely frightened me. It made my muscles tense and my fingernails dig into my palms... my head half-turn away... my feet pull up off the floor into a slight, defensive fetal position (and in irrational fear of what might be under the sofa).  It made my heart skip beats.
It didn't "shock" me. It SCARED me. And having grown up on cliches, it genuinely SURPRISED me.
It made me afraid to go into the desert, had I lived anywhere near one and planned on venturing out into it.

THAT'S what horror films are supposed to do. Or at least that's what *I* want from them anyway (unless I'm looking for a good, cheesy laugh, and then I prefer my director to be AWARE that he's making cheese). I'm not impressed with your fancy digitally animated creature effects, but rather your ability to create real FRIGHT in me.

All the 2007 "Hills" made me afraid of is going to a movie theater and wasting eight and a half bucks on a horror film.

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