Nov 172021

The Hills Have Eyes is by no means a favorite horror movie of mine despite being directed by the great Wes Craven, but it is certainly watchable with some respectable production value for the low budget along with decent enough performances.



The Hills Have Eyes
— Limited Edition —

Genre(s): Horror, Thriller
Arrow Films | NR – 90 min. – $59.95 | November 9th, 2021

Date Published: 11/17/2021 | Author: The Movieman

Directed by: Wes Craven
Writer(s): Wes Craven (written by)
Cast: Susan Lanier, Robert Houston, Martin Speer, Dee Wallace, Russ Grieve, Virginia Vincent, John Steadman, James Whitworth, Lance Gordon, Michael Berryman, Janus Blythe

Features: Audio Commentaries, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Gallery, Trailers
Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: No
Formats Included: 4K
Number of Discs: 1

Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 1.0), English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), English (DTS-HD MA 7.1)
Video: 2160p/Widescreen 1.78
Dynamic Range: HDR10
Subtitles: English
Codecs: HEVC / H.265
Region(s): A, B, C

Arrow Video provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

Note: The screen captures were taken from the 2018 Blu-ray.

THE MOVIE — 3¼/5

Plot Synopsis: Taking an ill-advised detour en route to California, the Carter family (RUSS GRIEVE, VIRGINIA VINCENT, SUSAN LANIER, ROBERT HOUSTON, MARTIN SPEER) soon run into trouble when their RV breaks down in the middle of the desert. Stranded, the family find themselves at the mercy of a group of monstrous cannibals lurking in the surrounding hills. With their lives under threat, the Carters have no choice but to fight back by any means necessary.

Quick Hit Review: 1977’s The Hills Have Eyes might have a loyal fan base and there are certain elements to admire considering the micro budget and under the direction of Wes Craven in only his third feature film (following The Last House on the Left and the X-rated film, The Fireworks Woman). The setting is simple yet still photographed well by Eric Saarinen with a rocky, desert setting.

The film itself though wasn’t entirely entertaining with bland characters (on the plus side, they at least acted like people put in a horrific situation), which is fine for a movie like this, but beyond that, outside of a few scenes, wasn’t exactly shocking (like the idea of these cannibals getting excited over having a baby for dinner). Otherwise, there are times I did lose some interest and by the end, which was pretty abrupt (and not in the same vein as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre which was on the disturbing side), really left not feeling much either way.



This Limited Edition release seems to come with the same type of case, supplements and collectibles as the Blu-ray release from a few years back, including a nice booklet and fold-out poster. Tucked inside the 4K UHD case are six postcards.

Audio Commentaries:

  • Actors Michael Berryman, Janus Blythe, Susan Lanier and Martin Speer
  • Writer/Director Wes Craven and Producer Peter Locke
  • Academic Mikel J. Koven

A really good selection here with the actors able to give some of their background and how they came to be cast in the movie, the Craven/Locke tracks gives the production side of things and Koven’s is a more historical take.

Looking Back on The Hills Have Eyes (54:35) is a making-of documentary featuring interviews with Wes Craven, Peter Locke, actors Michael Berrtman, Janus Blythe, Robert Houston, Susan Lanier and Dee Wallace, and Director of Photography Eric Saarinen.

Family Business (16:08) — This is an interview with actor Martin Speer

The Desert Sessions (11:00) — Interview with Composer Don Peake

Rounding things out are some Outtakes (18:57), Alternate Ending (11:34), Trailers and TV Spots, an Image Gallery and text of the Original Screenplay.


VIDEO – 4½/5

Arrow Video releases The Hills Have Eyes onto 4K Ultra HD where it’s presented in with a 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio and a 2160p high-definition transfer. Per the notes, the picture was culled from a 4K scan of the best available reels, two separate 35mm CRI elements struck from the 16mm AB negative reels, which have been lost. This was how the Blu-ray was produced and “downgrade” to 1080p, so this one is a true 4K transfer. With the technical aspects out of the way, the picture here looks quite good, if not incredibly grainy which is how it was shot. Detail is decent enough while colors are harsh with the desert setting, though again, this is how it was originally shown in theaters back in 1977. Although I might have missed it, there didn’t seem to be any significant film damage, dust marks or scratches so this is as pristine as this movie will ever look.

AUDIO – 4/5

With the audio, and I’m fairly certain they are the same exact tracks from the 2018 Blu-ray, there are three options, all DTS-HD MA: 1.0, 5.1 and 7.1, the first being the default option and how I watched the majority of the movie with; and brief testing on the other two. That said, they are fine lossless tracks, outputting clear enough dialogue and some okay depth including one explosion and a car crash. It’s nothing that will give a surround system a workout, yet still fairly good for an indie horror film.

OVERALL — 3½/5

Overall, The Hills Have Eyes is by no means a favorite horror movie of mine despite being directed by the great Wes Craven, but it is certainly watchable with some respectable production value for the low budget along with decent enough performances. This 4K UHD Limited Edition released by Arrow Video offers up great video and audio transfers along with a good selection of bonus material ported over from the Blu-ray LE.




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