Well folks, this is it. The final entry in 2015’s Summer of Horror. I can’t believe another Summer is (more or less) behind us and Phase I is beginning tomorrow!
I’m happy that this year I managed to watch more horror movies than I did last year, but it came at the expense of being a little fast and loose as far as which films I ended up reviewing (being unemployed for much of the Summer also helped). There are still several classics I haven’t gotten around to, including Freaks, Suspiria, and Tales from the Darkside. But that’s why this is an annual tradition!
On to the reviews.
The Hills Have Eyes
This jumped to the top of my list upon yesterday’s sad news. I might not have gotten around to it otherwise, which is sad because it was one of the first films I came up with when putting together the Summer of Horror watch list.
Another proud entry in the Redneck Torture Family subgenre, The Hills Have Eyes is pretty remarkable in the wake of Wes Craven’s later work. This is nothing like Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s not fun, it’s not flashy, it’s not pop, and it shares more in common with Texas Chainsaw Massacre than it does Halloween or Friday the 13th. It’s a remarkably vicious and dirty film, playing out like a very small scale version of Mad Max. A pure fight for survival in an endless desert.
It definitely shows signs of age, not to mention the semi-sloppy stylings of a young director just cutting his teeth. Characters often behave totally illogically, or otherwise show inappropriately muted reactions to horrifying events early in the film. But as things escalate, the situation becomes more and more desperate and brutal, accelerating the pace considerably in the second half. And it ends with a bleak, nihilistic resolution that highlights the indifferent pointlessness of all the savagery we had just witnessed. More brains…