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The Hills Have Eyes Part II
Im Todestal der Wölfe

USA 1984
produced by
Barry Cahn, Peter Locke for VTC
directed by Wes Craven
starring Tamara Stafford, Kevin Spirtas (as Kevin Blair), John Laughlin, Willard E. Pugh, Peter Frechette, Colleen Riley, Penny Johnson Jerald, Janus Blythe, Michael Berryman, John Bloom, Robert Houston, David Nichols, Edith Fellows, Arden Roger Meyer, and in archive footage: Virginia Vincent, James Whitworth, Suze Lanier-Bramlett, Lance Gordon, Brenda Marinoff, Martin Speer
written by Wes Craven, music by Harry Manfredini, special effects by Dick Brownfield

The Hills Have Eyes

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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A group of friends - blind Cass (Tamara Stafford), her boyfriend Roy (Kevin Spirtas), mysterious Rachel (Janus Blythe), Foster (Willard E. Pugh) and girlfriend Sue (Penny Johnson Jerald), Hulk (John Laughlin), Harry (Peter Frechette) and Jane (Colleen Riley) - take a shortcut through the desert on their way to a bike race where some of them want to participate. But of course, on the way their car breaks down in basically the middle of nowhere, and the only sign of civilisation is an abandoned farmhouse with an attached mine. This all seems weirdly familiar to Rachel - and then she is attacked by someone whom she manages to fight off, but who she later claims to be her brother ... and of course, it really was her brother, Pluto (Michael Berryman), as in the first The Hills Have Eyes, she was with the cannibal family (and named Ruby) but switched allegiances towards the end and helped Bobby (Robert Houston) and his niece escape.

Somehow, Pluto manages to snatch one of our heroes' bikes, and when Harry and Roy go after him on their own bikes to retrieve it, they never return. At first, the others think they're pranking them, it's only with nightfall that they start to get worried. And worried they should be, as Roy and Harry walked right into a trap set up by Pluto and his new companion Reaper (John Bloom), who then go after our heroes, bumping them off one by one, until only Cass is left standing - and while her blindness might afford her a certain edge in the dark of night, she's certainly no match for two big and violent guys like Pluto and Reaper ...

 

There's really no other way to put it, The Hills Have Eyes Part II manages in no way to live up to the original film: While the first The Hills Have Eyes was a very fine suspense piece wrapped in lots of violence, this is more of a typical 1980s slasher with comicbook villains and a tendency to macho action but little in originality. Sure, the film's well-crafted, but again it pales in comparison to the first movie (or to A Nightmare on Elm Street), which director Wes Craven shot immediately afterwards.

But that's not to say The Hills Have Eyes Part II isn't fun: Once you lowered your expectations a bit and accepted it's a slasher, you'll find this a well-orchestrated genre piece that makes brilliant use of its locations, features a bunch of rather cool setpieces, and for all of us into nostalgia, it also feels so wonderfully 1980s.

Not great perhaps - but good fun nonetheless.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD