Revisiting the Hills Pt 1 (The Hills Have Eyes, 2006)

In the early part of the aughts, studios started to remake Wes Craven’s films. To a certain extent, this was, I believe, an attempt to give Craven more financial benefit from his work. He was tangentially involved in these films as a producer, they were all written and directed by different people.

The Hills Have Eyes was probably a good place to start. It is a film known mainly to fans of Wes Craven and horror. However, a lot of people in the mainstream are likely to have simply heard the name.

Bringing in Alexandre Aja to write and direct. He had made a real impression with 2003’s High Tension, and honestly, was probably a strong choice. High Tension was part of the French Extreme trend in horror where stories could be messy and plot twists do not make sense. Here, the extreme violence of his work really is at home.

The core story is there. A family is on vacation in their RV. They go on a detour to shorten their drive time and the car appears to break down. They discover there are other people hiding in the hills and those people attack them and kidnap their baby. And then the family must fight back.

The original film is about a family from civilization versus the feral family. The film plays up the family divisions, with Big Bob’s tough Republican versus Doug’s “weak Democrat” played up big time. In fact a lot of the film is devoted to Doug becoming a violent badass. This is not an exaggeration. Doug goes from a guy barely able to think of using a gun to hand to hand violent killer. The film is pretty good at manipulating the viewer, because Doug is trying to save his baby.

The remake’s biggest alteration is that the feral family are ravaged by radiation. They are basically mutant monsters. Visually, this is really effective, though it loses something to make the Jupiter family outright inhuman monsters.

This is a decent remake and I think gorehounds will find it enjoyable.

Fear of Santa Claus Pt 8 (Santa’s Slay, 2005)

santas_slay_posterProbably one of the most unique takes on Santa Claus in this series…Santa’s Slay suggests that Santa was not a jolly saint…but rather a demon who lost a bet to an angel…but now that the bet is over, Santa goes on a rampage of death and destruction, starting by killing Fran Drescher and Chris Kattan. Directed by a guy who was an assistant to Brett Ratner-Oh-this is making more sense now.

So, as I mentioned, Santa is a demon, or more specifically the son of Satan.  Get it?  So, an angel makes a bet with him and Santa loses.  For a 1,000 years he had to bring gifts to the good boys and girls around the world.  Now, the thousand years are up.  So Santa is anxious to make up for lost time.  Santa is portrayed by the wrestler Goldberg…this means Santa is mainly bulging muscles.  He is battled by Claire from Lost, who is trying to end his bloody path of destruction.

I really wish this movie was as much goofy fun as the basic plot suggests.  But instead of gleefully dumb?  It just is dumb.  The effects are early aughts digital.  Some work, but most do not.  Likewise, some jokes are amusing, most are not.  This wants to be a wacky horror comedy cult film…but it just does not reach those heights.

Blog at

Up ↑