The Hills Have Eyes (1977) — Film Review

Save Horror
3 min readMay 31
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Once upon a time, there was a crazy-awesome film auteur named Wes Craven. He wrote, directed, and brought terrifying tales to the big screen. Some may argue this legend still lives, but after Scream 4, I am skeptical. Craven’s hold on horror began in the seventies with The Last House on the Left, but he followed it up soon after with The Hills Have Eyes. And even though he hates horror sequels on principle, he followed up with The Hills Have Eyes Part II. This horror pair has since been remade, and the entire set is a massive asset to horror.

The Hills Have Eyes takes a bit of inspiration from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and features a lovely family of inbred cannibals. The TCM cannibals lived in a backward town in Texas, and these cannibals lived in the middle of nowhere in a cave. The TCM cannibals were racist, sexist, and all kinds of offensive, and these cannibals had zero manners and barely any knowledge of how to walk, talk and act around ordinary people. No matter which way you spin it, cannibals are both creepy and disgusting. They prey on humans and gnaw on their bones. It’s gross and certainly not what typical, everyday humans do. A horror film that features cannibals starts on the scary side of the spectrum from the beginning, but it still needs to add something else to the table.

And what is that, you ask? Survival fear. A typical, fun-loving family in an RV traveling to California breaks down near those dear cannibals and becomes part of the nightmare. Feeling as though you are lost and there’s no one to help you is terrifying, and this film does an excellent job of translating that on the big screen. Each character is relatable and likable, making it easy to identify with their pain and depression if they don’t survive. Horror films with exciting characters are few and far between, so this plot is refreshing. I know every horror film is technically a “survival” horror, but not all movies feel that way. Sure, characters are always trying to survive, but the level of help and resources they have along the way affects their survival fear. These characters have virtually no resources. No other people are around, and their supplies are limited to what’s in their RV. All of this equates to a high survival fear which means a better, more frightening horror.

The cannibals are great, and the survival horror is fantastic, but it felt like the film dragged at times. There weren’t enough graphic or gruesome scenes for me. I wanted more fear and more scare and more gore. This is a great film, though, and it speaks to the fear Wes Craven typically delivers.

If you liked The Hills Have Eyes, you might also like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Texas Chainsaw, or The Silence of the Lambs.

Save Horror

Recommended from Medium


See more recommendations