Thursday, March 10, 2011

Compare & Contrast: The Hills Have Eyes

For this edition of "Compare and Contrast" I'll take a look at both version of "The Hills Have Eyes". First up, Wes Craven's original 1977 film.

The film opens with an old guy named Fred closing up his gas station/junk yard(?). He gets a visit from some crazy looking chick named Ruby, who begs for food. Fred doesn't give her any, despite having a live pig in the back of his truck. When she learns Fred is closing for good and leaving the desert, she begs to go with him. When a car pulls up, Fred throws Ruby in the closet and sees who it is.

It's The Carter family! Dad is a retired cop, Mom is super religious, Brenda is a care free spirit (I bet in the remake she's played by a Lauren Conrad/Heidi Montag type), her brother Bobby, her sister Lynne (Dee Wallace), Lynne's husband Doug, and their kid Katy (Not Perry). They stop at Fred's for gas, while the family dogs Beauty and Beast (See what they did there) snoop around and find the place creepy.

After telling Fred they're looking for some silver mine, Fred turns into the Crazy Old Man Who Warns The Family not to go to the mine but keep going to California. The family take off and Fred finds that Ruby is gone, along with his pig. Fred seems to know what's up.

Dad ignores Fred's warnings and looks for the mine anyway, but they get into a car crash in the funniest way I've seen in a long time: a mixture of Mom thrusting the map in Dad's face and a bunny rabbit sitting on the road. They crash, breaking an axel. Not knowing what else to do, Dad and Doug decide to walk for help. Dad goes back to Fred's, while Doug looks for an air force base that's suppose to be around there.

Meanwhile, we hear voices coming from THE HILLS (see what I did with the Lauren Conrad joke) and they all have names like Mercury, Mars, Venus, and Pluto. They spot the broken down family and just watch...waiting.

At this point, most people might get bored just watching this family try to get comfortable, waiting for the two men to get back. There is some slight action when Beauty runs away and Bobby goes after her. Beauty is killed by one of the hill folk and Bobby finds the body. He's so distraut that he slips and falls down the hill.

Dad makes it to Fred's and finds Fred trying to hang himself. This wasn't completely explained. Fred tells Dad that a long time ago, he and his wife gave birth to some kid that came out sideways (I can hear all the mothers reading this now go "Ooohhhh" and holding their groins), which killed the wife. The kid ended up being some kind of freak, being born 20 pounds (again with the "ooooh" reaction) and apparently super hairy. When the "kid" was 10, he was a hairy giant who burnt the house down. Fred got fed up with this and left the "kid" in the desert. I guess the kid grew up to be the Papa of the hill folk that's now running around. They didn't come out and say that but that's what I figure.

Before Fred can say anymore, a dark figure bursts in and kills Fred. Dad freaks out and instead of taking Fred's truck, he starts running back. Well, he didn't take the truck cause Dad has a heart problem and he NEEDs to have a heart attack while being chased. He falls down, almost dead when one of the hill folk (Mars I think) takes him and crucifies him in a tree.

It's getting later and the rest of the family worry about Dad and Doug, but not enough. Doug returns with a bunch of crap he found, and he and Lynne immediately start fucking in the broken car. Bobby returns, kinda dazed about the whole dead Beauty thing. Twas the freak that killed the Beauty?

With Bobby all a bundle of nerves, any small noise he hears he freaks out over. WHen he leaves the trailer, he finds the door is locked. Inside the trailer? Michael Berryman. You know Michael Berryman.

Yeah, that guy.

He and Mars are inside, stealing food and bullets. Berryman, who plays Pluto, is about to rape Brenda, but Mars thinks Pluto isn't old enough so he does it himself. Pluto freaks out. Meanwhile, Mercury (who I think is Papa) sets Dad on fire and Doug, Mom, and Bobby go put him out. Mom has one of the most annoying freak outs I've ever seen on film.

Mars spots the baby and decide to take it. Lynne tries to stop him but ends up getting shot. Mom walks in and she too gets shot. Mars and Pluto leave with the baby. Doug is pissed, Brenda is freaked, and Bobby is trying not to wimp out. Meanwhile, Beast who ran away, manages to knock out one of the other hill folk. Hm, maybe he's Mercury and Papa is Papa. I couldn't get most of them straight, besides Pluto and Mars obviously.

Anyway, Beast kills one of the hill folk and takes his walkie-talkie, which is how the hill folk communicate to each other. He takes the walkie-talkie back to Doug and Bobby, who can now hear them communicating to each other. At the hill folk camp, they decide to keep the baby alive...for now.

The next morning, Doug vows to get the baby back so with Beast leading him they look for the camp. Brenda and Bobby stay behind. Doug shows up at the camp and when Beast attacks Pluto, Papa orders Mars to kill the baby. Doug springs into action. Papa meanwhile, heads for Brenda and Bobby.

Bobby sets up a "Home Alone" style trap to get Papa which involves some wire and the car's wheel. The wire snags Papa and drags him across the desert but the car runs out of gas. They move to plan B: blow the fucking trailer up. Ruby, who I guess isn't really a hill folk but a prisoner, takes the baby from Mars and runs. Mars chases after her. She runs into Doug and they both go running.

This is why I love movies from the '70's. The final five minutes of this movie is Doug and Mars fighting. Beast pretty much biting the fuck out of Pluto's neck. Ruby sic'ing a snake on Mars, then Doug stabbing the shit out of Mars. After Mars dies, the movie ends. No resolution. No twist ending. Just THE END. I love that. I bet the remake has both resolution AND a twist ending. Considering both version have a sequel, I'm sure I'm not wrong.

So that's the original. Onto the remake!

Written and directed by Alexandre Aja, who wrote and directed "High Tension", a favorite of mine, even if the "twist" is a bit dumb. Going into this, I figured it'd be a bit more extreme than the original. I was unprepared for how extreme.

This version opens up with some guys in "Outbreak" suits scanning a desert when they get attacked with pick axes. Then a car drives away, dragging all the bodies of the "Outbreak" guys away. During the opening credits, we get stock footage of nuclear bomb testing, mixed in with pictures of deformed babies. Ahh...this movie is going the mutant route instead of regular inbred hill folk. Well played, Aja.

Even though he isn't given a name, this movie's Fred is alone and he wakes up to weird noises. He finds a bag on his front porch and he yells that he's done doing it. We find out what "it" is in a few. He takes the bag in and finds it full of wallets, jewelry, and a fast food container with an ear. As he's about to freak out, The Carter's show up! Same group as in the original except the cast (obviously).

I was sort of wrong about who's gonna play Brenda. They got Claire from "Lost" to play her. I guess yeah. Kathleen Quinlan is the Mom. And in one of my favorite bits of casting Ted "Played Stottlemeyer on Monk" Levine is Dad! Man, he was perfect for this role. Oh there is one change made to a character. They made Doug a wimpy "Democrat" who hates guns. So when he goes berserk later and kills all the mutants we'll go "Ahh...I get it."

This version is a bit more sinister cause instead of this version's Fred telling them not to get lost, he actually directs them TO the mutants. And instead of throwing maps and avoiding cute bunnies, the mutants set up a trap so the tires blow out.

The truck crashes, Dad and Doug go their own seperate ways, leaving Bobby in charge. Oh right Bobby. In the original, I swear Bobby was at least in college. Here, he can't be more than 16. I know I shouldn't be griping about that age change when there's a HUGE one coming up.

There's an added scene where Doug find a huge crater full of abandoned cars. I guess this is the one scene in the original where he finds all the stuff that'll come into play later. And I'm guessing we need to know what the mutants do with the cars.

Dad shows up at Fred's, find the ear, and goes into cop mode. THIS TIME he decides to take Fred's car but he finds Fred sitting in an outhouse, drunk. When Dad confronts him, Fred blows his head off. Soon, Dad is attacked and is dragged off.

The dogs get loose and Bobby follows them, only to have Beauty (Yes they kept the dog's names) get eaten by a mutant. He falls and it being cared for by a child mutant. You'll never guess who this child mutant is suppose to be. I'll give you a hint: she's wearing a red hoodie. Yeah, this is Ruby, who was an adult in the original. Strange enough, it works cause instead of being a captive, she's just being a regular child who doesn't understand what's going on around her.

Most of the night scenes are the same. Pluto and Mars break into the trailer, a crucified Dad is lit on fire, Mom freaks out. Brenda is raped, more brutally this time around, by Mars. Pluto eats a bird. They shoot the Mom. OH SHIT! There is one difference here. When Lynne walks in, Mars holds a gun to her, make her take her tits out, and HE STARTS BREASTFEEDING!! I was like "Whoa..." Lynne gets shot in the head, then they take the baby and leave. Doug freaks out and vows to get the baby back.

The next day, Doug and Beast go get the baby but instead of the mutants living in a cave, they live in one of those test nuclear blast sites that have houses and whatnot. So we're suppose to get from this is they were miners working nearby when all these bombs were dropped on them and now they're mutants. Mutant CANNIBALS!

Doug finds the baby in a house and he goes in to get her, but a mutant stops him. When he wakes up, he's in a meat freezer full of bodies. He escapes the freezer and meets the "head" of the family. That's in quotes cause the guy is pretty much a GIANT HEAD in a wheelchair. There's a fight scene between Doug and Pluto where eventually Doug shoves a pick axe through his head. He then kills the "head" guy (Man, I wonder if Aja put these puns in the script) but not before the guy orders the baby to be killed.

Mars is about to kill the baby when Ruby takes her and runs away. At the broke down truck, Bobby and Brenda set up a trap but not the same trap as the original. This one is just suppose to signal if someone is coming. The trap goes off and after searching, they find nothing. But when they return, they find Mom's body is gone. Bobby goes looking for it and he finds a mutant eating the body. Fuck, man.

The mutant (I'm not sure which one this is) chases after Bobby and Brenda sets up the same explode-y trap in the trailer, which works. Meanwhile, Doug catches up to Ruby and is about to get the baby when Mars appears, attacking and beating the shit out of Doug. But Doug is a MAN now! He grabs a shotgun and fucks up Mars' shit! But while reuniting with the baby, Mars gets back up and is about to shoot Doug when Ruby runs, attacks, and then falls off a cliff with Mars, killing them both.

So already, this ending is different. I told you, modern movies need "resolutions". This can't end with Doug going "AHH FUCK YEAH!!!" and the words THE END. Fuckin' modern movie going audience, YOU SUCK! Sorry.

Doug returns with the baby, they all hug but...ugh TWIST! Someone is watching them through binoculars. Now it ends. Really? Ok, yes, there's a sequel to this but still.

Ok so in comparison, I liked the original but the remake was pretty fucking awesome, even if it bugged me. I loved the way the original just ended, but the remake was more gorier and more fucked up. If I had to pick which one I rather go with, I'd go with the remake, even though the original has Michael Berryman. And, well, he's fuckin' Michael Berryman!

At least now I know to avoid going anywhere NEAR the desert. Sorry, Dylan.




Jack L said...

It's always interesting to compare remakes and originals... I can't say I want to watch these films though, they sound way to horrible for my liking. Still, I enjoyed reading your review!

Nick said...

I haven't seen the original, but I do actually really like the remake.

Jason Soto said...

Jack: Really? Both films are awesome. The first one is a bit slow but once it gets going, it gets going. The remake is good, even if they tacked on the ending to pander to today's audience.

Nick: You should see the original, it's pretty good, especially since you like the remake.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful review(s)! Great looks at the same thing done two different ways - as well as two different schools of film-making.

Tom Clift said...

Great reviews! I hear the original is great, and I LOVE the remake. I'm not normally a huge fan of ultra-gory horror, but it's just so well made. That opening credit sequence is fantastic, and the sound design in the movie (that blarring noise - I guess it's sort of like nuclear test/warning sirens) is awesome.