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Blu-ray Review: The Hills Have Eyes – “This is a must-buy”


Arrow Video turn their masterful attentions to Wes Craven’s seminal 1977 mutant cannibal flick: The Hills Have Eyes. The film itself has been on the end of a stunning 4K restoration – supervised by the film’s producer Peter Locke – and also present are a large heaping of extras.

An all-American family are on a road trip to California: mum, dad, a son, a young daughter, and an older daughter with her baby and husband. They go the long way around so that dad can look for a silver mine, and while in the middle of a barren airforce test site their car and camper crash. Dad, and the son-in-law go off in search of help, and a gang of crazed troglodyte killers emerge from the hills to kill, rape and feed.

Even at nearly forty-years-old, The Hills Have Eyes still feels unsafe. The first time I saw this film was a surreptitious lend of a battered VHS from a school friend, and it still feels just as dirty and dangerous watching it again now. Craven’s eye for menace is razor sharp, and the brutality and savagery is harsh and hard hitting.

Both families are given full working dynamics, and as they repeatedly clash and lines are consistently crossed, the terror turning to hate in the eyes of the Carter’s, and the desperation and depravity in the actions of the cannibals is gruesome and gruelling. A string-plucking score and often hand held camera leave you constantly on edge as Craven fires through a lean and nasty film that is hard to forget or shake off after.

The aforementioned 4K restoration looks great, and Arrow’s encoding leaves no artefacts visible. The noise and grain is only authentic, never electronic, and from the pitchest of black nights to dusty days the picture stays sharp and blocking free. The audio is the original English mono – so only one channel – and although I was going to bemoan a lack of 5.1, I won’t as I would have only chosen the original track over a faux surround mix anyway.

There are also hard-of-hearing subtitles and three audio commentaries on the disc. One with the cast, one with Wes Craven and Peter Locke (Mercury), and another with film lecturer Mikel J. Koven. An eleven and a half minute alternate ending is the first piece of bonus material you should check out. It is too twee by half, showing Ruby become part of what is left of the family and then stills of the actors with their names, but it is an interesting watch as it highlights how powerful and discordant the film’s actual stark and sudden ending is.

Also present are a nearly hour long making of featuring plenty of Wes, a new interview with Martin Speer, an interview with the composer, nineteen minutes of outtakes, trailers and TV spots, and a large image gallery.

Another definitive edition from Arrow Video, if you have any interest in horror at all this is a must-buy, and if you’re already a fan of the film, or a Craven aficionado, you are in for a tremendous treat.


The Hills Have Eyes is available on limited edition Blu-Ray/DVD in the UK on the 26th of September.


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