The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007) Revisited – Horror Movie Review

The Black Sheep looks back at the 2007 sequel-to-a-remake The Hills Have Eyes 2, co-written and produced by Wes Craven

The Hills Have Eyes 2. No, not that one. That’s The Hills Have Eyes PART 2 and has one of the greatest things ever filmed where a dog, an actual dog, has a flashback and its just, muah, chef’s kiss. While I actually think that original 1985 sequel is way too much fun for its own good – it was written and directed by Craven, brings back Michael Berryman, has Harry Manfredini give us the score, and oh yeah, has a dog flashback. A DOG, FLASHBACK – I’m not here to talk about that one that is probably so bad it’s good. I’m here to discuss the true black sheep of this inbred mountain family and give you all a look at the movie that is not a remake of the sequel but rather a sequel to the remake. The Hills Have Eyes 2 (watch it HERE) is a slept-on piece of mid 2000s horror that should be viewed with the others instead of living in its outcasted cave where it currently resides.

A couple months ago, Lance took a look at the Alexandre Aja directed remake of The Hills Have Eyes from 2006. That is a nasty piece of work that is uncompromising, mean, and at times a very uncomfortable watch. It is by far and away the best remake of Craven’s films and is the feather in the cap of the director who has a ton of great watches under his belt. It got me thinking about this long lost to time sequel that I remember watching on video and thinking meh, but it did pretty decently in theaters making almost 38 million on its 15-million-dollar budget. It brought back Cravens, both Wes and son Jonathan, to write it and it kiiiiiiiiiiiiiind of relates to that original sequel that is now almost 40 years old.

In that original sequel, Ruby, who is a survivor of the first film and turncoat mutant ends up back in the desert to face off against more hills that have more eyes. That’s a dumb joke but if IMDB is to be believed, and who are we to question it, the original title of today’s movie was supposed to be The Hills Have Eyes 2: The Hills Still Have Eyes. That is almost as stupendously dumb as the dog flashback. What was part 3 supposed to be? 3 eyes, 3 hillz with a z? I’d accept it. Annnnnnnyway, the movie originally involved a survivor of Aja’s movie, the character Brenda being so messed up from her ordeal that she joins the National Guard to sort out her problems. The actress, Emilie de Ravin, was actually in for it but was on mega hit confusion fest LOST on TV and couldn’t fit it into her schedule. Craven kept the bones of the story and just had a National Guard team go into the titular hills on a mission.

The director is Martin Weisz who was chosen after original director M.J. Bassett was unavailable. If you haven’t seen Bassett’s 2002 movie Deathwatch, go give it a look. Weisz is primarily a music video director with only two other films to his name, including one that is a grim watch in, well, Grimm Love starring Keri Russell. The other writer besides Wes, Jonathan, the other Craven meat, is along the same lines as the director with only some music videos that he helmed even if he did write a few episodes of the Freddy TV show and the way too stupid to be bad Mind Ripper.

The acting is mostly full of solid THAT GUY actors so we will focus on the 3 main characters. Missy is played by Daniella Alonso and in addition to headlining Wrong Turn 2 the same year as this, she has also been in The Collector for us horror fans. Apart from the genre we love, she also has done a ton of TV including 64 episodes of Dynasty. Jessica Stroup plays Amber who is a stand in character for what would have been the returning actor and character. On the horror side, she would show up in both the remake of Prom Night on the big screen and True Blood on the small screen. Finally, we have Michael McMillian as unlikely hero Napoleon. McMillan has this as his only horror movie but was a major character on True Blood and has done a lot of other TV too.

So. Why do I like this movie. Well, it does feel like it was written by a teenager as all of the National Guard soldiers have sweet nicknames like Stump, Crank, Barbie, and Sarge and there is plenty of colorful language and bloody violence. Colorful language and bloody violence are two of our main food groups in the pyramid here at JoBlo so that lends itself wonderfully to us. The movie opens with a fun piece of trickery as Sector 16 is the former nuclear testing area that we saw in the first movie. We see a few scientists and a military commander get absolutely jobbed but it does a few things right. There is plenty of gore, but we don’t really see what is attacking the poor dudes. In fact, whether for budgetary reasons or a conscious choice to maintain the mutant mystery, we don’t see the radiated cannibal family for much of the runtime. Some things here and there, sure but a lot of quick cuts and near misses. When you do get to see them, it is much more impactful than it could have been.

Speaking of the mutant baddies, there is a logical progression and more than just a copy paste job that they could have gone for. While there is the giant leader who has more hit points than most final bosses in video games and the harmless one trying to help the heroes, there are also a few other cool ones. The one who dresses up in military garb, the chameleon one who can blend into the walls and ground due to his own specific mutation, and one just called Stabber who, well, you get it. The gore and gross factor go all in too. From the rather disgusting birth scene in the beginning and its thematically relevant sexual assault of Missy near the end of the movie to bayonets going into eyes and a scientist crawling out of a port-a-potty to attempt to warn them only to die from what I assume is disgust, or like sepsis I don’t know. Can you imagine though? He’s all cut up and definitely got that stuff in his wounds.

The movie’s plot is rather predictable and boiler plate unfortunately. After we see the scientists and lead military guy bite it in the beginning, we are introduced to our rag tag group who fails their training mission that is presented to us as a real-life operation. Of course, their commanding officer riles them up and tells them how ill prepared they are and of course that same leader is gunned down by friendly fire by one of the troopers who then feels guilty about it until his death. They get picked off mostly one at a time and lose most of their ammo and supplies in the process while also having no way out. One of the soldiers who is seen as the weakest and least prepared, becomes the hero that they didn’t know they had amongst their ranks. This description could be a ton of different movies and has been done to death but are you really watching The Hills Have Eyes 2 for its stellar storytelling ability?

The Hills Have Eyes 2 Black Sheep

As they get dwindled down and picked off, oddly enough with two of them being shot to death and two of them dying from falling, probably due to the budget, they enter a cave system that the original soldier told them about before he takes himself off the board for good. The caves are dark, again helping with the look of some of the stuff on screen, but also look pretty good and were designed by the same team that did the caves for one of my all time favorites The Descent. They slide down some tube tunnels and use up all of their ammo while thankfully taking out a couple of the threats. Missy is kidnapped and its pretty clear that her, Amber, and Napoleon are going to be the final 3. That’s exactly what happens after some gnarly fights and an ill-timed explosion.

The final confrontation is a fun one with all three of the remaining soldiers seeking revenge for either themselves in Missy’s case or for their fallen comrades in the case of Napoleon and Amber. Papa Hades is no pushover though and is able to toss them around like a parent playing with their toddlers. He can also take quite the amount of damage due to his being a mutant and all. They are able to stab him with a pole that feels reminiscent of the American flag kill from the first movie but even that doesn’t put him down for good. The bayonet sure does the trick, however. As most horror movies, and nearly all sequels, end though, our heroes make it out of the caves only to be spotted on repurposed military equipment used by mutants in another area of the desert.

There would be no part 3 however and that’s a shame. While this movie probably isn’t going to show up on anyone’s favorite films of all time list, it could have continued the series on the direct to video market. Series like Hellraiser and Wrong Turn absolutely thrived in that arena and these films could have churned out low budget but consistently fun entries every couple years. The Hills Have Eyes 2 doesn’t belong where its critical score shelves it nor where the fans discuss it. It has a lot of fun with the premise and makes good on what you would expect to see. A good black sheep is one that defies its odds and labels to be something that makes you say “well actually…” when someone asks for a recommendation, particularly within an established series of films. Seek this one out any way you can and bask in the glory that is a schlocky sequel to one of our finest remakes.

A couple of the previous episodes of The Black Sheep can be seen at the bottom of this article. To see more, head over to the JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channel – and subscribe while you’re there!

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/the-hills-have-eyes-2-black-sheep/

Previous articleFuriosa has a 15-minute action sequence which took 78 days to shoot
Next articleDomhnall Gleeson and White Lotus’s Sabrina Impacciatore cast in Greg Daniels’s new comedy set in The Office universe