TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE HILLS HAVE EYES part 2 (1985)

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THE HILLS HAVE EYES part 2 (1985)

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One of Craven’s worst films, unnecessary sequel is most notable for being the first film released on VHS and into theaters on the same day. I myself was working at a Palmer Video at the time and remember it coming in for rent on the same day it opened at the Paramus Century Twin theater.

The story, written by Craven, takes place 8 years later with survivor Bobby (again Robert Houston) in a relationship with reformed cannibal clan member Ruby (a returning Janus Blythe) who is now called Rachel and the two have a motocross bike team and have invented a new fuel to race with. As fate would have it, there is a race they are participating in right in the area of Bobby’s ordeal with the cannibals. He refuses to go there, but Ruby takes the team on a bus and proceeds. It’s no surprise that they take a shortcut through the desert, the bus breaks down and now the bike team and Ruby/Rachel are trapped in an area stalked by the surviving Pluto (Michael Berryman) and his massive uncle Reaper (7’4″ actor John Bloom) who, one by one, slaughter the team and take their bodies into their underground slaughterhouse to make into happy meals.

Craven himself, is not proud of this film. It was a paycheck job and he was not given enough money to complete it and had to use a lot of flashbacks from the first film to get the film to feature length…and it is evident, especially in the first third. The film plays out more like a routine 80s slasher with Pluto and Reaper, one by one, killing off members of the biker team in various gory ways in an abandoned mining camp. The slasher vibe is strengthened by the presence of Henry Manfredini’s score which is very similar to his work on the Friday The 13th series. As for the proceedings, the story makes no sense, as Papa Jupiter’s father, in the first film, never mentions a second son, and why you would leave out a seven foot sibling in the telling, is silly. That and if Bobby is still traumatized by the events of the first flick, then why is he dating an ex-cannibal clan member? The film follows the generic slasher formula, quite closely and has little suspense, as it is obvious by the scene set-ups who’s getting it next. At least there is some effective gore when they do get it and if anything, the film moves quickly. Having a blind girl as our main heroine (Tamara Stafford) has little impact on the story, as her more acute hearing only works when the plot needs it to. The inclusion of Ruby doesn’t add much either, although she does have some fun fight scenes with her former clan members.

Cast are not really all that memorable aside for the iconic Berryman back as Pluto. At over seven feet, John Bloom certainly is physically impressive, but doesn’t really give Reaper the personality needed to put him anywhere near the slasher hall of fame. Tamara Stafford makes a fine enough heroine as Cass and she is pretty, likable and shows resilience like a good final girl should, especially with the character’s handicap. A returning Janus Blythe is almost unrecognizable as the now civilized Ruby, but she has some fun scenes with her former family members. They should have focused more on her physical scraps with Pluto and Reaper as they were one of the more entertaining aspects of the film and one which they wasted overall, as Ruby becomes a second tier character behind Cass. Supporting players are fine as generic slaughter fodder and are just stereotypical characters in a slasher flick, nothing more.

This is a bad movie. There is some entertainment value from the slasher aspects, if you are a fan of 80s slashers, but overall, it is every bit the paycheck job it’s said to be. The Hills Have Eyes is a cult classic horror and it’s sequel is a sad example of what happens when a filmmaker makes a film he doesn’t want to, in order to pay the bills…and a film he was barely given the resources to finish. If you are a completest of either Craven or 80s slashers, sure, give it a watch, but don’t expect much at all.

-MonsterZero NJ

1 and 1/2 (out of 4) Plutos.

hills have eyes 2 rating

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SLAUGHTER HIGH (1986)

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SLAUGHTER HIGH (1986)

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British/American co-production is a routine and silly slasher flick that for some reason needed three writers and three directors (Mark Ezra, George Dugdale, Peter Litten) to churn out a reasonably forgettable horror with a very generic plot.

Flick has a gang of popular high schoolers led by Carol (British babe Caroline Munro) playing not one but two mean spirited pranks on awkward chemistry nerd Marty (Simon Scuddamore). The second leaves him horribly scarred and institutionalized. Ten years later the same gang is invited to a high school reunion, only to arrive and find their former school empty and abandoned. They investigate anyway and find it indeed set up for a celebration. The reunion may actually be a trap, though, as only the members of this clique were invited to this shindig. Now someone has locked them in on the eve of April Fool’s Day and is stalking and killing the popular crowd in cruel and bloody ways. Has Marty returned for revenge after all these years…or has someone else got a grudge against those who ruled the school back in the day?

This is a very boring and routine slasher that offers nothing new to the genre. It was filmed in England and cast with English actors, while trying to pass itself off as American. Epic Fail. The actors barely hide their accents, one doesn’t try to at all and the location has a very European look to it. The film is very jokey and silly for the most part but, then suddenly expects us to take it seriously when the murders start and the hunting down of the survivors begins by our jester-masked killer. It’s shocking this bland and style-less slasher took three people to script and direct, when it barely gives the impression that there was even one creative mind on-set. The accents aside, the acting is bad and most of the cast look like they’re pushing forty much less their late twenties. Munro was 36 at the time. There is some decent gore but, the killings are preposterous and would take a lot of work and money to set up the elaborate demises such as pumping acid into just the right plumbing and someone drinking just the right beer. There is a lot of convenient actions by our victims to ensure they are in the right place and time to meet their ends, too. Even in a silly flick like this, it’s just too hard to swallow. When the film tries to be a bit clever in it’s final scenes, it even blows that, too. Aside from a score by Friday The 13th composer Henry Manfredini, there is little to recommend here.

Quite obviously, I found little to like about this film even with buxom bird Caroline Munro as it’s lead. The story is routine and uninspired, it has a jokey tone to it and the British actors are wooden and doing a poor job of trying to pass themselves off as Yanks. There is some good gore but, most of the kills are a bit far-fetched and hard to believe that circumstances worked out so perfectly for them to occur. Characters seem to walk into their demises…as if scripted…and it took three people to write that unimaginative script. Definitely one of the lesser and forgettable 80s slashers. Not even the nostalgia factor could boost this one.

-MonsterZero NJ

1 and 1/2 jester killers.

slaughterhigh rating

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