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

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hills Have Eyes Part II

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THE HILLS HAVE EYES part 2 (1985)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

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 Harry 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

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

hills have eyes 2 rating

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE DARK (1979)

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Dark-1

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THE DARK (1979)

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I’ll start out by saying that The Dark is not a very good movie, but not only does it hold nostalgia for me, as I saw it at the awesome Fox theater in Hackensack (which was across the street from my beloved Oritani) in 1979, but is also a curiosity because, at some point during the film’s making, it appears that movie’s villain changed his origins from some sort of zombie to a space monster…

The simple story has L.A. being stalked by some sort of unnatural fiend (John Bloom) who is tearing off people’s heads. It is being pursued not only by a hard-nosed cop (Richard Jaeckal), but by the writer, father (William Devane) of it’s first victim and an ambitious reporter (Cathy Lee Crosby) who sees this story as her big break. But this creature eludes capture and continues it’s nightly rampages. What is it? And can it be stopped?

Well, the answer to that question might be easier if the filmmakers could decided on what it’s creature actually is. Opening narration and the fact that the monster shoots lasers from it’s eyes (obviously added in post) to decapitate it’s victims has us believing it is a space monster, yet examinations of skin tissue and much of the film’s dialog seem to indicate it is a zombie. The creature also wears human clothes, kinda looks like a zombie and there is a supernatural element as we get blowing wind before it appears and it uses some sort of supernatural power to warn off a psychic (Jacquelyn Hyde) whom is aiding the police. It is only in the last act where there is dialog suggesting that it might be otherworldly and the climactic battle with the L.A. police is filled with explosions as the creature blasts them with it’s laser eyes. But these are things that could have been done with minimal re-shoots. I have read elsewhere that there was indeed a last minute change in the film’s critter due to failed screenings, but never anything official from someone involved in the production. Either way, this flick directed by John ‘Bud’ Cardos from a script by Stanford Whitmore is not very good. There is very little monster action till the last 10 minutes or so and most of the film is boring drama concerning Devane’s writer and his relationship with Crosby’s reporter…or the efforts of the bumbling cops to track down “The Mangler”. There is no suspense and the atmosphere is minimal with only one gory decapitation to interest the gore-hounds and overall, the movie is just plain dull and silly. Simply not much here to recommend other than some 70s nostalgia and watching a decent cast wallow in this mediocre movie.

For a bad B-Movie, this flick has a decent cast of 70s character actors. Devane’s writer is aloof and he plays most of his scenes walking around in a stupor wearing sunglasses. His character and Cathy Lee Crosby’s over ambitious reporter have a romance that adds nothing to the story and neither character makes much of an impact till the last 15 minutes or so, despite being the leads. Jaekel is sound as the cop in-over- his-head who has no idea what he is really dealing with…and in his defense, we’re still not that sure either, despite the end narration telling us the Earth has just had it’s first alien encounter. We also get veteran character actor Keenan Wynn and legendary DJ Casey Kasem as a news mogul and forensics expert respectively. Decent cast caught in a really bad flick.

So, there is not much to recommend about this lame sci-fi/horror with an identity problem. Whether it be a zombie or alien, the film is slow moving and uneventful, for the most part, and the apparent post-production changes in it’s title villain certainly doesn’t help. There is some personal nostalgia for me having seen it in a theater at a time when B-Movies like this could be seen on the big screen, but other than that, I really can’t say too much in the positive about this turkey. Not even bad enough to be funny.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 laser firing zombie/alien things.

dark rating

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