I'm still scratching my head over what I witnessed in "The Hills Have Eyes 2." Legendary horror icon Wes Craven had produced the reimaged franchise that have remade the late Seventies horror films. They were vile and forgettable, but with each viewing of the updated versions I am gaining new respect for the originals. This sequel found director Alexandre Aja ousted in favor of Martin Weisz who was previously responsible for the unknown film "Rohtenburg" and another called "60 Seconds." The director change doesn't particularly add anything to this mess of a film and Wes Craven continues to exploit his Seventies exploitation horror film in a way that lessens the value of the original films and feels only like a cheap way of padding a few pockets in Hollywood.
In a nutshell, the National Guard has been tasked with setting up surveillance equipment around the Las Cruces nuclear testing site. The equipment is to monitor an abandoned mine; which the military feels is something that should be monitored. Of course, the mine is home to an entire clan of mutants that are the offspring of the nuclear testing and unrelated to the mutants from the first film. The mutants are led by Papa Hades (Michael Bailey Smith) and ole Papa is driven by the human nature to engage in sexual intercourse and make babies. The mutants need offspring to continue their horrid existence, but I feel Papa Hades only suffers from every male's deep rooted desire to get laid. In essence, the military may have some knowledge that a foul mutated man is looking for love and in an unfriendly way.
The National Guard soldiers are led by their Sergeant, Jeffrey Millstone (Flex Alexander). His soldiers do not necessarily respect him and stoop as low to call him ‘sir.' For those of us with a military background, we know that ‘sir' is not respectful and any Sergeant will quickly punish the offending soldier and kindly explain that he works for a living. The soldiers are comprised of the lovely Private First Class Amber Johnson (Jessica Stroup), PFC Delmar Reed (Lee Thompson Young), PFC ‘Crank' Medina (Jacob Vargas), PFC ‘Stump' Locke (Ben Crowley), PFC Missy Martinez (Daniella Alonso) and PFC Mickey Elrod (Reshad Strik). I can understand why the Sarge is so upset with his command. He leads an entire squad of E-3 privates. They could have at least given him a Specialist with some experience. Of course, he is just a lowly Sgt. with a squad and doesn't lead an entire platoon. It is also the National Guard. The events in the film and the training depicted were truly better suited to the Infantry.
The green soldiers and their poor Sergeant show up to the military command post and cannot find Colonel ‘Spitter' Cole (Eric Edelstein). They decide to travel up the hill and find the missing commander of the post. Amber and Mickey are left behind to guard the latrine. Mickey needed to use the porta-potty, but Sarge didn't feel he was fit to relieve himself of any fecal matter. However, Mickey decided to go against the unjust orders of his barely superior soldier and poop in the porta-potty. It was at that point that a scientist reached out of the fecal-laden structure and climbed out to scare Amber and Mickey. Of course, he was tortured with cuts all over his body and died from potential poop poisoning (PPP?). I'm not making this up. The film stooped low enough to have a man climb out of poop.
I'm not going to continue any further in regards of the plot. The mutants get amorous and try to kidnap Amber and Missy to make babies. The males are maimed, murdered and mutilated, but some survive. There are some cheesy one-liners and plot holes big enough to contain the poop from the porta-potty. Never in my life have I expected I'd be able to use the terms ‘poop' and ‘porta-potty' as much as I have in this review. I even got to toss ‘fecal matter' in there a few times. Back to the lack of discussion on the plot; there are some grisly deaths and eventually the babes survive and manage to stop Papa Hades from getting too randy with them. The film leaves you wondering how Mickey and Amber managed to climb the hill to quickly catch up with their fellow soldiers, but the climb down was perilous, needed a rope and took forever.
"The Hills Have Eyes 2" is poop. It smells as bad as the worst porta-potty you can think of. Perhaps not as bad as the worst outdoor fecal facility I've smelled. Those permanent structures at Fort Benning during my 11B training for the Army Infantry were pretty rank. I never want to have to sit in one of those again. I also never want to sit through "The Hills Have Eyes 2" again, either. Granted, this film wasn't nearly as bad as "The Marine," but it is pretty bad. It may seem offensive that I have referred to a certain brown smelly waste substance with repetition in this review, but that early scene featuring a man climbing out of a porta-potty and covered in poop was clearly how I felt when I was done watching this horrid affair. It's bad. The plot holes are awful. The military advisor should be dunked in poop and Wes Craven should be pretty damn ashamed that he is trashing his cult classic series with these crappy films.
Do me a favor and don't make me type any more about "The Hills Have Eyes 2" and just don't see it. Go visit the local baseball field's porta-potty. It's a quicker experience.
As bad as the film is, the high definition transfer of this Blu-ray release holds up rather nicely. The 2.35:1 film is presented at 1080p with the AVC (MPEG-4) codec. "The Hills Have Eyes 2" exhibits strong detail that nicely brings to life every sand pebble, devoured nugget of flesh and mutant rape scene shown in the film. Oh, and the poop looks awfully nasty when the poor scientist climbs out of the porta-potty. Colors are very bright as well and the film never looks overly processed. Saturation is solid and the desert tans and sky blues look vibrant and impressive. Black levels are strong and impressive and the mutants look quite good even when the lighting is at its darkest. I did see some pixilation and color banding in some of the darker moments, but it was a minimal distraction. Source materials were very clean and didn't have any poop smeared on them or anything else equally disgusting to make this putrid picture look bad. It's sad that such a foul stench of a film can look this nice and far superior movies look like poop.
I'm not sure how I can work the word ‘poop' into my review of the English DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio mix. I could just say the sound doesn't sound like poop. Or I could just say it. Poop. Okay, so maybe I'm getting a little too silly in this review and too free with the word poop, but I promise I won't use it at all when I discuss the extras. I wrote that section first before I talked about the porta-potty. Anyhow, "The Hills Have Eyes 2" falls into the category of horror films that uses sound to create jump scares and other false frights. The aggressive soundtrack is vibrant and makes full use of all channels and the .1 LFE track. It sounds quite good and rivals the clear and impressive picture. The rear surrounds are very aggressive and nicely used to try and create some scares for the film's audience. The directional effects move transparently between speakers and "The Hills Have Eyes 2" is quite enveloping in its surround sound. Dialogue is clear, even during the harshest sounding moments. The score by Trevor Morris is powerful and effective. Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Surround mixes are also included.
20th Century Fox has packaged "The Hills Have Eyes 2" on a single layer, 25 GB disc with a decent array of supplemental materials that don't make the film any better, but makes buying the disc feel a little better of a value. The four Deleted Scenes (3:11) are short and quick. They are presented in non 16x9 friendly standard definition and don't add anything of great interest to the film. The deleted scenes are mostly scenes of additional banter not heard in the film. The Alternate Ending (:55) is exactly what it claims to be; another way for the film to end. I won't spoil it. The short Gag Reel (3:37) has a few chuckles to be had. The Mutant Attacks (9:47) supplement is the first substantial bonus feature and is an EPK styled making-of documentary that looks at the mutants featured in the film. This was pretty standard, but I enjoyed seeing the mutants without their make-up discussing their characters.
The supplements improve a little after the first four items. The Birth of a Graphic Novel (12:42) shows many of the scenes in the film through the cells of the graphic novel that served as a prequel for the two "Hills Have Eyes" films. After watching this little supplement, I was tempted to seek out a copy and check it out. It looks gory and interesting. I bet it would make a fine film. The Exploring the Hills: The Making of the Hills Have Eyes 2 (12:43) is a glossy promotional making-of feature that gives an brief overview of the production and includes interviews with Wes Craven, his son Jonathan Craven and others as they discs the supposedly frightening film. The aptly titled Fox Movie Channel Presents: Life After Film School with Wes Craven (10:20) is a brief segment with three students interviewing the legendary horror director. This was far too promotional for my liking, but it was a fair enough interview to sit through. The Theatrical Trailer for the first "Hills Have Eyes" film and an advert for Fox on Blu-ray finalize the bonus offerings.
It took a month of courage to finally review the copy of "The Hills Have Eyes 2" that was sent my way. I had actually watched the film a few weeks ago, but started to have an odd string of hardware and computer failures. Something truly did not want me to review this title. But here it is, my review. I apologize for going overboard with the word ‘poop' and the term ‘porta-potty.' It could be called unprofessional, but I can claim cruel and unusual punishment in having to watch this foul stench of a film. I enjoy the campy originals, but these remakes are torturous. The Blu-ray disc packs a potent punch of sound and video and the supplements are also better than the film deserves. I'm not sure of what Wes Craven is thinking, but he better be getting paid handsomely to taint his classics in this manner. I recommend you avoid this movie. I've said it once in this review and I'll say it again. This movie is poop.