Another classic horror movie is given the Anchor Bay special edition treatment. Wes Craven’s follow up to the sleazy/creepy “Last House on the Left” was this retelling of the “Sawney Beane” feral family legend, transplanted to the California desert. An all-American family, traveling in their camper, breaks down in the middle of nowhere and are tormented by their dark mirror-images in the form of a pack of cannibals who are starving and nearing the end of their existence. While it takes a while to actually get going, by the end, the viewer is left nearly exhausted, and very aware of the movie’s theme that all it takes to make the civilized bestial is misfortune and circumstance.
Digially remastered, the 16mm footage looks better than ever, but still retains the gritty character and grain of the format. The extras that Anchor Bay is famous for are plentiful here, particularly the original ending (not remastered, but taken from a release print, presented fullscreen) which consists largely of two key scenes in reversed order and a forced “happy” ending reunion that is much less satisfying than what the filmmakers ultimately decided on. There are two documentaries – “Looking Back on ‘The Hills Have Eyes’”, which is a fascinating glimpse at the original horrific working conditions the cast and crew faced; and “The Directors: The Films of Wes Craven”, which is largely a videographic of oral gratification for Craven, as his horror family, culled mostly from the odious “Scream” series, gather to stroke the creator’s ego. The feature-length commentary by craven and producer Locke is just as entertaining as the “Last House” commentary, with plenty of stories of hardship and despair – many of which are echoed in the documentary, which leads to a bit of déjà vu, but it’s still a welcome addition.
Add to that DVD-ROM features like the original screenplay and screen-savers, TV Spots, trailers, and a ridiculous amount of stills and artwork, and “The Hills Have Eyes” feels like a satisfyingly complete package, and another Anchor Bay triumph. Check it out, feel disturbed, take a shower.