The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
Written and Directed by: Wes Craven
Starring: Martin Speer, Susan Lanier, Robert Houston, Dee Wallace, James Whitworth, Russ Grieve, Virginia Vincent, Janus Blythe, Michael Berryman
Okay, well, it was better than the remake, on a few levels. It was almost word for word the same as the remake, but it was less gory. Which is, I think, a plus?
It's about a typical, all-American, whiny as hell family travelling through the desert to visit a silver mine the parents just inherited. When their car breaks down in the middle of an abandoned stretch of road, they are attacked by a family of psychotic cannibals living in the hills.
It's not especially scary. Alright, the idea of being attacked by a bunch of man-eating freaks is a little disturbing, but the movie is mostly just... gruesome. I don't know.
My biggest problem, which I also had with the remake, is that I cannot sympathize with the allegedly normal people. They're annoying, screechy, fat Americans (fat and juicy...). Of course, that's typically the case with horror movies. I just can't sympathize with the crazy hillbillies, either. They're repulsive and mean, and they beat each other up. They're just nasty.
So, I'm left without any team to root for. It's like a George Romero movie, but worse. I mean, zombies are at least civil to one another. I guess it sort of removes me from the conflict. Makes me a sort of neutral observer, who isn't really watching to see who wins, but just to see some more blood n' guts. Maybe that's the point? It's pretty deep. I guess.
Mind you, it's better than some of Craven's other movies I've seen. It's at least watchable. Not like, oh, say, Swamp Thing. Jesus Christ, that movie was stupid. Okay, Hills is kind of stupid too, but like I said, it at least has a shred of entertainment value.
And it could be considered as a study of what people will turn into when presented with extreme conditions. What depraved things people will do in order to survive. It's all very psychological, and it comes right down to the sensitive weiner's transformation into a psychotic killer. In this version, it's sort of presented as more shocking, whereas in the remake, it's depicted as more rational. Of course this guy would mercilessly butcher these evil, baby-snatchin', dog-eatin', America-hatin' mutants. It stands to reason.
That's the major differance between this and the remake, and the main reason I'd say it was better. This guy turns into an psycho. He sacrifices his humanity, and becomes no more than an animal, and no better than the creatures he is dispatching. And that's never a good thing.