Taking a detour whilst on route to Calafornia, the Carter family run into trouble when their campervan breaks down in the middle of the desert. Stranded, the family find themselves at the mercy of a group of monstrous cannibals lurking in the surrounding hills. With their lives under threat, the Carters are forced to fight back by any means necessary.
Arrow’s new US Blu-ray release of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes is easily the definitive edition. Prior to this release, the only Blu-ray available was the IMAGE Entertainment “Midnight Madness Series” edition, and it was beyond unacceptable. That was one of the rare bad Blu-rays that you’d be better off holding onto the DVD. The bar was pretty low, for Arrow’s release to be a success, but even knowing that, they knocked it out of the park. This disc features an AVC encoded 1080p transfer, with an average video bitrate of 35 Mbps, and original LCPM mono audio track. This movie looks gorgeous now, to the point that it has made a new fan out of me. Coupled with the generous bonus package, Arrow Video has made me find new appreciation for a film that has always baffled me.
I Saw The Last House on the Left first, which might explain why The Hills Have Eyes didn’t find its mark with me, but I still watched it around ten times before deciding it just wasn’t for me. I watched and thoroughly enjoyed Alexandre Aja’s 2006 remake, and even after my newfound adoration, think is the superior film between the two. I realized this time around that I have never watched the original and the remake so closely together, and it struck me just how much attention to original detail went into the crafting of the remake. Like some other notorious horror films of the 70s, The Hills Have Eyes is far less graphic than I remembered it being, which isn’t a bad thing. Carpenter’s Halloween proved that sometimes less is more, and I think you get a bit of that here with THHE, though not quite as restrained as Carpenter’s classic. After all is said and done, I like Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes, and this is the first time I’ve ever been able to say that.
For the purpose of this review, I was sent the “Limited Edition” release of the film, which comes with a premium slipcase, several cards, a double sided poster, and a full cover book. If you’re planning on picking this title up, you may want to do so now, as when this edition sells out, it’ll be your standard disc-and-case-only release. Though it’ll still be the best version of the movie available on home video, you’ll miss out on a ton of goodies which you could have owned at around the same price. Arrow’s The Hills Have Eyes features a brand new 4K transfer, with AVC encoded 1080p video, averaging at around 35 Mbps in bitrate. This looks gorgeous, better than I’ve ever seen it, and one hundred times better than the previously released Blu-ray from IMAGE Entertainment. The grain structure is strong, while the detail is crystal in clarity. The colors pop, and I noticed no blemished, or signs of over-usage of any kind of digital scrubbing technology. If you can’t stand being positive, there is the fact that this is a film shot on 16mm, and the transfer is taken from a 35mm print, which sometimes causes issues. But if you fell victim to that last Blu-ray release, you’re in for a serious treat.
Audio quality is also excellent. You get an LCPM mono audio track, which is the original theatrical audio track. So no, you don’t have a flashy new 5.1 upmix, but for this movie, you don’t need it. It’s not effects-heavy, and it’s mostly dialogue and low key sound effects. It sounds great, and certainly serves its purpose. The extras package is even more impressive, with a beefy list of bonus features, ranging from brand new audio commentaries, as well as classic commentaries, a lengthy making-of documentary that you’re going to want to watch, and brand new interviews and much more. See below for a full listing of extras. If you’ve been holding out, or even if you already own the previous Blu-ray, Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release of The Hills Have Eyes is one of the most important North American Blu-ray releases of the year, and mandatory for serious collectors and fans of classic horror. You may purchase a copy by clicking here, or visiting amazon or any local physical media stores.
Brand new 4K restoration from original film elements, supervised by producer Peter Locke and viewable with both original and alternate endings
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original Uncompressed mono audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
6 x postcards
Reversible fold-out poster
Limited edition 40-page booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Brad Stevens and a consideration of the Hills franchise by Ewan Cant, illustrated with original archive stills
Brand new audio commentary with actors Michael Berryman, Janus Blythe, Susan Lanier and Martin Speer
Brand new audio commentary by academic Mikel J. Koven
Audio commentary with Wes Craven and Peter Locke
Looking Back on The Hills Have Eyes – making-of documentary featuring interviews with Wes Craven, Peter Locke, actors Michael Berryman,Janus Blythe, Robert Houston, Susan Lanier, Dee Wallace and director of photography Eric Saarinen
Brand new interview with actor Martin Speer
The Desert Sessions – brand new interview with composer Don Peake
Alternate ending, in HD for the first time
Trailers and TV Spots
Original Screenplay (BD/DVD-ROM Content)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shipper
Cat No: AV065
Duration: 90 mins
Subtitles: English SDH
Aspect Ratio: TBC