The Hills Have Eyes II (1984)

Seven years after the original film, Wes Craven would return to the desert, bringing more folks back into the near apocalyptic territory lorded over by the mutants from the first film. In fact, if you liked that movie, you’re in luck, because clips from it play throughout this one’s running time.

Wes Craven has disowned this movie, which started filming A Nightmare On Elm Street. Though it was released after that film, only two-thirds of it was finished when the studio halted production due to budget issues. Once Freddy Krueger became a household name, that convinced Craven to finish the movie using only the footage that he had in the can. That’s why so much of this film comes from the original, a point I will continually bludgeon throughout this article.

Robert Huston, who played Bobby in the original (and brought Lone Wolf and Cub to American screens) returns, as does Janus Blythe (she’s also great in Eaten Alive). She was Rachel in the first film and now everyone calls her Ruby. They now own a motocross team and have invented a super fuel. The team’s latest race takes them through the same stretch as…yes, I know I keep saying the original film, but this movie keeps referencing it.

Bobby’s psychiatrist wants him to go, but he chickens out with Rachel taking his place along with Beast the dog. Yes, from the first film.

The team — blind Cass (who brings a blind girl motocross racing?), her boyfriend Roy (Kevin Spritas from the Subspecies films and Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood), Harry (Peter Frechette, The KindredThe Unholy and T-Bird Louis DiMucci in Grease 2), Hulk(John Laughlin, Footloose and The Rock), Foster (Willard E. Pugh, Harpo from The Color Purple), Jane (Colleen Riley, Deadly Blessing) and Sue (Penny Johnson from TV’s Castle and 24) — head off to the desert but get lost.

Harry takes a shortcut through an old bombing range, which Ruby should have protested way more than she does. This leads them to a mining ranch where Pluto (Michael Berryman) comes back — yes, from the first movie — and attacks her. Everyone thinks she’s crazy until he also steals one of their bikes. Roy and Harry give chase but Harry gets killed by a boulder and a new cannibal named Reaper (John Bloom — who isn’t Joe Bob — the Frankenstein’s Monster from Al Adamson’s Dracula vs. Frankenstein) knocks out Roy.

Reaper is Papa Jupiter’s older brother and he isn’t here to mess around. Seriously, he wipes out everyone — including Ruby or Rachel or whatever she was calling herself these days — in short order, using spearguns, machetes and improvised traps. However, Craven didn’t like John Bloom’s voice, so he’s dubbed by Nicholas Worth, who we all know as Kirk Smith from Don’t Answer the Phone!

Sadly for Pluto, he’s still no match for a dog and gets dropped off a cliff.

The end of the film gets pretty thrilling, as the survivors use the bus itself as a trap for the gigantic mutant leader. There’s an amazing fire stunt at the end, which made me really happy. And hey — Kane Hodder was one of the stunt people for this!

You can buy this from Arrow Video but keep in mind that it’s limited to 3,000 copies! It’s packed with extras, like brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues and Blood, Sand, and Fire: The Making of The Hills Have Eyes Part II, a new documentary that has interviews with Berryman, Blythe, composer Harry Manfredini and more.

Like everything Arrow puts out, it’s a high quality release well worth your money. And despite being told for years how bad this sequel is — it’s certainly not the dark and brutal classic that it’s forebearer was — it’s entertaining.

DISCLAIMER: We were sent this movie by Arrow Video, but we would have bought it anyway. That has no impact on our review.

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