Review 32: The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2.5/5)

The Hills Have Eyes 2

Directed by Martin Weisz

Starring Michael McMillian, Jessica Stroup, Daniella Alonso, Jacob Vargas, Lee Thompson Young, Michael Bailey Smith

Released on March 23, 2007

Running time: 1h 37m

Rated R

Genre: Horror

As many of you may remember, the remake of The Hills Have Eyes was one of the very first films I reviewed. I praised it for its strong and disturbing story, relatable protagonists and vile antagonists, realistic acting, and brutal, unflinching violence.

Upon hearing that the sequel was not only written by Wes Craven and his son Jonathan, but was critically panned, I knew I would have to see it, regardless of quality. My initial thoughts were: Okay, this is a sequel, and sequels tend to suck. But this is Wes Craven’s work. How bad can it be? Oh, well it can be as inept as Shocker, or as hilariously bad as Deadly Friend.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Our story begins with a young woman giving brutal, painful birth to a stillborn, deformed child before being killed by a mutant. We later learn that this is the mutant patriarch, Papa Hades (Michael Bailey Smith).

We then transition to a group of scientists working in the New Mexico desert where the first THHE film took place. They have installed electronic surveillance equipment to monitor the desert for alleged cannibal activity. They experience technical difficulties that are caused by the cannibals, and they all meet brutal ends.

We then cut to…Kandahar? What? THHE is set in the New Mexico desert, not the Middle East! Oh, wait, THAT’S what’s going on! It’s a military training exercise (Eggs er size…eggs are sides…for bacon. Bacon.) for Napoleon (Michael McMillian), Amber (Jessica Stroup), Missy (Daniella Alonso), Crank (Jacob Vargas), Delmar (Lee Thompson Young), Stump (Ben Crowley), Spitter (Eric Edelstein), and Mickey (Reshad Strik). They all show individual weaknesses, such as running into enemy fire to retrieve a helmet, abandoning a gun, and causing the “deaths” of several civilians. After they fail the mission, they are lambasted by Sergeant Jeffrey Millstone (Flex Alexander) and assigned to bring supplies to the scientists we saw earlier. Gee, I wonder how it’s going to end?

SARGE: All presidents lie, @$$hole. That’s their f^cking job. Nobody’s told the truth since Truman. He said, “The buck stops here.”

Truman may have been a bit of a racist, but he was certainly better than FDR. (Receiving insults.)

Anyway, the team arrives there, of COURSE the camp’s deserted, and all but Amber and Napoleon go to follow a mirror signal at the top of a mountain. Amber tries the radio while Napoleon goes to use the porto-potty – I’m sorry, the correct military term is “latrine”. Get it right, me.

I love, respect, and admire our armed forces. Truly I do. But I would think that they would be a little smarter in this movie. There has been mutant cannibal activity around this part of the New Mexico desert. You’d think that they’d know to not follow that signal mirror, as the audience’s horror movie instincts tell them that doing that in a cannibal-infested desert is BAAAAAAD.

Anywho, when Napoleon goes to use the porto – LATRINE, a hand reaches up out of the muck in the toilet and startles Napoleon. He and Amber get a urine-and-feces-covered man out of the slime, and as they clean him up, and just before he not-quite-unexplainably dies, he says this to Napoleon: “They’re here.” Stay away from the light, Carol Anne! It turns out that not only is the now dead man covered in cuts, but Napoleon determines that the muck is full of pathogens. The freaks wanted him to die slowly.

As the rest of the team treks up the mountain, Mickey falls into an old mine shaft and twists his ankle, resulting in Sarge telling him to go back to base.

Napoleon and Amber start up the mountain and are attacked by a mutant (listed in the credits as Stabber, rather than Mars, Pluto, Lizard, or Cyst) armed with a large meat cleaver. Mickey gets back to the base just in time to shoot the mutant, who disappears into a hole. It isn’t long before Mickey is dragged down a hole and killed. Just as Napoleon and Amber rejoin the main group, another mutant (referred to as Letch in the credits) attacks them, and Spitter accidentally kills Sarge in a hail of friendly fire. Spitter offers to carry Sarge’s body back down to camp. While being roped down the mountain, the rope breaks, sending Spitter plummeting to his death. When the rope is pulled back up, it is revealed that the rope didn’t break – it was cut. And when the group looks around, all of their remaining gear has been stolen. OOOOOOOOOOOH!

During this past scene, we learn that Napoleon is an Eagle Scout. Good for him!

After finding the sergeant of the scientist group, who commits suicide, Amber and Missy lay a trap for one of the mutants, who is shot dead, and is revealed to be Stabber. Missy, however, is then abducted by another mutant known as Chameleon (Derek Mears, who will eventually play Jason in the remake of Friday the 13th), who pulls her into the mines. The group gives chase. Stump decides to go back to base and go get help, while the remaining soldiers soldier on.

The situation is dire, as Chameleon attempts to rape Missy. She fights him off after biting off part of his long, thick tongue, but in comes Papa Hades. Papa Hades drives Chameleon off, and then violently rapes Missy himself.

Stump attempts to climb down the mountain without ropes, but Letch finds him, cuts off Stump’s left arm, waves goodbye to him with it, and then chuckles as Stump meets the same fate as Spitter.

Was it entertaining? Yes. Was it enjoyable? For the most part. Was the story any good? It was actually pretty okay. Were the characters developed and memorable? Not very well, except for the villains. While not developed, they certainly were memorable. I know that they were just reskins of characters from the previous THHE film. Hell, Michael Bailey Smith, who plays Papa Hades in THHE 2, played Pluto in THHE 1. Nice. Though I’ve seen these villains before, it does ot make these ones in particular any less vile, especially Papa Hades, who is disturbing on the level of Lizard (Mars) from the previous THHE. He is big, strong, and intimidating. He drools at the prospect of being able to violently rape Missy. And it takes no less than a bullet in the head, a finger to his brain, smashed testicles, and a bayonet to the mouth to finally go down. Ow. And his death is almost as satisfying as the death of Lizard (Mars). I’m serious. At the deaths of both Lizard and Papa Hades, I let out major sighs of relief, knowing that such monsters were gone from this world. Lizard for his willingness to brutally rape Brenda the teenager, sexually torture and shoot Lynn the sister in the head, shoot Ethel the mother in the stomach, crucify and immolate Bob the father, and steal and attempt to kill baby Katherine, and actually torture Doug with her crying. That’s one nasty person. Papa Hades is the patriarch of the clan after Papa Jupiter’s death. He captures women, brutally rapes them, and keeps them alive for future breeding. Sheesh. That alone is pretty screwed up. It’s like a brothel that advertises opportunities to rape and beat up women. And whenever they’re not being screwed by you, they’re being screwed by disgusting, violent, perverted mutants. Damn. Oh, and another thing about Papa Hades: he actually knows the c-word.

Okay, so the villains are vile, but is the movie any good?

It may not reach the level of disturbingness and awesomeness as its predecessor, but it’s surprisingly decent.

It has the feel of a cheap, low-budget schlockfest, but it is shot very well with good equipment. Despite low-budget effects, the costumes and props are fantastic.

Unlike most sequels.

Final Verdict: 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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