• The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review with Screenshot Comparisons



    Studio: Arrow Video
    Release Date: August 2nd, 1985 (theatrical) / March 20th, 2012 (Kino Lorber blu-ray) / September 24th, 2019 (Arrow Video blu-ray)
    Run Time: 86 mins
    Region Code: A
    Picture: 1080p (1.66:1 aspect ratio) (Kino Lorber) / 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio) (Arrow Video)
    Sound: English LPCM 2.0 (Kino Lorber) / English LPCM 1.0 (Arrow Video)
    Subtitles: None (Kino Lorber) / English SDH (Arrow Video)
    Slipcover: No. (Kino Lorber) / Yes (Hardbox) (Arrow Video)
    Digital Copy: No (both versions)
    Starring: Tamara Stafford, Kevin Spirtas, John Bloom, Michael Berryman, Colleen Riley, and Penny Johnson Jerald
    Written by Wes Craven
    Directed by Wes Craven
    Rating: R (strong horror violence and gore and language)

    NOTE: This review offers comparison screenshots between the Arrow Video release and the Kino Lorber release. Arrow Video is on the left and Kino Lorber is on the right.

    THE FILM ⭐


    A group of bikers, which includes some of the survivors from the original film, embark on a journey by bus to a biker race near the desert of the infamous incidents. However, because of a mistake, they are late and decide to take a shortcut through the desert. Halfway through the desert, the bus breaks down. While trying to repair the bus, some of the group wander off and wind up in the traps of the survivors of the mutant family of the first. Then the mutants go after the rest...

    Wes Craven was at a low point in his career when he was given the money to make The Hills Have Eyes Part 2. He had just come off of the non-success that was Swamp Thing and he had not yet made A Nightmare on Elm Street. His career at this point consisted of two hits, two tv movies, and a few flops. He was ready to throw in the towel when his friend and producer of the original The Hills Have Eyes offered him a small amount of money, $125,000, to make a sequel to the first Hills. Craven wrote the script and, even though they weren’t very happy with the script, the deal was to make the best film Craven could with the money.

    The result of this agreement was a film that Craven would disown, and fans would make fun of for decades to come.

    The first The Hills Have Eyes was a great film shot entirely in the desert, that was scary and fun. I remember the first time I watched the film and have a big smile on my face throughout the entirety of the run time. Craven really put everything he had into the film and it shows. The film isn’t as extreme as Craven’s previous film, Last House on the Left, but I think that it is better for it. Craven was discovering and refining his talents with Hills and I think that it is a much better film than Last House.


    The sequel to Hills, titled The Hills Have Eyes Part 2, is not a good film. In fact, it is a terrible film. Even without knowing the history of the film, you can gather that Craven was not happy with the material he had. The film feels lazy and rushed and there is nothing to really gain from watching it. It takes the plot to a slasher film and tries to shove stuff from the first Hills film into this plot structure. The cannibal characters aren’t as sneaky and evil as they were in the first film. Here, they are slasher villains with nothing more to offer the film other than showing up when the script calls for them.

    The film is very famous for having not enough footage to make a complete, releasable film. Craven’s idea to remedy this was to have characters in this film have flashbacks to the first film, where Craven could just insert footage from the first film. This has been a trend for some time now with Super Monster, Godzilla vs Megalon, and very famously in Silent Night, Deadly Night 2, Craven uses the previous film’s footage not to flesh out the story, but to make the film’s run time longer. If you take out the previous film’s footage, the film would run less than 60 minutes. To make matters worse (or funnier) Craven gave the dog a flashback as well. Granted, it makes sense for the dog to have a flashback as it is the same dog, but it's funny nonetheless.

    There are some pluses to the film, though. This looks really good for being a really low budget film. The motocross stuff is handled very nicely and impressively and gives the film a bigger feel. I also liked the main setting at Joshua Tree. The look and feel of this old mining town add a lot to the film. The rest of the film is just a slog though. I could care less about the characters and the cannibals are way less intimidating here than they were in the first film. The film also doesn’t look as good as the first film. I love the grainy, dark look of the first film. Everything feels too clean in this film. I don’t really hate the film, although I have given the film a low score. I just don’t like it. It is what it is.

    THE PICTURE AND THE SOUND ⭐⭐⭐1/2 / ⭐⭐⭐


    Sourced from a brand 2K restoration, and presented in the film’s original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 looks great. The picture feels very lively and bright (in the daytime scenes) and the nighttime scenes feature no black crush while the blacks are inky. Colors look natural as do skin tones. There is a nice layer of grain that gives the picture a film-like feel.


    I have included screenshots comparisons between this release and the Kino Lorber release and I can tell you that the Arrow release takes the cake and then throws the cake back in the face of the Kino Lorber release. That release is presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio and the framing seems pretty tight. On top of that there is a ton of black crush and the colors do not look good at all.

    The sound, in the form of an LPCM track, is nice. Dialogue sounds good and the Harry Manfredini score comes through wonderfully.

    THE PACKAGING N/A


    I was sent a check disc of this review so I can not review the packaging. I can tell you that it will have the same packaging as the first film, which was also released by Arrow Video. This means a strong outer box with reversible artwork for the amaray case found inside. A nice booklet with write-ups on the film, lobby cards, and a reversible poster will round out the package.



    THE FEATURES ⭐⭐⭐


    Blood, Sand, and Fire: The Making of The Hills Have Eyes Part II (31m 16s, HD) Making of featurette featuring interviews with producer Peter Locke, actor Michael Berryman, actress Janus Blythe, production designer Dominick Bruno, composer Harry Manfredini, and unit production manager/first assistant director John Callas. This is an alright look back at the making of this cult classic. I say “alright” because there isn’t a lot of information that we haven’t heard before presented here. We know why Craven did the film, we know all about the dog flashback, and we know that Craven was a professional even if he hated the film. The one thing I did not know about was the food fight that Craven started to ease the tension on the set. Still, it is nice to have a making-of for any film and this one does the job.

    Still Gallery (6m 52s, HD) Plays as a montage while the film’s score plays.

    Original Trailer (2m 44s, HD)

    Audio Commentary with The Hysteria Continues

    OVERALL ⭐⭐⭐


    While I may not like the film, you can’t fault Arrow for putting out a release like this. The picture and sound are excellent and the special features package is pretty good with the highlight being the commentary track. This is coming out as a Limited Edition so it will be a bit pricier than a normal release, but if think the attention put into this release warrants the extra dough.




    MORE SCREENSHOTS

    (Arrow Video on the left, Kino Lorber on the right)




















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