The Hills Have Eyes Wes Craven

Benefiting from the renewed interest generated by the recent remake by Alexandre Aja, this re-release of the original The Hills Have Eyes is essential for those who don't own it. However, in the spirit of the DVD, this version feels a little chintzy considering they've simply reissued the same copy that was released in 2003. Still, it's a nicely timed release that coincides with the new adaptation and provides an interesting contrast between the two films. In hindsight, after seeing the 2006 film, this 1977 original isn't as superior as first thought. No doubt cutting edge and a brave piece of filmmaking for its time, Craven's film suffers from unfulfilled ideas that feel more complete in Aja's remake. There's no denying that this is a grittier, more authentic film, with a cast of characters that rely less on makeup and more on their, ahem, peculiar looks (Michael Berryman, in particular). Unfortunately, Craven's film is now hamstrung in its ability to send the same chill down your spine as it did in '77. Aja's film, without a doubt, is creepier, which is a surprise given its lust for gore and brutality — two traits that often wipe out the creepy factor. What makes this a valuable investment is the bonus featurette "Looking Back On…," which explains the inspiration of the film (Scottish cannibals Sawney Beane and his family), as well as interviews with cast and crew recollecting about the difficult shoot. Another featurette about Craven's career is tacked on, but for its hour-long running time it's too drawn-out. An alternate ending is also featured, which actually plays out like the inspiration for Aja's film, without the obvious twist that cries out "sequel!" Don't get me wrong, this is still a classic. But much like 2003's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the remake brings the original up for re-examination and for once, it appears that youth prevails — but only slightly. Plus: trailers, TV spots, photos, Craven bio and more. (Anchor Bay)