WHO has a flash back?!
Eight years after the first film a group of dirt bike enthusiasts – including Ruby (Janus Blythe) from the original, now called Rachel – decide to take a shortcut across the desert to get to a race on time. This proves to be an error in judgment. You see, something awful, and hungry, and awfully hungry, still prowls the desert….
The original The Hills Have Eyes is what I like to call a ‘badlands survival film’, which means that outsiders wander into the territory owned by a group of psychopaths and get stranded; stuff likeand are other versions of this type of film. This film, though ostensibly the same type of film as the original, is really a slasher film instead. The characters are all the standard stereotypes that we’d all come to know and love by 1985. Even though they know that there is someone out in the darkness hunting them, they behave like idiots to the 7th power. They take every opportunity available to split up, get naked, and wander off into the dark to look for their friends. The one who should know better, Ruby / Rachel, also does these idiotic things that serve only to allow the two psychopaths the opportunity to pick them off one by one. It’s pitiful.
One place in which this film is truly hilarious is the script’s use of flashbacks. Now, in a sequel, showing what happened in the previous film can be helpful to remind the audience of the events that happened in the previous film and catch up the newcomers on what happened, but in this case flashbacks are used instead. Bobby, from first film, (Robert Houston) has the first flashback during the opening of the film as he tells his shrink (David Nichols) what happened. That’s a fine thing to do and works, but that’s not all. Ruby has a flashback too during a dream which gives more information, well sort of. The one that draws the most guffaws though has to be the flashback that Beast the dog has – complete with wavy lines – when he remembers how much fun it was to eat part of Pluto. What starts off as a useful film tool turns into a way to pad out the running time – this film runs a scant 86 minutes and has several minutes of flashbacks – and make the audience laugh. Not good.
The meat in this film does what meat needs to do to make a slasher bleed. When Pluto (Michael Berryman) steals one of the dirt bikes, Harry (Peter Frechette) and Roy (Kevin Blair) go after him on their bikes. Harry finds out with a squish why one should not taunt people on top of cliffs while roy just gets knocked out so that he can come back later. Strange that the cannibals would leave someone alive and free to wander off, but that’s the kind of stupid we’re dealing with here. Foster (Willard Pugh) and Sue (Penny Johnson) make the double whammy mistakes of being black and having sex – thanks for the tits Sue – so they get killed for their naughtiness. Hulk (John Laughlin) and Ruby go out into the desert, in the dark, to look for their friends – something that Ruby would know is a totally stupid thing to do – and they get killed; well, I guess Ruby gets killed because all we see is her falling down. Finally, there’s Jane (Colleen Riley) who is kind, intelligent, and nice, but is both blond and takes a shower, showing her goodies – actually just her left goodie – sorry Jane, you’re dead.
The survivors of this film, aside from Beast the dog, are blind girl Cass (Tamara Stafford) and her biker boyfriend Roy. Roy does the incredibly stupid thing of chasing after Pluto at the beginning, but, because the plot needs him for later, he’s allowed to survive. Cass, on the other hand, is one of those supernatural blind people in film whose other senses are acute enough that she can tell when a guy is feeling up his girlfriend across the room. To be fair, when I was younger I had a sense of smell so powerful that I could tell when a woman was menstruating. It’s like your nightmares made real, isn’t it ladies? Anyway, this amazing super power of being able to hear, smell, feel, taste and generally ESP her surroundings with precision that would normally require an actress be trying to pretend to be blind, Cass is able to survive multiple attacks upon her person by The Reaper. They’re not much brighter than the others really though, and the need for both to be virgins is subverted early on, but still, I think they’d be smart enough to realize that the diesel fuel in the generator would work in the bus (despite someone claiming it’s not diesel) or maybe suggest that someone uses one of the dirt bikes to ride out to the road to get help. Oh well, if characters behaved with even a modicum of intelligence then we’d not have slasher movies in the first place.
Finally, we have the cannibals. Pluto somehow survived his crippling maiming at the jaws of Beast the dog and now, with his uncle Reaper (John Bloom‘s body, voiced by Nicholas Worth) he returns to wreck some more evil or something. Of course, Pluto didn’t learn anything from the first movie and so doesn’t kill the dog when ge gets the chance, instead stealing a motor bike. This costly mistake ends up killing him deader than Craven‘s quality control on this film. The Reaper is a particularly interesting character as he is supposed to be the brother of Papa Jupiter of the previous film, even though Jupiter was an only child. Aside from his miraculous birth, the Reaper is kind of fun as anyone capable of crushing blonds to death with a bear hug is okay in my book.