in Shocktober

Shocktober: Day 18

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Dir: Wes Craven
Cast: Susan Lanier, Robert Houston, Martin Spear, Dee Wallace, James Whitworth, Michael Berryman

In the early 1400s the Beane Family, a feral clan roamed the highlands of Scotland. They murdered and ate transients until eventually caught and executed on the order of King James without a trial. This would serve as the inspiration for the grim cult classic The Hill Have Eyes. The controversial followup film to Craven’s controversial The Last House on the Left. Not a sequel just his second film, though they do have their similarities. Both pit group of innocents against violent, unsympathetic, people… If you can call them people.

This violent gang of cannibals is lead by the monstrous Papa Jupiter (Bill Drago), Mama (Cordy Clark) and includes their four children; Mars (Lance Gordon), Mercury (Pete Locke), Ruby (Janus Blythe) and Pluto (Michael Berryman, the creep guy on the poster.) Together they stalk a family passing through the desert in an RV and make their lives a living hell.

There’s not much to it really, just a bunch of violent confrontations that always leave you uneasy. If there’s anything that really stands out it’s Michael Berryman, the film’s breakout character. He gives a menacing performance that’s only enhanced by Berryman’s unusual appearance. You see Berryman was born with Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia, a condition which prevents one from developing hair, fingernails, or sweat glands (not really ideal for a movie filmed in the desert.) He was also supposedly born with 26 birth defects and yet he’s made a great career for himself. I’ll always remember him for his appearance on the X-Files and he continues to pop up from time to time. Word has he’s a really intelligent and nice guy, surprising when you watch his monstrous performance in this.

Well I got a little off topic but I write what I feel. So that knocks out another Craven film and another one which has been remade. What Craven film will be remade next Swamp Thing? I rarely say this but that actually could benefit from a remake.