Friday 16 September 2016

The Hills Have Eyes - UK Limited Edition BD review

Wes Craven’s original cult classic THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977) is being given the full Arrow video treatment this month as it makes its UK Blu-Ray debut in a special extras laden limited edition BD, along with a separate DVD release, struck from a beautiful new 4k scan of the film.

The plot, for those of you who haven’t seen this yet (and if not, why not???), revolves around a family from Cleveland Ohio, who with their grown-up children and son in-law in tow, are taking the scenic route to California along the desert highway, when they commit the fatal horror movie sin of leaving the main road and driving off down a disused dirt track.

Needless to say, things don’t end well for them as they subsequently break down miles from anywhere. Then to make matters worse, as night falls, they find themselves besieged by a group of ravenous cannibals, who have been living wild in the nearby mountains and have them fitted up for the next meal. So this middle class, god fairing family suddenly find themselves fighting a bloody battle for survival, as cannibalistic carnage subsequently ensues.

Notable for giving an early role to Dee Wallace (The Howling, Cujo, Critters and of course ET : The Extra Terrestrial), future director Robert Houston (who brought Shogun Assassin to the screen) and of course launching the horror career of cult movie star Michael Berryman (who is actually one of the nicest people you could ever meet in real life). The film went onto become a massive cult hit amongst horror fans, due to its prolonged scenes of violence (which aren’t that graphic, but still unsettling). 

Indeed, its UK video sales alone proved so successful they actually funded the fun, but much maligned, 1984 sequel (which Craven also directed), and the film later spawned a remake in 2004, which produced a sequel of its own the following year. But for people like me, the original will always be the best.

There have been previous releases of the film on DVD, however this latest release from Arrow certainly proves to be the cream of the crop, boasting not only a wealth of supplemental material but a luscious new 4k scan of the film.

 Extras include 

3x Audio commentary tracks - Yup, you get not 1, not 2, but 3 running audio commentaries accompanying the main feature. The first with Wes Craven and Producer Peter Locke, originally recorded for the 2003 Anchor Bay DVD. The second being a brand new commentary track with cast members Martin Speer (Doug), Susan Lanier (Brenda), Janice Blyth (Ruby) and Michael Berryman (Pluto), moderated by Michael Flesher of Red Shirt pictures. Then lastly there’s a new audio commentary with journalist and critic Michael Kelvin.

Alternate ending. Essentially a re-edit of the last 2 scenes, moving the confrontation between Bobby and Papa Jupiter to the end of the movie, followed by an additional scene of the survivors meeting up and a different end credits sequence. Which can be viewed on its own, or as part of the movie (though audio commentaries aren’t selectable with this option).

Looking back at the Hills Have Eyes (54mins) – Originally included on the old Anchor Bay DVD, this making of feature from 2003 includes interviews with the late Wes Craven, along with the main cast and crew, including Michael Berryman, Dee Wallace and Robert Houston.

Family Buisiness (15mins) - a brand new interview with Martin Speer, who played Doug in the film, who shares some interesting anecdotes about how he got the role and his time on set.

Desert Sessions (10mins) – New interview with composer Don Peake about the film's unique musical score.

Outtakes (18mins) – a selection of deleted scenes and unused rehearsal takes from the film (in full screen)

Trailers and TV spots – a selection of theatrical trailers for the film

Image gallery – lastly you get an image gallery of the various international poster artworks done for the film.

The case also contains reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shippe and if you put the disc into you PC the original screenplay is included on the disc in BD/DVD-ROM format.

The Blu-ray release also contains a reversible fold-out poster featuring new and original artwork from the film and a Limited edition booklet featuring new writing on the film by critics Brad Stevens and Ewan Cant, illustrated throughout with archive still

A stunning selection of extras, though I did note that the old Anchor Bay DVD also included the 2000 documentary The American Nightmare about cult horror films, which hasn’t been included here. However, the documentary wasn’t specific to The Hills Have Eyes, being about cult horrors in general and can be picked up separately, so its absence isn’t a massive loss.

So if you’re looking to pick this title up, either for the first time, or as an upgrade from your old DVD, the Arrow Blu-ray here is an essentially purchase.

The film is available on seperate BD and DVDs in the UK and has also been released to BD in the US with the same extras on and is out September 26th.

Pre-order the UK BD from 

Pre-order the UK DVD from 

Pre-order the US BD from


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