Really Awful Movies: Ep 186 – The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

On today’s episode, a journey to the Valley of the Sun…”death” valley, as it were in this serviceable, yet flawed remake of the Wes Craven classic, The Hills Have Eyes.

In this 2006 flick, Alexandre Aja is behind the camera lens (he of, the new-wave French classic, Haute Tension and Piranha 3D). And we get a little preamble featuring some nuclear scientists in hazmat suits and Geiger counters, roaming around in a desert setting. Soon, they’re poleaxed / bludgeoned to death…and we know something is lurking in this highly radioactive locale.

Cut to a more conventional horror set-up: the road trip. There’s nothing more American than going away for a long weekend in an RV or a trailer with the family, and venturing out somewhere along one of the many interstates that dot the nation. In The Hills Have Eyes, the Carter Family (which includes pops, mom, their two daughters, son, grand-daughter and son-in-law) is out crossing the desert to try to get to California.

That staple of the horror film, the seedy gas station attendant, leads the Carters down the garden path when he suggests there’s a short-cut that’ll save the family “two hours!” Soon, a spiked belt stops the family’s pickup and Gulfstream trailer, sending them careening into a rock. And whoops, they’re stranded.

And we all know what’s lurkin’ in them hills.

On this episode of the Really Awful Movies Podcast, we explore the millennium phenomenon of remakes, the various horror franchises that were given a re-imagining in the 2000s, how nuclear weapons/warfare is treated in the original Hills Have Eyes compared with its successors, where Wes Craven stands in the pantheon of horror directors, the sensibilities of Alexandre Aja, characterizations that focus on Red / Blue state cultural differences, female characters, pet demises, and much much more!!!

Tune in each and every week to the Really Awful Movies Podcast for genre films of all stripes, predominantly horror.

Really Awful Movies: Ep 185 – Meatballs

It’s a rite of passage for many North American kids: being sent to summer camp. In the late 70s, early 80s, a spate of summer camp movies came out, usually with some maniac hell-bent on murdering counselors. However in Meatballs, we venture into uncharted territory on the Really Awful Movies Podcast, as this is our first “raunchy teen comedy.” No body count.

Both of us attended summer camp, with decidedly mixed results. It twas the best of times, it twas the worst of times, as we variously had a blast, or were socially shunned. It’s an experience many kids face. And who’s there to ease the transition, living on your own in the middle of the bush? Acne-addled camp counselors usually too preoccupied with, shall we say, other teen pursuits to properly care for the campers.

In Meatballs, there are rival camps – literally. We’ve got Mohawk, we’ve got North Star. And Tripper (played by Bill Murray), has a quip for all occasions. He is an aging camp counselor who befriends young social outcast Rudy, against a backdrop of the usual camp hi-jinks, the pantsing, the crappy mess hall beans, the inane athletic competitions, and of course, the awkward social dynamic between the boys and the girls.

This one was directed by Ivan Reitman, the Canadian legend best-known for Ghostbusters, Dave, and Twins (and to horror fans, for Cannibal Girls). Does this film hold up this many years later? Take a gander at Bill Murray’s film debut, and get a sense of the mega-star he’d later become.

And join us every week on the Really Awful Movies Podcast, for fun, sharp, genre film discussions.