Wes Craven's low-budget 1977 cannibal shocker gets the deluxe treatment on Blu-ray
The vacationing Carter family find themselves in a world of pain when car trouble leaves them stranded in the middle of the Nevada desert and targeted by barbaric cannibals. Cue the violence…
Wes Craven's second outing as a horror director sets up a clash between two families – one civilised, the other savage – in order to show how far people will go to protect themselves and the ones they love. It's a continuation of sorts to his earlier The Last House on the Left (1972). And yet, despite being another down and dirty slice of low-budget exploitation cinema, The Hills Have Eyes (1977) is a much more accomplished work. Not only does it strike a better balance between the onscreen horror and philosophical subtext, it also showcases the wicked sense humour that would typify Craven's very best work in the years to come.
Picture: This Blu-ray may be based on a new 4K restoration supervised by producer Peter Locke, but there's only so much that can be done with The Hills Have Eyes' budget 16mm photography. So, despite an uptick in overall stability, clarity and fine detailing, there's still a handful of shots that appear slightly out of focus and witness a corresponding drop in resolution.
On a more positive note, colour reproduction is excellent, blacks are suitably deep and the swirling film grain is expertly resolved. The encode is also free from any obvious print damage.
Picture rating: 3.5/5
Audio: There's no trace here of the remixed DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 soundtrack that appeared on the old Image Entertainment US Blu-ray. Instead, Arrow remains committed to presenting the soundtrack as it was original mixed, resulting in a slightly limited, but authentic LPCM mono track. It's not particularly exciting, but it's probably the best presentation the original mix has ever received.
Audio rating: 3.5/5
Extras: Arrow has pulled out all of the stops with this Blu-ray's bonus goodies. Not content with porting across the best of the extras from previous releases (commentary by Wes Craven and Peter Locke, 55-min retrospective documentary, etc), the cult label has also crammed in plenty of new features. These include interviews with actor Martin Speer and composer Don Peake, previously unseen outtakes, two new chat-tracks and the chance to watch the film with the alternate ending.
This initial limited edition release features an exclusive 36-page booklet containing two new essays, plus a double-sided poster and six art cards.
Extras rating: 4.5/5
We say: This scuzzy fright flick is no AV titan, but genre fans will still love this superb Blu-ray release.
The Hills Have Eyes: Limited Edition, Arrow Video, Region A/B BD, £25 Approx
HCC VERDICT: 4/5
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