The Hills Have Eyes is a truly American horror film. Like Manifest Destiny gone horribly awry, the film reflects our obsession with the danger of the West: Its forbidden, desolate landscapes, the rugged masochism it inspires. For Americans, the West is a place where anything can and does happen. And in The Hills Have Eyes our nastiest nightmares are bloodily realized.

Wes Craven's brutal 1977 micro-budgeted The Hills Have Eyes was a post-hippie scream of horror, both at the collapse of the youth-led revolution and the dreadfulness of the Vietnam War. Craven turned his eye to home, to the desolate stretches of vast American desert where he could posit a family of bloodthirsty mutants preying on those who stumble onto their fallout abode, and it could almost (almost) seem plausible. With a world of misery at large, how strange would it be to find murderous maniacs in our own backyard? Sure, the original film suffers from some notably outré moments and jagged pacing, but Craven succeeded in bringing a grimly gleeful sense of humor to what was essentially a Texas Chainsaw Massacre riff.

Continue reading: The Hills Have Eyes (2006) Review