News Column

Mutant Cannibals Are Seldom This Horribly Funny

Aug. 2, 2012

Rick Harmon

While many bad horror films aren't bad enough to be amusing, "The Hills Have Eyes, Part Two" has enough horrible moments to be hysterical -- a virtual "Mystery Science Theater 3000" dream production.

Imagine Rod Zombie directing Looney Tunes -- with the emphasis on loonies -- and you get the idea.

The film, which Redemption Films has just re-released in HD, was directed by Wes Craven -- even if he doesn't like to talk about it.

Craven, who directed it right after he had a hit with the original "Nightmare on Elm Street," disowned this film when it was released, saying he had only done it for the money (apparently separating it from such films as "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors" and "Wes Craven's New Nightmare," which he did for art.)

Anyway, you can tell his heart wasn't in it since this movie, compared to "The Hills Have Eyes," is much like "Home Alone 2" rather than "Home Alone," in that it is less a sequel than something that looks suspiciously like a thinly veiled remake passed off as a sequel. (Yes, I have been waiting a long time to compare "Home Alone" to an inbred-mutant-hillbilly slasher film.)

As with many horror films, this one features a group of teens with a staggering lack of survival genes -- the type who respond to reports that there are missing teens and killer mutants hiding in the darkness by finding a dark, secluded area to make out.

The one teen with sense is Bobby (Robert Houston), who survived the original film, and appears in this one only long enough to say what happened in the first one makes him sick enough that he's not about to be the star of this Looney Tunes of death, hillbilly cannibal sequel. (It is worth noting that this is the same Robert Horton who directed the Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated Southern Poverty Law Center documentaries "Mighty Times: The Children's March" and "Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks.")

Even Beast, the German Shepherd who killed the redneck cannibal mutant Pluto (Michael Berryman) by tearing out his throat in the first film, looks none to happy to be in the sequel, even if he does appear to be given one of the few dog flashbacks ever filmed.

Anyway, after Bobby tells the rest of his motorcycle racing crew that he's not up to traveling with them near the mutant territory where his family was killed, the gang decides to drive directly through it because every single one of them forgot about the change to daylight savings time (I kid you not) and they don't want to be late to the race.

The gas line of their bus is torn through by a clever mutant booby trap, and they are stranded in the middle of the mutant-multitudinous desert without gas (which is interesting since they are transporting gas to the motorcycle race.)

Bizarre deaths ensue, and ensue and ensue. Bizarre because these mutants aren't just content to kill someone (and maybe dine on them). They have to construct lethal Rube Goldberg-style devices. It's like Road Runner-Coyote cartoons, except with blood and cracking bones. (In fact it's enough like them that you catch yourself studying the booby traps to see if ACME Corporation is stamped on the sides.)

In an I-don't-care-if-it-makes-sense plot twist, Pluto, the mutant that the German Shepard killed by tearing out his throat (in the aforementioned doggie flashback) is back.

Apparently throats aren't as important to survival as most people think. It seems another mutant (played by John Bloom, who at 7-foot-4 was the tallest actor to play Frankenstein and perhaps the worst -- in the atrocious 1974 film "Dracula vs. Frankenstein") happened along and saved him with surprising nursing skills for a subhuman mutant.

It's always fun to find good actors who started out in these films, and this one has Penny Johnson, the African-American actress, who although she has played Condoleezza Rice twice, will always be known for being the most evil and manipulative First Lady ever -- well, at least in television -- in the TV series "24."

As mentioned earlier, parts of this film seem like a knock off of the original. But then we get to the climactic ending and even the mutants can tell someone has been too lazy to think up anything new. Parts of this may be horrible, but for devoted horror fans who have seen the original, it's a fun film because it's also horribly funny.

Source: (c)2012 the Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Ala.) Distributed by MCT Information Services