The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

R | 89 mins | Horror | 1977

Director:

Wes Craven

Writer:

Wes Craven

Producer:

Peter Locke

Cinematographer:

Eric Saarinen

Editor:

Wes Craven

Production Designer:

Robert Burns

Production Company:

Blood Relations Company
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HISTORY

According to many modern sources, including John Wooley's book, Wes Craven: The Man and His Nightmares (John Wiley & Sons, New York), actor Arthur King, who plays “Mercury,” is a pseudonym for producer Peter Locke.
       Writer-director Craven’s original 1976 script was titled Blood Relations: The Sun Wars, and took place in NJ.
       Principal photography began in CA’s Mojave Desert on 18 Oct 1976, according to the 7 Oct 1976 DV and 22 Nov 1976 Box. In a 13 Nov 1977 LAT article, Locke stated that the film’s budget was between $350,000 and “under $700,000,” but the saturation advertising campaign was expected to cost two or three times that much. Distributed by Vanguard Releasing, Locke’s own company, The Hills Have Eyes opened in Tucson, AZ, in Jun 1977 and grossed $2 million by Oct, five months later. Opening at sixty theaters in Los Angeles, CA, in Oct 1977, the film grossed $250,000 in the first two weeks. Part of the advertising campaign was an announcement that “ The Hills Have Eyes has been accepted for the permanent collection of the NY Museum of Modern Art as a Terror Classic,” because the museum had acquired the film, along with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974, see entry), for its “study collection,” rather than its more prestigious “permanent collection.” A museum curator told the 13 Nov 1977 LAT that he would “prefer our name not be used in promotions.,” ... More Less

According to many modern sources, including John Wooley's book, Wes Craven: The Man and His Nightmares (John Wiley & Sons, New York), actor Arthur King, who plays “Mercury,” is a pseudonym for producer Peter Locke.
       Writer-director Craven’s original 1976 script was titled Blood Relations: The Sun Wars, and took place in NJ.
       Principal photography began in CA’s Mojave Desert on 18 Oct 1976, according to the 7 Oct 1976 DV and 22 Nov 1976 Box. In a 13 Nov 1977 LAT article, Locke stated that the film’s budget was between $350,000 and “under $700,000,” but the saturation advertising campaign was expected to cost two or three times that much. Distributed by Vanguard Releasing, Locke’s own company, The Hills Have Eyes opened in Tucson, AZ, in Jun 1977 and grossed $2 million by Oct, five months later. Opening at sixty theaters in Los Angeles, CA, in Oct 1977, the film grossed $250,000 in the first two weeks. Part of the advertising campaign was an announcement that “ The Hills Have Eyes has been accepted for the permanent collection of the NY Museum of Modern Art as a Terror Classic,” because the museum had acquired the film, along with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974, see entry), for its “study collection,” rather than its more prestigious “permanent collection.” A museum curator told the 13 Nov 1977 LAT that he would “prefer our name not be used in promotions.,” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
22 Nov 1976.
---
Daily Variety
7 Oct 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 1977
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
30 Sep 1977
p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
25 Sep 1977
Section U, p. 31.
Los Angeles Times
13 Nov 1977
Section O, p. 1.
Variety
20 Dec 1978
p. 30.
Village Voice
3 Oct 1977
p. 48.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Vanguard Release
Peter Locke Presents
A Film by Wes Craven
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Asst cam, 2d unit
Asst cam, 2d unit
Gaffer
Best boy
Best person, 2d unit
Key grip
Grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATOR
Props
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd mixer, 2d unit
Asst sd
Sd eff
Sd eff
Rerec
Rerec eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles
MAKEUP
Make-up, 2d unit
Spec make-up
Spec make-up
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Dogs by
Dogs by
Snakes by
Scr supv
Scr supv, 2d unit
Asst to the prod
Prod asst
Prod asst
Loc scouting and coord
Film processing
STAND INS
Stunt coord/Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Blood Relations
Release Date:
1977
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 28 September 1977
Production Date:
began 18 October 1976 in the Mojave Desert, California
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Prints
Prints by MGM Laboratories, Inc.
Duration(in mins):
89
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Ruby, a young female in a feral, desert family, brings stolen goods to her Grandpa Fred’s rural gas station, Fred’s Oasis, but Fred says he has no food to trade. When Ruby sees that Fred has loaded his belongings into a pickup truck, she asks if she can leave with him, but at that moment a station wagon pulling a mobile-home trailer stops for gasoline, so Fred hides Ruby and goes outside to dispense gas. The tourists are driver Big Bob Carter, a retired policeman, his wife Ethel Carter, their son, Bobby Carter, their daughters Brenda Carter and Lynne Wood, with her infant, Katy, and husband Doug Wood; along with two German shepherds, Beauty and Beast. Big Bob asks Fred about a local silver mine that he and Ethel inherited, but Fred says the silver mines were defunct long ago and the desert is now an Air Force firing range. He advises the family to resume their journey west. When Bobby, accompanied by Beauty the dog, uses the bathroom, Beauty senses something nearby, but Bobby returns to the family trailer. After the Carter family pulls away, Fred’s pickup truck explodes and Ruby’s brother, Mercury, pulls her away, saying that Papa Jupiter will be angry that she tried to leave. At the wheel of the station wagon, Big Bob is unnerved by fighter jets roaring low overhead, and when he swerves to avoid hitting a rabbit, he breaks an axle. Watching the Carters assemble outside the trailer, Pluto, another of Ruby’s brothers, radios ahead to Papa Jupiter on his Air Force walkie-talkie. The Carters cannot get anyone on their citizens band radio, so Big Bob gives one of his two ... +


Ruby, a young female in a feral, desert family, brings stolen goods to her Grandpa Fred’s rural gas station, Fred’s Oasis, but Fred says he has no food to trade. When Ruby sees that Fred has loaded his belongings into a pickup truck, she asks if she can leave with him, but at that moment a station wagon pulling a mobile-home trailer stops for gasoline, so Fred hides Ruby and goes outside to dispense gas. The tourists are driver Big Bob Carter, a retired policeman, his wife Ethel Carter, their son, Bobby Carter, their daughters Brenda Carter and Lynne Wood, with her infant, Katy, and husband Doug Wood; along with two German shepherds, Beauty and Beast. Big Bob asks Fred about a local silver mine that he and Ethel inherited, but Fred says the silver mines were defunct long ago and the desert is now an Air Force firing range. He advises the family to resume their journey west. When Bobby, accompanied by Beauty the dog, uses the bathroom, Beauty senses something nearby, but Bobby returns to the family trailer. After the Carter family pulls away, Fred’s pickup truck explodes and Ruby’s brother, Mercury, pulls her away, saying that Papa Jupiter will be angry that she tried to leave. At the wheel of the station wagon, Big Bob is unnerved by fighter jets roaring low overhead, and when he swerves to avoid hitting a rabbit, he breaks an axle. Watching the Carters assemble outside the trailer, Pluto, another of Ruby’s brothers, radios ahead to Papa Jupiter on his Air Force walkie-talkie. The Carters cannot get anyone on their citizens band radio, so Big Bob gives one of his two pistols to Bobby and tells the boy to guard the family while he and Doug go for help. Doug walks ahead while Big Bob returns to Fred’s Oasis. After the men leave, Beauty reacts to something in the hills nearby and runs off, with Bobby following. By the time Bobby finds Beauty, the dog has been killed and gutted, and as Bobby runs back to the trailer, he trips and is knocked unconscious. Meanwhile, the Carters’ other German shepherd, Beast, breaks his chain and runs into the hills. As night falls, Lynne calls for help on the C.B. radio and hears heavy breathing. Bobby returns to the trailer, but he is too concerned about family morale to report Beauty’s grisly death. Meanwhile, Big Bob reaches Fred’s Oasis and finds the old man trying to hang himself with the mistaken presumption that someone else is coming to kill him. Fred tells Big Bob that the Carter family is in danger from a pack of humans living nearby. He explains that his wife, Martha, bore a mutant son who slaughtered animals, burned down their house, killed Martha and a younger sister, and kidnapped a prostitute to start a family of feral children. Suddenly, Papa Jupiter smashes a window, grabs Fred, and yanks him outside into the darkness. By the time Big Bob pulls his gun and runs outside, Fred is dead, Papa Jupiter has gone, and the telephone is disabled. As Big Bob runs back toward the trailer, he hears taunts from nearby, and falls down with chest pains, while two figures approach and take his gun. Meanwhile, Doug returns to the trailer and reports finding only an Air Force dump filled with old military equipment, including a spool of cable that he has carried back. Elsewhere, Ruby is chained in a cave and forced by her mother to eat Beauty’s guts as punishment for trying to run away. Later, Doug and Lynne make love in the station wagon, while the others sleep in the trailer. Pluto silently siphons gas from the vehicle’s tank. Hearing dog sounds, Bobby searches for Beast outside as Pluto sneaks into the trailer. Locking the door, he gathers food, bullets, and a hatchet, then sexually attacks Brenda in the tiny bedroom while Ethel sleeps in the main room. Bobby returns, finds the door locked, and rouses Doug and Lynne in the station wagon to retrieve their spare key. When they complain, Bobby admits finding Beauty’s gutted carcass earlier. Meanwhile, in the darkness, Jupiter and Mars crucify Big Bob and soak him with the gasoline from the station wagon. When Pluto radios them from inside the trailer to “Do it,” they torch Big Bob, creating a bonfire, which draws Doug, Bobby, Lynne, and Ethel, who try to save him. Inside the trailer, Mars pulls Pluto off Brenda and rapes her. When Big Bob dies, Bobby runs looking for revenge, while Ethel and Lynne return to the trailer. When they see the strangers with baby Katy, Lynne fights Mars and stabs him with his own knife, but Mars shoots both her and Ethel dead with the gun he took from Big Bob. He and Pluto flee with the baby, warning Brenda that he will come back for her. In a den, Papa Jupiter celebrates the meal that baby Katy will provide, and asks Mars if he killed everybody at the trailer as ordered; he is angry to learn that three survived. Meanwhile, Beast pushes Mercury to his death from a high rock, picks up Mercury’s walkie-talkie in his teeth, and carries it back to the trailer. By eavesdropping on the radio, Bobby and Doug learn that the feral family is coming to get them. Doug and Beast hide in the hills and see Jupiter and Pluto walking toward the trailer. While Doug tries to warn Bobby on the C.B., Bobby calls for help. Jupiter pretends to be a highway patrolman and Bobby unwittingly admits that he is down to his last two bullets. Meanwhile, Beast attacks Pluto, mangling his foot, and Jupiter calls back to Mars, telling him to kill the baby, but Ruby has snatched Katy and run away. Jupiter races ahead toward the trailer to kill everybody. Doug and Bobby place Esther’s body in a lawn chair away from the trailer, attaching one end of a cable to the back wheel of the station wagon, and tie the other end in a loop near Esther’s body. When Jupiter approaches Esther’s corpse, Bobby puts the station wagon's transmission in gear, catching Jupiter’s foot with the cable and dragging him toward the vehicle. When Jupiter gets loose, he chases Bobby, Brenda, and Doug into the trailer, but they climb out the back window and blow up their propane tanks, killing Jupiter. Although Doug attacks Mars, he appears to be overwhelmed until Ruby grabs a rattlesnake and lets it bite Mars’s neck, permitting Doug to stab Mars to death. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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