The Hills Have Eyes (2006 film)

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The Hills Have Eyes
The Hills Have Eyes film.jpg
2006 Theatrical Release Poster
Directed by Alexandre Aja
Produced by Wes Craven
Peter Locke
Marianne Maddalena
Cody Zwieg
Screenplay by Alexandre Aja
Grégory Levasseur
Based on The Hills Have Eyes 
by Wes Craven
Starring Aaron Stanford
Kathleen Quinlan
Vinessa Shaw
Emilie de Ravin
Dan Byrd
Robert Joy
Ted Levine
Music by Tomandandy
François-Eudes Chanfrault
Cinematography Maxime Alexandre
Editing by Baxter
Studio Dune Entertainment
Major Studio Partners
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release dates
  • March 10, 2006 (2006-03-10)
Running time 107 minutes
108 minutes (Unrated cut)

United States

Language English
Budget $15 million
Box office $69,623,713

The Hills Have Eyes is a 2006 horror film and remake of Wes Craven's 1977 film The Hills Have Eyes. Written by filmmaking partners Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur of the French horror film Haute Tension, and directed by Aja, the film follows a family which becomes the target of a group of murderous mutants after their car breaks down in the desert.

The film was released theatrically in the United States and United Kingdom on March 10, 2006. It earned $15.5 million in its opening weekend in the U.S.,[1] where it was originally rated NC-17 for strong gruesome violence, but was later edited down to an R-rating. An unrated DVD version was released on June 20, 2006. A sequel, The Hills Have Eyes 2, was released in theaters March 23, 2007.


The film opens with a group of scientists being killed by the mutant Pluto (Michael Bailey Smith). A few years later, Ethel Carter (Kathleen Quinlan) and her husband, Bob Carter (Ted Levine) are traveling from Cleveland, Ohio to San Diego, California, with their daughter Brenda (Emilie de Ravin), son Bobby (Dan Byrd), eldest daughter Lynn (Vinessa Shaw), her husband Doug Bukowski (Aaron Stanford), their baby Catherine (Maisie Camilleri Preziosi), and the German Shepherds, Beauty and Beast.

In the desert, they encounter a gas station attendant, Fred (Tom Bower), who fills their car's tank and tells them of a short-cut. Taking the supposed short-cut, their tires are punctured by a hidden spike strip. Doug and Bob go look for help, and the rest stay behind. Bobby chases a panicked Beauty and finds her mutilated; frightened, he runs, falls and is knocked unconscious. A young female mutant named Ruby (Laura Ortiz) finds him and hides him from her brother Goggle (Ezra Buzzington). Bob, who goes back to the gas station for help, finds the hysterical attendant, Fred, who commits suicide in front of him. In fear, Bob tries to flee, but is attacked by the mutant leader, Papa Jupiter (Billy Drago). He is dragged into the mining caves by Jupiter, Jupiter's eldest son, Lizard (Robert Joy), and Pluto.

When Bobby awakes, he returns to the trailer, not mentioning Beauty's death. Doug returns and the night progresses starting with the family discovering Bob's yelling, all exiting the trailer except the baby and Brenda. They find Bob being burnt alive and frantically try to save him while Pluto and Lizard use the distraction to brutally rape Brenda. Lynn returns to the trailer and is greeted by Lizard and Pluto; she is forced to let Lizard drink from her breasts as her baby is held at gunpoint. Ethel returns and is shot; Lynn stabs Lizard in the leg and he shoots her in the head. Lizard and Pluto flee with the baby after attempting to shoot Brenda.

Doug and Bobby return to the trailer and discover the bodies of Lynn and Ethel. The mutant Goggle, who is watching the Carters, is attacked by Beast, who drags his arm with his walkie-talkie still in hand back to the Carters'. The next morning, Doug sets off to rescue Catherine with the dog Beast, finds an abandoned nuclear testing village, and is knocked unconscious by Big Mama (Ivana Turchetto) during his search. Upon awakening, he escapes an ice box filled with human body parts and continues his search, only to encounter Big Brain (Desmond Askew). Big Brain tells him the story of the mutants. Pluto attacks Doug and almost kills him, but Doug manages to distract and kill him.

Doug surprises the mutant Cyst (Gregory Nicotero) outside and kills him, while Big Brain is killed by Beast just as he orders another mutant to kill baby Catherine. Lizard takes a cleaver and prepares to kill Catherine, but finds Ruby has taken Catherine and left a doll in her place; Lizard chases her. Doug follows, hoping to rescue Catherine. At the trailer, Brenda and Bobby prepare an explosive trap to kill Papa Jupiter.

In the hills, Ruby is about to return Catherine to Doug when Lizard attacks. Lizard and Doug fight, ending with Lizard on the ground. Doug turns his back to Lizard, thinking him dead, but Lizard stands up, aiming a gun at Doug. Ruby tackles Lizard, plunging them over a cliff. Bobby and Brenda find that Papa Jupiter has barely survived their trap, finish him off, and reunite with Doug, Catherine and Beast. As they celebrate their apparent victory, an unknown mutant watches though binoculars from the hills.



Wes Craven, director and writer of the original film, considered a remake after he saw the success of other horror remakes such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Amityville Horror. The search then began for filmmakers to helm the project. Marianne Maddalena, Craven's long time producing partner, came across Alexandre Aja and his art director/collaborator Grégory Levasseur who had previously made the French slasher film Haute Tension. After showing the film to Craven and the rest of the production crew, they were impressed with the pair. Craven comments that they "demonstrated a multi-faceted understanding of what is profoundly terrifying" and "After viewing the film and then meeting the film makers, I knew I wanted to work with them."[2] Aja and Levasseur then began to re-write the story in what is the pair's first American production.

Director Aja and art director Grégory Levasseur chose not to film in the original's filming location of Victorville, California, and instead scouted many locations for filming including Namibia, South Africa, New Mexico, and Mexico. The two settled on Ouarzazate in Morocco, which was also known as "the gateway to the Sahara Desert".[2]

The film is set in New Mexico, and strongly implies that a large number of atmospheric nuclear weapon tests were performed in that state. In fact, the only atmospheric nuclear detonation in New Mexico was the Trinity test, the first test of a nuclear device conducted on July 16, 1945. The United States carried out most of its atmospheric nuclear weapons tests at the Nevada Test Site and in the Marshall Islands at the lagoons of Bikini and Eniwetok, between 1946 and 1962. The theatrical poster shows Vinessa Shaw's character lying down with a mutant hand on her face.


Prior to filming, Aja and Levasseur had already conceived an idea for the mutants' appearance. "We based all our descriptions and directions on real documents, pictures and footage that we found on the effects of nuclear fallout in Chernobyl and Hiroshima", explains Aja. The Hills Have Eyes utilized the K.N.B. EFX Group Inc. who had done previous work on films such as The Chronicles of Narnia (for which an Academy Award was nominated) and Sin City.

K.N.B. spent over six months designing the mutants, first using 3D designer tools, such as ZBrush, allowing them to use a computer to generate their sculptures. After prosthetics were made, they could be fitted to the actors before filming. Robert Joy, who plays the mutant Lizard, explained, "Every day, these amazing artists took more than three hours to transform me into something that could only be found in a nightmare."[2]

K.N.B. artist Gregory Nicotero was also made a cameo as Cyst, the mutant with the halo head-gear.

Jamison Goei and his team, who had done previous work on Hellraiser: Hellseeker and Halloween: Resurrection, had done over 130 visual effects for the film. A large part of that was digitally constructing the testing village, which in actuality was only one built street with others digitally added. The team also warped the mutant's faces slightly, which is shown mostly in the character of Ruby.

Papa Jupiter displays no deformities. However, as shown in "The Making Of", Papa Jupiter appears to have a large parasitic twin attached to his upper left torso. The young children of the film had their deformities added by CGI, with the exception of Ruby, who had a combination of CGI and makeup.


The casting process began with the selection of The Silence of the Lambs's Ted Levine as the character Big Bob. Levine was also a fan of the film Haute Tension. Afterwards, Kathleen Quinlan was cast as Ethel in her first role starring in a horror film (despite appearing in Twilight Zone: The Movie and Event Horizon). Next, Aaron Stanford was cast as Doug Bukowski who "undergoes the most radical transformation of anyone in the Carter family"[2] Stanford even asked not to see any of the mutants in make-up before his character's battle in the testing village so, that way, he'd be truly frightened. When casting Lynn, Doug's wife, Aja wanted to cast Vinessa Shaw whom he had wanted to work with since seeing her in Stanley Kubrick's 1999 film Eyes Wide Shut. Shaw was hesitant to play the role, but after watching Haute Tension, she agreed, explaining: "There was such an odd combination of beauty and terror, it felt almost like an art film. So, after meeting with Alex and Greg, I decided to do it."[2] For the role of Brenda, the filmmakers sought a young actress who had relatively little exposure and found it in Emilie de Ravin who was beginning her rise in the television series Lost. After de Ravin, Dan Byrd was cast as Bobby. Byrd had previous genre experience starring in Salem's Lot.

Aja then had the six actors arrive in the filming location of Morocco early to bond together.

When casting for the mutants, associate producer Cody Zwieg explained: "We needed to find actors who could not only perform the stunt work, handle the extensive makeup and perform in that makeup, but who truly could embody the fierce, primal nature of the mutants' way of life."[2] To play the role of Pluto, Aja looked to Michael Bailey Smith, who had been in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. For Lizard, the filmmakers cast Robert Joy, who had made previous genre films such as Amityville 3-D and George A. Romero's Land of the Dead. Ezra Buzzington, impressed with the filmmakers, agreed to play the role of Goggle and even watched a documentary about human cultures engaging in cannibalism. To play the mutant leader, Billy Drago was cast. Drago had previously had a role in Brian De Palma's The Untouchables and other horror features. The most difficult mutant to cast was Ruby, who was a "touch of sweetness to the madness of the mutants."[2] Laura Ortiz was ultimately cast, making her film debut.


Box office[edit]

The Hills Have Eyes was a commercial success, playing in total 2,521 theaters and taking in its opening weekend $15,708,512.[3] The film grossed $41,778,863 in the United States Box Office[4] and $69,770,032 worldwide.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Critical reception was mixed with an average critic "Rotten" rating of 50% on Rotten Tomatoes and a critical consensus stating "Faster paced for today's audiences, this Hills remake ratchets up the gore for the hardcore horror fans, but will turn away casual audiences."[5] The Washington Post said: "this remake of the alleged 1977 Wes Craven classic has one very disturbing quality: It's too damned good."[6] Some have gone on to refer to the film as torture porn.[7] Bloody Disgusting, however, was scathing of those who referred to it as such, saying "some may call it “Torture porn” - these people are idiots".[8] Roger Ebert also gave a negative review, mentioning that the characters in the film are not familiar with horror movie, and went on to cite that the film should have focused more on the characters rather than the violence, saying "The Hills Have Eyes finds an intriguing setting in 'typical' fake towns built by the government [...] But its mutants are simply engines of destruction. There is a misshapen creature who coordinates attacks with a walkie-talkie; I would have liked to know more about him, but no luck."[9]


The Hills Have Eyes
Film score by Various
Released March 10, 2006
Genre Soundtracks
Film scores
Label Lakeshore Records
Various chronology
"The Hills Have Eyes (2006)" "The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007)

The soundtrack score was composed by "Tomandandy".

Track listing - US Edition[10]
Tracks 10-29 are all original music composed by tomandandy
  1. Leave the Broken Hearts - The Finalist
  2. Blue Eyes Woman - The Go
  3. Highway Kind - Moot Davis
  4. Summers Gonna Be My Girl - The Go
  5. More and More - Webb Pierce
  6. The Walls - Vault
  7. In the Valley of the Sun - Buddy Stuart
  8. Daisy - Wires on Fire
  9. California Dreamin' - The Mamas and the Papas
  10. Forbidden Zone
  11. Gas Haven
  12. Out House
  13. Praying
  14. Beauty
  15. Ravens
  16. Daddy Daddy
  17. Beast Finds Beauty
  18. Trailer
  19. Aftermath
  20. Ethel's Death
  21. Next Morning
  22. Mine
  23. Village Test
  24. Breakfast Time
  25. Play with Us
  26. The Quest I
  27. The Quest II
  28. Sacrifice
  29. It's Over?


  1. ^ IMDb Box Office - The Hills Have Eyes
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "The Hills Have Eyes Production PDF" (PDF). 20th Century Fox. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  3. ^ a b "The Hills Have Eyes". Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  4. ^ "The Hills Have Eyes (2006)". Archived from the original on 2007-08-12. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  5. ^ "The Hills Have Eyes". Rotton Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  6. ^ Hunter, Stephen (2006-03-10). "'The Hills Have Eyes': Can You Watch, Too?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  7. ^ "Movie review: 'The Hills Have Eyes'". Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  8. ^ "00's Retrospect: 2006". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2009-12-28. 
  9. ^ "The Hills Have Eyes (R)". Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  10. ^

External links[edit]