The Hills Have Eyes (2006 film)

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The Hills Have Eyes
The Hills Have Eyes film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAlexandre Aja
Produced byWes Craven
Marianne Maddalena
Peter Locke
Screenplay byAlexandre Aja
Grégory Levasseur
Based onThe Hills Have Eyes
by Wes Craven
StarringAaron Stanford
Kathleen Quinlan
Vinessa Shaw
Emilie de Ravin
Dan Byrd
Robert Joy
Ted Levine
Music byTomandandy
CinematographyMaxime Alexandre
Edited byCainan Baxter
Dune Entertainment
Major Studio Partners
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures
Release date
  • March 10, 2006 (2006-03-10)
Running time
106 Minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million
Box office$70 million[1]

The Hills Have Eyes is a 2006 American horror film and remake of Wes Craven's 1977 film of the same name. It was written by filmmaking partners Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur of the French horror film High Tension, and directed by Aja. The film follows a family that is targeted by a group of cannibalistic 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., 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 group of scientists, who are testing the radiation levels of the New Mexico desert, are killed by a mutant named Pluto (Michael Bailey Smith).

Retired detective Bob Carter (Ted Levine) and his wife Ethel (Kathleen Quinlan) are traveling from Cleveland, Ohio to San Diego, California for their wedding anniversary. With them are their children Bobby (Dan Byrd), Brenda (Emilie de Ravin), and Lynn (Vinessa Shaw), Lynn's husband Doug (Aaron Stanford), Lynn and Doug's baby daughter Catherine (Maisie Camilleri Preziosi), and their two German Shepherds, Beauty and Beast. At a gas station in the desert, they meet an attendant named Jeb (Tom Bower), who tells them of a short-cut through the hills.

Not long after taking the supposed short-cut, their tires are punctured by a hidden spike strip. Doug and Bob go look for help, while the rest of the family stays behind. Beauty escapes from the trailer and, when Bobby chases her into the hills, he finds her mutilated corpse. Frightened, he runs and falls, knocking himself unconscious. A young woman named Ruby (Laura Ortiz) finds him and protects him from her brother Goggle (Ezra Buzzington).

Bob arrives back at the gas station, which appears abandoned. Inside, he finds news clippings detailing various disappearances in the area and realizes the attendant purposefully led them to danger by suggesting the short-cut. Finding a severed ear, he flees from the station. Outside, he finds a hysterical Jeb, who commits suicide. Bob attempts to flee in an abandoned car, but is subdued by the leader, Papa Jupiter (Billy Drago). Jupiter and his sons Lizard (Robert Joy) and Pluto drag Bob into the mining caves.

Meanwhile, Doug heads towards the interstate and finds a huge crater filled with numerous abandoned cars and other items. Having no luck finding help, he turns back.

Bobby returns to the trailer but does not mention Beauty's death, not wanting to frighten the rest of the family. Later that night, the family is awakened by Bob's screams, and they all rush from the trailer, except for Brenda who stays with the baby. Outside, they find Bob crucified to a burning tree. They frantically try to save him, but to no avail. Meanwhile, Pluto and Lizard use the distraction to ransack the trailer. Lizard beats and rapes Brenda.

When Lynn returns to the trailer, Lizard and Pluto confront her. While baby Catherine is held at gunpoint, Lizard sucks on Lynn's breasts and forces her to let him. When Ethel returns, Lizard shoots her. Lynn stabs him in the leg, prompting him to shoot her in the head. Lizard and Pluto flee with the baby. Returning to the trailer, Doug and Bobby discover Lynn dead and Ethel, who dies shortly afterward. Goggle, who is watching the family from afar with a pair of binoculars, is killed by Beast.

The next morning, Doug, along with Beast, sets out to rescue Catherine. He comes across an abandoned nuclear testing village and is knocked unconscious by Big Mama (Ivana Turchetto). Awakening in an ice box filled with human body parts, he escapes and encounters Big Brain (Desmond Askew). After Big Brain tells him the mutants' origins, Pluto attacks him and severs two of his fingers with an axe. Pluto almost kills Doug, but Doug manages to gain the upper hand and kills him with his own axe.

Heading outside, Doug kills the mutant Cyst (Gregory Nicotero) and continues searching for Catherine. After ordering Lizard to kill Catherine, Big Brain is mauled to death by Beast. Lizard takes a cleaver and prepares to kill Catherine, but finds that Ruby has taken her and replaced her with a piglet. Doug sees Ruby running through the hills with Catherine, and pursues her. Meanwhile, back at the trailer, Brenda and Bobby discover their mother's body missing and track it to find Papa Jupiter eating her. They lure him towards the trailer and prepare an explosive trap, which destroys the trailer, apparently killing Papa Jupiter.

Doug catches up with Ruby but Lizard attacks him. Lizard and Doug fight and Lizard is shot several times. Ruby then gives Doug his daughter back, and Lizard, still alive, aims a shotgun at Doug. Ruby tackles Lizard off a cliff, sending them both falling to their deaths.

Bobby and Brenda find that Papa Jupiter managed to survive their trap, and Brenda finishes him off with a pickaxe. They are then reunited with Doug, Catherine and Beast. As the survivors of the Carter family embrace, an unknown mutant watches them through 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 High 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.

During the opening sequence, flashes of deformed children are shown. These children are victims of the infamous Agent Orange chemical.


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 they were nominated for an Academy Award) 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' Ted Levine as the character Big Bob. Levine was also a fan of the film High Tension. Afterward, 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 who 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 High 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 $70,000,000 worldwide,[3] surpassing its budget costs by over fourfold.

The film placed third at the box office during its opening week.[5] It dropped to fifth after its second week of release, and to eighth after its third week. It fell out of the top 10 into twelfth place after four weeks in release. After five weeks, it placed seventeenth at the box office, and it fell out of the top 20 into twenty-first place after its sixth week. It continued to fall in subsequent weeks.[5]

The Hills Have Eyes was in first release for a total of 105 days, or 15 weeks, with its final showing on June 22, 2006.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Reviews were mixed, with an average critic "Rotten" rating of 52% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 141 reviews. The critical consensus stated "Faster paced for today's audiences, this 'Hills' remake ratchets up the gore for the hardcore horror fans, but will turn away casual audiences."[6] The Washington Post said: "this remake of the alleged 1977 Wes Craven classic has one very disturbing quality: It's too damned good."[7] Some have gone on to refer to the film as torture porn.[8] Bloody Disgusting, however, was scathing of those who referred to the movie's genre as such, saying "some may call it 'Torture porn'—these people are idiots".[9] Roger Ebert also gave a negative review, mentioning that the characters in the film are not familiar with horror movies, 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."[10]


A sequel, The Hills Have Eyes 2, was released in theaters March 23, 2007.


The Hills Have Eyes (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
The Hills Have Eyes Soundtrack.jpg
Film score by
ReleasedMarch 7, 2006
Film scores
LabelLakeshore Records 33852
The Hill Have Eyes chronology
The Hills Have Eyes (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
The Hills Have Eyes 2

The soundtrack score was composed by tomandandy. The record was released on March 7, 2006 via Lakeshore Records label.[11]

Track listing

US edition[12]

Tracks 10 to 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 & 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. ^ "The Hills Have Eyes". Box Office Mojo.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "The Hills Have Eyes Production PDF" (PDF). 20th Century Fox. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-08-22.
  3. ^ a b c "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. ^ a b "The Hills Have Eyes - Weekly Box Office Results". Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  6. ^ "The Hills Have Eyes". Rotton Tomatoes. Retrieved 2019-10-26.
  7. ^ Hunter, Stephen (2006-03-10). "'The Hills Have Eyes': Can You Watch, Too?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-08-22.
  8. ^ "Movie review: 'The Hills Have Eyes'". Retrieved 2007-08-22.
  9. ^ "00's Retrospect: 2006". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2009-12-28.
  10. ^ "The Hills Have Eyes (R)". Retrieved 2007-08-22.
  11. ^ "tomandandy — The Hills Have Eyes". Retrieved 2014-07-17.
  12. ^ "The Hills Have Eyes". Retrieved 8 October 2017.

External links[edit]