A group of bikers, which includes some of the survivors from the original film, embark on a journey by bus to a biker race near the desert of the infamous incidents. However, because of a mistake they are late and decide to take a shortcut through the desert. Halfway through the desert the bus breaks down. While trying to repair the bus, some of the group wander off, and wind up in the traps of the survivors of the mutant family of the first. Then the mutants go after the rest...
When the highlight of your movie is a flashback sequence from the point of view of the dog, you know your movie suffers from some serious narrative problems. Come to think of it, if a significant chunk of the story depends on more than two flashback sequences to a superior movie in order to move the sequel forward, then perhaps the movie shouldn't have been made at all. And sadly, this follow-up to Wes Craven's 1977 shocker 'The Hills Have Eyes' uses this plot device on three separate occasions, two of which come from Bobby (Robert Houston) and Ruby (Janus Blythe), the remaining survivors of the first movie. The third flashback is hilariously dedicated to the freaking dog!
As if that wasn't hysterically bad enough, the script, which was embarrassingly written and directed by Craven, is also riddled with the clichés and standard conventions of the genre. As is always the case, a small group of rambunctious, promiscuous, and completely irresponsible young adults, probably around college age, set out into the unfamiliar wilderness and find themselves a heaping mess of trouble. But to Craven's credit, the kids venture into the desert for practical reasons, if you can fancy that. With Ruby in tow, the team heads to a motocross race to promote and test a new super fuel, but foolishly take a wrong turn hoping to cut the drive time.
It's somewhat refreshing to see customary stock characters face their demise for genuine motivations other than to get plastered, stoned, or laid. Unfortunately, the best intentions don't make them any smarter either, as demonstrated by the fact that no one realized Daylight Savings time commences the same day as the race. This lack of common sense appears to extend, if not be intimately related, to their lack of natural instincts for self-preservation and survival. In spite of friends missing and knowing there are some crazed, cannibalizing hillbillies roaming the desert, one couple (Penny Johnson Jerald and Willard E. Pugh) take a moment to enjoy each other's company alone. Meanwhile, another character (Colleen Riley) suddenly decides it's the best time to take a shower.
It's completely mind-boggling how some filmmakers figure their characters make reasonable decisions. Even the smartest person of the bunch, Cass (Tamara Stafford), whose blindness is meant to heighten suspense but comes nowhere near accomplishing that, plays to expectations by doing everything you're not supposed to do in a horror movie. You can almost imagine film-geek Randy Meeks of the 'Scream' franchise yelling at the screen as she repeatedly wanders about the deserted mining camp without a partner. Granted, we're not really supposed to overthink things in this kind of genre, especially one of this caliber, but it's not asking too much to see characters not be so blindly stupid, particularly when it leads to destroying your only mode of transportation!
The plot also comes with some blatant logical problems. The first being the drive through the desert altogether. Since Ruby is part of the group and supposedly knows the area like the back of her hand, you'd think she would refuse to let the kids drive through the same region from which her insane family originates. And as much as I love seeing Michael Berryman reprise his role as Pluto, I'm confused as to how he survived and just so happens to be in the same, general area. Added to that, Reaper's (John Bloom) background is complete hogwash and makes absolutely no sense in connection to the first movie. According to rumors, Craven made this terrible sequel purely for financial reasons and has since disowned it. Could flipping burgers really be that much more demeaning than forever having your name attached to this horrible mess?
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Kino Lorber brings Wes Craven's 'The Hills Have Eyes Part 2' to Blu-ray on a Region Free, BD25 disc inside the standard blue keepcase. At startup, the disc goes straight to the main menu with a still picture and music.
Despite receiving some mediocre scores, I have to admit I'm somewhat surprised by the results of this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode from Kino Lorber. Contrast is stable and consistent with clean whites and great visibility of background information. Presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, the picture displays a prominent layer of grain, giving the image an appreciable film-like quality. Blacks are shockingly rich and intense, but shadows come off much too strong, obscuring the fine details and engulfing several scenes in pitch darkness. Primaries are pretty good and accurate for the most part, but the overall palette average. Definition and resolution is most noticeably wanting, looking fairly soft for the majority of the runtime although a couple sequences sneak by with some nicely distinct lines on clothing and around the architecture of the mining camp. The video also shows quite a bit of dirt and white specks throughout, revealing that the print used didn't go through any extensive restoration process.
All in all, the transfer isn't absolutely terrible, but it certainly isn't wholly satisfying.
The movie also arrives with an unexceptional, second-rate uncompressed PCM stereo soundtrack. Most all the action is centered in the middle of the screen rather than occupying the entire soundstage, something immediately apparent during the opening credits. Dynamic range feels pretty limited and narrow, with even less impressive detailing in Harry Manfredini's score and practically nothing going on in the low end. Dialogue reproduction is good and intelligible, but many of the voices come off harsh and noisy. In fact, the lossless mix exhibits lots of hissing and air that's noticeable and tends to distract. There's little to appreciate in this high-rez track and pretty much disappoints all around.
Not too surprising to see very little in the supplements department.
Supposedly made for financial reasons and later disowned by its creator, Wes Craven revisits the desert cannibal family in 'The Hills Have Eyes Part 2.' Although it reunites Janus Blythe with Michael Berryman, this follow-up to his 1977 shocker is an unfortunate, and apparently embarrassing, mess that plays much too closely to convention and offers very little blood in return. The Blu-ray features an average picture quality although it's an improvement over previous editions. The poor audio presentation is poor. Bonus material is even more disappointing, making this package an easy one to avoid.