Review: 'The Hills Have Eyes 2' gruesome 

The inmates are running the asylum in "The Hills Have Eyes 2," which begins tastelessly enough with the graphic delivery of a newborn followed by the swift decapitation of its mother. Things grow steadily more obscene from there, as a group of National Guard trainees arrive at a New Mexico army base only to discover that their commanding officers have all been slaughtered by a cave-dwelling crew of mutant cannibals.

Sound familiar? It should. The good news is that "Hills Have Eyes 2" is vastly superior to 1985’s "The Hills Have Eyes Part II" — yes, they’re remaking sequels these days — which was written and directed by franchise mastermind Wes Craven. Here, Craven and son Jonathan have provided the script, which spares no grisly details, with music-video guru Martin Weisz directing. The result is a time-efficient bloodbath, as fresh-faced young soldiers are introduced only to suffer the vilest of indignities, all within a briskly paced89 minutes.

There is a disquieting simplicity to Craven’s vision of a nuclear-testing site overrun with grossly disfigured miners who bide their time, waiting for unsuspecting strangers to stumble into their traps. Why do they kill? Hard to say, but it seems to be their sole purpose — that, and breeding, as we learn during a particularly brutal sequence in which one of the film’s female leads (Daniella Alonso, of "One Tree Hill") is captured and raped.

With no advance screenings, "The Hills Have Eyes 2" was purposely hidden from critics, an understandable decision considering its willingness to plunge into the very depths of depravity. And yet it’s not without dramatic effect; for fans of the genre, it will be appreciated for its lavish cinematography, impossibly tense atmosphere and sudden bursts of shattering violence. Does that make it a worthwhile experience? Not for those who still find horror horrifying, but for those desensitized souls who cherish the visceral thrill of a trip to the slaughterhouse, it will no doubt prove a bloody delight.

The Hills Have Eyes 2 **½

Starring Michael McMillian, Jessica Stroup, Daniella Alonso, Jacob Vargas, Lee Thompson Young

Written by Jonathan Craven and Wes Craven

Directed by Martin Weisz

Rated R

Running time 1 hour, 29 minutes

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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