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  Hills Have Eyes Part II, The Mike On A Bike
Year: 1984
Director: Wes Craven
Stars: Tamara Stafford, Kevin Spirtas, John Bloom, Colleen Riley, Michael Berryman, Penny Johnson, Janus Blythe, John Laughlin, Willard E. Pugh, Peter Frechette, Robert Houston, David Nichols
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Bobby (Robert Houston) still has nightmares about the ordeal he suffered with his family when they were driving their holiday mobile home through the desert and wound up in a barren bomb site from the fifties, whereupon they were attacked by a family of inbred cannibals who were determined to kill and devour them all. Bobby managed to escape, but not without a battle, and now he has to see a psychiatrist regularly to try and get over his experiences. Another individual in the same boat but for different reasons is Rachel (Janus Blythe) who was an actual member of the murderous clan; she has reformed and is trying to live normally, but is drawn back to the desert...

Or she is when she joins a group of motorcycle sportsmen who are driving their bus to indulge in a spot of cross country business, and what do you know, it runs out of fuel in exactly the same place she left behind? Also in a similar predicament was director Wes Craven who too was pulled back into the movie he had made in the late seventies because basically he had hardly worked since then and was desperate for something to make, so when the chance came for a sequel, he couldn't turn it down, no matter his great reservations about the material. You can see why, as there was nothing more to be said by the climax of the first film that this second one could say, and the results were poor.

Although perhaps not as poor as its reputation: Craven certainly rejected it and made excuses for his involvement for years afterwards. In fact, it was almost never released, and sat on the shelf for a few years before its director's star began to rise once more with A Nightmare on Elm Street, this escaping from purgatory around the same time as that was a huge horror hit. Therefore it's perhaps telling that the man who shook up the slasher boom for the eighties was also the man who had already made one of the most derivative examples a while before, as this sequel doesn't do much but collect a bunch of genre clich├ęs with an air of "will this do?" alternating with an almost self-spoofing tone as if everyone was slightly embarrassed they were reduced to this.

With Craven there was no "slightly" about it, as he was regarded as a real innovator in the chiller arena and there was no evidence of that here. But if you took the nonsense here as a slasher with very few surprises and many opportunities for the viewer to lampoon what they were watching, much like many of its contemporaries and descendants, then it was possible to appreciate it on the level of disposable yet mildly amusing. The biggest criticism aimed at it was the amount of footage from the first instalment padding it out, but although every returning character did have a flashback - including in a moment of real ludicrous cheek the dog, Beast - they didn't take up half as much time as you might have expected, and there was far more new material.

So this was no Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2, although a lusty yell of "Garbage Day!" would not go amiss, though it did feature its own daftness as Craven, who scripted, flailed around for something fresh to do with his cult favourite. To do so he enlisted a blind girl, Cass (Tamara Stafford), to be his final girl, and she seems to have some sort of psychic ability: she certainly feels a great disturbance in the force when the man she loves, Roy (Kevin Spirtas), meets the wrong end of a club to the head after an encounter with the most memorable actor from before, Pluto played by Michael Berryman. While he's been away, he appears to have gained his motorcycle licence for he zooms around the landscape on a pilfered bike with some skill, but the family was replaced by just him and the enormous performer John Bloom, who played new and hitherto unmentioned character Reaper. Depending on everyone behaving as stupidly as possible until a late on stroke of ingenuity to save the day, The Hills Have Eyes Part II was a big step down, but diverting in a foolish manner. Music by Harry Manfredini.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Wes Craven  (1939 - )

Intelligent American director, producer and writer, at his most effective when, perhaps paradoxically, he was at his most thoughtful. Controversial shocker Last House on the Left set him on a path of horror movies, the best of which are The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The People Under the Stairs, New Nightmare and Scream (which revitalised the slasher genre).

Less impressive are Deadly Blessing, Swamp Thing, the ridiculous Hills Have Eyes Part II, Deadly Friend, Shocker, Vampire in Brooklyn, Cursed and the successful Scream sequels (the last of which was his final movie). Music of the Heart was a change of pace for Craven, but not a hit, though aeroplane thriller Red Eye was a successful attempt at something different; My Soul To Take, an attempt at more of the same, flopped. One of the pioneers of the American new wave of horror of the 1970s and 80s, he brought a true edge, wit and imagination to the genre.

 
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