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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Blood Relations - The Sun Wars" )

 

directed by Wes Craven
USA 1977

 

The Carter family are driving through the desert in a station wagon and Winnebego in search of a silver mine. Fred (John Steadman, FADE TO BLACK), the old-timer that runs the gas station, cryptically tries to warn them off venturing further into the desert, but they proceed and wind up stranded in the middle of nowhere. Their first indication that they might not be alone comes when son Bobby (Robert Houston, 1941) searches for one of their runaway dogs in the hills and finds it mutilated. Meanwhile, the father Big Bob (Russ Grieve, FOXY BROWN) has walked back to the gas station and learns from Fred that the "devil child" Jupiter (James Whitworth, THE CANDY SNATCHERS) who Fred abandoned in the desert years ago has spawned a cannibal family living up in the hills. Fred is attacked and killed by one of the clan and Bob tries to get back to his family but is ambushed in the dark. The cannibals crucify Bob and set him on fire as a distraction for Bobby, his mother Ethel (Virginia Vincent, THE BABY), older sister Lynn (Dee Wallace, THE HOWLING), and her husband Doug (Martin Speer, KILLER'S DELIGHT). With them out of the way, Pluto (Michael Berryman, CUT AND RUN) and Mars (Lance Gordon, TWICE DEAD) invade the Winnebego, rape younger sister Brenda (Susan Lanier), and decide to take Lynn and Doug's baby for food. Lynn is killed trying to save her child and Ethel is shot. When daylight comes, Doug heads up into the hills to rescue his infant daughter. Bobby and a traumatized Brenda hold up in the camper, but are soon forced to fight and attempt to outwit another attack. Their other dog Beast (who has also lost his partner Beauty to the cannibals) also has vengeance in mind. Another member of the cannibal family, Ruby (Janus Blythe, EATEN ALIVE) may betray her own to save the baby's life. While intense and brutal, Wes Craven's THE HILLS HAVE EYES looks like a typical grindhouse movie compared to his previous film LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT - and its associated notoriety. Its worn-out crew recycled from Charles Griffith's EAT MY DUST (including D.P. Eric Saarinen), Robert Burns' props from TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, 120 degree heat, special effects injuries, and near cast/crew walk-outs seat it more comfortably along side THE EVIL DEAD, another drive-in horror hit with a celebrated grueling production history, indebtedness to TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (including the art direction) - although the Sam Raimi film is splashier with the blood and entrails - and even a visual reference to Craven's film. Berryman went on to appear in a showy red herring role in Craven's more polished - although studio-tampered - DEADLY BLESSING, and the booby trap set up by Bobby and Brenda anticipates the more elaborate traps that Nancy Thompson prepares for Freddy Krueger in Craven's mainstream hit A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Producer Peter Locke - who also plays Mercury, another member of the cannibal clan - produced Craven's sequel as well as the 2006 remake and its sequel. Houston and Blythe reunited also reunited with Craven and Locke in the sequel (although they had already appeared together in CHEERLEADERS WILD WEEKEND). Composer Don Peake (THE PREY) would reunite with Craven in his studio days to score THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS. Art director Robert Burns went on to work with HILLS effects make-up artists on the TCM-influenced TOURIST TRAP the following year. Alexandre Aja's remake was not well-acted, but substituted run-of-the-mill disfigured and murderous nuclear testing mutants for the more menacing cannibal clan of the original.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 22 July 1977 (USA)

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Comparison:

Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Image Entertainment "Midnight Madness Series" - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. Arrow (Limited Edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas and Gary Tooze for the Screen Caps!

Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness Series) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

 

 

 

    

Distribution

Anchor Bay Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness)
Region 'A' -
Blu-ray
Arrow
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:29:45 1:29:47.715

Original Ending: 1:29:59:609

Alternate Ending: 1:31:17.363

Video

1.82:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: ~8.5 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 23,950,996,514 bytes

Feature: 15,550,248,960 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 17.99 Mbps

1.78:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,291,666,849 bytes

Original Ending: 26,837,492,352 bytes

Alternate Ending: 27,219,409,536 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.95 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Anchor Bay Entertainment

 

Bitrate:

 

Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness Series) Blu-ray

 

Bitrate:

Arrow (Original Ending)
Region FREE
-
Blu-ray

 

Bitrate:

Arrow (Alternate Ending)
Region FREE
-
Blu-ray

 

Audio English DTS-ES 5.1; English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX; English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround; English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1799 kbps 6.1 / 48 kHz / 1799 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 6.1-ES / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentaries:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English HoH None English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.82:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE:
• Audio commentary by director Wes Craven and producer Peter Locke
• DISC TWO:
• Looking Back on THE HILLS HAVE EYES documentary
• The Directors: The Films of Wes Craven career retrospective
• Alternate Ending
• U.S. and German Theatrical Trailer
• U.S. and U.K. TV Spots
• Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery
• Posters and Advertising Art
• Storyboard Art
• Wes Craven Text Biography
• DVD-Rom Screensavers and PDF Script
• Collector's Booklet

DVD Release Date: September 23rd 2003
Keep case

Chapters 21
 

Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

 

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 23,950,996,514 bytes

Feature: 15,550,248,960 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 17.99 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by director Wes Craven and producer Peter Locke

• Featurettes - Looking Back at The Hills Have Eyes (54:33), The Directors: The Films of Wes Craven (58:35), Restoration Demo (4:13)

• Trailers (6 - 7:18)

• Alternate Ending (10:18)

• Stills Galleries

• Wes Craven Bio
 

Blu-ray Release Date: September 6th, 2011
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 10

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow

 

Aspect Ratio:

1.78:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,291,666,849 bytes

Original Ending: 26,837,492,352 bytes

Alternate Ending: 27,219,409,536 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.95 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
•  6 x postcards
• Reversible fold-out poster featuring new and original artwork
• Limited edition booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Brad Stevens and a consideration of the Hills franchise by Ewan Cant, illustrated with original archive stills
• Audio commentary with Wes Craven and Peter Locke

• Audio commentary with Cast

• Audio commentary with Mikel J. Koven
• Looking Back on The Hills Have Eyes making-of documentary featuring interviews with Craven, Locke, actors Michael Berryman, Dee Wallace, Janus Blythe, Robert Houston, Susan Lanier and director of photography Eric Saarinen (54:35)

• Interview with Martin Speer (16:08)
• The Desert Sessions brand new interview with composer Don Peake (11:00)
• Alternate ending, in HD for the first time (11:35)

• Outtakes (18:58)
• Trailers (US - 2:43, German - 2:46) and TV Spots (1:54)
• Image Gallery (0:40)
• Original Screenplay (BD/DVD-ROM Content)
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shippers

Blu-ray Release Date: October 3rd and 11th, 2016
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters: 12

 

 

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Arrow - Region FREE Blu-ray September 2016': This is the another Arrow Blu-ray release that is being simultaneously released in both region 'A' (US) and 'B' (UK). It is the exact same package on both sides of the pond but there are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, ex. the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.'

The Arrow Blu-ray is advertised as a "Brand new 4K restoration from original film elements, supervised by producer Peter Locke". It was shot on Super 16 so there are limitations on how good it can look. Arrow include both the original and longer 'Alternate ending' cut - seamlessly branched on the dual-layered Blu-ray. You can see via out screen captures that colors are significantly brighter, flesh tones warmer, on Arrows 4K restoration as compared to the 2011 Image Entertainment 1080P. It is much brighter, hence we can see more detail and shows more information in the frame - mostly at the bottom of the frame (possibly as 1.78:1 opened up to Image Entrainment's 1.85:1.) It still shows the grittiness and grain of 16mm but there is no way I can know if it is accurate to its theatrical roots. All I can say is that it looks significantly superior - both color/detail wise and less-clunky in-motion. What I can mostly appreciate is the difference - it would definitely be my choice if given the option.

Arrow have forgone the bump and stuck with the original mono via a linear PCM 1.0 channel, track at 24-bit. This is a case where I can't imagine it sounding any better - or more authentic to its roots. There are still, production-related, weaknesses but the dialogue seems much clearer and the effects still export some depth. Arrow include optional English (SDH) subtitles on their region FREE Blu-ray disc.

Arrow include three commentaries; the original one with Wes Craven and Peter Locke as found on the 2003 DVD and Image's 2011 BD. There are two more - one with the cast. a little scattered and one with Mikel J. Koven, Senior Lecturer & Course Leader, Film Studies, author of Blaxploitation Film (2010), Film, Folklore & Urban Legends (2008) and La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film (2006); he co-edited Folklore/Cinema: Popular Film as Vernacular Entertainment (2007). His insights will be much appreciated (I have not had the opportunity to indulge) but it promises to be more formal and professional. Looking Back on The Hills Have Eyes is the same 55-minute making-of documentary featuring interviews with Craven, Locke, actors Michael Berryman, Dee Wallace, Janus Blythe, Robert Houston, Susan Lanier and director of photography Eric Saarinen. There is a new 16-minute interview with actor Martin Speer conducted in June 2016 and The Desert Sessions - another brand new interview - this time with composer Don Peake running exactly 11-minutes.It was conducted on May 2016. We can see the alternate ending, in HD for 11.5 minutes as well as 20-minutes of outtakes, trailers (US - 2:43, German - 2:46) and TV Spots (1:54), an image gallery and on the root of the disc is the original screenplay in PDF format. The Arrow Blu-ray package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shippers,  6 x postcards, a reversible fold-out poster featuring new and original artwork and a limited edition booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Brad Stevens and a consideration of the Hills franchise by Ewan Cant, illustrated with original archive stills.

Arrow have again gone 'to the max' with their production giving us the definitive package for Wes Craven's, The Hills Have Eyes. This Blu-ray set is a keeper and if you are keen - I wouldn't wait to get the book as well. Our highest recommendation for fans of the film!

***

ADDITION: Image Entertainment "Midnight Madness Series" - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - September 11': You can't improve beyond the original source - in this case Super 16. This is the 'nature of the beast'. The 1080P transfer shows more textures and grain than the DVD. It looks as I expected - and it is predictably 'rough'. Colors support the SD and it wouldn't surprise me if they are from the same D1 - assuming the DVD was HD transferred as well. The image has been 'restored' and there is no excessive damage - hardly any scratches. The Hills Have Eyes will never looks crisp and detailed but for fans of heavy, textured, grain this can be a treat.

Audio-wise we get the option of a DTS-HD Master 6.1 bump at 1799 kbps or a linear PCM mono track (2.0 channel) at 1536 kbps. Its good to have the choice and I sampled both - the surround was more impressive than I was anticipating but I watched the majority via the, more authentic, PCM track. Still creepy but less depth and, obviously, no range. Image Entertainment have no included any subtitles where the Anchor Bay DVD offers optional English. My Momitsu has determined the Blu-ray to be region 'A'-locked.  

The Blu-ray has all of the valuable supplements from the DVD including the important audio commentary by director Wes Craven and producer Peter Locke and the two featurettes - Looking Back at The Hills Have Eyes (54:33), The Directors: The Films of Wes Craven (58:35) - totaling almost 2 hours. We also get the 10-minute alt-ending, 6 trailers, Stills Galleries and text Craven bio and 4-minute split screen restoration demo but it has the benefit of accessing the extras all on one disc.

The important genre film will be attractive in hi-def to fans - the director's second effort and reminiscent of Drive-In nights with greasy popcorn littering the back seat. We are talking in the same vein as Tobe Hooper's iconic "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" without that film's gravitas. Very down-and-dirty cinema but The Hills Have Eyes still works!

***

ON THE DVD: 'Anchor Bay's HD-mastered transfer of this Super 16 blow-up looks appropriately grainy - even harshly so at some points - throughout with very little edge enhancement. Fast movement is often indistinct in 'A'ze frame, but there is none of the smearing associated with DVNR. Besides the original mono track, DTS-ES and 5.1 EX are also included (the 2.0 surround option seems like overkill, though). Director Wes Craven and producer Peter Locke contribute an entertaining audio commentary and pop up again in the retrospective documentary, which also features actors Michael Berryman, Robert Houston, Susan Lanier, Janus Blythe, and Dee Wallace, as well as cinematographer Eric Saarinen. Also included is the hour-long AFI special "The Directors: The Films of Wes Craven" (AFI's hour-long George Romero special is featured on Anchor Bay's SEASON OF THE WITCH/THERE'S ALWAYS VANILLA disc). The special is available as a separate release (SEE HERE) as well. The film's alternate "happy" ending is also included (the feature's ending is somewhat abrupt, but it also suggests that good triumphs). Trailers, TV spots, still galleries, DVD-ROM content (including the original "Blood Relations" script in PDF), as well as a restoration demo round out the extras (I'm assuming that the Image Blu-ray will utilize the same HD master since the restoration demo is listed among the extra features).

 -Eric Cotenas

 



DVD Menus
(Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness Series) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT)


 

 

 

Extras

 

 

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness Series) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness Series) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness Series) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness Series) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness Series) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness Series) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness Series) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness Series) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness Series) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness Series) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness Series) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness Series) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Arrow Blu-ray

Sound:

Arrow Blu-ray

Extras: Arrow Blu-ray

 
Box Covers

 

 

 

 

    

Distribution

Anchor Bay Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

Image Entertainment (Midnight Madness)
Region 'A' -
Blu-ray
Arrow
Region FREE -
Blu-ray


 

 





 

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