Cravens collaborate for ‘Hills Have Eyes’ sequel

Ryan Haidet

March brings about many things for people to look forward to. March Madness, the first touch of spring and, this year, another round of mutant mayhem.

The terrors brought about by a group of cannibalistic creatures hits theaters tomorrow when The Hills Have Eyes 2 breaks loose.

Last year’s remake of the 1977 classic, The Hills Have Eyes, scared up more than $40 million at the box office following its March release. A sequel was inevitable.

Having written and directed the original and 1985 sequel, horror master Wes Craven has returned to the Hills to pen the sequel’s script — bringing his son on the terrifying journey as a writing partner.

This terror team took questions on a conference call last week.

When asked what it was like working together, Wes, a soft-spoken 67-year-old Cleveland native, laughingly passed it on to his son Jonathan.

“It was great,” Jonathan said. “You know we didn’t have a lot of time. I’ve worked with writing partners before and weirdly I’ve never had a smoother writing experience. We found an idea we were very excited about and we sat in a room for a month.”

The father-son relationship is one filled with witty humor and it’s obvious they like making macabre jokes off one another.

“The walls were covered in blood,” Jonathan said of the hotel room where they wrote the script together.

“Mostly his blood,” Wes laughingly interjected.

“From what we were writing we got along great and had a great time,” Jonathan continued. “Writing scary (material), you have to laugh.”

Wes, known for his various works in the horror genre including, A Nightmare on Elm Street, the Scream trilogy, The Serpent and the Rainbow and Red Eye, continues the terror trail he’s been involved with since he wrote and directed The Last House on the Left in 1972.

Fangoria magazine’s February edition reported this sequel will be about the cousins of the hill-dwellers from last year’s remake who live in a maze-like mine. Armed with all sorts of weapons, which would seem to give them a leg up, the National Guard is sent in to rid the hills of the cannibalistic creatures. Was this an attempt to reflect the current war?

“Well I think, you know, there is an obvious parallel — not one we sat down to totally exploit,” Wes said.

“I don’t think we set out to do something political, it was just hard to not make that parallel,” Jonathan added.

This sequel is a direct follow-up to last year’s feature.

“Last year’s story was about a family who was way out of their element,” Jonathan said. “You had a baby who was taken and members of a family who were threatened and killed.

“This year’s movie is more about the family of a small military unit,” Jonathan said. “In this one, there’s people that you care about, but the horror is also ratcheted up considerably. It’s just sort of relentless. They’re two different sorts of families and this one takes it up a notch in terms of horror.”

The Cravens both said they think anybody who likes horror will enjoy this installment.

“This film is different as it’s not around home life,” Wes said. “It’s a different kind of family.”

“It’s brutal and direct and I think the people who like horror, you know, that’s our audience — who like horror with dark humor,” Jonathan added.

They were pleased the film is being released under 20th Century Fox’s new horror genre film label, Fox Atomic, which released Turistas last year.

“I think it’s great,” Jonathan said. “They’re a genre-driven division. They’re doing a great job; they’re super enthusiastic. My experience with them has been amazing.”

As with the last edition, the film was shot partially in the hills of Morocco.

“We did about half on location in the Moroccan hills, which are very old jagged, rocky, ominous hills,” Jonathan said.

He said cobras and scorpions were everywhere, so a man was hired on set to catch them. The man would take his captive critters and place them in a cardboard box.

“We could walk over and see what he caught that day,” Jonathan said. “Then he would sell them to snake charmers for cash. He was from a small village — this may or may not be true — it’s a small village where they actually expose the kids to snake venom at a young age so they develop immunity to it.”

Diversity also played a major role in filming.

“We had people from 21, 22, 23 different countries working on the film,” Jonathan continued. “It was really very tough. Definitely an adventure — long days, tough terrain. It was a battle.”

Although proving to be extremely lucrative in the past years, the horror genre has been criticized for turning out loads of remakes and sequels leaving horror fans drooling for original ideas. Wes doesn’t seem worried.

“Well I think that thankfully they’ve passed the PG-13 remake of Japanese ghost stories,” Wes said. “I think we’re back to the very hard-hitting, bare-knuckle sort of horror film.”

In his true tradition in horror, The Hills Have Eyes 2 has been rated R.

As far as sequels are concerned, the rumor mill is churning that another A Nightmare on Elm Street is in the works.

“Damn that man, he haunts me,” Wes said of the Freddy Krueger character. “I know nothing of it. It’s owned by New Line Cinema and basically they can do what they want.”

With horror films filling their resumes, would that make evil hereditary? Had Wes passed something on to Jonathan?

“Are you calling us evil?” Jonathan asked.

“Or heretics?” Wes asked.

“Yes, evil is hereditary,” Jonathan joked.

“It goes back a long, long time in our family,” said Wes, joking that Jack the Ripper, among other famous murderers, was a member of his family.

Having undertaken various stories and creating horror icons, what is next for Wes?

“The Donald Trump story,” Wes laughed. “Mostly he just kills people with his hair.”

Contact ALL correspondent Ryan Haidet at [email protected].