1970s horror movies found a niche with nasty, murderous rural families. That can be attributed to “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” which is also the best. But the second-best was Wes Craven’s “The Hills Have Eyes” in 1977. The movie follows the Carter family as they make their way cross-country to California. There’s Big Bob and Ethel, the patriarch and his wife, and their children, including teen-age siblings Brenda and Bobby, oldest daughter Lynn, her husband Doug and their baby Katy.

Despite being warned by a creepy gas station attendant, the extended family ventures into the desert.

Along the way, the have an accident and are stuck. The Carters then are either hanging out in their camper or going for help. Before long, they encounter a dangerous nuclear-mutant family. Oh, and the crazies are inbred and cannibalistic, of course. The Carters finally lose it when the patriarch Big Bob is murdered and the youngest Carter, a baby, is kidnapped. For food, none the less.

Soon enough it’s family vs. family. The Carters decide to put up a fight to save what’s left of them. But the cannibal family won’t go down that easily. They’re hungry and bored. That’s a bad combo.

“The Hills Have Eyes” breaks a lot of the rules. First it puts a baby in danger. A dog dies. Then there’s a rape and incest. Wes Craven went all out early in his career. A lot of what we see in this version comes back in the less-superior 2006 remake.

“The Hills Have Eyes” 1977

Memorable Quote: “Baby’s fat. You fat. Fat and juicy.”

Best Scene: The dog’s revenge. There’s a great shot of just the dog’s eyes and you get this feeling the dog knows exactly what it has done. See clip below (at about 3:50)

Did you know? The dead dog used as a stand-in for the family’s slaughtered Alsatian ‘Beauty’, widely believed to be a dummy dog, was in fact a real (already dead) dog that director Wes Craven and producer Peter Locke had bought from the county sheriff’s department.

See the rest of the 31 Great Horror Movies.

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