Original: The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
Director: Alexandre Aja
Stars: Dan Byrd, Emilie de Ravin, Aaron Stanford, Kathleen Quinlan, Vinessa Shaw, Ted Levine, Michael Bailey Smith, Billy Drago, Robert Joy, Laura Ortiz, Desmond Askew
Unable to fight the remake urge, iconic horror filmmaker Wes Craven set forth to back a reboot of his 1977 flick The Hills Have Eyes in 2005, a dicey proposition that was thankfully handled in proper ways. The most important decision Craven and his colleagues made was to look overseas for possible directors; in France, they discovered director Alexandre Aja and his co-writer Gregory Levasseur, the duo behind Haute Tension (or High Tension), an excellent, gruesome, uncompromising feast of hard-R-rated carnage.
Giving Aja and Levasseur free reign to update The Hills Have Eyes, Craven opened the proverbial floodgates for a movie that's far better than his own. Not to mention, more brutal and horrific. Though it's still about a family being terrorized by deformed killers while stranded in a California desert, Aja's film doesn't operate with the same matter-of-factness and minimalism as Craven's; when the nastiness erupts in The Hills Have Eyes 2006, it's accompanied by stylish direction, a punishing electronic score, and a perversity that's somehow more meaner-spirited than that of the original.
Aja's final product is, in all, a real brutalizer, one punctuated by one of the decade's most disturbing sequences, set inside the family's trailer and involving both rape and a gun pointed at an infant's head.