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This article covers both the '77 and '06 version of The Hills Have Eyes.'77 film made by Wes Craven, '06 by French director Alexandre Aja, who is also responsible for Haute Tension.A typical American family is on vacation and, depending on the version, either cut through the desert to save time or for the trip itself. On the way, they break down thanks to sabotage and are stranded in the middle of the desert and are terrorized by a family who are mutated from nuclear fallout by government testing in the area. Though, ironically, they hate the people they rely on to survive, and lecture their victims before killing them about how it's their fault, which is terrifying and sadistic.It can be seen as a statement on what people will do to survive and how the family unit can be corrupted, or a hardcore Gorn flick with some genuinely disturbing images.The two versions are almost identical, and have both spawned a sequel each... both of which are almost entirely ignored by fans. See Sequelitis for the reasons.There is a Ukranian film with a similiar plot.
The films contain examples of:
AdaptationDistillation/AdaptationExpansion: Oddly, the remake is a case of both. While Aja's 2006 film adds an extended sequence in a nuclear testing town and adds considerable depth to the characters of the Carter family, it also greatly dials back and Flanderizes the mutant characters, who barely have any dialogue, and are portrayed almost entirely as soulless monsters, besides Ruby. Also, it reduces the role of Fred, the gas-station man.
Anyone Can Die: Not even the pets were safe. In the original the director talked about possibly killing off the baby, only for the crew to threaten to leave if this was done
The remake's promotional comic plays this trope shockingly straight when Doug, the undisputed walking badass Papa Wolf of a man, and his baby both bite the dust. This was most likely done in order to demonstrate how much the new family does not fuck around. See below for further complaining on the subject and Canon Discontinuity for peace of mind.
Attempted Rape: The "stopped violently" part of this trope is acted upon by the rapist on the victim's mother... yeah.
Only in the remake. In the original there is no attempted.
Creepy Gas Station Attendant: In the remake he sends travelers in the direction of the mutants, and in exchange is given any valuables the victims had on them. By the events of the film, years of guilt have caught up with him, and he commits suicide by blowing his brains out in an outhouse.
Decoy Protagonist: Big Bob dies first. Even his son Bobby, who survives, becomes a supporting character. It is the son-in-law, Doug, the bespectacled, physically relatively weaker one who is the real Hero.
Driven to Suicide: Via shotgun (Remake Only). Attempted in the original with a noose, only to be foiled and subsequently replaced with a worse death
Dropped a Bridge on Him: Doug (And his baby, for that matter) in the remake's comic tie-in/prequel. Not perfectly fitting of this trope, but they may as well have killed him off in the opening panels. It's made all the more frustrating to witness when considering the fact that the last time we saw him, he was practically a death machine who could probably vaporize all of them by simply dropping his pants.
Ruby in the original sequel. She dies when she... hits her head on a rock.
Mutants: In the original, the mutation of Papa Jupiter and his children is only subtly hinted to be the result of fallout (though casting Michael Berryman as Pluto is a rather... strong hint); in the remake, it's outright stated.
Talking to the Dead: In the original, Papa Jupiter talks about how his family will devour the outsiders to Big Bob's severed head.
Theme Naming: All of the males in the original's cannibal family are named after planets; Ruby, the only female child, is the odd one out and the one who makes a Heel-Face Turn.
Took a Level in Badass: Doug Bukowski, the bespectacled pacifist telecommunications worker who, near the end of the movie, goes on a bloody rampage through the hideout of cannibalistic mutants to save his baby daughter.
The last 30 minutes of the remake is pretty much pure, unfiltered badass.
Too Dumb to Live: The family that gets caught. They are warned to stay on the main road. What do they do? Go off it almost immediately.