"The lucky ones die first."A horror film by Wes Craven.A typical American family is on vacation and cut through the desert to save time, but end up stranded in the middle of it when their RV crashes. They are soon besieged by a family of cannibals.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.A sequel was released in 1984. There's also a remake, which was released in 2006.
This film has examples of:
- Anyone Can Die: Not even the pets were safe. The director talked about possibly killing off the baby, only for the crew to threaten to leave if this was done
- Big Bad: Papa Jupiter and his children. Ruby does a Heel–Face Turn.
- Chekhov's Gun: Ethel won't stop talking about rattlesnakes. Guess what kills Mars.
- Deadly Road Trip: The premise.
- 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: Attempted with a noose, only to be foiled and subsequently replaced with a worse death.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: The two German Shepherds that characters have with them.
- Fade to White: The film fades to red as Doug violently kills the remaining cannibal.
- Feuding Families: On this side, the civilized family. On this side, the cannibal clan. Winner takes all. Loser is dinner.
- Genius Bruiser: Okay, "genius" may be going a bit far, but Jupiter and his boys are far more intelligent than most slasher movie villains. They keep a watch on the land surrounding their home, they communicate with walkie-talkies, they lay traps and provide distractions when they attack the trailer by setting Big Bob on fire and try dividing their prey before they attack.
- Hand Cannon: Big Bob's weapon of choice
- Heroic Dog: Beast, one of the German Shepherds.
- Hollywood CB:Ethel: Testing, testing... Maypole, maypole... This is Mama Bear Carter calling, do any of your bears have your ears up?... Gosh, I can't seem to remember how this works.Lynne: It's "mayday", mom, not "maypole".
- I'm a Humanitarian: "I wanna eat the baby!"
- Kick the Dog: Poor Beauty...
- Kill It with Fire: The villains crucify Big Bob, and set him on fire.
- Mutants: Papa Jupiter was twenty pounds at birth and the size of his father at the age of ten. His children (save for Ruby) are just as freaky.
- Offing the Offspring: Jupiter's father tried to do this to him when he murdered his mother and sister as a boy. He failed.
- Please Don't Leave Me: Doug sobs this when he finds his wife's body.
- Red Right Hand: Papa Jupiter's split nose, which he got when his father tried to kill him with a tire iron.
- Take That!: The torn poster for Jaws in the background, essentially the film marking its territory as being scarier than that one. Sam Raimi took some offense to this and featured a similarly torn poster for Hills in The Evil Dead (1981), which began a long running feud between the two directors referencing each other's films.
- Talking to the Dead: 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.
- 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.
- Town with a Dark Secret: Or rather, "desert area with a dark secret", that being the cannibals.