They wanted to see something different, but something different saw them first!
— Trailer for '77 version
The lucky ones die first.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 High 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.
— Tagline to both the original and the remake
The films contain examples of:
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The original 1977 film
- 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.
- Gratuitous Rape: A very shoddily done example that could have easily been cut out without changing a thing.
- 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.
- Please Don't Leave Me: Doug sobs this when he finds his wife's body.
- Red Right Hand: Papa Jupiter's split nose.
- 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.
The 1984 sequel
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Happens to Ruby. She dies when she... hits her head on a rock.
- Flashback: Large portions of the film is made out of footage from the original to pad out time. There's even a scene of a dog getting one, for goodness sakes.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Happens to Ruby, making the ending of the first something of a Shoot the Shaggy Dog.
The 2006 remake
- Adaptation Distillation: Oddly, the film is a case of both this and Adaptation Expansion. While it 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.
- Adaptation Name Change: In the original film, Doug's last name was Wood. In here, it's Bukowski, which is a Polish name which literally means "of the beech [tree]". Thus in a way he is still called "Wood".
- Anyone Can Die: The promotional comic for the film 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: Subverted, Lizard stops Pluto from raping Brenda but Lizard goes through with it
- Ax-Crazy: Lizard, Pluto and Papa Jupiter.
- Bald of Evil: Pluto
- Big Bad: Papa Jupiter and his children. Ruby does a Heel–Face Turn.
- Chekhov's Gun: Apig seen at the gas station at the start of the film. Ruby switches it with the baby and makes a break for it
- Creepy Gas Station Attendant: 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 with a shothun in an outhouse.
- Crucified Hero Shot: Literally, in both. And on a Joshua tree, no less.
- Danger Takes a Backseat: "Daaaaddy..."
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Doug (And his baby, for that matter) in the 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.
- Flanderization: The mutants, though particularly Pluto are now more monstrous looking.
- Giant Mook: Pluto.
- It Runs in the Family: Granted, because of the fallout there's no choice in the matter.
- Kill 'em All: This was the mutants' plan in the original, in here, it becomes Doug's.
- Kill It with Fire: Big Bob's fate, combined with crucifixion.
- Mutants: In the original film, 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.
- Papa Wolf: Doug
- Red Right Hand: Papa Jupiter was going to have a parasitic twin growing from his torso, but it didn't make the final cut.
- 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.
- Villainous Breakdown: Pluto suffers this when Lizard avoids him to rape Brenda.
- The Worf Effect: Big Bob (played by Ted Levine who is famous for playing tough guys) dies first and without putting up much of a fight.
The 2007 sequel
- Attempted Rape: In a Call Back to the first movie, Chameleon captures and attempts to rape Missy, but Papa Hades stops him - so he can rape her himself.
- Letch attacks Napoleon and attempts to rape Amber, before being incapacitated by Napoleon stabbing him in the foot. Amber then proceeds to stab him to death a bayonet.
- Ax-Crazy: Letch, who even kills Dr.Foster with an actual axe at the beginning of the movie. Also Stabber, true to his name.
- Bald of Evil: Papa Hades, Chameleon, Letch, and Grabber.
- Cannibal Clan: The mutants.
- Child by Rape: The baby born in the opening scene. Papa Hades' three other sons Chameleon, Letch, and Hansel more than likely are, too.
- Dwindling Party: As the soldiers, and later the mutants get picked off one by one.
- Infant Immortality: Averted in the opening scene.
- No Woman's Land: The Hills are a truly crappy place to be a woman. Presumably this is why there are no female mutants; more than likely they all died from the males' mistreatment, or were killed when the males considered them no longer useful for breeding.
- Rape as Drama: Missy's brutal rape at the hands of Papa Hades.
- Screaming Birth: An incredibly graphic and gory example in very first scene of the movie, with an unnamed blonde woman giving birth to Papa Hades' baby. Understandable, as she's naked and tied up to a bed inside a cave, bruised and bloodied from having been imprisoned and beaten for months.
- The Quiet One: Letch and Stabber never speak at all, and the others only have a small handful of lines (largely consisting of one-word sentences). Justified, as someone who has spent their entire life inside an abandoned mine in the wilderness is obviously not going to be very articulate.
- Shout-Out: Sarge keeps calling the Napoleon, who's a disgrace in his eyes, by the name "Gomer Pyle".
- Stalker with a Test Tube: The mutants want to abduct Missy and Amber, the only women in the group, in order to rape and impregnate them and raise their numbers.
- Two Girls to a Team: Missy and Amber.
- Would Hit a Girl: Even though they desire women for breeding, the mutants have no problem with beating and torturing them, or killing them the second they become displeased with them.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: After the captive woman in the opening scene gives birth to a stillborn baby, an enraged Papa Hades kills her with a rock, evidently concluding that she won't be able to produce any healthy mutant babies.