I have been looking to doing something a little different on Minute by Minute while keeping with the tradition of (mostly) sticking with sequels, and 1985's Hills Have Eyes Part II is perfect. I had only seen the film once before and retained no real memory of it at all, unlike all of the other entries where I either knew the film quite well (or had watched it several times as a kid and thus my memory would be jogged as I went through it). But no such luck here, I honestly had no idea what was going on during most of the minutes.
Unless, of course, it happened to be footage from the first movie. The thing almost anyone who has ever seen this movie will remember first and foremost is that it has some lengthy flashbacks to the events of the superior first film, including one that is in the mind of the damn dog that serves as one of this sequel's three returning characters. The new plot, based on what little I remember, concerns a group of bike racers going into the desert to try out some fuel created by Bobby (the first film's hero), and running afoul of Pluto (Michael Berryman, apparently not dead despite being killed in the first) and Reaper, Jupiter's brother who wasn't mentioned before (in fact they specifically say he did NOT have a brother in the first film). And then it pretty much just follows the pattern of an '80s slasher instead of the survival horror approach of the first.
So let's see what else I can remember!
00:00 A text crawl starting with "The Following Film Is Based On Fact." I suspect that is a lie.
01:00 The title! A MxM first?
02:00 Shot of a hill (no eyes) in between titles.
03:00 Bobby telling his story. This was a staple of a lot of horror sequels, with a surviving character bringing us up to speed. Hills is one of the few to keep doing it throughout the first half - oddly enough, fellow MxM entry Silent Night Deadly Night 2 is one of the other exceptions.
04:00 Flashback of someone burning.
05:00 Flashback of the first film's climax, I believe. Leave some flashbacks for the dog!
06:00 Closeup of the nerdiest looking shrink ever. Wes Craven has a degree in psychology; you'd think he'd cast someone more dashing to represent his fellow man.
07:00 Shrink looking out the window after Bobby leaves.
08:00 A dude in a mask climbing through a window.
09:00 Masked dude, now unmasked, talking to the girl (who is blind) that he was trying to scare. So it was her boyfriend climbing through her window - a Craven trademark!
10:00 A guy spinning another guy around on his shoulders.
11:00 The blind girl, Cass, smiling.
12:00 A girl yelling about cheating.
13:00 A flashback to part 1, with a girl screaming.
14:00 A red bus pulling out.
15:00 Same red bus, now on the road. This is a slow burn, I guess.
16:00 A lady sleeping on the bus.
17:00 Flashback! This might be one of the dog's, I forget. But it's the third (at least) set, which is a bit troubling.
18:00 Cass and the girl that was sleeping at 16:00 are chatting.
19:00 Dude in a trucker hat reading a newspaper. I shall name him Trucker Hat.
20:00 A girl rocking some aviator sunglasses!
21:00 More bus. The dude driving is Roy, played by Kevin Spirtas, who went on to be the male lead in Friday the 13th Part VII: A New Blood, aka the shittiest one of the Paramount era (not up for debate - don't try to claim it's Manhattan. Ignore the misleading title and you'll realize it's a faster paced, vastly more entertaining entry).
22:00 The group!
23:00 Trucker Hat talking about chewing gum. Starting to remember why I can't remember anything about this movie.
24:00 Fittingly, a guy yawning.
25:00 Curly haired girl talking.
26:00 Cass sitting at the door to the bus.
27:00 Roy and another girl poking around a shed. It's supposedly the same area, but it feels a lot more developed this time around.
28:00 Curly haired girl smells a raccoon. Sorry, guys - this might be the least interesting MxM yet.
29:00 The dog (Beast) getting put in the bus, presumably being punished for having too many flashbacks.
30:00 Curly haired girl looks at a ladder. Would you believe that this film's box office gross was so insignificant that it went unreported?
31:00 Something appears to have happened, as ominous music is playing over a fade to a "later on" type shot. Sorry I missed it.
33:00 Pluto rolling around the ground. At least he's having fun.
34:00 Some Andy Samberg looking dude, also with giant sunglasses.
35:00 More dudes in sunglasses. Bonus Yamaha product placement.
36:00 Well whatever might have happened a few minutes ago couldn't have been too serious, because three of them are dirt bike racing.
37:00 Still racing.
38:00 Pluto running from one of the kids. Harry Manfredini's score is lifted wholesale from any Friday the 13th chase scene here, because he's not only the worst composer of all time, but also the laziest.
39:00 One of the dudes looking for Roy. I should at least try to figure out who's who for the sake of the readers who actually remember this damn movie.
40:00 Same dude still looking around. I suddenly want to buy Yamaha products!
41:00 Roy holding a knife to Pluto's throat.
42:00 A Hill that actually kind of DOES Have Eyes, as there's a skull embedded into it.
43:00 Roy still has Berryman as a hostage, somehow. When did he turn into such a pushover? I mean, I get why they'd want to bring him back; he was literally the poster boy for the first film, and Berryman is one of the nicest guys of the "icons" so I'm all for giving him a role even when it made no sense, but they did a piss-poor job of reviving him. This should have been the movie that turned Pluto into another Jason or Michael, and instead Wes barely uses him for anything.
44:00 All of the non racers standing around the bus, chatting.
45:00 The moon. I wish vampires were circling it.
46:00 Now it's dark, but they're still talking like it was 44:00 or something.
47:00 Ah, another Craven staple - the homemade booby trap. They have a bucket above the door, I guess it's meant as a prank and not self-defense. At one point Wes actually admitted he had booby traps in too many of his films, which is very true: Last House, Hills 1 and 2, Nightmare On Elm Street, People Under The Stairs, Serpent & The Rainbow...
48:00 Two of the "heroes" are looking for tools. In this movie that's pretty much a Michael Bay-esque action extravaganza.
49:00 Beast barking. Probably at nothing.
50:00 Cass smiling.
51:00 Two girls walking in a shot so dark the camera might as well be off. Then again the camera might as well have been off even during the well lit shots.
52:00 Two (?) people (?) walking (?) in the (you guessed it) dark.
53:00 Some folks yelling at something off-screen. Could this movie finally be entering the "something happens" phase?
54:00 Cass feeling her away around a cabin.
55:00 Would you believe that she's still doing that?
56:00 Another underlit scene of people talking.
57:00 The bus driving away.
58:00 Trucker Cap is wandering around, but his signature trucker cap is gone. Character development!
59:00 The runner-up heroine I guess, wandering around. Fact: I now have the word "wandering" on my clipboard.
1:00:00 Beast running out of the bus.
1:01:00 No idea what this is but it's the most visually interesting shot I've seen yet.
1:02:00 Cass, doing her usual (no)thing, but now in the bus.
1:03:00 Why do I do this to myself? Or to you?
1:04:00 A POV shot straight out of Friday the 13th, complete with a cabin, the woods (in the desert?) and music written by a man who probably never saw the movie.
1:05:00 A door. Hey at least it's something different.
1:06:00 The curly haired girl pleading with Pluto, and now, 66 minutes in, I have my first real recollection about the movie - curly haired girl is Ruby from the first Hills, now "reformed." It's an interesting idea, but the fact that she doesn't warn her friends about her Uncle Cannibal is kind of a dick move.
1:07:00 Pluto making fun of Beast. Hey, I don't see YOU having any flashbacks...
1:08:00 Beast licking an injured Roy.
1:09:00 See: 54:00, 55:00, 1:02:00...
1:10:00 Rather than detail the obvious, and since Manfredini's score is again ripped straight from his Friday cues, why didn't they ever have a blind or deaf character in one of the Fridays? Might have made for an interesting chase - and everyone loved the wheelchair guy in Part 2.
1:11:00 Ctrl + V "Wandering"
1:12:00 Well now Cass is climbing a ladder, so this counts as progress.
1:13:00 Now she's hiding!
1:14:00 Now she's feeling her way over... a corpse? Can't tell. At any rate this is the most she has done in the entire movie, far as I can tell.
1:15:00 She's touching some bloody stumps, just as slowly as she does everything else. The actress isn't bad, to be fair... but this is just torture.
1:16:00 Reaper standing menacingly. So is everyone else dead? Did everything of note happen in quick scenes that took place entirely between the minute marks?
1:17:00 Cass is descending a rope in some sort of shaft.
1:18:00 Cass and Roy talking next to a well.
1:19:00 Reaper once again standing around looking ready to kill someone. I know how you feel, brother.
1:20:00 Decent callback to the original film, with Reaper being tricked into trapping himself in what is about to be an inferno. But then again, this sort of stuff just continually reminds you at how much better the original film was. I don't want a rehash, and in some ways I can appreciate that they basically switch sub-genres here, but it's simply not a good slasher. So when you couple that with the fact that it seems to have been made by someone who never SAW the original film despite being the same writer/director, it's impossible to really defend on any level besides "kind of fun to watch with beer and friends." And there are far better options for that sort of thing.
1:22:00 Overhead shot of the bus blowing up.
1:23:00 The survivors sharing the obligatory "We made it!" laugh/cry moment. The audience presumably cheers that there won't be any more scenes of Cass wandering around.
1:24:00 Credit for the 2nd AD, one Tony Cecere. He's a pretty prolific stunt man who has worked with Craven on pretty much all of his films up to Scream 2, and also did stunts in Armageddon. Thus, a hero.
1:25:00 Cast credits, no names really worth noting other than James Whitworth as Jupiter - this would be his last credited film (he died of lung cancer a few years later) even though his entire role is flashback footage from the first.
1:26:00 Legal credits, including the very important 1984 copyright date. Even though this came out in 1985, it was shot before Wes directed Nightmare On Elm Street, so this wasn't the "step back" some assume - Nightmare was just a very giant step forward.
And that's it, the runtime is 1:26:24. No doubt any post credits scene would just be someone slowly wandering around while Harry Manfredini made his best (which would be any other composer's weakest) effort to make us think something scary was happening.
You may have noticed that the screenshots (taken from the out of print Image DVD) are full-frame - the film was just finally released in widescreen for the first time in the US, on both Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Redemption. Needless to say, I won't be double-dipping this one. Obviously it's just too slow of a film, with the kill scenes occurring too quickly to even catch PART of one. Even Craven has disowned it, so I think I'll just follow his lead.