Wes Craven on "The Hills Have Eyes"

Wes Craven on "The Hills Have Eyes"
The producer talks about the reenvisioning of his own 1977 classic.
Updated: 03-11-2006

Written By: Staci Layne Wilson

Photo: Enzo Giobbé / StarLens.com




Although writer/director Alexandre Aja was allowed complete creative freedom on his remake of Wes Craven's landmark 1977 horror film The Hills Have Eyes, Craven did act as producer and offered some notes on the script.


Why the remake of The Hills Have Eyes now? "It's one of two movies I co-own with the producers," Craven says. "Everything else has been for hire, or I've sold. This is something I could control and guarantee it was the way I wanted.  Artistically, it made sense. 


"This is an old piece of material that has a good set of legs, and we just wanted see what would happen. Once we had the concept, over the years we asked people to come up with something [to add a new twist]. And they never did. Alex [and his partner, Grégory Levasseur] made it original enough to feel like there was something really there.  I’d seen Alex's first film, High Tension, and thought here was a real filmmaker."

As for the trend towards remakes and sadistic, torture-based horror (Hills fills both bills), Craven jokes, "It's bad, horrible. Disgusting. Those filmmakers should be taken out and shot… then we’d have less competition!"


"It sort of follows its own patterns," he says of the trend. "It occurs to me we are in very violent times in a way that is quite personal. We're in a war – you can turn on the TV and see someone beheaded in front of you.  These issues are germane. That may be part of it."

Some fans may not realize that The Hills Have Eyes is loosely based on a true story. "Originally, it came form an article I saw in the New York library about the Sawney Beane Family. In the 1700s in Scotland I believe, there was an area that had road running through it from Scotland, and people thought it was haunted because people kept disappearing from that road. The story came out when a couple was attacked by these wild looking people, and one got away.  He knew someone in the court, and they sent out an expedition which resulted in finding a cave along the English Channel.


"A dog actually found it. A whole gaggle of these people. Naked, wild and feral.  And the [authorities] did the most excruciating things to them. I responded to the irony of it, of people who should be nice and civilized doing horrible things. And horrible people having a nice side to them, too."

As for what surprised Craven about the remake, he says, "I didn’t expect it to be so beautiful. I later used the cinematographer on something I recently did in Paris. It has a composition to it that I found quite striking.  On our original shoot, I think we had a dolly for one day," he laughs. "The mysteriousness of the test village was sort of haunting, too.  I liked that."

The fact that it's a remake doesn't faze him. "I was having a conversation with someone the other day, and I told them the most famous version of The Maltese Falcon is a remake, third time they did it.  I think it's a matter of the film is good and if it has something that there is different and fresh about it."


As for the ratings board, there was a lot of back-and-forth the get the R-rating. What can't you show? "You can’t show a Republican being killed," Craven laughs. "That’s forbidden. You can't do anything bad to the flag. You can't use the word bomb in some ways."


But some movies seem to get by with an awful lot, and still get the R. "We had the same reaction when we came back from seeing Hostel," he says. "As far as I can understand it, it’s an organization made up of a very few group of people. There are no set standards, nothing that they will tell you that will let you [know what's wrong] with your cut. They just send it back. This has happened to me on every film that I’ve made. That first scene in Scream where the killers stab each other, so they look like victims. They're bleeding and everything. Basically the ratings board saw that and they flipped out. Bob Weinstein to his eternal credit called up and said, 'it’s a spoof.'  And they said, 'Oh, OK,' and we got an R."

As for his own directing career, Craven says he is not opposed to returning to horror (though he's had more success lately in other genres). He was interested in doing the remake of Pulse, but that didn't happen. "It’s not like I don’t want to do one," he says. "I’ve always liked horror. But I don’t like unoriginal horror just as much as I don’t like unoriginal romantic comedies. [For instance] 28 Days Later was a dumb horror movie, except that it was brilliantly directed."


Look for Craven's work as a producer in the upcoming The Breed, and for his directing in the anthology film, Paris, je t'aime.


= = =

Read our review of The Hills Have Eyes (2006) here.


Latest User Comments: