Feature: Jonathan and Wes Craven talk Hills Have Eyes II
Note: This article was originally posted in Technician on March 21, 2007.
Father and son team up on horror film
Thirty years after the release of a remake of his 1977 horror film The Hills Have Eyes, Wes Craven teamed up with his son, Jonathan, in writing a sequel to the 2006 remake. The Hills Have Eyes II which will be released into theaters this weekend, follows a group of military trainees who are attacked by mutants in the desert.
"It was great. I've never had a smoother writing experience," Jonathan said. "We sat in a room for a month and pounded out a first draft. We got along great and had a great time."
Though both Cravens had writing experience, this was the first time they had teamed up and collaborated on a project.
"We could have conversations about being a father, which was a new thing for us. It was two writers and two fathers writing together," Wes said.
As one of the godfathers of the horror genre, responsible for films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, Wes said there are only a few rules he tries to follow when writing and directing his movies.
"The basic questions I try to ask are, 'Would I like to watch this?' and 'Have you already seen a movie like this?'" Wes said. "Also, don't kill the cameraman."
Though he has been displeased with some of the recent trends in the horror films, he said he feels that movie studios are finally back on the right track in regards to the genre.
"Thankfully they've gotten past the PG-13 remakes of Japanese horror movies," Wes said. "I think we're back to very hard-hitting horror films. It's very in-your-face sort of horror because it's so horrific."
His son agreed, and said he felt that this new film fits perfectly within that category of horror.
"This is sort of post-postmodern horror. It's just kind of back to the basic sincerity of horror filmmaking. It's brutal and direct," Jonathan said. "I think people that like horror with dark humor will like this movie."
Though The Hills Have Eyes II follows a similar premise to the first in that people are being attacked by cannibalistic mutants, there was a distinct difference in the characterization of the protagonists.
"The first one was about a family who was way out of their element. You had a baby who was taken and members of the family who were threatened and killed," said Jonathan. "This year's movie is more about the family of a small military unit. They're two different sorts of families, and this one takes it up a notch in terms of horror."
Focusing the film on a group of soldiers also brings up a interesting thematic difference with the previous film. Could something like The Hills Have Eyes II be viewed as a political statement against the war in Iraq?
"There is an obvious parallel," Wes said. "However, I don't think anyone wanted to make a film that was political, but just explore the idea of people forced into a situation that they're unprepared for and untrained for."
The two writers also hinted that there might be more films following this group of mutants in the future.
"We hope there will be a third," Wes said.