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Talk to Me, The Outwaters, The Hills Have Eyes (1 and 2), Bloodlust: Subspecies III, and Howling IV
Horror Bulletin Weekly Newsletter #247
This week, We’ll look at the brand-new “Talk to Me” and “The Outwaters” from 2023. For our oldies, we’ll discuss the original version of “The Hills Have Eyes” (1977), and “Bloodlust: Subspecies III” from 1994. Good stuff, mostly, with only one stinker. Which one will it be?
In addition, for the weekly email newsletter, we also reviewed:
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The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1984)
Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988)
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Here. We. Go!
Talk to Me (2023)
Directed by Danny Philippou, Michael Philippou
Written by Danny Philippou, Bill Hinzman, Daley Pearson
Stars Sophia Wilde, Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Oris Dhanji
Run Time: 1 Hour, 35 Minutes
Spoiler Free Judgement Zone
This was well-acted and directed, with excellent special effects. It takes the “it’s dangerous to play with a Ouija board” idea to a whole other level. We liked it a lot.
Cole comes to the big party looking for his brother Duckett and ends up breaking down the door to get into the room he locked himself in. Duckett then stabs his brother and then stabs himself; the party’s over. Credits roll.
Mia goes to a funeral and talks to her aunt. Riley calls for her to come pick him up. They drive along but stop when they see a dying kangaroo along the side of the road. Riley wants to put it out of its misery, but Mia drives on. They go home and tell Jade what happened. Sue comes home; she’s Jade and Riley’s mother.
Later that evening, Mia, Jade, and Riley “sneak” out. They watch a video of a possessed kid on their phone. They go to a party at Joss’s house, but Mia’s not comfortable there. Daniel, Jade’s boyfriend, shows up.
It’s time for a party game, and Mia volunteers to be “it.” Hayley explains the rule, “She cannot let it in for more than ninety seconds, or it’ll stay.” They bring out a mummified hand, and Mia touches it. She says, “Talk to me,” followed by “I let you in.” She sees a dead man in front of her, and the ritual allows her to be possessed. Everyone laughs as weird things happen, and Mia’s eyes turn black. As ninety seconds approaches, she won’t let go of the hand, and things get weird(er).
Mia wakes up. “That was amazing!” Later, at home, Riley admits the hand game scared him. Mia tells him how her mother killed herself with sleeping pills.
The next morning, Jade tells Hayley she wants a turn with the hand tonight. Sue tries to sniff out the hint of a party, and she’s really persistent about it. They all deny that there’s a party.
That night, at the party, it’s Daniel’s turn at the hand. They talk about the origin of the hand, but it’s not clear what it is. Daniel takes the hand, says the words, and immediately gets creepy. The spirit makes it clear that Daniel likes Mia more than Jade, which doesn’t go over well, and he touches himself embarrassingly. When the time is up, Daniel insists they delete the recorded footage, but a couple of the friends refuse, thinking it is hilarious.
It’s all very intense, but afterward, they all take a turn, and it’s clear that none of them are faking it. It’s all… fun?
Riley wants a turn, but he’s awfully young. Jade doesn’t approve, but the others pressure them into it. Jade leaves in a huff, and the others let the kid try it. The spirit who possesses him says it's Mia’s mother, apologizing to her for killing herself. Then, the spirit seems to change. He then starts beating his head on the table and tries to pull his own eyeball out.
There’s blood everywhere, and Mia’s in shock. The police come and question everybody, but they don’t mention the hand. Mia goes to stay at her dad’s house, and she still has the hand. Riley’s in the hospital, and he’s a real mess. Sue and Jade blame Mia; Jade knows what happened, but Sue thinks Mia gave Riley drugs. Mia starts seeing her mother in reflections.
Mia talks to Daniel about her mother and the possession experience, and they end up spending the night together. Mia sees a dead woman’s ghost crawling across the floor of her bedroom who starts sucking on Daniel’s toes. Daniel wakes up, and it’s Mia who’s working his toes.
Mia starts hitting herself; is she going crazy like her mother? She tries the hand again, alone. She sees her mother, who denies trying to kill herself on purpose. She also says that Riley needs help.
Meanwhile, at the hospital, Riley is really messed up and unresponsive. When he wakes up, he’s clearly still possessed, doing more head damage to himself.
Joss, Haley, and the gang talk about Riley; the police saw their videos and know it wasn’t drugs. Mia asks them if they’ve been seeing stuff, but it’s just her. Joss admits he got the hand from Duckett, the kid who killed himself in the opening. The whole group goes to see Cole, who has recovered from being stabbed. Cole says to give it time, and the spirit will eventually leave the body.
Mia wants to do the thing with Riley again, but this time, they need to be sure to blow the candle out; they didn’t do that last time. Jade, Daniel, and Mia go to Riley’s hospital room to try it. They light the candle and put Riley’s hand on the stone hand, but Riley can’t say the words anymore.
Mia takes the hand and says the words, hoping to “channel” Riley. A little girl appears and offers to take Mia to him. Mia sees where Riley is, and it’s pretty terrible. “They’re hurting him, and they’re never going to stop!”
Mia’s father reads her something that her mother wrote before she died; it’s a suicide note. Mia denies it’s real because her mother’s ghost told her she didn’t do it. Actually, the ghost appears right there and says, “It’s not true. He’s lying. That’s not your dad. That’s not Max. They’re imitating him.” A false Max attacks her, which may be real or in her mind, and it vanishes just as the real Max gets there. Mia ends up stabbing her real father.
Mia now believes the only way to help Riley is to kill him. She lures Jade away from the hospital and goes into his room, where Sue is still there. Sue knows there were no drugs, and she doesn’t blame Mia anymore. She asks for a minute alone with Riley, and then an old woman appears in his place. “You can’t take him, he’s ours.”
Jade finds Max at his house, bleeding out. She calls Sue, but both Mia and Riley have vanished. Mia’s pushing Riley’s wheelchair toward the busy roadway. Mia’s dead mother tells her that she’s doing the right thing. Mia jumps out front of traffic instead.
Mia wakes up in a nightmare world. She opens her eyes and sees some guy holding her hand. “I let you in,” he says. She has become one of the spirits.
The acting is excellent all around. The story itself is unique, as far as I know; it’s a really good extension of the usual possession trope. In the middle, it leans a little too much on the “Is she crazy, or is it real?” trope. We really aren’t quite sure until the end. Although it’s clear that something is really happening at the party, we don’t know for sure about all the after-effects.
It’s really good.
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
Directed by Wes Craven
Written by Wes Craven
Stars Susan Lanier, Robert Houston, John Steadman
Run Time: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
No matter how messed up you think your family is, they probably aren’t as bad as these folks who live in the hills. When another family traveling through gains their attention, a battle ensues, and it’s ugly. Still, it’s a pretty good movie that has held up well.
We open at a gas station in the desert. Fred accuses Ruby of her family robbing a military PX. He says he doesn’t have anything left to trade them, no food. Ruby asks to leave with him. He asks if Jupiter or the rest of the pack knows that she wants out.
A family stops by for gas with their camper. Big Bob is a retired detective, and his wife wants to see the old shut-down silver mine. Fred warns them not to go that way; they need to get back on the main road.
Suddenly, Fred’s truck explodes, and he pulls out his pistol. “There’ll be hell to pay now.” We hear Pluto call his mother and ask about a car with a camper heading their way. They pass a sign saying they’re in a military testing area. Big Bob drives too fast and runs off the road.
Big Bob blames his wife’s map reading for their accident. They all get out and talk for a bit, but we can see that they’re being watched from afar. Their axle is broken, so they’ll have to walk to civilization. Both Big Bob and Bobby have guns, and they have two big German Shepherds, so they aren’t afraid of wildlife.
The family split up. Big Bob heads back the way they came, and Doug heads further on down the road. The women-folk remain behind with Bobby as a guard.
Beauty, the dog, runs off with Bobby in pursuit. The dog vanishes with a squeal, and Bobby runs in terror of whatever did it, falling down the rocky hill.
Lynne gets on the CB and calls for help, but she only gets heavy breathing as a response. Brenda takes the other dog, Beast, out looking for Bobby after nightfall. She finds Bobby, and they go back to camp.
Big Bob does make it back to Fred’s place and picks up the phone, but it immediately goes dead. He catches Fred trying to kill himself, but Fred says Bob’s family is in great danger. Fred talks about his mutant son, who came out so big that he tore his mother in half. He abandoned his son out in the desert years ago. His son raised devil-mutant children of his own—there’s a whole mutant family out there now.
Out of the blue, a wild man grabs Fred, pulls him out the window, and beats him to death with a tire iron. Big Bob starts running and gets chest pains. “Papa Jupiter” catches him before he can die—he stuffs a cactus in Bob’s mouth and pounds it in with a rock.
Doug returns, loaded with junk, and Bobby doesn’t tell him what happened to the dogs. Doug couldn’t find people, as the road simply ended, so he came back.
Back at the family camper, the second dog vanishes. Ruby and Mama hear Beast howling in the night; they’re eating what’s left of Beauty.
As Lynne and Doug have sex in the station wagon, Pluto siphons off all their gasoline. Bobby gets locked out of the camper, while Pluto is locked inside with the women, who are all asleep. He steals all their food and weapons.
Bobby finally tells Doug and Lynne what happened to Beauty. Suddenly, there’s an explosion, and they hear Big Bob screaming in pain. Mars and Pluto go into the camper to play with Brenda as the others run to rescue Big Bob. Mars eats the family parakeets and then fights with Pluto over the girl. Mars wins; Brenda loses.
Big Bob is dying, and wife Ethel is completely hysterical. Doug tends to Bob while Bobby storms off, “I’m gonna get those bastards!”
The women charge into the camper. Pluto runs off, Mars shoots Ethel, Lynne stabs Mars, and everybody screams. Pluto comes back and steals the baby. When things calm down, Lynne is dead, and Ethel is a mess. The baby is still missing, so Doug runs off after the bandits, completely unarmed. He doesn’t find anything and goes back to the camper.
Pluto and Mars call Mercury on the radio, and he says he wants to eat the baby’s toes. He’s not joking. Beast, the dog, who is not dead, pushes Mercury off a cliff and steals his radio. He takes it to Doug.
Mama and Jupiter are thrilled with the new baby. Ruby likes it, too. Jupiter gets after Mars for not killing everyone. He then yells at what’s left of Big Bob’s corpse for entirely too long.
Morning comes. Ethel’s dead, and Brenda’s still crying. Doug and Beast are out looking for mutants. Beast mauls Pluto’s foot, so Jupiter orders Mars to kill the baby, but Ruby has run off with it. She gives the baby to Doug, and they both run off together.
Back at the camper, Bobby and Brenda carry Ethel’s body way out into the countryside and sit it in a chair.
Beast returns and finishes off Pluto while a wounded Mars chases Ruby and Doug up the mountain. Mars jumps on Doug, but Ruby catches a rattlesnake and uses it to bite Mars; Doug finishes him off with the knife.
Jupiter investigates the dead woman as Brenda and Bobby spring their trap, reeling him in like a big fish, but that just makes him mad. They set up another trap, filling the camper up with propane gas and booby-trapping the door. BOOOM! That still doesn’t kill him, but between Brenda’s ax and Bobby’s pistol, they finish him off.
Bobby, Brenda, Doug, Baby Katie, Beast the Dog, and Ruby all walk to safety.
The guys probably could have mounted a reasonable defense if Brenda had just stopped screaming for two minutes and let them think.
This was pretty brutal for the seventies, but there’s still surprisingly little gore. It spawned numerous sequels and remakes, none of which were as good as this one.
Short Film: Ride Share (2023)
Directed by Alex Magaña
Written by Alex Magaña
Stars Ashley BeLoat, Michael Delgado, Brody McDevitt, Erin Sunisa
Run Time: 4:04
A ride-share driver stops to pick up Amy. She sees that he likes horror movies and jokingly asks, “Would you like to play a game?” from Saw. He does, in fact, want to play a game. Not everything is as Amy thinks it is, and she soon figures it out…
It’s a very simple situation, well shot and well acted. It’s completely realistic and more than likely has probably actually happened in real life a time or two… Maybe. It’s super short, but it’s a complete story, and you never have any doubt as to what’s going on.
The Outwaters (2023)
Directed by Robbie Banfitch
Written by Robbie Banfitch
Stars Robbie Banfitch, Angela Basolis, Scott Schamell, Michelle May
Run Time: 1 Hour, 50 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This follows the formula of something-awful-happened-to-these-people-and-they-disappeared-but-we-found-this-footage-afterward. They put in the work, and it tries to be unique, but it doesn’t quite succeed. It takes a very long time to get to anything strange happening. It takes a while after that for things to make enough sense to be interesting. It does pay off with some really horrifying things near the end, but it was a slog to get there.
We open in 2017 with a 911 call of someone screaming in panic. Our screen shows us a list of people and names, all of whom were last seen on 8/8/2017. The camera memory cards were later found in 2022. Yes, it’s a found footage film.
We open with Robbie filming Scott getting a backpack and some things for his birthday. Then we get Michelle singing and doing a recording that’s almost entirely autotune. Then they fly to see Robbie and Scott’s mother, and also Michelle. These various things are interspersed with shots of small, realistic earthquakes, so this is probably made in California.
Robbie, Scott, Ange, and Michelle go out to the desert. Lots of random travel-stuff happens. At about 40 long minutes in, Scott hears something outside his tent at night, and they all go outside to look around in the dark. They are all terrified at what sounds a lot like thunder or muffled explosions.
The next morning, Ange complains about “All the weird shit that’s happening.” Up to this point, we have not seen any weird shit at all beyond the noises last night. Scott records a high-pitched sound coming from an anthill. He says there is water running under the mountain. We then cut to artsy-fartsy footage of Ange frolicking around in the desert with no sound but a baby crying.
That night, there are more booms from the sky. Robbie sees someone standing on a hill in the dark, and then there’s a bright flashing light. “The sky opened up,” he says later. Suddenly, there is much screaming in the dark as something happens to someone, somewhere. One of the girls screams, “I want my mommy,” about ten times. Someone carries the camera around, but it’s either off or pointed at the ground through all the screaming action. We finally see Michelle, hysterical, covered in blood, and talking in autotune.
The sun comes up, and Robbie and his camera get up with it. He’s chased by screaming, skinless snakes. After many hours of wandering around the desert naked, encountering the snakes again and again, he finds his way back to camp. The tents are soaked in blood. Night falls, and for some reason, he’s still wandering the desert naked. The car they arrived in and all sane things seem to have been forgotten.
He sees the man on the hill again. The flickering light comes back, and we cut to him, puking up a gallon of blood the next morning. He then peels off all his skin so he’ll be skinless like the snakes. In the distance, he sees four people walking– it’s the original party just arriving on the scene. This is a time loop of some sort, but they can’t hear him screaming.
Night falls, and Robbie returns to the camp, where no one can see him. He watches Michelle, who is covered in blood and freaking out. Lots of weirdness continues as we start to hear airplane sounds. There are many flickering lights and glimpses of blood mingled with donkey sounds. There’s some kind of bloody animal growling in the dark, too. Then there are screaming snakes in his tent at night.
We stop for twisty lights and choral music for a couple of minutes until we return to Robbie, who is standing on a “restricted area” sign. He then finds a really old gas mask. He approaches the man on the hill with his ax, and it’s really himself.
In the morning, he finds just the heads of his three friends on poles in the desert. Robbie then starts cutting off his own body parts.
“Everybody involved with this should be ashamed of themselves,” said Kevin, about 40 minutes in. “It’s like somebody watched The Blair Witch Project and said “Let's remake that, only make it awful,” Kevin, again, at 59 Minutes in.
It’s not as sleep-inducing as “Skinamarink,” but it’s definitely in the same category. There’s no real plot here. Robbie’s camera must have an infinite battery because there’s no way he was carrying spares, and that thing recorded everything for several days.
So what happened? I dunno. Why did it happen? I dunno. Why was this film made? I dunno. What are the people who gave this a positive review thinking? I dunno. How can I get nearly two hours of my life back? I dunno.
One thing I am sure about, however, is that this film is a waste of time. If you must watch, skip to the last fifteen minutes.
Bloodlust: Subspecies III (1994)
Directed by Ted Nicolaou
Written by Charles Band, Ted Nicolaou
Stars Anders Hove, Denice Duff, Kevin Spirtas
Run Time: 1 Hour, 23 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This is such a seamless continuation that it feels like parts 2 and 3 could have been one long movie. It was filmed at the same time as the 2nd movie, so it’s got the same cast, the same level of effects, the same settings, and so forth. It’s quite good and entertaining.
We get a “Previously on…” montage of the second film, ending with Radu staked and vampire Michelle being pulled back into the tomb of Mummy while Becky waits outside, helpless. Credits roll.
We open on Mummy with Radu and Michelle both sleeping on a slab in front of her. She cuts Michelle and bleeds her into a cup, which she then feeds to Radu. She does some magic over him.
Becky runs through the woods to a pub and calls the American Embassy and Mel. A little later, Lt. Marin and the police check out the tomb where Popescu was killed. They don’t find Michelle, Radu, or the witch. Becky swears they’re vampires, but still they don’t believe her.
Night falls, and everyone wakes up, including Radu. Mummy says her sanctuary has been defiled, so they must leave. They chant some magic, and the whole secret lair vanishes in smoke. Back in King Vladislav’s castle, the whole gang materializes.
Radu wants obedience from Michelle, but she’s less than enthusiastic about him, so he locks her in a cage. Radu goes out and catches a victim, whom he brings back for Michelle to share. After she’s eaten, he’s friendly to her again. They sleep as the sun comes up.
Becky goes to see Popescu’s secretary to tell her about the old man’s death. Mel steals the Vladislav book and the vampire hunting tools. Lt. Marin goes to the vampire’s castle and yells through a bullhorn, but since it’s daylight, there’s no response. They dig up the grave that Popescu found previously. Mel and Becky show up heavily armed, but the policeman doesn’t really care. He needs legal permission to enter the castle, but that could take months. Mel shows Marin the way inside, and Marin reluctantly goes in with them. They soon find that the way inside that they used before is blocked.
Becky and Mel return after dark to see that the vampires are definitely inside the castle. Mel reads the book, and we hear the story of Vladislas and his sorceress wife, who gave birth to Radu and Stefan. Radu starts training Michelle to use her new senses and to teleport like a shadow. They hunt together and talk about life and death; she still hates him, or so she says.
Mel calls a buddy with the CIA, Bob. Marin talks about the two people that went missing last night; some of the villagers blame strigoi, vampires, but Marin still thinks it’s black marketeers. “Americans. Crazy people,” he jokes, but he still goes with them. Bob appears, looking like a very tough soldier. He brought night vision goggles and silver bullets.
Bob then scales the outside walls of the castle. Bob and Mel enter alone. Becky warns them over the radio that the witch doesn’t sleep by day. They come across Mummy torturing a woman, and she immediately kills Bob. Marin tries to call for backup, but his radio can’t get reception.
Night falls, and the vampires awaken. He says that her blood is getting bitter; soon, she’ll be completely his. Radu and Mummy argue about who owns the old king’s treasures. Mummy says Michelle needs to die, but Radu tears the old woman’s arm off before beheading her with her own magic knife. He throws the head into the fire.
Mel talks to Michelle, but Radu wants her to eat him. Just as she’s about to bite him, they hear Becky on the radio outside. Michelle goes outside to talk to Becky, telling her she can’t leave. Marin, hiding in the woods, finally believes the vampire stories, but it’s too late for him.
Becky pulls her silver-bullet-loaded gun on Radu and demands that he release Michelle and Mel and let them all go. Michelle wants Becky to shoot and kill her. Becky gives her the gun, and she shoots Radu eight times. Michelle takes the bloodstone, and they all run outside.
Radu chases them, but the sun is also coming up, so Michelle cannot leave. Becky pulls out a sunproof body bag for Michelle, and they load her into it. Becky throws the bloodstone into the sun, and Radu tries to follow. He does not react well to the sunlight, or maybe it’s more accurate to say that he does react strongly to the sunlight. He looks thoroughly dead this time.
Mel carries Michelle out to the trunk of the car, and they all drive away.
Drops of Radu’s blood turn into more little minions who take the bloodstone…
This was filmed simultaneously with part II and continues right where that left off. We wondered how Radu kept wearing a clean shirt. He’s drooling almost non-stop through all three films.
This wasn’t great as a stand-alone film, but when watched back-to-back with part II, it’s all quite a good story. Radu has to be one of the vampires with the most distinctive look. Very cool— We’re hooked!
Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988)
Directed by John Hough, Clive Turner
Written by Gary Brandner, Clive Turner, Freddie Rowe
Stars Romy Walthall, Michael T. Weiss, Antony Hamilton
Run Time: 1 Hour, 34 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s a werewolf movie that makes you wonder if they forgot to put in the werewolves. We don’t see one until over an hour in. This is said to be based more closely on the original story than the first movie was, and it seemed like a wasted opportunity. It’s super low budget, and it shows.
A woman gets on an elevator, and there’s a weird nun standing next to her. The nun vanishes, so Marie is a little freaked out. She gets off the elevator and talks to Tom, her manager. She sees the nun again, but she soon vanishes a second time. Her husband, Tom, thinks she’s a highly imaginative author, but the doctor thinks the pressure is getting to her. The doctor suggests that Marie needs some time away from her work.
They’re going to spend three weeks at a cabin in the woods. Tom wants to know if Marie is going to want any company while Richard is back and forth to work. Tom and Marie get pulled over by a cop, and when they say they’re heading to Drago, the cop looks at them funny.
They arrive, and Marie notices there’s a strange claw mark on the front door. Marie invites Tom to spend the night, but Richard wants to get rid of him. He soon leaves.
That night, after dark, they make love in a creaky bed and listen to dogs howling outside. They go into town the next day, and it’s mostly deserted. They go into a shop and talk to Eleanor, a strange woman who knows where they’re staying. The creepy couple who run the next show know who they are as well. The Ormsteds are friendly, but the sheriff acts surly and weird.
Marie’s little dog goes missing, and she rushes into town to tell the sheriff about it. He says there are no big animals around here, but she asks about the howling they hear at night. He insists there aren’t any animals. She asks Mrs. O about the howling, and she says it sounds evil.
Eleanor tells Marie a shortcut through the woods to get home. On the way, she finds a cave with her dead dog inside. Something growling follows her. She gets hysterical and tells Richard what she saw in the woods.
A strange woman, Janice Hatch, comes to the cabin, and she’s a big fan of Marie’s books and wants to meet her. Meanwhile, Richard visits Eleanor in town to get a present for Marie. Janice tells Marie about her friend, a nun, who went missing around here. Sister Ruth went mad and died about a month ago. It’s the same nun that Marie’s been seeing. Richard goes to the cave and finds a torn-up doll that kinda looks like a dead poodle. He does not find the dead dog. He brings a rifle home with him from L.A.
Two hikers, John and Paula, stop by the cabin. She says something bit her on the trail. They leave and are soon both killed.
Marie sees Sister Ruth that night in another vision. Richard has to go back to town for a job interview, and he’ll be gone all day.
Marie and Janice go to see the weird bell tower in town, but Mrs. Olmsted says it’s been condemned and is dangerous. They catch a tow truck towing away John and Paula’s abandoned camper. The sheriff is not especially helpful, and Marie suspects foul play.
Marie calls Tom and asks him to look up the license plate from the impounded camper. It’s not John and Paula’s. They go to a church and talk to the priest about Sister Ruth. The priest thinks that the people of Drago are a strange bunch; none of them come to his Sunday services.
Richard goes back to town that evening and stops in at Eleanor’s for… well, it’s not a gift this time. Back at home, Marie shoots at a dog in the woods, and Eleanor screams. Richard comes home and takes Marie’s gun away from her. Marie starts doubting her own sanity.
Janice tells about her research about the bell tower. The people of Draga burned a werewolf in the church back in Europe.
Richard thinks Marie needs to see a psychologist, and he gets angry. He storms out and meets Eleanor in the woods. She turns into a werewolf and bites him. Marie brings him inside, and he tells her to hide.
The next morning, the doctor comes and says Richard only has a few scratches; there are no bite marks. Last night, Richard claimed to have been attacked by a wolf, but today, he says he fell down a gully and got scratched.
Janice goes back to the church, and the priest says his exorcism book has gone missing. She and Marie start being all angsty about what they imagine happened.
Tom comes to town. He’s worried about her phone calls and wonders if she’s OK. Richard arrives and punches Tom before throwing him out. Tom and Janice do more research and figure out that the cabin is owned by Sister Ruth’s parents. She found out something and was killed for it.
Back at the cabin, Marie wants to go home to the city, but Richard isn’t ready to leave anymore. Janice figures out that “We’re all in fear” and “Werewolves are here” is exactly the same sentence if you’re delusional enough.
Tom stops when he sees Richard on the road, and Richard’s eyes are funky. Marie runs out and watches Richard… melt. The townspeople, in various werewolf forms, come and chant, “Satan calls you!’ The puddle that Richard melts into reconstitutes as a werewolf.
Marie runs to her car and drives to town, where she finds Tom’s body. Janice drives up, but the sheriff shoots out her tires. They both run into the old bell tower.
The nice old doctor is in there, and he rips his face open to show a really big mouth. “I must ring the bell to summon the werewolves,” Janice says. Janice rings the bell, and all the werewolves run inside after her. The bell tower explodes, killing everyone but Marie.
One of the wolves jumps out at Marie, and the film ends with a freeze frame of her screaming.
The budget was so low that the movie was made without sound. All the audio was dubbed in post-production. This is based on the original “The Howling” novel more closely than the first movie. It was also made as a direct-to-home video, so the version we saw (on Tubi) had the old TV aspect ratio.
It’s pretty slow-paced, and not much happens. We don’t even see a werewolf until 70 minutes in, and even then, it’s just a glimpse. Richard’s eventual transformation scene is long, wet, and really gooey. The shots of monsters at the end are OK but not amazing, and there’s barely any blood or gore.
This was awful. I’m amazed they made any more after this, but they did.
The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1984)
Directed by Wes Craven
Written by Wes Craven
Stars Michael Berryman, Tamara Stafford, Kevin Spirtas
Run Time: 1 Hour, 26 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This had production issues, and it shows in the excessive flashbacks and bad editing. In fact, Wes Craven disavowed the movie after it was released. It’s got some decent moments and an okay basic story that continues from the first, but it’s not a good sequel at all. It’s a big step down from the first one.
We get a quick voiceover recapping the original film. Credits roll.
Bobby talks to his psychiatrist about what happened in the first film; we get a flashback to the ending when they killed Jupiter. Bobby tests his racing bikes in the desert, but he wonders if the desert isn’t too dangerous after his encounter.
We cut to a man in a mask climbing into a sleeping woman’s bedroom. Cass wakes up and pulls Roy’s mask off before kissing him; she’s blind and wants to feel his real face. They go to see Hulk at the Yamaha shop. They talk to Foster about their new blend of “Super Formula” racing fuel. Harry arrives and crashes his bike; Jane and Sue come by on a bus.
Rachel comes to talk to Roy; Bobby isn’t coming to the desert today. She’s never seen him so bad. Bobby still has major PTSD after his experience in the desert. They all load up the bus and head out without Bobby.
Harry tells the story of the Jupiter family and jokes about how “The Hills Have Eyes.” They all know Bobby but don’t seem to believe any of his story about Pluto, Mars, Jupiter, and Ruby. But Rachel dreams of her former life– she’s secretly Ruby, all civilized now. There’s all the usual pre-slaughter with the nonsense as we get to know these expendable characters.
The group is running late because they forgot about Daylight Savings Time, so they take a shortcut through an old bomb range. They soon puncture their gas tank and get stuck in the middle of nowhere at a remote homestead.
They warn Cass about not falling into any of the open mineshafts on the property. Someone up in the hills– has eyes. We see that it’s Pluto from the first film. Everyone explores the abandoned place.
Beast the dog smells something bad in the barn; Rachel says it’s a raccoon, but she doesn’t seem convinced. They end up locking the dog back in the bus. Rachel climbs up into the barn and finds Pluto, who doesn’t recognize her. He runs off into the hills.
Rachel tells the others about her “dead” brother, who’s come back to get her. Meanwhile, on the bus, Beast the Dog has a flashback to the first film, where he attacked Pluto. Rachel admits that she used to be “Ruby.” Hulk thinks she hit her head too hard.
Cass hears someone near the bus, and one of their motorbikes has been stolen. Harry, Roy, and Hulk chase after him on their super-fuel-enhanced bikes. Roy catches Pluto, but Harry is killed. Pluto warns, “I’m not the only crazy out here. I ain’t the one you gotta look out for.” Pluto warns about “The Reaper,” who soon makes a big entrance.
Back at the bus, Foster sets up a booby-trap prank for the guys when they get back. Blind Cass warns the others about a vague “Danger” that she can sense. Ruby and Hulk get the generator working, and they say it’s been in use recently– maybe this place isn’t totally abandoned. Foster and Sue let Beast out of the bus so they can make out.
The bad guys have their own booby traps, and Hulk gets shot by a spear gun. Rachel catches up with Foster, but then someone else catches him in the dark. Jane finds Foster’s body, but then The Reaper finds her and then Sue.
Pluto jumps out of nowhere and fights with Rachel. The Reaper is Papa Jupiter’s bigger, meaner brother. She threatens him with Beast, the dog who nearly killed him eight years ago. Beast then appears on cue to run him off again. Beast then finds and wakes up Roy, who isn’t dead after all. Beast then pushes Pluto off a cliff.
Before long, Cass is the only one left at the homestead, and she starts finding bodies. Roy shows up, and he sort of has a plan. There’s a fire, and Cass lures The Reaper into falling down a mine shaft.
In the morning, Cass, Roy, and Beast walk home through the desert.
Wait– even the dog has flashbacks? That must have been a traumatizing experience for everyone.
They kept thinking the place was abandoned, but we saw electric lights going all the way down that open mine shaft, and they were getting power from something. The generator they found later was off, so what was up with that?
Rachel/Ruby and Bobby reprise their roles from the first film, as does Michael Berryman as Pluto; all the other characters from the first film appear in the numerous flashbacks. There are a lot of flashbacks to the original film, probably just as filler to extend the length. Even so, it feels a little too long– there are too many cast members, and they don’t start dying soon enough.
Wes Craven has since disowned the film.
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