It’s odd enough that The Hills Have Eyes 2 is a sequel to a remake of a movie that already had a sequel, but when you factor in that both “part ones” are lily-white, while both sequels feature two prominent black characters, things seem eerily calculated…Or maybe it’s just my dementia acting up. That said, it’s interesting to see the “growth” of the black character types from 1985 to 2007.
Whereas in the first Part 2 the black characters were the standard “black guy/gal” — nondescript, with race being their only distinguishing feature — in the modern Part 2, they have a little more depth. (Granted, “depth” in an inbred cannibal movie is a relative term.) Flex “Homeboys from Outer Space” Alexander, steadfast in his insistence on existing, plays Sergeant Jeffrey Millstone, the now well-established military heavy “type” (thank you very much, Lou Gossett, Jr.). Yes, he’s one-dimensional, but at least it’s a different dimension. Rather than standing around “being black,” he spends his time barking orders at the group of young pukes he’s taking on a routine mission to a desert military testing ground…where THE HILLS HAVE EYES!
And apparently they have penises, too, because they’ve been reproducing like jackrabbits since the last film. Based on their deformities, though, they still don’t have good prenatal care. The mutants this time around edge dangerously close to X-Men territory, each with their own distinctive “power” (politically correct-speak for “icky deformity shunned by God”). There’s “super-strong guy.” There’s “camouflage guy.” There’s “I’m-blind-but-I-can-still-smell-you guy.” And last but not least, there’s “the tongue.”
*POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU CARE ABOUT FINDING OUT WHO DIES* The sarge isn’t much help in battling these baddies (typical for a military heavy type); he gets it early on from, of all things, friendly fire. That leaves Private Delmar Reed (Lee Thompson Young of Jet Jackson fame) as the lone black character, and surprisingly he seems to take on the role of hero. He’s level-headed (keeping the peace when the others argue), physically gifted (scaling a cliff to attach a rope), smart (the only one to realize that the rope was cut “mysteriously”), take-charge (calming everyone’s nerves when sarge is killed) and well-liked (he’s about the only character who doesn’t get into a shouting match in the movie). Plus, he’s so well-spoken.
Frankly, he’s the only likable character in a film full of whiny and/or cocky little snots. So, what do the writers do? They kill him. And it’s not even a good death, neither heroic nor spectacular. He’s just running around in a cave when he keels over, realizing that he’s been shot somewhere at some point. Hills Have Eyes 2 filmmakers, I boo thee!
So in the end, a couple of limp, whiny wusses end up surviving when they had no right to do so by all established horror movie laws. I guess race trumps all. Even without the annoying characters, though, this film would be marginal at best. While the first remake successfully captured the original’s disturbing edge, this one seems too dead-set on upping the ante. If the first had one rape scene, this one should have two. If the first had regular mutants, this one should have super mutants. If the first had a three-inch tongue, this one should have eight or nine. What is he, a toad? Maybe they should’ve focused on upping the ante on writing and character development instead. (And maybe casting, too. Flex Alexander? Really?)