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Hillside Cannibals

Directed by Leigh Scott

Written by Steve Bevilacqua

Starring Heather Conforto, Tom Nagel, Vaz Andreas, Tom Downey

Produced by David Michael Latt, David Rimawi, Sherri Strain

Rated R

84 minutes

Zero Stars

This…is hard for me.

I’ve seen a lot of movies from The Asylum. And they’ve put out a lot to see. Now, generally, The Asylum can be counted on to turn out a good product—certainly at the very least a mediocre product—but that has all changed with the release of “Hillside Cannibals.”

“Hillside Cannibals,” you see, is a sick, sad affair involving five twentysomethings out for a weekend of spelunking (cave exploration for the jargon-challenged) when they are attacked by a clan of quasi-human cannibals.

This is, apparently, “based on the terrifying true story of the Sawney Bean clan that inspired ‘The Hills Have Eyes’”, which those of you who haven’t been spending your time under a rock for the last few months will be well aware was remade and released in theatres.

So it’s a huge question on The Asylum’s judgment as to just why they’d decide to pull such an obvious “Me, too!”. Maybe it’s in keeping with their recent revival of older, more “classic” films—I can’t be sure.

But the way they went about it…it makes me shudder to this very moment.

I’m sure that, given Leigh Scott’s directorial ability, this could have been a really thrilling action / suspense title.

But, thanks in large part to the train wreck that is the script from writer Steve Bevilacqua, what we really have here is an exercise in casual brutality and mindless sadism. Not to mention just really lousy writing.

There are holes in this plot like no tomorrow. Let’s take a rundown of the troubles with Bevilacqua’s script. You may want to grab a snack—this could take a while.

First off, check out the twelve minute thirty one second mark, in which one of our cannibals renders a victim for transport. Two strokes of the machete, and the victim is split completely in half. With almost no blood. And no real sign of intestines.

I want to mail Bevilacqua a copy of “Gray’s Anatomy” so it will be perfectly clear that this is, for want of a better term, a long shot bigger than Secretariat taking the Super Bowl. Unless this cannibal has superhuman strength a la “Ravenous” or is in possession of the first ever monomolecular machete, slicing through intestines, the top of the pelvic bowl, and the human spine in two strokes of a machete is ludicrous.

Second, Bevilacqua’s script must have been written with an audience that has an attention span of gerbils on crack in mind. Because not only will we see a scene of bloody torment and people eating starting at about twelve minutes in, that same bloody torment and people eating will come back roughly fifteen minutes later in a series of disjointed, black and white flashbacks as our last surviving female lead explains things to police.

That’s right—in case you missed it, Bevilacqua’s going to show it to you again!

Third, with almost twenty seven minutes left to go, Bevilacqua’s going to introduce a whole new set of characters, including a survivalist type with a grudge against the cannibals who will last all of about ten minutes before being killed messily. I barely know why he’s there.

The back of the box is no help either. We know the party is going spelunking, and the back of the box says that the clan can be found in “seaside caves.” Well…unless I missed something the size of the Pacific Ocean, I see sky, I see rock, I hear wind and coyotes but I don’t see so much as a DROP of water anywhere in sight.

This was just a lousy movie. When it wasn’t being cruel or sadistic or actively participating in the gore-for-gore’s-sake school of filmmaking, it was being unintentionally comic. Watch how the cannibals interrelate through grunts and gestures. It’s like watching “Gorillas in the Mist,” only with a lot more blood. Oh, and this time around, the gorillas ate Dian Fossey.

The ending is an insult. It’s a fifteen minute stretch of face-wearing, people-eating, flashbacks, attempted rapes, cannibal sex, screeching, and an assortment of lesser events that have no bearing on what little plot there is.

The special features include audio options, a behind the scenes featurette, and filmmaker’s commentary, along with trailers for “When a Killer Calls,” “Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers,” “Shapeshifter,” “King of the Lost World,” and of course “Hillside Cannibals.”

All in all, this was the single worst thing I’ve ever seen from a studio I’ve come to expect big things from. My disappointment will say more than any string of invective I could have launched.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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