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The Hills Run Red
Directed by Directed by Dave Parker
Written by Written by John Carchietta, John Dombrow, David J. Schow
Starring Starring Sophie Monk, Tad Hilgenbrink, William Sadler, Janet Montgomery
Produced by Produced by John Carchietta, Jonathan Tzachor
Considering that the first five minutes of The Hills Run Red open up with some truly horrendous self-mutilation, I can see where you would think this would be pretty shocking. And giving me further hope for the movie is the surprise revelation that this is a Dark Castle film. Dark Castle has given me LOADS of jollies over the years, starting with House on Haunted Hill and going all the way to Orphan.
I’ll let the movie itself describe half the plot:
“In 1982, controversial film director Wilson Wyler Concannon released his only film, The Hills Run Red. Because of its graphic depiction of sadism and murder the film was quickly pulled from theaters. All known prints vanished and no cast member was ever found. Over the years, film historians attempted to find the film. But all that remained was a crudely made trailer…Director Wilson Wyler Concannon was never heard from again.”
Thus, the rest of the movie revolves around a collection of friends out to find Wilson Wyler, or the film, whichever comes first. They also discover that the film isn’t so much a film as it is a documentary. With lots of murder. ACTUAL murder.
Of course, considering that the killer in question is a guy with a porcelain doll mask named Babyface made me cringe somewhat, especially considering Twisted Metal: Black did the EXACT SAME THING with its character, Dollface, like six years or so ago.
The interesting thing about The Hills Run Red will be the sheer amount of twists and surprises involved. Several have been built in at the script level (David J. Schow really can do a fantastic multi-twist script, as evidenced by his turn at Masters of Horror, and if someone ever does an adaptation of Jerry’s Kids Meet Wormboy I think I’ll likely have an embolism in sheer glee), and while some of these interesting twists are interesting for their own sake, some of them really don’t come off the way they should. And that’s okay—not everything works in the end. For the most part, what we actually get is pretty effective and worth watching.
Especially the ending.
The ending, meanwhile, seems abrupt—because it’s not REALLY the ending. It’ll surprise you very deeply. Let’s put it this way; when you see the first set of credits, don’t shut off the movie. You might have that particular knee-jerk reaction like I do to walk out (or shut down, whichever) when the movie starts telling you who did what. That would be a huge mistake here, even if the extra ending is a serious downer.
The special features are pretty sparse, featuring language tracks in English and for some reason Portuguese, as well as English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Japanese subtitles, a commentary track and a making of featurette, along with trailers at the beginning that are inaccessible from the DVD menu itself.
All in all, I’m slightly disappointed, but only slightly. For the most part, The Hills Run Red manages to perform as advertised, doing its job pretty well with a few minor hiccups.
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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