• Hills Run Red, The (2009)

    Released by: Warner Brothers
    Released on: September 29, 2009.
    Director: Dave Parker
    Cast: Sophie Monk, Tad Hilgenbrinck, Janet Montgomery, Alex Wydham, William Sadler

    Year: 2009
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    The Movie:

    Not to be confused with the Spaghetti Western of the same name (a point that the movie itself makes quite clear in a piece of dialogue) this straight to video offering from Dave Parker, probably best known for The Dead Hate The Living, and writer David J. Schow, who wrote The Crow and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning arrives on DVD courtesy of the Warner Premiere line.

    The movie follows a film geek named Tyler (Tad Hilgenbrinck) who is far less interested in his hot girlfriend Serena (Janet Montomgery) than he should be and much more obsessed with a ‘lost’ eighties slasher film called The Hills Run Red than any sane person needs to be. When he tracks down Alexa Concanon (Sophie Monk), the daughter of the film’s mysterious director, he sets out to find her working at a strip club. After getting a lap dance from her they wind up at her place where he’s able to magically wean her from her heroin habit in two days while Serena’s back at home boinking Tyler’s best friend Gabe (Mike Straub).

    With Alexa clean, he decides to gather up Serena and Gabe and let her lead them all out into the middle of nowhere to go back to her father’s home in hopes of making a documentary about the mystery of his only known credit. They head out into the boonies, camcorders and microphones in tow, and Alexa takes them around to various locations where they soon realize that the film’s killer, a deformed man-child dubbed Babyface, is very much alive and well. When the group is accosted by horny rednecks intent on stealing their gear and forcing the ladies to make porno movies, they eventually get out of that situation and find the house where Alexa’s father (William Sadler) is still putting the finishing touches on a picture believed to have been finished and buried decades before.

    You’ve got to give this picture credit, for a film bankrolled by a major studio it certainly is a gory one. While too often the film relies on CGI gore, there’s still enough organic effects work here to please most gorehounds and a few of the kill scenes are pretty memorable and creative. Unfortunately, praise for the film more or less stops there, unless you want to hand out bonus points for female nudity, which the film does have a fair amount of. Those exploitative qualities aside, however, and The Hills Run Red runs into some problems, the biggest of which is the flat out predictability of it all. It’s not hard to see very early on where this picture is going. Tyler’s obsession with the film can only lead to a few things and that’s just where the script takes us. Alexa’s conveniently simple shaking of her drug habit may have convinced Tyler but it won’t convince anyone in the audience even if she does yell and puke a lot and pretend to have the shakes.

    The killer, lumbering about the woods in a pretty nifty mask made of a broken dolls face does look pretty intimidating, eerier than your average boogeyman, but he too falls prey to genre clichés towards the end of the picture, where you’ll not be in the least bit surprised even by the ‘twist’ that the filmmakers thrust upon us as the end credits role. At least William Sadler shows up to overact his way over the rest of the cast, none of whom stand out in the least.


    The Hills Run Red arrives on DVD in a 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. There's a little bit of background noise on the image and some shimmering here and there but there aren't any problems with print damage or compression artifacts. Color reproduction and skin tones look nice and accurate and there's a pretty decent level of detail present in the foreground and the background of the picture at any given time.

    Audio options are supplied in English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and a Portuguese language 5.1 Stereo track with optional subtitles provided in English, French, Spanish, Spanish, Japanese, and Portuguese. No problems here, the 5.1 track is quite good with nice balance and a decent amount of punch from the lower end when it's called for. Dialogue stays clear and the score sounds decent enough. There aren't any problems with hiss or distortion and overall the movie sounds just fine.

    Warner provides a commentary with director Dave Parker, writer David Schow, and producer Robert Meyer Bunrett that’s really just a bit too self congratulatory for its own good. There is some decent information in here about the scripting process, the location shooting, the effects and various influences on the film however, so if you dug the picture as much as the filmmaker’s seem to have, you can dig right in and tag along for the ride.

    There’s also a decent featurette here entitled It’s Not Real Until You Shoot It: The Making Of The Hills Run Red. This half hour look at how the picture was put together features interviews with the key cast and crew members as well as some moderately cool behind the scenes footage and some amusing bits where the guy who plays Babyface gets to don the mask for the first time. Rounding out the extras are trailers for a few other Warner/New Line horror properties, some menus and chapter selection, though no trailer is included for the feature itself.

    The Final Word:

    The Hills Run Red doesn’t deviate from the typical slasher movie formula nearly as much as the filmmaker’s seem to think it does. It’s not particularly original, and at times, it’s border line dumb. It does feature some pretty solid gore, even if it’s a bit CGI heavy in spots, and a few cool kill scenes but it’s hard to consider this an essential purchase even if Warner Brothers have done a fairly nice job on its DVD debut.