The Hills Have Eyes (1977) Is the Pick of the Week

This weekend I gave away the vast majority of my CD collection. I am a collector of things, especially entertainment media things, so this was a very difficult thing to do. I love physical objects. Books line my walls, my DVD shelves are overflowing, and CDs stack up everywhere. At least they used to.

Truth is, most of my CDs have been sitting in boxes for several years because I’ve not had room in my homes to put them anywhere. Truth is, I really haven’t minded. I’ve long since had all my music ripped to my hard drive and I listen to MP3s via my computer, streamed through my TV, or mostly played through my phone. Playing music this way is much more convenient than digging through the CD collection trying to find the one album I want to play right at this moment. It’s a whole lot easier to load my phone up in the morning with loads of stuff I might play throughout the day than to try and pick a handful of CDs to put in my truck for the next week.

While it was still painful to give all those CDs away, I’m not sorry I did it. But where I’m good with having my music collection on my hard drive, I can’t say the same for my books or DVDs. I own a Kindle and read from it often and I have downloaded many a movie/TV show over the last several years. I’m no luddite and truthfully most of my movie-watching comes through streaming services but I just can’t give up those physical objects.

I’m slowly becoming a snob when it comes to the movies I want to own. Since there is easy access to pretty much any movie you care to watch via legal (and not so legal) digital means, the reasons to own physical copies is diminishing. These days you can even get Blu-ray quality downloads if you know where to look and most special features can be found as well. This makes owning DVDs and Blu-rays less about the cinematic contents and more about the physical objects themselves.

I’m interested in big boxed sets that come with silly things like trading cards and are encased in cool-looking boxes. I want Steelbooks with interesting artwork. More than just great movies, I want to collect objects that look interesting on my shelf. More and more distributing companies are realizing that they need to make home-video releases that appeal to collectors like me. Criterion has been doing this for years. They do their best to make the films they release look as clean and good as they can but they also package them with new artwork, critical essays, and all sorts of new and archival extras that make their releases more than just a means to watch a movie.

More recently, Arrow Videos has been doing some fine work bringing old exploitation and b-grade movies into collectors’ hands with packages that are often more interesting than the films inside. The Hills Have Eyes is a cult classic horror/exploitation flick from Wes Craven. It’s all about a family lost in the desert being attacked by nuclear holocaust mutants. It’s not a great movie by any means but it’s a lot of fun and well worth seeing.

It’s been available on DVD for years and has at least one other Blu-ray edition already out there. Arrow has cleaned it up (but not too much as this low budget, horror affair deserves to be seen with the grain intact), given it cool cover art, a fun poster, and all sorts of features and commentaries. It’s exactly the sort of set that collectors are looking for.

I’m thrilled that there are companies like Arrow producing physical media sets worth collecting. I’m looking forward to seeing The Hills Have Eyes on display in my living room and proud to make it my pick of the week.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

Ghostbusters: The furor over this one appears to have been more interesting than the actual film. From the moment it was announced they were remaking this classic comedy with women in the lead roles, the usual jerks came out of the internet woodwork to howl and complain. This in turn brought out the social justice warriors and a war was waged one blog post at a time. The trailer looked awful, and I’m not much for reboots/sequels/whatever this is supposed to be so I completely skipped it. Nearly every review concentrated on how much the reviewer was all for the female cast over how not that interesting the actual film was. I’ll catch this one when it runs on television. And I’m bored.

Dear Jerry: Celebrating the Music of Jerry Garcia: This past May a bunch of cool musicians including most of the surviving members of the Grateful Dead plus Jimmy Cliff, David Grisman, Peter Frampton, Allen Toussaint, Yonder Mountain String Band, and tons more got together to remember the late, great Jerry Garcia. For those of us who couldn’t be there, we can now live the moment on Blu-ray.

Boyhood (Criterion Collection): Richard Linklater’s decade-spanning (he filmed it over 12 years so he could show the boy literally grow older) family drama won lots of awards and now it’s getting the Criterion treatment.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Criterion Collection): Robert Altman’s sprawling take on the western genre gets the Blu-ray treatment from Criterion. I hate to admit I cut this one off after about 30 minutes many years ago. I think I just wasn’t ready for what Altman brought to movies back then. I’m excited to give it another try now.

The Infiltrator: Bryan Cranston plays real-life DEA agent Robert Mazur who spent years undercover as a pivotal player in South American drug rings and helped bring down Pablo Escobar.

Ice Age: Collision Course: I can’t believe they are still making these films. The first one was cute but forgettable and after that, they’ve steadily gone down hill.

Blood Father: Mel Gibson makes another come back attempt with this film about an ex-con fighting to protect his estranged daughter from a drug cartel. It didn’t make much of an impression with audiences but it scored pretty well with critics. I always liked Gibson and it might be time to forgive him. At least cinematically.

The Legend of Tarzan: Why we needed another take on this overdone story is anyone’s guess, but with David Yates at the helm and Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Chrisoph Waltz, and John Hurt filling in the roles, I’m willing to give it a shot.

Mat Brewster

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