I admit to being completely turned off by the derivative box art for THE HILLS RUN RED, but from what I had gleaned from various sources the movie was not your typical Johnny-stab-lately. Indeed, although HILLS RUN RED could never be mistaken for top tier horror it has much to distinguish itself from the ranks of your typical straight to DVD muck. Don’t get me wrong, this jam is straight from the taco truck, the ingredients are cheapo and it’s not very pleasing to the eye, but for those with a hankering for something quick and filling with a bit of a spicy kick, it hits the spot.
Do you know what doesn’t cost anything? Having an interesting plot. THE HILLS RUN RED gets an instant leg up on its peers with its intriguing premise concerning a long lost eighties slasher flick and the lengths one cinemaphile will go to in order to track it down. Any horror movie fan who remembers the days before the Internet will recall just how elusive some of the lesser known jewels used to be. I couldn’t help feeling an instant sense of recognition with our main leads quest and got a nerd-on every time a faux poster or trailer for the fictional Holy Grail horror flick was shown.
Not that anybody needs to be getting their STREEP on in a film like this but the acting, borderline horrible in the first half of the film, becomes surprisingly good when situations require it. Perhaps the late in the game appearance of Mr. Awesome WILLIAM SADLER inspired the green pups. (Careful Mr. SADLER, you are approaching DOURIF/HENRICKSON territory in my heart.) By film’s end I was satisfied having gotten the “lost in the woods with a maniac” scenario I had ordered and then thankfully so much more. (Not to ruin anything, but I am a sucker for flicks that are kind enough to include an audience of corpses in the climax.)
Perhaps most importantly in a film of this kind is the fact that the killer “Baby face” works as a formidable threat and kudos to director DAVE PARKER for not being all stingy with his boogeyman. Gore hounds have a rare reason to rejoice as well, the murders depicted are for the most part gloriously old school and put many a recent slasher remake to shame. The over-the-top cartoon violence fun only wanes when the slasher tributes end and the more modern torture procedural is momentarily adopted.
For the most part, THE HILLS RUN RED’s weakest aspects tend to work in its favor. I’m sure if you are of the mind to enjoy the gore, the nudity and the monstrous hulk known as “Baby face” that you have shuffled your way through much more inept excursions than this. I wouldn’t be dusting off the mantel for too many awards if I was DAVE PARKER, but I would be patting myself on the back for delivering a fitting and surprisingly substantial addition the backwoods slasher sub genre.