Blu-ray Screen Comparisons: THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART 2 (1985)

How does Arrow’s pristine 2K restoration stack up to Kino’s prior 2012 disc?

This article contains image comparisons which contrast Horizon Movies/Kino Lorber’s 2012 Blu-ray transfer with the new Arrow version. The frames aren’t necessarily exact matches, but should give a solid indication of the visual differences.

The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 (the Wes Craven original, not the sequel to the 2006 remake) has been re-released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video featuring a new 2K restoration from original film elements.

While certainly the most deluxe Blu-ray edition of the film, it’s not the first. Kino Lorber previously released it in 2012 under their Horizon Movies label.

There’s a world of difference between the two transfers which have different aesthetics down to the color palettes, aspect ratios, and grittiness.

Kino’s release sported a grimy yellow palette, murkiness in low light scenes, and a high-contrast look that added pop while crushing colors. It was also slightly pillarboxed to 1.66 (the OAR is listed as 1.85 on IMDb).

Arrow’s release opens the width of the frame back up to 1.85, adding more field of vision while also slightly cropping the top and bottom of what was seen in Kino’s release (surprisingly even implementing a slight letterbox effect, which I find puzzling and unnecessary). Colors are much more natural looking overall, mitigating the yellow/green palette; darkness and contrast are pulled back, and some cleanup has been implemented. And while the film looks rather soft overall, you can absolutely make out the increased resolution and fine grain in Arrow’s image.

Top: Old Kino Lorber // Bottom: New Arrow

While the overall color correction is an improvement, at times it tips the scales into the red — fleshtones often carry a deep pink hue.

Top: Old Kino Lorber // Bottom: New Arrow
Top: Old Kino Lorber // Bottom: New Arrow
Top: Old Kino Lorber // Bottom: New Arrow

This shot does a pretty good job of highlighting the difference in aspect ratios: In this frame you can clearly see how Arrow’s image shows more image to the left, but is cropped tighter at the bottom.

Top: Old Kino Lorber // Bottom: New Arrow

I don’t know if the Kino and Arrow transfers share a common source, but I did notice that many instances of dust and scratches are either corrected or not present in Arrow’s release. it’s difficult to pinpoint specific examples of this, but here are a couple:

Top: Old Kino Lorber // Bottom: New Arrow

The harsh darkness and contrast of Kino’s release is reduced in Arrow’s restoration, which has much more subtlety, color gradation, and overall visibility.

The best showcase of this I found is the window behind Michael Berryman below. The older release is blown out to white, but in Arrow’s restoration you can clearly make out the translucency of the curtain.

Another example with a stark difference:

Visibility is greatly improved in dark scenes:

Top: Old Kino Lorber // Bottom: New Arrow
Top: Old Kino Lorber // Bottom: New Arrow
Top: Old Kino Lorber // Bottom: New Arrow

Despite the skintones often registering as strawberry red, the new transfer is overall a marked improvement in many respects: resolution, clarity , and low-light visibility. The older transfer does have a certain merit for its very claustrophobic, surreal appearance. I have a feeling that some viewers who are used to seeing the film look jaundiced and grindhouse-gritty will prefer that aesthetic, which, to be fair, perfectly complements this movie. But in nearly all conventional comparatives, Arrow’s restoration is a major improvement.

Contents / Special Features (Limited Edition)

  • Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original uncompressed mono audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues
  • Blood, Sand, and Fire: The Making of The Hills Have Eyes Part II — brand new making-of documentary featuring interviews with actor Michael Berryman, actress Janus Blythe, production designer Dominick Bruno, composer Harry Manfredini and unit production manager/first assistant director John Callas
  • Still gallery
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • 6 Postcards
  • Reversible fold-out Poster
  • Limited Edition 40-page booklet featuring new writing on the film by Amanda Reyes and an archival set visit from Fangoria
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shipper

Further reading:

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The Hills Have Eyes Part 2
Ltd Ed Blu-ray —

Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system.

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