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Will The Hills Have Eyes 3 Ever Happen?

Director Wes Craven may be best known for Freddy Krueger (who's surprisingly handsome in real life) from A Nightmare on Elm Street and Ghostface from Scream, but long before both of those franchises he found success with another pair of films — The Hills Have Eyes.

Not long after Craven's directorial debut — the horrific, sexually violent home invasion film The Last House on the Left – Craven was afforded the chance to pursue his talent for the unsettling with a little help from producer Peter Locke. With the real-life inspiration of Scottish cannibal Alexander "Sawney Bean" and the then-recent smash success of Tobe Hooper's now iconic film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Craven decided on who his new monsters would be: cannibal hillbillies.

The original The Hills Have Eyes is absolutely iconic for how graphic and unsettling it is. Almost no one is spared, not even the dogs. It's a vision of how quickly and easily people can turn feral, even those from polite, suburban society. Unfortunately, while the first film was a success, the 1985 sequel ran out of money during production, was padded with footage from the original film, and got shelved for two years before releasing direct to video. Not exactly a recipe for success.

On the upside, a ground left fallow eventually finds itself rich enough in nutrients to spring forth with new life. In 2006, filmmaking partners Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur crafted a The Hills Have Eyes remake with Wes Craven's blessing. That film was successful enough to spawn its own sequel a year later. Let's talk about those two films, what makes them enjoyable, and the possibility of a part three now 14 years later.

Is 15 years too long?

The 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes has a largely similar plot to the original save for the increased focus on the origin of our family of cannibal hillbillies –they're nuclear, and we don't mean they are a "nuclear family," we mean they are a family mutated by nuclear radiation. The 2007 sequel to the remake affirms that the military is at least partially aware of the mutated hill folk, and that at least one of the irradiated clans out there is attempting to kidnap normal passersby with the intention of impregnating them and continuing to grow the brood.

The first movie faired reasonably well, netting $70 million at the box office (via Box Office Mojo). The sequel was completed this time, but wasn't as well received by critics and only wound up making $37 million (via Box Office Mojo). However, it's worth noting that the film only cost $15 million and had a solid home video release grossing another $30 million (via The Numbers). That's probably enough money for at least a direct-to-video threequel featuring the next generation of nuclear hill people. 

However, with 15 years in the rearview it's unlikely a direct sequel will be made now. While streaming services sometimes continue old franchises, and there are multiple fan-made trailers for a third film that doesn't actually exist, it simply doesn't make sense to put the roman numeral "III" at the end of a movie that would be statistically more likely to make more money if it was marketed as another remake.

That being said, the original The Hills Have Eyes franchise did have an unofficial third entry called Mind Ripper which came out in 1995, ten years after The Hills Have Eyes Part II. So it's technically possible that a company like Shudder could show fans some love.

The concept took a Wrong Turn

We've gone a long time without talking about the film franchise that has always felt like the spiritual successor to The Hills Have EyesWrong Turn. The Wrong Turn movies also feature people living in the backwoods who trap and torment people who get lost on the road and wind up ensnared in hillbilly territory. The Wrong Turn movies may not be universally well received, but it's worth noting that up until 2014, there were six numbered entries in that franchise.

However, in 2021 Wrong Turn got a fresh coat of paint from the man who started the franchise, screenwriter Alan B. McElroy. The new Wrong Turn splits off from the original franchise in a number of fundamental ways, not least of which in that it introduces a brand new reason for their to be a group of hillbillies hiding in the forest — they're a cult. Specifically, the cult (called The Foundation) was originally a group who thought the United States would crumble under the weight of the Civil War and secreted themselves away so they could later serve as a foundation for a new society. It's an interesting premise that reshapes the Wrong Turn franchise in an interesting way. With a surprisingly solid critical response, we wouldn't be surprised if The Hills Have Eyes did something similarly high-concept.

Here's one more reason we think a remake is more likely — rumor of one was reported on a little over a year ago by We Got This Covered. According to the rumor, the film would be directed by Fede Álvarez who found success remaking another horror classic: Evil Dead. We Got This Covered isn't exactly known as a reliable source, so take this rumor with a healthy serving of salt, but the idea does make more sense than continuing a remake nearly 15 years later.