The Hood Has Eyez
By: Craig Villinger on April 8, 2008  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Director: Terrence Williams
Starring: Cynde Schulte, Antonio Royuela, Carlos Castillo, Jamielyn Kane
Screenplay: Terrence Williams
Country: USA
Year: 2007
You may be cringing just a little after seeing that title, but fear not, The Hood Has Eyez is not some Scary Movie-esque hip hop lampooning of the survival horror genre, nor is it a flat out rip-off. Instead, it is a nasty no budget amalgam of Wes Craven's first two movies – Last House on the Left and, naturally enough, The Hills Have Eyes – that puts its own spin on the material and places its characters in a more urbanized setting. Unfortunately for those characters however, while the backdrop may have changed the results are pretty much the same as they discover that inner city psychos can be every bit as brutal as your average mountain dwelling mutant.

Good little catholic schoolgirl Kimmy and her friends have cut class to attend a party somewhere in "The Hood", but on the way they get themselves lost and fall into the clutches of a sadistic street thug and his two cronies. An extended period of rape, murder, and general unpleasantness follows, and after being left for dead at the end of her ordeal Kimmy has just one thing on her mind. And it involves a tasty dish that is best served cold…

Truly independent filmmaking (and by "truly independent" I mean movies where it's basically the director and a handful of friends doing everything with virtually no money to play with) has always been a force to be reckoned with as indie filmmakers are ballsy enough - or perhaps unscrupulous enough - to film the sort of craziness you would never see at your local multiplex, but over the past couple of years the independent scene has lost some of it's verve in my opinion. With budgets getting lower and lower to the point where movies are being made for less than a 15 year old McDonalds employees daily earnings, a lot of independent films have become nothing more than dull gab fests shot by amateur hacks with no real desire to shock or scare their audience, while Hollywood on the other hand has embraced blood and guts, with slick major studio efforts like The Hills Have Eyes (2006) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning containing more torture and mayhem than 80% of the independent product being churned out.

Thankfully, The Hood Has Eyez is the sort of indie movie that makes Hollywood look like a bunch of pussies.

Written, directed, photographed, and edited by Terrence Williams, The Hood Has Eyez is an undeniably cheap affair, but while the lack of funds means we don't get anything resembling a "polished" production, Williams clearly has some fucked-up ideas running through his head and is more than happy to put them on screen. High on the list of indecencies committed during this film are: golden showers, soiled tampon sucking, coat hanger foetus removal, violation with a broken beer bottle, penis nailing, and more than one instance of anal molestation – one of which culminates with the victim receiving a "Dirty Sanchez". Yes, this really is a treat for the whole family, provided that family is a bunch of hardened exploitation loving nutters of course. It probably reads a little nastier than it really is, but even with a few amateurish gore effects that might not get the stamp of approval from Tom Savini, The Hood Has Eyez is the sort of film that will definitely offend people. Perhaps not your average Digital Retribution reader though.

As a revenge film The Hood Has Eyez has a lot more in common with low budget 70s and 80s entires like I Spit on Your Grave rather than the slicker, stylized new millennium revengesploitationers like Kill Bill and Death Sentence. Several sequences – particularly the initial brutalization of Kimmy and her school friends - are genuinely unpleasant to sit through (viewers of all genders will be crossing their legs at some point with both male and female genital trauma on the menu), and while the zero-budget production values might also make the whole experience unpleasant in a completely different way for those who prefer their movies with a dash of Michael Bay-esque pizzazz, the bargain basement quality does gives the whole film a gritty realism, despite the aforementioned amateurish gore effects and vanilla cinema verite style camera work. Also, like I Spit on Your Grave, this is a bleak viewing experience from start to finish, and there is no real feeling of triumph at any point, even when the traumatized and presumably broken (mentally at least) Kimmy begins to exact her bloody revenge. The downbeat denouement in particular offers no real winners, only losers. Williams does find time for a brief moment or two of levity in amongst the extreme material though. Watch for Kimmy doing her best Rambo impression as she ties a bra around her forehead before going in to battle!

As with many production of its ilk, the acting quality varies. None of the performances are appalling, although you may find it hard to believe that some of the cast actually are good little school girls as most of them looked old enough to have graduated several years earlier (in fact, according to IMDB profiles the "school girls" are all in their 30s, but they look great in tartan mini skirts so I'm sure as hell not complaining!) The two pivotal characters - Kimmy (Cyd Schulte) and Psycho (Antonio Royuela), the perpetrator of most of the atrocities inflicted upon the girls – are played quite well. Schulte is believable both as the innocent schoolgirl and the crazed vengeance seeker who begins to imitate her attackers speech and mannerisms, while Royuela delivers a thoroughly repellent villain that is grounded in reality.

Location wise, while it is set in the inner city, The Hood Has Eyez feels very much like a backwoods horror movie. After all, for a group of white catholic schoolgirls the ghetto is probably just as foreign as the Georgia backwoods were to Burt Reynolds and his white collar rafting buddies in Deliverance. Also, with the urban setting it feels as though the events are hitting a little closer to home, and it's not a stretch to imagine someone we know winding up in a situation like this. Most of us don't live in fear of cannibalistic inbred hillbillies as we are far removed from the backwoods environment, but urban violence is something that can affect anyone. Although the film and its characters are distinctly American, those of us outside the USA can still relate to the setting, as most westernized countries have their own versions of "The Hood" where young mini skirt clad school girls fear to tread.

You really will need to be fan of truly independent filmmaking in order to tolerate its no budget aesthetic, but if you crave the sort of rape/revenge nastiness that Hollywood will never project on the big screen then The Hood Has Eyez will deliver, and at just 67 minutes long it doesn't outstay its welcome. It's got a gratuitous shower scene, murder, sodomy, genital abuse, bloodied tampon tea bagging (possibly the vilest thing I've witnessed for a while - seriously!), backyard abortions, and a whole lot more. Honestly, if that's not appealing then you are of sound mind and will not be able to enjoy a movie like this. I'm definitely looking forward to checking out more from Terrence Williams, if only to see what other fucked-up ideas the guy has.
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