An Early 2000s Exploitation With Lots of Infamy! “The Hood Has Eyez” on DVD!
Attending a school ditch party was the last thing the obedient Kimmy wanted to do but the peer pressure from her fellow Catholic schoolgirl friends convinced her to the other side of the tracks of town. On the way, a half-naked woman runs out in front of their car and in attempt to flee the scene on foot, to protect their innocent repute status, they run into two gangsters holding them at gunpoint in an alley. The now frightened teens are forced into an isolated park area, joined by the now fully-clothed and not injured woman they hit earlier in what has been revealed to be a ruse to rob them, but the gang leader, Psycho, has more distasteful and violent plans to squeeze more out of his prize than cash. Psycho brutally rapes Kimmy and is left for dead by not only the gangsters but also the one other surviving girl she had considered to be her friend. Battered and broken, Kimmy’s morality and reality snaps, sending her down an unmerciful vengeful path against those who condemned her to die.
If filmmaker Terrence Williams set out to make an exploitation film of genital mutilation, forced sodomy, and a man sucking on a bloody tampon, then mission accomplished! The straight-to-video, SOV rape-and-revenger of monstrosities, “The Hood Has Eyez,” pulls no punches, knows no limits, and cares to give no concern for the atrocities it depicts. A bastardized yet familiar rephrasing of an early Wes Craven classic, “The Hills Have Eyes,” Williams uses Craven’s basic setup plot to write-and-direct his own version of uncivilized lowlifes exploiting and murdering out-of-their-element travelers in the most graphic and appalling ways. Williams takes the fear out of the hills and drops it into a remote park plopped in-between the suburbs and urban grounds, swapping out inbred hillbillies for Latino gangsters and a nuclear family for schoolgirls in short skirts and one unlucky white dude. Collaborating producer and wife of Terrence Williams, Nicole Williams, has previously and subsequently worked together other films, such as “Curse of La Llorona” and “Horno,” under their now defunct joint company, Cinema Threat Productions in Los Angeles.
The 2007 released “The Hood Has Eyez” reunites a good chunk of the cast from Williams’ “The River: Legend of La Llorona,” “Revenge of La Llorona, “Llorona Gone Wild” and “Curse of La Llorona” films completed and released within a couple years previously which created a certain level of comfortability and trust amongst the cast as well as the cast and director. With some of the intimately graphic content of “The Hood Has Eyez,” those warm and cozy congenialities play key to selling a broken bottle scene being rammed up a vaginal cavity or a nail hammered down into penis urethra. Without that delicate easiness in the air, scenes like the aforementioned won’t work, resulting in the entire project collapsing upon itself even before wrapping up principal photography. At the tip of the spear are Cyd Chulte and Antonia Royuela as the principled Kimmy and her antithesis, the deranged Psycho. Chulte, who cut her teeth with roles in “Curse of La Llorona,” takes one-half the lead of a young woman broken by the barbarity and succumbs to justified vehemence for torture, dismemberment, coat hanger abortions, and eventual death but before being pushed to the edge of her life and into a state of insanity, Kimmy’s presence melds into the group of a lemming unit and takes a backseat to the other lead half behind Royuela’s unhinged ultra-violence of a gangster gone rouge from the plan. Psycho’s posse – Joker (Carlos Javier Castillo, “Axeman”) and She Girl (Anne Stinnett, “Revenge of La Llorona”) – truly reflect their handles as Psycho’s devil and angel on his shoulder, trying to either egg him on or have him withdrawal while withdrawing is still in his favor but, of course, we wouldn’t have a debauchery and savage movie if the angel over the shoulder had prevailed and so Psycho has his perverse way with Kimmy and friends – Susan (Jesselynn Desmond, “Horno”), Rachel (Jamielyn Lippman, “The Absent”), and Jerry (Tom Curitore, “Llorona Gone Wild”).
The way I see it, Terrence William’s trashy exploitation nod “The Hood Has Eyez” has three distinct parts, much like the three-act structure of any narrative archetype. Terrence Williams defines these acts tremendously clear in an almost too simple of a way that it feels rudimentary, maybe even old fashioned. The setup is simple: overweening teens doing what they’re not supposed to be doing become caught up in an unfavorable part of town with a maladjusted gang. The confrontation squares the two factions to a literal position of facing each other while the teens coward in fright and disadvantage as they forcibly bend to the will of the gun-toting gang calling all the shots. The resolution pivots the story 180 degrees, like any good rape-revenge thriller should, after misdeeds thin out whose left for dead and who’s intractable impulses are fully left satisfied and goes right into execution mode without passing go, without collecting $200, and without pause of a trauma processing moment as Terrence Williams wastes no time digging deep into the sludge of psychiatric stability with a hasty move right to rectifying an eye-for-an-eye balance. Up until a point, “The Hood Has Eyez” carries a lot of dire weight within the confrontational girth that can be hard to stomach. There’s a few casually lighthearted and fun witty moments peppered beforehand, such as a jokes at the expense of airhead Susan and her player boyfriend, but then after the grave assault that leaves Kimmy left to suffer all the post-traumatic syndrome results, things really go dark, and I’m’ talking black comedy dark. Kimmy goes into full Rocky Balboa training mode, doing pushups and enthusiastically practicing staff spinning in the light of the falling sun. Terrence Williams actually gives Kimmy a rousing montage before ripping the dick off a two-bit thug. Where am I getting to with all this? Well, I’m not sure how Terrence Williams wanted audiences to digest his brutal film that goes through touchpoints of opposing genres. Usually, if comedy and gore are present in one narrative, slapstick typically is the go-to conduit – think “Evil Dead II” or “Dead Alive.” For “The Hood Has Eyez,” the gore effects are hearty, the characters are vicious and victimizable, and Williams maintains an intact beginning-to-end narrative, but confounds with a few choice character actions that sully the overall presentation.
The Cinema Threat Production has now been integrated into SRS Cinema’s Extreme and Unrated Label – Nightmare Fuel – and unquestionably is underground extreme horror at its foulest. Released with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 of the 420p standard definition, camcorder tape footage and in a new director’s alternative cut, “The Hood Has Eyez” has relatively decent image clarity with a very subdued amount of lossy compression results, especially for progressive scan 480 pixels. Details are soft as expected with the commercial equipment and lower resolution but though a slightly faded color scale, the coloring range renders intense enough for higher marks and can play a trick on the eyes by falsely delineating the objects to create a space based off the hue edging alone. The English Dolby Digital 2.0 track props up the quality even more with Terrence Williams using a boom mic attachment instead of the built-in mic to gather meticulously the intended dialogue and skirmish kerfuffle. As a result, dialogue is really sharp here, especially during Psycho’s off-the-rail verbal abuse, rants, and one-liners. The post-production Foley stands apart from the inhouse sound with prefabricated sound bytes but that’s the way of micro-independent filmmaking. The alternate cut includes a newly shot opening scene that was originally intended for the original script that was added back in to actualize the Williams’ vision after a cast sudden dropout departure. Bonus features include a commentary with Terrence and Nicole, a raw, secondary cam behind the scenes footage in making certain scenes, a blooper reel, image slide show, two original cut trailers, a new trailer, and a Women in Horror vignette featuring Nicole Williams discussing the importance of women in horror and her contribution to the genre. The release is presented in a traditional DVD snapper with a beautifully illustrated cover art based off the shoddy composited “The Hood Has Eyez’s” one sheet. In the past few years, SRS has upped their game with cover arts and continue to impress with their new branding campaign that makes these films feel no longer cheap at first glance. Inside, the DVD press art is the same as the cover with much of the RGB removed to a single layer red. There is no insert inside the case. Terrence Williams set out to capture the inelegant essences of nitty-gritty exploitation and hits the nail on the head, literally, with this passion project of perversity.