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Feature: Hostel

Hostel Territory

Director Eli Roth

In the latest issue of Film Review director Eli Roth and producer Quentin Tarantino talk about collaborating on their terrifying new masterpiece Hostel

Hostel follows two American backpackers, played by Jay Hernandez and Derek Richardson, initially on their way to Barcelona from Amsterdam. That is until they are lured to Slovakia by the promise of easy sex with Eastern European girls. Before they know it they have been drugged and sold to an organisation catering to jaded millionaires’ sick fantasies.

“I met Harry Knowles [Ain’t it Cool News],” recalls Roth. “We got talking about the sickest, most disturbing thing you could find on the internet, and Harry showed me a website run out of Thailand where you could sign up to pay to kill someone… Even though it might not have been real, somebody took the time to think about this, that someone would pay $10,000 to walk into a house and shoot someone else in the head”.

Flash forward to 2004 when Cabin Fever fan Tarantino invited Roth over to his house for another all-night movie session. Roth continues, “Without doubt Quentin has been the best career advisor and Hostel came out of conversations with him. I’d turned down the chance to direct The Dukes of Hazzard and House of Wax and couldn’t decide what to do next. I told him about the website and he immediately ordered me to write it up. 'Make your Takashi Miike' film, he said, and Hostel was born”.

Quentin Tarantino adds, “One of the best things about making movies is it’s your passport to Planet Earth. I had rarely left Los Angeles County, let alone California, when I directed Reservoir Dogs and took it to festivals all over the world for a year. I wrote Pulp Fiction while visiting these foreign locations, especially living in Amsterdam for three months, so I made John Travolta’s character discover all the things I was – like the Royale with cheese! Eli had his experiences of bumming around Amsterdam and visiting Barcelona, so, like Pulp Fiction in my case, Hostel is based on his truth. It happened to us so it could easily happen to Hernandez and Richardson”.

Three weeks after the final script was completed Roth entered pre-production. “I took less salary on Hostel than I did on Cabin Fever because I wanted to plough all the money I could into the gore brilliantly and quickly designed by Greg Nicotero (The Hills Have Eyes). None of us did it for the money. We did is for love of bloodbath exploitation. Quite what the Slovakian Embassy are going to make of it I’ve no idea. I chose Slovakia because Americans have no idea it’s not Czechoslovakia any more. They haven’t got a clue. That’s why these guys go there, they don’t even know it’s so alien”.

Hostel’s gore moments are undoubtedly triple strength gruesome. “Yet we got away with murder regarding censorship,” jokes Roth. “That’s all down to Quentin again. They respect his reputation and know no one is going to walk into a movie with his name on not knowing what to expect. Censors are realizing that blood and gore are simply fantasy images, that the core audience knows it’s fake, it’s theatre”. Tarantino adds, “Finally classification boards have realized audiences want to see blood and violence and that they are clearly marked. It’s a fantastic time to be making horror movies at the moment”.

by Alan Jones

Read the full interview in
Film Review (May)

Hostel © Sony Pictures Releasing
Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

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Film Review (May), see below for ordering options
Film Review (May)
#669, May 2006
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