Our friend Tony Farinella at 411mania.com recently interviewed director Eli Roth, who is currently promoting his latest horror/thriller film, Hostel: Part II, and spoke his mind about various topics including 9/11, the MPAA, the internet, critics that accuse him of glorifying violence, and more.
Roth tells Farinella "I think that the Internet is the outlet for people who hate me." ... Here are the highlights of the interview with the respected horror director:
Eli Roth on how Hostel is one of the most popular movies in the Military:
"I get letters through my myspace page from soldiers in Iraq. They've told me that Hostel is one of the most popular movies in the military base. I asked the solider: "Why would you ever watch a movie like Hostel after what you see during the day?" He said that he went out there in the field one day with his buddy, and his buddy saw someone with his face blown off. He didn't react. Following this, they watched Hostel that night. The guy was screaming and squealing in a room full of 400 people who were screaming, and they couldn't look at the screen. I said to him: "How is it you can see the real violence, but not take the movie violence?" What I realized is that when these guys are in the battle field, they can't respond emotionally to violence. They have to respond to it tactically. They're not allowed to show fear because they're soldiers. They put on this brave face. But seeing these images, it's there. It's somewhere in your body and needs to get let out."
Eli Roth on how horror movies allow teenagers to deal with the uncertainty of the world:
"You have a whole generation of kids who were 12-years-old when September 11th happened, and they've been told for the past five years that you're going to get blown up, terrorists are going to kill you, don't travel, and the war in Iraq isn't ending. All these seventeen-year-old kids are thinking: "Fuck, am I going to get drafted? Are they going to reinstate the draft? Am I going to go over there and get killed too? It's a scary time for these teenagers. They're seeing it, and they're screaming. I don't see it as people getting off on violence. I see the films as unlocking a lot of fear and real feelings of terror that people in this country have right now."
Eli Roth on releasing Hostel: Part II in the summer:
"I don't care how many movie stars you have or if you have a hundred- million dollar advertising campaign, there's no other movie this summer that will have the ending of Hostel: Part II. I think that people will come out of that going: "That is the most fucked-up ending I've ever seen in a horror movie. It was awesome and so much fun." I think the word of mouth on the movie will help. Oceans 13 is going to out spend you, and you can't compete with their advertising dollars. Nevertheless, I don't think that they can compete with my ending. "
Eli Roth on the term torture porn:
"I think it was started by David Edelstein, who writes for New York Magazine. He felt that people were getting off on the violence in movies. He immediately put the film in a sub-genre of pornographic. A lot of critics when they watch these films, they just react to the violence. The violence becomes the lighting rod, and they don't see anything else beyond it. I think that the term "torture porn" says more about the critic than it does about the movie. I think it speaks volumes about a critics' limited capacity to understand what a horror movie can be. It shows how narrow-minded they are and what kind of eyes they watch the movie through. "
Eli Roth responds to the Internet bashing:
"If you look at the numbers of what the DVDs have done, I think that the numbers speaks for themselves. I get messages from thousands of fans through myspace and from conventions every day. They have told me that my commentaries and my films have inspired them to go out and make their own movie. I think even the people that hated me on both films, they still like the Thanksgiving trailer. I think that there's a lot of jealousy out there. You can't worry about that. I'm not making movies for everyone. Horror fans can be very bitter. They can be like comic book fans. They want their horror a certain way. "
Eli Roth on the deeper meanings of Hostel:
"Le Monde, which is the top newspaper in France, picked it as the best American film of the year. Not just horror film, but the best American film. There were only three American films on their top ten list. We were up there with The New World and The Departed. Hostel was number one on their list. They saw it as an incredible comment on capitalism gone too far. It showed the way people exploit each other and the sick things people do to each other for their own pleasure. It was nice. It's wonderful when people recognize that. I think people get that when they're watching the DVD for the second time. I know that people watch my films over and over again. I like to give them a rich-textured film with a lot to think about. I think the first time people watch it, they focus on the gore and the scares. Then they watch it again and really think about the deeper themes and the intelligence and the thought and the politics behind it. "
Eli Roth on the casting of Hostel:
"I wanted the guys to be fun. I didn't want to write psycho killers that are just going to kill people. I wanted guys that were seemingly normal guys that were obviously disturbed. Even though they were disturbed, they were fun to watch and entertaining. Yes, they're sick, but they're really enjoyable. You like them despite what they're going to do. If I could get sympathy from the audience and really get everyone to feel for these characters and feel for the girls, it would make for just an incredible third act. It would be amazing when everyone meets at this place."
Eli Roth on the MPAA:
" They know that when people are paying to see Hostel: Part II, it's not Happy Feet 2. People who are going to see Hostel: Part II are going specifically for more of what they loved about Hostel. Hostel pushed the envelope of R rated films farther than any mainstream R rated film had at that point. That's what a segment of the audience is going back for more of. You have to satisfy that. If you don't, people are going to feel ripped off. They get it. They said: "Okay, we understand what your fans want. We know it's being sold under your name and Quentin's name, but here's the areas where we feel like it's going a little too far. These are the areas that we're concerned about." We discussed it and talked about it. Ultimately, we came to a film that I'm really, really happy with. "
Eli Roth on filming the torture scenes:
"After six weeks of shooting, you really feel that bond and you feel that trust. When an actor feels safe, they can go to a place that dark. Their pain is real. They're not in physical pain, but that emotional pain is there. They are drudging up horrible, horrible things that they've probably never told anyone about. It's right there on their faces. You can feel it in the room. We usually give them a lot of space and let them take their own action. We'll just roll the camera when they start. Letting them feel safe is the key."