Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Posts tagged “Torture Porn

Eli Roth

Eli Raphael Roth (born April 18, 1972) is an American film director, producer, writer and actor. He is known for his role as Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds for which he won both a SAG Award (Best Ensemble) and a BFCA Critic’s Choice Award (Best Acting Ensemble).

Roth began shooting films at the age of eight after watching the Ridley Scott classic Alien (1979). He made over 50 short films with his brothers Adam and Gabe before graduating at Newton South High School and attending film school (the Tisch School of the Arts) at New York University, from which he graduated in 1994.  By the age of 20, and while still a student at NYU, Roth ran the office of producer Frederick Zollo, eventually leaving to devote himself to writing full-time.

Through his internship with producer Fred Zollo in years prior, Roth met David Lynch and remained in contact with him over the years, eventually producing content for Lynch with his fledgling website in the late 1990s. Roth moved from NYC to LA in 1999; shortly thereafter he wrote, directed, edited, produced, animated, and provided voices for a series of animated shorts called Chowdaheads for Manderlay Sports Entertainment.

In 1995, a year after graduating from NYU, Roth cowrote Cabin Fever with his roommate and friend from NYU, Randy Pearlstein. Roth based the premise of the script on his own encounter with a skin infection he contracted while training horses at a farm in Selfoss, Iceland, in 1991. Much of the script was written while Roth was working as a production assistant in 1996 for Howerd Stern’s movie Private Parts.

Cabin Fever was made in 2001 on a budget of $1.5 million raised from private investors. Roth sold the film to Lionsgate at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival for $3.5 million, the biggest sale of the festival that year. The film was released in 2003 and was Lionsgate’s highest grossing film of the year, earning $22 million at the U.S. box office and $35 million worldwide. The film made Roth a new star in the horror genre. In his 2004 Premiere Magazine interview for Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino called Cabin Fever his favorite new film and Roth “the future of horror.”

Roth’s second feature film, Hostel, was made in 2005 on a budget of a little more than $4 million. It opened to No. 1 at the box office in January 2006, taking in $20 million over its opening weekend. It eventually went on to gross $80 million worldwide in box office, and more than $180 million worldwide on DVD. The movie plot is said to take place in Slovakia, however, all the exteriors were shot in the Czech Republic. The story line is naively simple – three friends are lured to visit a hostel in which they think that all of their sexual fantasies will come true. Instead, they drop into the clutches of an international syndicate offering a first-hand torturing and killing experience to the sadistic pleasure of rich tourists. The film was voted the No. 1 scariest movie moment on the Bravo TV special 30 Even Scarier Movie Moments. Empire Magazine readers voted Hostel the Best Horror Film of 2007.

Roth reportedly turned down numerous studio directing jobs to make Hostel. He took a directing salary of only $10,000 on Hostel in order to keep the budget as low as possible so there would be no limitations on the violence. In January 2006, film critic David Edelstein in the New York Magazine credited Roth with creating the horror sub-genre ‘torture-porn,’ or ‘gorno,’ using excessive violence to excite audiences like a sexual act.

In the country supposedly depicted in the movie, the Slovak Republic, it generated unanimously indignant reaction in general public and official representatives. The artistic qualities of the movie aside, the very story is said to have slandered Slovakia, a country mostly unfamiliar to the non-European audience. Roth argued that he selected Slovakia as a setting for the picture to show Americans’ lack of knowledge. “Americans do not even know that this country exists. My film is not a geographical work but aims to show Americans’ ignorance of the world around them.”

In 2007, Roth directed the faux trailer segment Thanksgiving for Grindhouse in addition to appearing in Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino’s segment of the film.

Roth made a Hostel sequel in 2007, Hostel: Part II opened in sixth place with $8.2 million and went on to total $17.6 million by the end of its theatrical run. The film cost $10.2 million and made $35 million dollars worldwide and another $50 million on DVD and pay television.

In 2009, Roth co-starred with Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino’s World War II epic Inglourious Basterds, playing Donny Donowitz, a.k.a. “The Bear Jew.” He also guest directed the Nazi propaganda film-within-the-film, Nation’s Pride

Roth, through his company Arcade with Eric Newman and Strike producer Marc Abraham, produced the horror film The Last Exorcism, (originally titled Cotton) which was directed by Daniel Stamm. The Last Exorcism, which cost $1.5 million to produce, opened to over $20 million dollars in the U.S., and earned the #1 opening spots in Canada and the U.K. It earned over $40 million dollars at the U.S. box office, totaling $70 million worldwide. Roth has also produced Hostel: Part III. He is currently working on The Man with the Iron Fists and Endangered Species.


The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence – Banned in the UK

The British Board of Film Classification has refused to certify The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) for public distribution on DVD, citing “the sexual arousal of the central character at both the idea and the spectacle of the total degradation, humiliation, mutilation, torture, and murder of his naked victims.” Full report from the BBFC:

The BBFC has rejected the sexually violent, and potentially obscene DVD, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) This means that it cannot be legally supplied anywhere in the UK. The decision was taken by the Director, David Cooke and the Presidential Team of Sir Quentin Thomas, Alison Hastings and Gerard Lemos.

The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is a sequel to the film The Human Centipede (First Sequence), which was classified ‘18’ uncut for cinema and DVD release by the BBFC in 2010. The first film dealt with a mad doctor who sews together three kidnapped people in order to produce the ‘human centipede’ of the title. Although the concept of the film was undoubtedly tasteless and disgusting it was a relatively traditional and conventional horror film and the Board concluded that it was not in breach of our Guidelines at ‘18’. This new work, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), tells the story of a man who becomes sexually obsessed with a DVD recording of the first film and who imagines putting the ‘centipede’ idea into practice. Unlike the first film, the sequel presents graphic images of sexual violence, forced defecation, and mutilation, and the viewer is invited to witness events from the perspective of the protagonist. Whereas in the first film the ‘centipede’ idea is presented as a revolting medical experiment, with the focus on whether the victims will be able to escape, this sequel presents the ‘centipede’ idea as the object of the protagonist’s depraved sexual fantasy.

The principal focus of The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is the sexual arousal of the central character at both the idea and the spectacle of the total degradation, humiliation, mutilation, torture, and murder of his naked victims. Examples of this include a scene early in the film in which he masturbates whilst he watches a DVD of the original Human Centipede film, with sandpaper wrapped around his penis, and a sequence later in the film in which he becomes aroused at the sight of the members of the ‘centipede’ being forced to defecate into one another’s mouths, culminating in sight of the man wrapping barbed wire around his penis and raping the woman at the rear of the ‘centipede’. There is little attempt to portray any of the victims in the film as anything other than objects to be brutalised, degraded and mutilated for the amusement and arousal of the central character, as well as for the pleasure of the audience. There is a strong focus throughout on the link between sexual arousal and sexual violence and a clear association between pain, perversity and sexual pleasure. It is the Board’s conclusion that the explicit presentation of the central character’s obsessive sexually violent fantasies is in breach of its Classification Guidelines and poses a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk that harm is likely to be caused to potential viewers.

Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence Trailer

The director of The Human Centipede has hit back at the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) for banning the film’s sequel in the UK. The BBFC refused to classify Dutch film-maker Tom Six’s followup to last year’s horror, about a scientist who grafts together kidnap victims mouth to anus, saying the film posed a “genuine risk” to viewers and could fall foul of obscenity laws. Six accused the BBFC of posting spoilers of his new film by revealing plot details in the course of explaining its decision. Six defended the film’s artistic worth and said people ought to be able to make their own decision about whether or not to see it. “Apparently, I made an horrific horror film, but shouldn’t a good horror film be horrific?” Six wrote. “My dear people it is a f**king [sic] MOVIE. It is all fictional. Not real. It is all make-belief [sic]. It is art. Give people their own choice to watch it or not. If people can’t handle or like my movies they just don’t watch them.” Six also questioned the practical efficacy of the BBFC’s ban: “If people like my movies they have to be able to see it any time, anywhere also in the UK.”

It sounds like complete rubbish… ‘Artistic worth… Plot details and spoilers’ Tom Six needs another angle if he really wants to fight this ban. Fight it from a freedom-of-speech angle, or just anti-censorship but not as a fight for his ‘art’. After seeing his first movie I thought he was a guy who may do some interesting work, apparently not so. If the reports are correct he’s just trying to offend… Boring.


Captivity **

After the success of the Saw franchise and Hostel movies it seems that the studios won’t let ‘torture porn’ themed movies die. Shame that as we could do without Captivity. The implausible tale of alleged top cover girl and fashion model Jennifer Tree (Elisha Cuthbert) who is kidnapped while alone at a charity fashion event, why she is alone is anyone’s guess, alleged top model that she is. She wakes up in a dungeon that is rigged up like some of those ridiculous scenarios from the aforementioned Saw movies, the sequels not the good first one.

Anyway, she’s tortured psychologically and physically by the unseen kidnapper who for the first hour is only seen fleetingly with shots of his black gloved hand or hooded shape moving around the dungeon or manipulating the cameras and traps.

Being a top model, Jennifer always looks good, no degeneration into filth encrusted heroine here; her kidnapper supplies her with clean clothes and make-up… although I wondered why all the tears she’d surely be shedding didn’t smudge her make-up.

She’s having a difficult time, what with being force fed blended up human body parts and having to kill her own dog to survive when lo and behold she discovers there’s another prisoner next door. He reveals himself as Gary (Daniel Gillies) and the pair strike up a quick relationship, fight back a bit and keep trying to escape together; however all their attempts end in failure apart from being allowed to share a cell and have sex…

Captivity allegedly caused a bit of a stir in America when it was released due to the poster which depicts a close-up of Cuthbert’s smeared face behind a cage. Surely that’s the only reason anyone went to see the movie, it cannot have had much in the way of good press.

The actors are all passable for this type of movie, we never expect top drawer character actors anyway, and do a decent job. The script is all fairly predictable and the twist is telegraphed way before the reveal. The one aspect of the movie that is done well is in the look; it’s well lit and shot and this is down to the quality of the director.

What I cannot understand is what persuaded Roland Joffe to direct this. The director of ‘The Killing Fields’ and ‘The Mission’ has definitely slipped down the pecking order if this is what he’s reduced to making. Someone please give him a good dramatic script before he’s wasted forever.

Quality: 2 out of 5 stars

Any good: 2 out of 5 stars


Hostel part 2 *½

The Hostel sequel was always going to happen after the first one inexplicably made $80m..!

So the second hostel features 3 girls instead of 3 lads; see what he did there, totally different approach. They are the apparently as-rich-as-Bill Gates Beth (Lauren German), her feisty friend Whitney (Bijou Phillips) and tag along nerd Lorna (Heather Matarazzo – who deserves better material than this and is given nothing to do).

The movie opens with Paxton from the first movie waking from a ‘oh no it was a dream’ shot, it wasn’t he’s decapitated. The girls head to the hostel in Slovakia and are drugged, kidnapped and we’ve been here before.

The major difference this time around is we get to spend some time with a couple of rich American business men who bid to kill the girls.

The killings this time around include an Elizabeth Bathory style bathing in a bath of blood, a guy torn apart by the facility guard dogs and a circular saw to the face, well, hair but the face comes off with it…

SPOILER ALERT. Beth turns the tables on her torturer and makes a deal with the mafia types to escape. To do so though, she must kill as apparently that’s house rules. So she cuts off her would-be-torturers genitals and throws them to a guard dog!

Worse than the first one; it repeats the same structure without improving on it which shouldn’t have been too difficult. There are a few scenes that you know are added to set-up another possible sequel… please God NO.

A disappointing effort from Eli Roth who’s really enjoyed the limelight he’s been thrust into over the last few years since. ‘Cabin Fever’ was a great debut; it promised so much and won him so many fans as he spoke like a fan of the genre. He seems to be coasting along when he really should be pushing to make something great, he probably has the ability we’re just waiting to see it.

Quality: Averagely well made 2 out of 5 stars  

Any good: Not really 1 out of 5 stars


Hostel **½

Three backpackers in Amsterdam are locked out of their hostel. They trawl through the red light district, get drunk and are given information about a hostel in Slovakia where the girls are beautiful and love American men. The hostel is ‘To die for’

These opening scenes are supposed to give us some time to get to know our lead characters and therefore have some empathy for them when they’re inevitably tortured and killed.

Anyway the guys, Americans Paxton (Jay Hernandez), Josh (Derek Richardson) and Icelander Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson) head off to Slovakia and check-in to the hostel. On first impression it seems like the hostel is as they were led to believe. Not at all a front for a rich man’s club where they pay small fortunes to torture and kill backpackers with impunity… Or is it..?

Soon enough, they’re drugged, kidnapped and strapped into chairs in murky rooms… Torture ensues: tendons cut, fingers and toes severed etc, the usual stuff… then it’s a blow torch to an eye.

This is Eli Roth’s second feature after his fun debut ‘Cabin Fever’. Despite the bigger budget, higher production values and Quentin Tarantino as executive producer it’s not as good as his debut. Sure it’s a good idea for a horror film; it’s just not that good an idea. We’ve seen similar themes before and I’m sure Roth and Tarantino have seen the same movies being fans of horror and Grind house.

It’s well shot and the leads are okay. The gore when it arrives is suitably gruesome and it would seem that Roth has spent some time thinking how to hurt people.

I just don’t buy it. The whole premise of a hostel where these kids disappear from was like an ‘anti-The Beach’ and pointless.

SPOILER ALERT. Paxton’s escape and revenge is a little too contrived and totally unbelievable. The car chase killing of the bastards who led him to the hostel is a bad joke and the train station revenge feels like an add-on idea.

Not as bad as I’ve described it. But if you like this sort of thing, seeing people tortured then you’re sick and fortunately for you there are better movies out there. The horrific ‘The Girl Next Door’ was made on a fraction of the budget and has realistic, empathetic characters. Also ‘Martyrs’ leaves this in its wake for creepy chills and disturbing scenes of torture. If you can handle it ‘Salo: 120 Days of Sodom’ will disturb, horrify and scare the shit out of you in equal measures.

Quality: Well made 3 out of 5 stars

Any good: Not really, 2 out of 5 stars