SANTA MONICA, California — For once, it was Eli Roth being thrown into a chair.
After the wild ride that was his two brutal "Hostel" films, the controversial director swung by the MTV offices to discuss the Tuesday release of his new unrated DVDs: one for "Part II" and a reissue of the first one. Rather than chainsaws and scalpels, we preferred to get medieval on him with a pen, a notebook and a TV camera. Like so many of his cinematic victims, Roth let out some wild screams — read on for a passionate conversation about murder, Metallica and the fans he doesn't want anymore.
MTV: When one of your movies comes to DVD, what advantages does a second viewing give moviegoers?
Eli Roth: Well, anytime I make a movie, I like to load it up with more things than you could ever catch on the first viewing. ... The best part about DVD is you get the unrated version. When I'm shooting a film, I shoot full gore; I shoot absolutely everything ... I got to put all that stuff back in ... I never put out a vanilla edition of a DVD.
MTV: On the "Hostel: Part II" DVD, you give us a lighthearted gag reel, which without warning turns into blooper takes from the infamous castration scene. Thanks for that.
Roth: [He laughs.] Well, when we were cutting off the meat and two veg, as it were, you had to get it just right. During the rehearsals, it kind of flopped ... we wound up with about 15 different takes of the thing just flopping, over and over and over. So we edited it together as a joke in the editing room, and it was so funny.
MTV: You're also re-releasing the original "Hostel" on DVD and finally giving us a look at this now-mythical alternate ending.
Roth: Yeah, I had shot an ending for "Hostel" that I was like, "This is going to be a perfect ending." Then we showed it to audiences, and out of 300 people, 10 people were like, "Yeah, that was sick!," and the other 290 people were like, "What?"
MTV: I thought you originally wanted Paxton to get revenge by killing his captor's daughter. But the "alternate ending" shows him simply riding away with her in the train. So does he kill her or what?
Roth: The implication is that he was saving her. In the original script that I wrote, Jay [Hernandez] slit the little girl's throat ... I ultimately didn't buy that, that the character would do it ... instead, by taking the little girl, he knew that would torture that guy. ... But [test audiences] got caught up in the logic of what happens to the girl [after the train leaves], and that's what I didn't want to have happen.
MTV: While it's hard to track such things, "Hostel: Part II" is believed to be the most pirated movie ever, pre-release. Do you still blame such piracy for the weak opening of the film?
Roth: I don't know if it was the most downloaded film of all time, but there are tracking services that track what movies are being downloaded. And a copy of "Hostel 2" leaked out before its release and they had it, it was like millions and millions of hits. Not only was it downloaded, but in the countries it was downloaded — like Mexico and Brazil — there were copies on the street for practically a penny. You could buy "Hostel 2" for a quarter in Mexico City. As a result, in a lot of countries where the piracy was bad, they just didn't even release it.
MTV: Does that make you angry?
Roth: I'm furious. Here's the thing: It's real money. People say, "Oh, you can't get mad at people downloading." Well then, when are you supposed to get mad? If you don't speak out against it now, then when? You spend all this time making this product, and then people take it and steal it for free and pay nothing. And the audience that's specifically doing it is 17, 18, 19 — it's the college kids, and that's my audience. Unless you start an awareness about it, that it's not OK, then it's never going to change.
MTV: And by downloading, people are killing the very films they supposedly love.
Roth: There is no "Hostel 3"; it's not happening. I'm not saying it's the fault of piracy, but people have to be aware that it is a problem, and it does affect filmmakers.
MTV: By speaking out against piracy, are you afraid of becoming the filmmaking equivalent of Metallica?
Roth: I don't care about that. You know what? Metallica was right. What happened? Everyone got mad at Metallica, but now we all go to iTunes, and we spend 99 cents. Anytime you're the first to speak out against something, there's going to be a backlash. People already have the knives out for me; people are just jumping at the chance to say negative things about me, because of my outspoken nature and the subject matter of my films. People are very, very angry with me for putting that kind of violence in movies in cinemas. ... I've never been afraid to speak out about something if I believe in it. If the fans are going to get pissed, they're going to get pissed. I don't want those fans.
MTV: What's the latest on your adaptation of Stephen King's "Cell"?
Roth: The latest with "Cell" is that the script is not finished. I've realized that I can't multitask in the writing department; I can only kind of do one thing at a time. So right now I'm working on [a guest-director episode of] "Heroes," and then I'll work on "Trailer Trash," and then we'll see about "Cell" after that. (Read more about Roth's "Trailer Trash" here.)
MTV: On the "Hostel: Part II" DVD, you've restored a cool scene that has the would-be killers selecting from a wall of weaponry. If you were visiting the Hostel, what would be your weapon of choice?
Roth: Well, it really depends who I'd be killing. ... There are certain weapons that you just think, "God, I wonder what that would do to someone's face!" It also depends how much time I had. If there wasn't a lot of time, I would probably just take a chainsaw and split someone open down the middle, just to see what would happen. Or I would want to do something where you could chop someone's head off to see if they're still conscious and if their eyes could still look at you. What would that moment be like?
Check out everything we've got on "Hostel: Part II."
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