SANTA MONICA, California — In last year's surprise hit "Hostel," writer/director Eli Roth sliced a character's Achilles tendon, chopped off his lead actor's fingers, took a blowtorch to a woman's eyeball and showed children bludgeoning men to death because they wouldn't give them bubblegum. He caused more than one audience member to vomit and angered the unlikely duo of both conservatives and Slovakians. So it seems only logical to ask: What could he possibly do for a sequel?
" 'Hostel: Part II' is going to pick up, literally, [at] the next cut from where 'Hostel' left off — like, you could cut off the credits from 'Hostel' and 'Hostel: Part II' and it will play as one movie," the endlessly energetic filmmaker said of the project, which creates a seamless viewer experience reminiscent of the "Kill Bill" flicks recently made by Roth's producer Quentin Tarantino. "We're going to follow Jay Hernandez's story line and watch him continue. We're going to see three girls this time — Lauren German, Bijou Phillips and Heather Matarazzo — and watch how girls get lured to the hostel. We're also going to follow some clients from the moment they pay to kill these girls."
And this weekend, after 15 months of secrecy and anticipation, "Hostel" fans finally get to meet the fresh meat (see " 'Hostel: Part II' Will Be 'Far More Disturbing,' Eli Roth Reports").
"I think a lot of people like to see pain and torture," grinned German, who plays American tourist Beth in the film and fully appreciates the fact that — if she does her job properly — "Hostel" fans will want to see her get hacked, slashed and dismembered. "But when things start to go bad this time, there will be a different level of fear for these characters because they are female ... to see women get put through what some of the characters go through in this film? It's really hard to watch."
"As a society, we always look out for women — especially young girls," added Phillips, the "Bully" star who plays wild-child American tourist Whitney. "Three girls? In college abroad? That just seems like the most vulnerable situation that you could put your daughter, your sister or even your girlfriend in. So, when you go and see this movie and you're sitting there with your daughter, sister or girlfriend, you're just like, 'Oh my God! I love you! You are never going away [on vacation]!' "
As any fan of the torture genre knows, a key ingredient is the filmgoers' ability to project themselves into the poor sap handcuffed to that rusty chair. While Roth admits that may have been easier for the male viewers watching a "Hostel" plot with Hernandez and friends lured in by sex, drugs and topless beauties, he insists that his original intention was to be an equal-opportunity offender.
"Women, if they had one complaint about the first one, they said it was too much female nudity," Roth shrugged. "I tell them: I tried to get naked guys, but they canceled on me the day of shooting. ... In the first one, the sex was a part of it because these guys were paying for hookers — and they effectively become the hookers in the window that they're making fun of. ... This time ... I started the movie off with a shot of a nude guy just like, 'OK, you want some nude dude? There ya go.' "
But still, Roth needed a way to lure his leading ladies into the Slovakian terror organization that feeds off wealthy businessmen's desires to hunt civilians. After some thinking, he came up with the one piece of bait that no woman could resist.
"A spa day," Phillips laughed.
"As opposed to going for drugs and sex," German added, "we would like to just have a nice massage."
And so, "II" has its female characters heading to a near-mythical hot springs location that promises them luxury and relaxation — but delivers quite the opposite.
"As soon as you see girls, it's like the difference between hunting a lion and hunting a deer," Roth explained of the horrific spa-abduction scenes. "When someone kills a lion, it's like they're a brave hunter. But if they kill a deer, you go, 'Aww, that poor deer.' "
Back in 1960, reports of a nation afraid to take showers surfaced in the months after "Psycho." Now, Roth and crew hope to do the same for the slippers-and-white-robe set.
"Spa memberships will decrease," Phillips predicted. "I'd think anyone, if they were going to get a massage, would definitely want to bring some sort of protection, like a weapon."
"I'm going to bring mace," German laughed. "Imagine going to Burke Williams on Sunset and Crescent?"
"If I went to a spa after seeing this movie," Phillips added, pretending to be scared, "I would be sitting in the water, and there would be a part of me that would be looking around to make sure [no one was watching]."
Naturally, there will once again be Slovakians insisting that their country is being falsely depicted; there will once again be outraged conservatives accusing Roth of making "torture porn." But, according to Roth and the "Hostel" fans who made his movie #1 at the box-office last year, there is a place in the world for what he does so well (see " 'Hostel' Of Horrors Checks In At #1").
"Look, the good thing about 'Hostel: Part II' is everybody knows what it is. If you don't want to see it, if you don't want to be scared, then stay the hell away," Roth fumed, responding to those who fill his IMDb page regularly with hatred and dismissals. "It's like parents going, 'Oh, that crazy rock and roll music, it's the music of the devil!' Did Eminem's music really inspire violence from anyone? Remember how up in arms people were about him, and remember how panicked people were over 'Married With Children'? [People thought those things] were the downfall of civilization."
"We want you to be scared and get it out of your system, because it feels good — it's very healthy," Roth concluded. "I know it's difficult to watch, but that's why I wrote scenes that are enjoyable and horrifying. Ultimately, the goal is to build the scariest, baddest, nastiest roller-coaster in the amusement park."
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