|10.09.05||Alamo South Lamar||This Screening is part of event: FantasticFest 2005|
After Bronx Warriors let out, I was faced with a difficult decision. The next shows were Bloodshots: winners from a 48-hour short film production contest held recently, and the first four episodes of an anime called Hagukei which was apparently a sci-fi translation of Moby Dick. I really didn't want to sit through bloodshots and had unfortunately already stuffed myself during Sin City so there was nothing to do but see Hagukei.
The short that played before it, Herman the legal Labrador, was amusing. It is how it sounds: a dog lawyer puts on pants and goes to court. It's all animated of course, and has occasional chuckles with evil pizza men or something. I guess it's an Australian TV pilot episode...
Then Hagukei started. I'd heard from one other person who'd seen it instead of Miracle Mile on Friday say it started out slow but by the time it finished you wanted to see the rest of the series. Personally, by the time the second episode ended, the already-thin crowd of maybe a dozen had dwindled to 6. I sort of realized that I would have a better time standing outside watching a parking lot on a Sunday afternoon than sitting through the next two episodes of this and left. Maybe die-hard anime fans or die-hard Moby Dick fans or the exclusive club of die-hard Moby Dick anime fans would love this, but since I'm not a huge anime fan even when it's good, this was completely lost on me. I don't want to spend too much time tearing it apart so I'll just leave it at this: In the first episode credits, they listed a voice actor for Moby Dick and I had no clue if he was in the episode or not.
About 90 minutes of parking lot-observation later, a line started forming for the biggest "closing" film of the fest: Hostel.
Tim came out to introduce the film to a packed house. He explained how Eli Roth was a "friend" of the Alamo Drafthouse, and proceeded to list off all the stuff Eli had participated in (Premiering Cabin Fever here in an all-night horror movie marathon held in an abandoned Loony Bin, manning a lemonade counter as well, bringing the teenager remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark to the drafthouse, and hosting the "Olsen Twins 18th Birthday Party Bash" where he got up with his loose-fitting shorts on and announced that he'd masturbated in the back of the theater to a house filled with 14-year old girls), and said that we could all blame some of the twisted horrific stuff that goes on in this movie to Harry Knowles, who apparently passed on a few ideas to Mr. Roth via late-night phone chats.
I guess there's a tiny bit of hype surrounding this movie on the Internet right now. I personally haven't read all of the reports that say it's the goriest movie ever or that it takes horror to a completely new level or that it's the most "important" horror film of the century... but I did really like Cabin Fever and had heard the basic outline of Hostel which made me really interested to see it.
I'm trying to not mention any spoilers, but if you want to stop reading now I will just tell you this: Roth gives us what we want. Sex & violence is on the menu and that is what we get, in that order even. Each is done pretty damn well and, as long as you get that "important" crap out of your head, you are almost guaranteed to enjoy yourself.
That said, there's no way the MPAA will release the cut they showed us. Sorry, guys... but it will be a long wait for that DVD to come out and finally see the version that's creating all this hype. What's funny is that they'll probably only have to shorten a few of the gristliest scenes of gore and violence, but all the shots of beautiful full-frontal naked women will have to go. Damn us Americans.
For anyone that's ever done the backpack-trip-through-Europe or visited Europe on a field trip or anything like that when you were in your late teens, you probably have a subtle awareness of how vulnerable you are when you're over there. Sure everyone's nice and stuff but they're almost too nice, and when you venture out to more local-friendly places you get glimpses of surprising levels of animosity. Of course, most of the time it's because you're in a whole group of drunk horny teens running wild in another country. So the premise of Hostel seems eerily possible to me. You read about the sex-industry stuff that goes on in some countries and can't really deny a violence-correlative existing somewhere. Throw in how the American sex industry seems to be invading eastern-European countries right now and you've got a project worthy of Eli Roth's attention.
Anyway, I'm a bit hesitant to get into any of the details... some of them are really great and although the "big reveal" is neither that big or revealing, it's unfolded in a really nice way so I don't want to just say it. I will say to keep on the lookout for a Takashi Miike cameo, as Harry Knowles has mentioned a few times in his reportage that Hostel is basically Eli's reaction to seeing Miike's work.
There is one specific thing that I have to bring up though, because it's the biggest event to emerge in the whole Fest. QT6 had animated penises and retard handymen, FantasticFest has an emerging pattern as well. In the last four days, I have seen so many fingers get cut off it's not even funny. Hostel, Dark Hours, Wolf Creek, and malefique (Strings too if you count the whole hand) ALL have finger-lopping scenes. It must be finger-harvesting season or something... crazy.
Anyway, Hostel's a really fun movie that made us all cheer and yell out and got me reveling in a few moments that were just so joyously wrong that I couldn't contain myself. A few times, I'd see where Roth was going with a scene and immediately ball my hands into fists and just wait for it to pay off, because it's pretty damn sweet when it does. If/When you can, definitely see this movie.
Oh, before that they played Restaurant Dogs, Eli's student film that won him a student academy award. It starts off as a fantasy take-off on Reservoir dogs where Ronald McDonald and his crew have stolen the Burger King's Dairy Queen and this guy who just wanted a milkshake goes on a mission to save her. Then it starts to get weird, cutting back and forth from live-action fast-food violence to incredibly bizarre collage animation. It sort of hops, skips and jumps between homages to lots of different films, even lifting Army of Darkness' ending... sort of. Incredibly strange and definitely showing Eli's roots.