I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

early review: Hostel Part III (plus, revisiting HOSTELs 1-2)

tn_hosteliiiI don’t know how much faith I’d normally have in a DTV sequel to HOSTEL that Eli Roth didn’t have anything to do with, but this one has a good pedigree: it’s directed by Scott Spiegel. He’s no visionary, but he’s not a nobody either. He was one of the producers of HOSTEL, he was the co-writer of EVIL DEAD 2, he directed that grocery store siege movie INTRUDER, he co-wrote THE ROOKIE with Boaz Yakin. Most important for this though he directed FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 2: TEXAS BLOOD MONEY, which for a long time was one of the best DTV movies in existence, especially among sequels to theatrical releases. To be honest I haven’t seen it in years, but I remember it being relentless in its use of gimmicky POV shots, putting us into the perspective of a dog doing push-ups, an oscillating fan, the inside of a bat’s mouth, etc. If you could accept that it was gonna be a low rent follow-up to a better movie it was a fun time.

mp_hosteliiiWell, HOSTEL PART III (coming December 17th) doesn’t have too many of those POV shots (it does have guy-getting-his-face-cut-off-POV and one from inside a mouth that bugs are crawling into), and it’s ugly and cheap looking compared to the other ones, but it’s an enjoyable movie and a smart way to do a sequel. I’ll try not to go into too much detail because what I enjoyed about it is the way it keeps pulling out new surprises and twists and reversals on the expectations we have based on having seen the other movies. I’m not saying it’s MARTYRS or anything, but it does a good job of making you feel like you know where it’s going and then suddenly doing a violent U-turn without telling you to hold on first.

If the guys in the first HOSTEL didn’t go on a trip and instead stayed home and watched a movie, which movie do you think they would watch? Well, probly back then it would’ve been WEDDING CRASHERS, but now days it would be THE HANGOVER. Don’t get me wrong, I thought that movie was pretty funny, but it is something of a sacred text among the douche community, so I like that now there’s a HOSTEL with the same basic setup: right before a wedding the groom’s bros (including DRIVEN’s Kip Pardue, now playing yuppie scum instead of naive up-and-comer) bring him on  a wild (and hidden from the bride) hooker-filled bachelor party trip to Vegas. And, you know, things get out of hand, but not in the same way that they do in the HANGOVER movies.

As in all HOSTELs there are loose women who perhaps are untrustworthy, beefy bored-looking security thugs in leather jackets, sadistic super-rich people, scary warehouses, roofies, misdirection, occasional torture and mutilation. Despite their continued reputation as “torture porn” the HOSTEL movies are not about trying to get you off on torture, or about rubbing your nose in it for long stretches. The torture is just there long enough to make you squirm and tell the characters to get the fuck out of there. Just like a good slasher movie you’re rooting for them to get away, even when they’re assholes.

And most of these guys are assholes, it’s sort of back to part 1 territory in that sense. But Spiegel’s sense of humor (he’s one of Sam Raimi’s childhood Super-8 buddies) and the lower production values make this even more of a goof. There definitely aren’t any scenes as grueling as the Countess Bathory/Heather-Matarazzo-hanging-upside-down scene in part 2.

In HOSTEL, the Elite Hunting Club security guys watch porn movies while on duty. In Part III one of them is watching BLACK DYNAMITE.

Setting it in Las Vegas takes away one of the major elements of the first two HOSTELs: that classic tourists vs. locals tension. It’s like in TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, those kids shouldn’t be nosing around on somebody else’s property. It’s rude and it’s dangerous. HOSTEL has that same conflict but with arguably more obnoxious characters. It takes advantage of the guilt and embarrassment I feel about my countrymen going into someone else’s home and being assholes. And of course there’s the “it’s dangerous” part of it – as rational humans we don’t understand what goes on behind Leatherface’s mask or behind his metal door, as foreigners we don’t really understand what’s going on in this town. The fear of the unknown.

Well, obviously this part of Vegas is a place designed for exactly those type of obnoxious tourists, there’s no problem with them being here. And the feeling of being lured in and tricked that they had in HOSTEL is sort of the whole vibe of Vegas. One character even comments on it. There is no problem with them being foreign to the place, but in Vegas there is that knowledge that brutal security teams and mafia are behind every mirror and every business, even if you don’t know about the Elite Hunting Club.

And it definitely maintains another major element of the previous HOSTELs, the idea of there being an elite class that enjoys basically using everybody else as cum rags. None of the protagonists are poor (and one of part 2’s has Bruce Wayne money) but it is the super-rich, the 1% I guess, who can say “You know what, I think I’ll treat myself to a dressing-up-in-surgeon’s-gear-and-drilling-a-guy weekend getaway. I work hard. I deserve it.” In the Vegas version the elite class are not only the “hunters,” but also high rollers, big stakes gamblers who watch the torture from a viewing room and bet on what will happen. Maybe the best image in the movie focuses on the pantsless lower body of a cocktail waitress doing her job, undisturbed by the mayhem erupting on the other side of the glass.

HOSTEL PART III is a DTV sequel in the old tradition of the DARKMANs and the FROM DUSK TILL DAWNs. It’s kind of a freebie sequel. If it was a theatrical release it would be a little disappointing, but as DTV you’re glad they made it. You can enjoy it without it completely counting. Some people who don’t really like the first two might even like it better, but maybe not. Alot of its cleverness comes from familiarity with the other two. It knows what you expect and it uses that knowledge against you, keeps playing tricks on you.

I’m being kind of vague, partly on account of I don’t want to ruin the little twists that made the movie fun for me, but to be honest alot of it has already left my head. I enjoyed the movie enough that it made me go back and re-watch the other two, and those kind of took over my thoughts. I’m not sure if I ever watched HOSTEL a second time on video, I might’ve. But I definitely only saw part 2 the one time in the theater. Watching them again I like them much better than I used to. And I don’t know if you guys would agree but when I go back and read my original reviews I feel like I missed the boat on both of them. The things I railed against seem pretty arbitrary now, I’m not even sure what my problem was, and I spent too much time on the unfair reaction I thought they got from others. It’s funny how different things seem when you’ve got some distance and you’re removed from the context of the time (what was said in the advertising, what the initial critical consensus was, what other horror movies had come out recently, what you were expecting going in, all that shit that doesn’t even come to mind when I watch it now).

still_hostel
This time HOSTEL got me going from the great opening credits sequence: closeups of blood, teeth and soap suds as some guy mops up an ungodly mess, whistling to himself the whole time. Then it goes into this story about three dudes in Amsterdam trying to get laid, and finding out about this too-good-to-be-true village full of hot women who will fuck any guy. I mean, it’s true, but they do it so they can sell the guys to a criminal organization that offers them up to be tortured by rich people. HOSTEL was THE SURE THING for the Bush years.

As I remembered, the protagonists are pretty obnoxious, and they die in reverse likability order. Watching it now that seems much more deliberate than I thought at the time. Back then it seemed to me like Jay “prequel Carlito” Hernandez was kind of a dipshit because Eli Roth relates to that type of guy, but now I think he’s just trying to challenge us to go along with the guy that didn’t seem like the hero. I still don’t think it entirely works, but I definitely let bygones be bygones when shit gets bad, and I root for the guy to get away. Plus, he earns hero status in the scene where he has a chance to get away but hears a girl screaming and goes back in to try to help her. (Whether or not his amateur medical assistance for her hanging eyeball situation is helpful I will leave to the experts.)

And I forgot about some of the stuff that really works: the kid apologizing for flipping out on the old guy that put his hand on his knee, not knowing that’s the guy that’s gonna torture him; the great scene where Hernandez has to play along with a client who’s psyching himself up to go kill somebody; the hopeless attempt to not only escape but to maintain custody of his two severed fingers in case they can be re-attached. There are a few horrendous bodily mutilations to get through, but this still has a little bit of the CABIN FEVER type of fun, funny horror. I forgot about the great crowd pleasing moments at the end (SPOILERS: the Marcellus-Wallace-on-the-crosswalk-esque running-over-the-girls scene, and the hilarious buying-out-the-pack-of-wild-kids scene, with the insane head-caving-in shot).

One thing I had definitely not seen is the “director’s cut” ending. I put that in quotes because Roth says on the commentary that he prefers the theatrical cut or unrated ending, which is the one part II follows up on. He didn’t buy that the protagonist would do what he does in the scene. But it kind of blew me away, I thought it actually qualified as shocking.

In the ending I’d seen before Hernandez has escaped, and he sees that the businessman who tortured his friend to death is on his train. He ambushes the man in a train station restroom and slashes him to death with a scalpel. A simple revenge ending.

The ending I hadn’t seen before is not nearly as graphic, but goes way further over the line. In this version the businessman goes into the restroom, and he’s washing his face in the sink. The camera slowly moves in on him from behind, like Hernandez is sneaking up on him. Suddenly the businessman turns – but no one is there. The scalpel is abandoned on a sink. I guess he had second thoughts.

But the sicko’s not out of the woods yet. His beloved daughter is in the women’s restroom. He waits for her, worried, and it takes forever. He goes in to check, she’s not in there. He rushes around the station in a panic, yelling her name.

A train pulls out. Through the window we see that Hernandez is on it, holding a leather glove over the mouth of the daughter, trying to stop her screaming and crying. The end.

Holy shit! I couldn’t believe that. I did not expect this guy to go that far. But then again, how far is he going? I love the ambiguity of it. Is he gonna kill a little girl? Even just kidnapping her, that’s fucked up. But maybe he thinks he needs to rescue her from being raised by a sadistic murderer? We don’t really know.

What the fuck is he doing? How far is he even gonna get, trying to gag this crying little girl in front of all those people? It’s fuckin crazy. I never seen an ending like that. I loved it.

And I love how comparing the endings messes with our sense of morality. We’re on board with him chopping the guy’s fingers off, sticking his head in a toilet and slitting his throat. For that we can applaud. But he kidnaps the daughter, then we turn on him.

I actually prefer that ending. But I guess I can understand why they were afraid of it. And the one they went with is fine. Either way, I’m on the HOSTEL train now. I like it.

still_hostelii
I remember I liked HOSTEL PART II better than the first one. I was surprised to re-read my review and see that I was pretty mixed on it at the time. I still like it better than part I, but I’m not mixed. Now I think it’s a really good movie, a great sequel and one of the best American horror movies of the decade, for whatever that’s worth.

The first obvious advantage is the less hatable protagonists. The part 1 dudes were just horny assholes on a trip trying to get laid, the part 2 ladies are art school students taking a weekend trip out of town. Yeah, Bijou Phillips is kind of a bitch, always talking shit about Heather Matarazzo, but you feel bad for Heather, and Lauren Germane is a solid Final Girl who is smart and capable and willing to climb over a wall with bare feet. In the slasher movie tradition she seems to notice what the others don’t notice and suspect something is up, although she doesn’t really accept that it’s really happening until it’s too late.

The girls are lured to the same village and hostel as in part 1. The guys were lured there with the promise of tons of hot chicks who will fuck them, in this one we learn that they lure girls there the opposite way: by telling them about a spa where they can get away from guys. Between the foggy spa and the night time outdoor parties (with music and dancing and villagers in festive masks) this one has more atmosphere and production value than the first one. It cleverly works as ominous and creepy to us (since we know what’s going on here) but also as something that would seem like a great time to the unsuspecting.

But the sequelizing masterstroke is the B-plot about two white collar American dudes becoming first time clients of the Elite Hunting Club. Instead of planning some big rafting trip or something the thing they’ve always dreamed of is to pool their money to go to Europe and pay to murder. One is a macho alpha male who’s really pumped about it, the other is meek and has second thoughts but is curious and sort of being pushed into it. He questions himself and his buddy tries to convince him that they’re just doing what everybody would if they could, that man’s nature is fucked up, etc.

Through movie convention we’re almost tricked into siding with the wimpy guy, because he’s not entirely sure about paying money to torture and murder an innocent girl. So he’s the good guy! And through their eyes we see more of the nuts and bolts of the operation, starting with the diabolical auction montage of rich people in board rooms and on golf courses, or even watching their grandchildren riding a carousel, checking their phones and bidding on our protagonists based on their passport photos (scanned by the kid at the front desk of the hostel, same guy from part 1). (I was gonna quote THEY LIVE’s “It figures it would be something like this” here, but then I re-read my original review and that’s what I did the first time around. Alike minds think alike.)

I think PART II really hits the horror ball out of the park of terror with the (SPOILER) death of Matarazzo’s character. Roth uses the diabolical trick of killing off the least deserving character first and most horribly. She’s not just drilled or something, she’s hung upside down naked while some guys casually light candles and set some mood lighting and then a lady with a Countess Bathory fetish lays nude beneath her, slashing playfully at her with a scythe and hornily rubbing the spillage all over herself. I gotta admit that even though I’d seen and liked the scene before I still had to look away a couple times. What sells it is a fuckin balls-out performance by Matarazzo, who you can tell is really hanging there by the way the veins pop out of her neck. One of the commentary tracks confirms that it was not some type of digital trickery. They couldn’t believe how game she was and she even did multiple takes and asked if there was more she could be doing. The other actresses were on set and it sounds like they kinda felt like the other rappers in “Scenario” when they heard Busta Rhymes’s verse.

That’s the most horrific scene, but there are other ones that show that things are not looking good for our girls here. This time we actually see Sacha, the head of the operation, who keeps the literal head of part 1’s protagonist as a souvenir. So this guy is not playing around. When a pack of street kids like the ones who ultimately (temporarily) saved the hero’s ass in part 1 interfere (and not in a very severe way) he slowly points a gun at each of their heads, and just when it seems like he’ll leave it at that he forces them to choose one among them to be executed. And they do it. It’s a cold fuckin world. How is some aspiring painter who likes going to spas gonna get through this gauntlet?

Watching it now I think HOSTEL PART II is a great sequel. It does what the first one did better and adds alot more layers to it. It builds off the premise and mythology and shows it from different, more interesting angles. It has a part where the torturers are trying on different masks and shit they could wear and joking around like a couple of normal dudes. It’s kinda brilliant.

Man, is somebody gonna let Eli Roth direct another movie soon? Let’s get this going, Hollywood.
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kinda dumb original review of HOSTILE
convoluted original review of HOSTILE PART II

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 at 11:48 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

102 Responses to “early review: Hostel Part III (plus, revisiting HOSTELs 1-2)”

  1. I loved the first two movies, although they’re not perfect. The second one is a great sequel, in a way better than the first, only the ending seemed a bit rushed for me. Looking forward to the third one. Oh, and great review, Vern! As always…

  2. I think the HOSTELs have aged really well. They have a distinctive style and a point of view that goes beyond “Dude, this is some fucked up shit right here, high five!” Somehow Roth got a reputation for being a mindless douchebag, kind of the Brett Ratner of horror, but he’s one of the only guys working in the genre who’s trying to push it forward and not just serve up the same old slop in higher quantities. Like the greats, he’s not embarrassed of the genre’s excesses, but he knows they should be used to make some kind of point, not as an end in themselves. I hope he gets a movie off the ground soon because the genre really needs him.

  3. I like Eli Roth. Cabin Fever is fun and the two Hostel movies are effective.

    Why is he so hated? I don’t get it. It isn’t like he directed the TCM remake or anything.

    Actually, now that I think of it I would be totally okay seeing his take on TCM.

  4. I rather liked HOSTEL I & II and I’m glad to hear that III is ok. On the other hand, SPRING FEVER, the DTV sequel to CABIN FEVER, is complete garbage.

  5. I kind of liked CABIN FEVER 2. I know the director disowned it but I think it’s got some enjoyably Troma-esque energy to it. It’s not a good movie, per se, but I don’t think it’s completely without value. I’d probably even watch it again.

  6. I don’t know, to me it just looked like they had a terrible script for a completely generic slasher film, and just before they started filming somebody suggested that they replaced the generic masked killer with the CABIN FEVER disease so that people would buy the DVD. They still wanted to use the 10,000 liters of fake blood they had prepared for the slasher version, and the makeup department didn’t have time to work on new special effects, so most of the time you just see the victims vomit blood instead of having their skin fall off. And then at the end because the disease isn’t going to chase the last survivors around the high school hallways like a masked killer would, they shoehorned in a special ops team. I guess it can still be compared to a Troma film. Not one of the few good, funny ones, one of the many terrible, barely watchable ones.

  7. I can see that. My tastes have long since been eroded by decades of watching far worse crap than CABIN FEVER 2, so I’m not sure my tolerance for it is much of an endorsement.

  8. man, my eyes just about popped out of my head when I saw this review, not only was I not expecting a new Vern review so soon, but a review of Hostel 3? I was not even aware that Hostel 3 was about to come out or even had been filmed yet

    anyway I am an unapologetic defender of Hostel 1 and 2 and Eli Roth in general, I rented the two Hostels on dvd in 2009 after a couple of years of hearing that they were nothing but “torture porn” and imagine my surprise when I learned that instead they were fucking awesome thrillers with nowhere near as much torture as I had been lead to believe

    I absolutely loved them and I’m not ashamed to admit it, I’ve been meaning to buy them on blu ray one day and I guess when I eventually do I’ll have to pick up this one as well, I’m glad to hear it’s not a total embarrassment but I can’t help but wish it was theatrical with Roth directing again

    by the way, I loved Cabin Fever as well, in the 2000’s there were countless self aware horror flicks that were basically nothing but big homages to past horror flicks, but Cabin Fever was not only one of the first to do that, but also one of the best

  9. and yeah, Eli Roth needs to get off his ass and direct another movie again

  10. I would have preferred a Hostel 3 that was told entirely from the perspective of an Elite Hunting Club member, or perhaps one of the organization’s Sirens. In my head the movie could play like King of New York. But instead of trying to control the heroin trade, the Christopher Walken character is trying to take back control of the Elite Hunting Club. You could have way more torture scenes and snippets and a totally new take on the gimmick that could actually *explain* the other films pretty well.

    Also, the movie would start with a scene of snow falling in the woods, Winter Wonderland status. Then, a girl, covered in blood and missing an arm or some shit runs out into the clearing, moving in extreme slow motion. She’s being chased by a crazed killer. She escapes the first one, but is captured by two others. As she dies, we get a POV of her looking up at the sky and see that it wasn’t a winter wonderland at all — it was the smoke stacks of the Elite Hunting Club bellowing human ash into the sky.

    Cut to title.

    I saw Hostel part 1 at a test screening. It was really wild. I saw part 2 with a girlfriend…it gave her a panic attack.

  11. I absolutely loved Hostel 1. Hostel 2, although I loved the twist regarding the two “clients”, I wasn’t sold on the movie. I didn’t think it worked, and for the exact opposite reason that Vern said: in “Hostel”, it works BECAUSE the protagonists are so unlikeable (at least at the beginning). You expect to hate these characters from the start, and all of a sudden – you don’t. The final kid turns out to have nobility. Nobility, in a horror movie, for fuck’s sake. Where the heck else can you see that?

    Hostel 2… is not in any way as interesting as Hostel 1. I don’t think it “got” what made the original great. The final girl is… well… a final girl. Seen her a million times, although not the way she finally gets out of danger, which I’ll admit is original, but also very convenient. I didn’t like her. Didn’t dislike her either. Didn’t really see much from her either way. Whereas the protagonist of Hostel 1 is a genuinely interesting character who develops throughout the film. So I don’t “get” what’s so special about Hostel 2. Even reading Vern’s review, and some of the comments above, I’m still not seeing it. Sorry guys. I don’t think it’s BAD. I just think it’s not really that interesting, the two clients aside. If it had focussed on that story, it might’ve been better.

    But I will maintain to my dying breath that “Hostel” is an underappreciated masterpiece. One of the best straight horror movies I’ve ever seen. The scoring, the cinematography, the atmosphere, the setup, the climax, even the ending (which I know a lot of people didn’t like but I did) – everything is just perfect in that movie for me.

    I’m kinda interested to see this one now, even though I clearly disagree with Vern on the “Hostel” phenomenon in general. Didn’t know anybody had made a third one, but how bad can it be?

  12. one thing I really liked about Hostel 2 *SPOILER* was how the Elite Hunting Club had improved their security to the point where it was pretty much impossible to escape this time, which was why the final girl had to do what she did

    man, I really wish I could have seen the Hostels when they were in theaters….

  13. The ending of HOSTEL 2 seemed like a letdown at the time, but the more I thought about it, the more perfect it felt. How do you fight evil rich bastards? Have more money than them. Don’t have more money than them? Get your dick cut off. Boom.

  14. Oh, and “Hostel” is a great example of what I was saying about scoring making-or-breaking a film. There’s two scenes, fairly early in the movie. The first one where the protagonists are just coming into the Czech village, the second when the main protagonist is revisiting it alone. The content of the scenes is almost identical; but in the first scene, the music is idyllic, like paradise. In the second scene it goes into full-on “creep you the fuck out” mode. These scenes are incredibly effective, but without the score to highlight the eeriness of the protagonist’s “deja-vu”, it wouldn’t work.

  15. Yeah, both HOSTELs benefit from repeat viewings, though I loved the first one right from the start. This was entirely because I went into it blind and had no idea what was coming (much like Martyrs, which I love for the same reason). I hated Part 2 when I saw it, but as I was complaining to a friend about it, things began clicking and all the things I hated suddenly made sense. For instance, I hated the beginning because I was disappointed that Paxton (?), who had a certain amount of nobility in the first one, didn’t do anything to expose what was going on in Hostelville and then just dies in a FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2 homage. Then I got that his fate is entirely due to the fact he pussied out. If he had talked to the US Embassy or the media about what happened, it would be a lot harder to slip in and cut his head off with no one noticing except his girlfriend. But he kept his mouth shut and allowed people to continue dying, so he got what he deserved. It was a moralistic statement. And it works well with then end of the movie, which I also hated at first but now dig. Come to think of it, he was also totally cheating on his girlfriend through the beginning of the first movie, but I think it was mostly the being a coward part that got him killed, moralistically speaking.

  16. This might well be on the road to becoming the only HOSTEL which I consider remotely watchable. I saw DUSK TIL DAWN 2 a few months back and positively adored it (my review is linked below). For posterity, the POV shots I listed at the time are:

    POV from Tiffani-Amber Theissen, observing a bat between her boobs
    POV from a cooler, opened to take beer out
    POV from a water dish, as a dog drinks
    POV from a rotating fan, going back and forth
    POV from the hood of a car with bull horns on the front
    POV from an actual bull
    POV from a bat, flying around
    POV from a TV of the people watching it
    POV from a guy doing push-ups (up and down – hoping they’d bring this back during the sex scene, but no dice)
    POV of map, looking at the ceiling
    POV from a bag, as things are put into it
    POV from the dial on a safe, spinning around
    POV from inside a vampire’s mouth (twice)
    POV from inside a skull (regular)
    POV from inside a skull (on fire)

    http://wearecursedtoliveininterestingtimes.blogspot.com/2011/07/from-dusk-till-dawn-2-texas-blood-money.html

  17. I remember HOSTEL being off-puttingly unentertaining.

    I remember CABIN FEVER being terrible.

    Vern appears to have waited 4-5 years to revisit & reassess Eli Roth movies. I think I’ll wait a bit longer.

  18. I liked HOSTEL. I think it’s the most effectively manipulative of audience expectations of any recent movie, horror or otherwise. HOSTEL II was fun, a bit bigger and less manipulative, more straight forward.

    I still like the SAW series more. I’m personally more interested in the points Jigsaw is trying to make and the ways victims try to survive. Even as it got diluted in later sequels, they still stuck to the integrity of the franchise so it was never just more grosser kills. And even in parts VI and VII their twist endings got me. I never caught on.

  19. And thank you, Vern, for not spoiling HOSTEL IIi. I’m looking forward to the ways it can surprise yet again.

  20. Really Fred? You didn’t guess the ending of Saw VII after Saw II? I think you’re the only one.
    I guess it says something that the franchise had a strong enough through line that I could guess the final reveal about 5 movies early, but it was also a lameduck way to go out. That said, Saw VI is probably about as good as the original. In fact, on the whole, Saw and Phantasm are probably the two best modern horror franchises.

    Jason never had an *actually* good movie.
    Halloween would have been better off as an anthology series.
    Freddy gets unwatchable after part 3.
    Chucky is awesome, but turns toward comedy.
    Hellraiser is unwatchable after part 1.
    Candyman is unwatchable after part 1.
    Half the Final Destination movies are awesome, but the other half are utterly soporific.
    Scream didn’t need sequels. Like *really* didn’t.
    Psycho is not really the same genre.
    none of the NINE Grudge movies are worth a damn.
    Only the American remake of The Ring is worth a damn.
    Texas Chain Saw has 2 good entries and 4 horrible ones.
    Exorcist has 2 good entries and 3 terrible ones, two of which are prequels…sidequels?
    Amityville? Fuck you for suggesting it.
    Paranormal Activity is like taking a handful of Valium. And not in a way that is fun.
    The Omen…brilliant original. Never bothered with the sequels.
    Night of the Living Dead is pretty great, but that movie’s too old to be ‘modern.’

    Am I missing any?

  21. Also, extra points for being the only film to ever actually crush a character in a crushing walls room.

  22. If I think about it, it really is weird how hated Eli Roth is. He is technically a “friend of the internet”, hanging out with Harry Knowles, Edgar Wright, Tarantino and always willing to show his geeky side in public. But I guess once you start blocking people on social networks, for surprisingly politely saying that they didn’t like your latest movie or maybe even just that it was pretty good, but not 100% successful in what it wants to be, you cross a line.

  23. Tawdry: If I remember right, that awful THIRTHIRTEENEN GHOSTS had a crushing room crushing too.

  24. CJ Holden – one of the easiest ways to make the internet hate you is to become a “friend of the internet”

    yeah, I know it doesn’t make any sense, but there it is

  25. As far as I know, Eli Roth was the first one who had such a strong backlash. Even Kevin Smith had to wait longer until he was hated that much. Other “friends”, like Claudia Schiffer’s husband or Edgar Wright are still pretty welcome.

  26. It never did seem fair that HOSTEL got labeled as “torture porn,” even if it was a main impetus for that term becoming popular. Same goes for the first SAW. They are pretty decent movies with some torture themes — but anyone looking for true torture movies will be sorely disappointed.

    Perhaps Eli Roth and James Wan should make friends. (If they’re not friends already? I don’t know, they’re not my friends.)

  27. FERMAT’S ROOM has walls closing in to crush people. It’s kind of a horror-thriller. 4 or 5 math experts are invited to a secluded cabin for a mysterious intellectual exercise and then they get locked in and forced to answer riddles. A wrong answer makes the walls collapse closer and there’s twists and fun surprises.

    It’s a pretty good movie.

  28. Roth’s bad reputation came (at least for me) from his Cabin Fever commentary. This is an old memory, but he had huge airs about his unremarkable familiarity with horror films and regularly seemed to place his not-bad one in the company of the greats. Can’t remember if he was a gore-for-gore’s-sake guy; definitely remember a really sniggering attitude toward women: Here’s the actress I hired and I want to talk mostly about her tits, and as director I got to command a whole bunch of auditioners to show me their tits, heh heh heh.

    Since then he has praised less-commonplace horror influences and earned the Rosario Dawson seal of approval, so he can’t be as unbearable as he came off then.

  29. That picture of Roth wearing a giant prosthetic penis probably didn’t win him too many fans either.

  30. And when he claimed he was a “warrior fighting against political correctness” when someone complained about the use of “the other F-Word” in his movies.

    I thought the HOSTELs were mildly diverting, and interesting for what they represented in that particular point in the genre, but no more. I agree with Fred that the SAWseseseses are more interesting. They are a fascinating ballance of movies that are dumber and more insulting than you can possibly imagine, and ones that are cleverer than you would ever expect.

    And Chuck was surely always tilting towards comedy?

  31. I didn’t know any of that about Eli Roth. My taking a disliking to him is more a visceral thing to just how he looks like Zachary Quinto’s weaselier, douchier older brother. His character in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS was also a bit obnoxious. That’s it really. Nothing of much substance.

  32. I would have preferred if Roth had announced the names of Yankees greats instead of Red Sox players when he batted the Nazi’s head.

    Still, he was decent in the cast of the best movie of 2009, so that’s a point in the “pro” column.

  33. Also, when I hear “Bear Jew”, I imagine someone more like Bill Goldberg than Roth.

  34. My problem with Roth is that his films always feel like they take themselves far too seriously for the amount of depth they have. They really fall into that category of seeming to think being grim is the same thing as being adult. They’re reasonably well made, but just not all that interesting or very much fun. I actually prefer the much smirk-ier CABIN FEVER.

    However, his immediate and unmissable unlikeable qualities have served him well in INGLORIOUS BASTERDS and PIRANHA 3D, so it’s all OK.

  35. Yankees suck! Yankees suck! Yankees suck!

    Go Sox!

    Sorry. Fenway flashback there. But as a proud native of Newton, Mass Eli Roth would NEVER name anything but Red Sox players.

    He can be a little much at times, but, I gotta admit, Roth’s such a classic suburbs-of-Boston-film geek-horror geek-general fanboy geek, pretty much exactly like tons of people I grew up with, I can’t help but like the guy.

    He was gonna adapt Stephen King’s CELL, shoot it all in Boston, throw out the second half of the book and just do the ultimate zombie movie. Man, what happened to that? I still wanna see that happen….

  36. I’m glad to see some appreciation for these movies. My group of friends, who are all into horror to varying degrees, kind of look down on me when I espouse the virtues of the “Hostel” films (especially Part II). Yeah, they’re dark and perverted (not something to talk openly about in public, ha ha) but there is a subtle genius to them (again, especially Part II). Like the aforementioned “trying on masks” scene, or just a simple shot of the two would-be-soon-will-be murderers traveling down the elevator (the music in that scene is great, and both of those actors say so much with their expressions. Real cinema shit goin’ on there).

  37. And thanks for reminding me of that potential “Cell” movie. What a weird book; I want to love the second half, and I’m usually able to buy into stuff like that (and King does his best to sell his unique “twist” on the genre), but damn if it doesn’t come off as cheesy.

  38. I have never understood the Roth hate either. I love CABIN FEVER and I think it is a drastically underrated film. It is an extremely clever and fun movie that showcases Roth’s thorough understanding of the mechanics, motifs, & themes of the horror film genre. I can’t say that I like HOSTEL. I watched it once and it was not my cup of tea, so I have had no desire to revisit it or check out the sequel but I don’t think it is a bad film. It is just not my thing. However, reading Vern’s review makes me curious to revisit HOSTEL again and see if my response has changed.

  39. what I love about Eli Roth is that all of his films have such a great, exciting energy to them that is -dare I say it?- almost Tarantino esque, he’s one of those filmmakers that truly feels like he loves what he does and just wants to give his audience a good time

    to me one of the worst sins a horror movie can do is feel bland, compare Eli Roth’s movies to something like the Friday The 13th remake, now there’s a movie that feels bland, very work for hire, those kinds of movies only care about snatching a few bucks, not giving you a good time

    that’s not to mention the fact that the Hostels are one of the very few horror movies from the 2000’s that felt fresh, they were not remakes for one and they actually felt like they were pushing the envelope a bit, I mean they were actually controversial, how many horror movies from the last decade can you name that were legitimately controversial?

  40. Tawdry – let’s take a look.

    Jason never had an *actually* good movie. – Agreed, from what I’ve seen. I didn’t even like Friday 13th the original that much, although I gotta admit the casting of the killer was genius and the final girl actually comes off a lot better than many of her type.
    Halloween would have been better off as an anthology series. – I’m not a huge fan of Halloween and I like its sequels a lot less, although the one where the little girl everyone’s trying to save suddenly turns into Michael Myers herself is kinda perversely twisted. I remember liking that movie.
    Freddy gets unwatchable after part 3. – Agreed, from what I’ve seen, which isn’t much.
    Chucky is awesome, but turns toward comedy. – Never seen it.
    Hellraiser is unwatchable after part 1. – Only ever saw part 1 and thought it was pretty good. I’ll take your word for it tho.
    Candyman is unwatchable after part 1. – AGREED IN MASSIVE BLOCK CAPITALS. Jesus, the Candyman sequels were fucking awful.
    Half the Final Destination movies are awesome, but the other half are utterly soporific. – Actually of the ones I’ve seen, 3/4s of them are soporific. Didn’t see any point in 2, 3 or 4, although 2 is at least watchable. Bit boring though… 3 and 4 are terrible.
    Scream didn’t need sequels. Like *really* didn’t. – I really like Scream 2. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine (I use the term advisedly because I know we officially hate it on this site). It’s kind of a disappointing remake of the first one, but on the other hand the casting of the “main” killer was absolutely inspired, the finale is arguably one of the best of any horror movie whodunnit outside of the original Scream, the characters are likeable, and some of the dialogue is fantastic.
    Psycho is not really the same genre. – Yeah, it’s more of a psychological thriller. Damn, I hate that term, it almost guarantees the movie will be “unwatchable shit that nobody could put into any other genre”. Not the case with Psycho though.
    none of the NINE Grudge movies are worth a damn. – Never seen ’em.
    Only the American remake of The Ring is worth a damn. – I liked the original Japanese version of this one. Haven’t seen the American remake. The last time I saw a “good” American remake of an Asian film I thought was great, it was Scorcese’s “The Departed”, which managed the remarkable feat of looking, sounding, being acted and being directed very well, while simultaneously absolutely failing to impress me in any way that matters. Utterly pointless film.
    Texas Chain Saw has 2 good entries and 4 horrible ones. – I know it’s cool to love TCM2, but I can’t agree. I thought it was a boring, noisy mess. I was also expecting something special from Dennis Hopper’s character, given the praise he’s been given on this site, so that was a massive letdown as well.
    Exorcist has 2 good entries and 3 terrible ones, two of which are prequels…sidequels? – Only ever saw the first one.
    Amityville? Fuck you for suggesting it. – Never saw it.
    Paranormal Activity is like taking a handful of Valium. And not in a way that is fun. – It’s been on my “to watch” film for ever, but I haven’t got around to it yet.
    The Omen…brilliant original. Never bothered with the sequels. – You’re not missing much. #3 was the biggest disappointment for me, Harry Knowles cited the performance of the adult Damien in that one as a great example of clean-cut evil, but I wasn’t impressed, all he ever seems to do is spout dogma at his followers. I never saw his supposed magnetic attraction to them or understood why they joined him. #4 is actually great for unintentional hilarity. #2 is like a Final Destination sequel, it has a few really good kills and not much else. Oh, and one of the sequels has a twist ending that you’ll see coming from the first twenty minutes of the film. Like you, I thought the original was great though. Billie Whitelaw’s eyes still occasionally creep me out, almost as much as Wilford Brimley’s hand.
    Night of the Living Dead is pretty great, but that movie’s too old to be ‘modern.’ – Agreed on the first part. As for the second part, I think it’s pretty timeless in what it has to say.

  41. Not to get too off topic, but do you guys seriously like Hellraiser and not Hellraiser 2? That seems pretty far-fetched. You might be thinking of some other part 2, because Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 is a unique type of craziness. Skinless makeout, Dr. Channard, people who worship a geometric shape named Leviathan, etc.

    You gotta watch part 2 again fellas. I’ll do it too and review it when I get a chance.

  42. ” Hellraiser is unwatchable after part 1. – Only ever saw part 1 and thought it was pretty good. I’ll take your word for it tho.”

    Don’t, his word is fucked up. Hellraiser 2 is better than Hellraiser, because they go to Hell and Hell is cool.

    The rest are terrible unwatchable trash though. He’s right about that.

  43. YES. Vern and Madeleine Albright coincide again.

  44. I actually *just* saw Hellraiser II like 3 weeks ago. It took me 3 tries to make it all the way through. Nothing makes sense, and not in the good way. It was just really boring.

  45. HELLRAISER II is a solid weirdo latex monster movie. Good enough to be a part 1 in a slightly lesser series, for sure. And HELLRAISER III has its moments, too. True, most of those moments feature Cenobites who shoot razor-sharp CDs out of their faces, but they are moments nonetheless.

  46. When I saw Hellraiser sequels are unwatchable, I don’t mean that figuratively. I mean, I tried to watch Hellraiser II and III and IV and I never made it through any of them in one go. Even drunk or stoned. Not possible for me. Too stupid. I only made it through II because I watched it in chunks.

  47. Yeah, HELLRAISER 3 may not be a good movie, but it stars Terry Farrell! That’s reason enough for me, to watch it to the end and even re-watch it from time to time! Damn, my crush on her started in the 90’s and is still going strong.

  48. Mouth, the math in FERMAT’S ROOM was a mess, which made it impossible for me to enjoy.

    The math in HELLRAISER II, on the other hand, was aces. In the scene where the characters arrive in Hell, the score has this “bong, bong, bong,” which (says the composer) is morse code for “God.”

    I like movies that show literal Hell.

  49. Is Hellraiser II the one where the Cenobites revert to their original forms at the end, and one of them turns out to be an eight year old kid? I remember thinking that was pretty fucked up. Also the part where the guy gives the mental patient a blade who then starts hacking away at himself because he’s hallucinating maggots crawling all over him is really fucking disgusting. I seriously think that scene may have given me a maggot phobia, or at least made it way worse.

  50. My favourite depiction of literal Hell was in WHAT DREAMS MAY COME – That infinite field of upturned faces really freaked me out.

  51. PSYCHO can’t be a “psychological thriller” – Glenn Close doesn’t star in it.

    I think the first two JU-ON movies are really well put together. They suffer unfairly from being lumped in with horror films when they’re actually ghost movies. That’s a significant difference in my opinion.

    Likewise, I think RINGU has more in common with VIDEODROME than it does a typical horror film. And I think RINGU 0 demonstrates that a “prequel” doesn’t have to suck.

    My response to HELLRAISER 2 was similar to my response the second TEXAS CHAIN SAW movie: I can appreciate the differences in tone and the inventiveness of both sequels, but also feel that the original films were slightly diminished by them.

  52. I don’t actually like TCM. There, I said it. I. Don’t. Like. TCM. It feels so good to be out of the closet about that. However, TCM2 is one of my top 10 films, along with Hellraiser (and a bunch of shit like Taxi Driver, Singin’ in the Rain, His Girl Fridays, City of Lights, Up, Clockwork Orange, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance; but that’s just today’s list.)

    If you like that Hellraiser II shows a literal hell, then you totally don’t understand Hellraiser. The point was that these guys are going to torture you forever, and that you’ll *like* it. They aren’t just demons. They’re angels to some, remember?

    I knew I was going to hate Hellraiser II like 3 minutes in when they revealed that Pinhead didn’t put those nails in his own head. Way to miss the point…guys who created the series.

    How much creepier/more erotic is the idea that there are men and women who spend their whole lives desperately searching for this puzzlebox and then possibly spend years more trying to open it, only for it to tear them limb from limb, over and over, for eternity?

    Here’s the thing, Clive Barker is a *fetishist*. None of the sequel-makers were fetishists. They might have liked horror films or sequences or rough sex, or what have you. But none of them really seemed to grasp the mindset that pain is just a high level of sensation, if you can get past the idea that your skin is sliced open or that you’re tasting a bit of blood in the back of your throat, you can harness that sensation and it can be pretty damn fun.

    I’m not a fetishist, but I have experienced enough real life violence so as to understand that idea. Too, mosh pits are pretty sado-masochistic. And I totally understand the pain as pleasure there.

    In any case, Clive Barker set up a very interesting, multifaceted and incredibly-horrific-*because*-it’-erotic world in Hellraiser, Hellraiser II settles for just being weird as fuck and gory. The only moment that really works on the level of the original is when the skinless woman smokes a cigarette in a white suit and Dr. Chabad moans slightly as he palms the blood on his hand after touching her. THAT was an honest moment.

  53. I’m pretty sure Frank didn’t enjoy his time with the Cenobites Tawdry, the first movie was entirely based around his escape and subsequent capture. It’s a “be careful what you wish for” type deal. Frank thought he could handle anything and soon realised that he most definitely could not. I agree that Barker is a fetishist but I think his point is that safe words are probably a good idea.

  54. Pinhead: “Now I’m going to peel your skin off! Enjoy the suffering!”
    Victim: “Oklahoma!”
    Pinhead: “Okay, sorry for that. How about some more spanking?”

  55. Yeah, I thought the Cenobites were people who’d opened the box and found that they enjoyed the pain that it dished out, so the box puts them to work. Most can’t handle it, and they just become chunks of flesh strewn across oblivion. That’s what Frank was. He wasn’t a fetishist, he was just a sadist. That’s why he had to escape. He found that he didn’t like receiving pain as much as he liked inflicting it.

  56. Like, Hellraiser is like a Kenneth Anger film. I can see that it’s erotic, and it’s effectively erotic, even though it is not *my* form of eroticism, per se.

    Also, “Watermelon” is a popular safety word because you can say it with a gag in your mouth.

  57. It’s funny how most people think of Clive Barker as a movie director when the guy’s written like twenty novels and only directed three or four movies. Imajica is probably my favourite novel of all time, I must have read it five or six times. They should shit can the Dark Tower movies and make that instead.

  58. But Hellraiser is Kirsty’s story. She’s not a fetishist, she’s a naive innocent girl caught in the middle of that world of creepy uncles and wicked stepmothers that she doesn’t understand. In that scene in Hellraiser 2 where Dr. Channard wants to do skinless Julia the best part is that Kirsty’s boyfriend is stuck behind the curtain watching the whole thing. That makes it 5 times worse. Nobody wants to see that shit. It’s worse than walking in on your parents. Plus the whole fear-of-getting-caught thing.

    I disagree with your interpretation. Yeah, Barker is a weirdo, but he’s not trying to make S&M porn. I don’t think he has a boner while writing his horror stories. The fetish aspects are just coloring that makes his worlds seem more alien and forbidden.

  59. Wasn’t there even a scene in part 2, where the doctor tricks that authistic girl into solving the cube, but Pinhead refuses to take her with him, because she wasn’t looking for sexual pleasure or something like that?

  60. Wait, so if I understand right, THE NIGHT PORTER has more in common with the themes of Barker’s original story than the actual movies based on his book? That just blew my mind.

  61. Vern – I don’t know how good “Hellraiser 2” is because I’ve never seen it, but “Hellraiser” is absolutely a fetish story, told from the point of view of someone who gets involved against their own wishes. Kirsty is there because we need someone to identify with who isn’t… well… a wicked uncle / stepmother, I guess! Yes, it’s her story, but I don’t think she’s really the focus of it.

    In fact, thinking back to “Hellraiser”, a lot of the major events of the film early on take place with her being completely absent. She doesn’t really seem to influence anything that happens until very late on. Things are influenced by her being there, but she’s a character who reacts to events rather than deliberately causing them. Nor does she really have a moral journey – she finds herself in a shitty, shitty situation, not really of her own making, and the finale of the film deals with her trying to get out of it.

  62. I also like Hostel II better than the first because I knew what I was getting into. Tarantino and Roth had hyped the first movie as a “hard” and “very disturbing” film and this was supported with a great, creepy marketing campaign. And it’s a great concept. Then I saw it and it felt like a better looking Friday the 13th flick: poorly acted and with shoddy effects (that eye scene, especially). It didn’t scare me or even discuss me. It bored and annoyed the hell out of me. There was no way for me to sustain my disbelief: I never forgot I was watching actors in a Hollywood flick and as safe as that is, it ain’t scary at all. I’d gotten scammed. I’d wanted nightmares and I’d gotten guffaws. This was no Wolf Creek (released the same year and which I thought was genuinely unsettling – still do).

    But like you said, Part II was better on every level and this time, I was ready for a floozy horror flick: a decent but unbelievable gore fest. Still, with the exception of Matarazzo, nothing in Part II looks remotely real to me and so it doesn’t scare me. The acting is just not good enough and the film never rises above stupid as far as I’m concerned.

    Oh, yeah: Hellboud rocks!

  63. Tawdry, SAW SPOILER… I never imagined Carey Elwes ever coming back so no, no twist involving Dr. Gordon ever occurred to me. Even the little twist in SAW VI I was like “how do they keep getting me? Why haven’t I caught on by now?”

    I’ll say it. I like HELLRAISER, HELLRAISER II and PINHEAD IN SPACE.

    I will also tout Busta Rhymes kickboxing Michael Meyers until the end.

  64. NiceTroll – did we even watch the same film in “Hostel”?

    Fred – I actually googled “Pinhead in space”.

  65. I sense a Hellraiser review-a-thon in the future.

    The ending of Hellraiser II always scared the crap out of me as a kid. The sight of the poor mover’s face on the pillar and that creepy “what’s your pleasure” voice still will send shivers down my spine.

    I bet that’s one matress they won’t be able to trade in at Sleep Country, though.

  66. I didn’t say Hellraiser was a porno and I would hardly qualify Anger’s work as porn either. But both men traded extensively in the erotic. I also disagree that Kristy is the main character in Hellraiser anymore than Ellen Page is the main character in Inception.

    Hellraiser works and is scary and doesn’t feel safe because it’s showing you a part of the world that is very likely very different from you own and yet predicated upon experiences that are very likely very similar to your own. In fact, I’m confused how anyone could see Hellraiser and not recognize it as erotic.

  67. ya know what sucks? I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen Hellraiser, wish I could throw my two cents into this discussion, but I can’t

    now Jurassic Park, there’s a movie series I can debate

  68. HELLRAISER II is a mess, and stuffed with horror cliches of the time; I’d be fonder of it if I didn’t think the first HELLRAISER was so good. Last time I watched them I think I actually enjoyed Part III more, because it was distinct enough from the first that I could just go with its watered-down/dumbed-down antics.

  69. Griff, someone yelled at me just last night for saying I liked THE LOST WORLD better.

    Paul, what did your search bring up?

  70. Tawdry: Which one is Inception, is that the one where Ellen Page discovers that her stepmother is committing murders to help her dead uncle replace her dad, so she makes a deal with demons to try to stop them but ends up going to hell and has to outsmart the demons to escape and then try to destroy the object that opened the portal to hell? If so then yes, Ellen Page was the main character. She was also the main character in A Nightmare On Elm Street and Labyrinth.

    I know you didn’t say it was a porno, I just think that sticking with this “it’s a fetish movie” idea is causing you to miss out on an excellent sequel just because you don’t think it supports your theory. (But I’m not sure why you don’t think it fits since it’s even more perverse than the first one.)

    I don’t really know what you mean by “recognize it as erotic.” Yeah, it’s about lust and sadomasochism and Julia being willing to kill and do disgusting things because she’s so turned on by the forbidden fruit of her bad boy brother-in-law. There’s lots of S&M stuff in there, and there are people who like S&M. In Nightbreed men can’t resist a chance at porcupine woman pussy. Those are definitely major obsessions of Barker’s (just like ancient gods that cause Christians to disavow their own). I guess I just don’t see why you see that as the only thing significant in the movie to the extent that if part 2 expands on other things along with that then it’s missing the point.

  71. I am supposed to be studying all weekend but now I just want to watch Hellraiser movies, they sound amazing quite frankly.

  72. I also vote for a HELLRAISER roundup review, so we can settle this like men (who settle such things by typing about them).

    It can coincide with a “_______ IN SPACE” collection.

  73. Sadly, the ___ IN SPACE collection would only be Jason, Pinhead, and The Leprechaun, and only one of those lives up to the awesome promise of the title.

    SPOILER:

    It’s Jason.

  74. In contrast to The Beyond, I found Hellraiser to be boring, pretentious and cheap. Stuart Gordon tackled the same themes in a much more entertaining way: S&M, body horror, mad-scientist narcissism and all that. When I watched Hellraiser II I thought they expanded nicely on the more interesting aspects of the first film, while ditching most of the po-faced speechifying.
    That’s just my taste though.

  75. Man you guys make me cry sometimes. Hellraiser is such an awesome series, 1 & 2 in particular are incredible – I’ve seen 20+ times, but the first 8 all have so many cool concepts and elements. 9 not so much as the new pinhead is tubby and really doesn’t belong.

    No series has produced as many cool quotes, and there are so many great concepts as well. Here’s a small selection: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiPN9SxOWrs

    I fucking love the concept of this box buried in legends of being a pathway to another world of ultimate pleasure, and the ambiguity that mebbe it can do that, but what they find is hell. Mebbe you have to live enough life to understand that pain is relative, and how people learn to enjoy it. The concept that the ultimate pain across eternity can become the ultimate pleasure is fantastic to explore.

    The movies explore different concepts that are truly unique. Take Hellraiser 5 – one that most people dismiss – the entire movie is exploring what happens in the eternity that is the few seconds from opening the box to being torn apart. In those seconds, this dude lives a week of his life where everyone he ever liked or knew dies, he even loses his dog if I recall, and then the week starts again, and again, over and over until he finally kills himself, and then the real hell starts, and that’s the whole movie, and that’s the first seconds of opening the box and yet another of pinheads many many awesome quotes “Welcome to the worst nightmare of all… reality!”

    And Hellraiser 4 overlooked – you got a cool past and origins story, and the cool pinhead in space and robots and space marines, and the present line all 3 engaging and awesome.

    But Hellraiser 2 is an absolute must watch and the best of this great series. Too many great concepts to mention, but a few favourites:
    – Demons debating amongst themselves – Pinhead’s leadership validated – when the autistic girl opens the box and in any other movie she would be killed, but Pinhead commands his demons to wait, and they dun get why, and he explains – ‘it is not hands that summon us, it is desire.’
    – Demons getting frustrated – the chick cenobite:
    Kirsty Cotton: I didn’t open the box!
    Female Cenobite: “Didn’t open the box.” And what was it last time, “Didn’t know what the box was?” And yet, we do keep finding each other, don’t we?
    Pinhead: Oh, Kirsty. So eager to play, so reluctant to admit it.
    Female Cenobite: Perhaps you’re teasing us. Are you teasing us?

    – The Doctor in the demon machine, coming out with the fantastic “..and to think I hesitated”, and then he has the brain bamix installed lol. The demon’s fighting over territory.

    And all this occurring while the main storyline is Kirsty looking for her father – tricked by yet another demon – he step mother.
    And Frank’s hell – unattainable girls promising forever but never delivering.

    Anyways, ta for review – very exciting, Hostels were both great but I had no idea there was a 3 and it sounds great, hanging for it.

  76. Thanks AU. You’re making me want to watch all the Hellraisers. I thought about doing that in October but got into all those slashers. Even being a DTV enthusiast I’ve always assumed the Hellraiser ones would be crap, so I never went past 4. But you’ve convinced me it would be worth doing a marathon one of these days.

  77. Madeleine Albright – I did see The Beyond and yeah, it was pretty cool

  78. 1-4 each stand entirely on their own merit as pillars of a great horror series. 5-8 are unmistakably DTV but it is the concepts that wrap them into the series, pinheads great lines and Doug Bradley’s performance that elevates them. 8 prolly suffers the most with DTV casting and rushed directing as it could have been one of the coolest (red herring of emos and goths accessing pinhead via the internet lol), but on the plus side it has Lance Henrikson doing his shtick and lifting it up a rung.

    Definately my favourite horror series of all the 8+ parters (nightmare, friday, halloween, amityville, puppet master, saw) though I enjoy all of em for their own reasons.

    It comes down to the concepts explored and particularly, pinhead’s consistently great lines and powerful performance that elevates the series for me:

    “Explorers in the further regions of experience. Demons to some. Angels to others.”
    “Oh come, you can hear its faint echo right now. I’m here to turn up the volume. To press the stinking face of humanity into the dark blood of its own secret heart.”
    “Just give me the box and I’ll free you from the future.”
    “Don’t debate with me, girl! Just come here and die while you still have the option of doing it quickly!”
    “Down the dark decades of your pain, this will seem like a memory of Heaven.”
    “If you have a quality, be proud of it. Let it define you, whatever it is.”
    “Nothing. I am SO exquisitely empty.”
    “No tears, please. It’s a waste of good suffering.”
    “Ah, the eternal refrain of humanity. Pleading ignorance, begging for mercy. “Please, help me. I don’t understand.””
    “Your suffering will be legendary, even in hell!”

  79. CRITTERS 4 was also critters on a spaceship, DTV with Academy Awars nominee Angela Bassett. To see Leonardo DiCaprip in a DTV CRITTERS sequel, you’ll have to watch 3 but it’s not in space.

  80. Michael Jordan & some cartoons went to space, right?  

    James Bond went to space.  

    Homer Simpson went to space.  

    Aronofsky’s THE FOUNTAIN could be viewed as a concurrent trilogy — TOM CONQUISTADOR, TOM 2: DIE CANCER DIE, and TOM 3: TOM IN SPACE.  

    One of AGORA’s main characters is space, the cosmos, the expanse of the universe.  (Okay, I’m stretching it there, but it’s true.)  

    George Melies filmed a pretty great dream about going to space, like 109 years ago.  Part of it is playing in theatres right now.  In 3D.  

  81. Zombie Paul: I was honestly disappointed by the gore and its overall effect in Hostel. It could be that I’m old enough to remember Friday The 13th 4 as the first gore flick I saw. I still prefer those special effects and how they were shot although I’m not saying it’s scarier than Hostel. I thought Hostel’s art design was amazing and it made me uncomfortable. It felt real, danky and dangerous, like the film was going to deliver and be a Texas Chainsaw Massacre type of nightmare inducing experience. I was hoping for a really unpleasant watching experience, know what I mean? Leave my socks on the cinema’s sticky floor kind of scared. And then there’s this plastic eye hanging from an actress’s face and she’s not a very good actress. It looks to me like it’s played for laughs. The consequence of the violence is acted out with the unrealistic softness meant for a TV movie. It was a huge letdown to me. I was being honest when I mentioned Wolf Creek. No gore but man… what happened to those two poor actresses and how they acted it out, it scared the hell out of me and I couldn’t shake it for days.

  82. Cabin Fever 2 – I have to say it was an incredibly weak sequel. It didn’t have the same kind of feel as the first one and was a failed attempt in “widening” the scope of the universe of the first movie, which is one of the usual route of sequels, like in Hostel 2 and Hellraiser 2, both successful in my opinion, but unfortunately not in the case of Cabin Fever 2. I will note that the one thing that stood out for me in Cabin Fever 2 was the Final Girl was not the type you would usually see as the main girl. She was a willowy Sissy Spacek type rather than the generic pretty actresses that you would normally think in that role but she actually comes off as pretty grounded, normal and cool so you can understand why the lead guy likes her.

    Hellraiser 2 – Definitely an underrated classic that is unfairly tarred by the brush that tars the rest of the Hellraiser DTV sequels. I showed the background of the cenobites and what exactly “Hell” was. And it turns out it is basically ruled by a construct, a god of order. It’s just weird but fitting at the same time. I wish the actress who played Kristy had agreed to do the sequels after that. I think her presence might have elvated the earlier ones.

    Hellraiser 4 – Or Hellraiser in space (even though just a third of it was that) had some redeeming value I guess, but I just felt it was just too blah and weak to be honest. I didn’t really like it and felt the comics version of the creator of the puzzle box was much more fascinating.

  83. Cassidy, lemme grant your wish – she did Hellraiser 6. Enjoy.

  84. I wrote “The Beyond” when I mean to say “From Beyond”. “From Beyond” does a somewhat similar story to Hellraiser 1 (and did it before Barker’s Novella “The Hellbound Heart” was published). Name checking Stuart Gordon should have made that apparent, but I apologize for any confusion.

  85. AU, I know. But I heard it wasn’t very good at all and didn’t give it a chance. I’ll watch it if you say it’s good.

  86. Good is a relative term and all that, but ya, honestly to me Hellraiser 6 is a pretty good movie and a good addition to the Hellraiser mythology. It’s more of a psychological thriller with the protagonist himself not certain of what has transpired and does a fairly good job of moving between hallucinations and reality as you explore Hell’s role and interest in the story, as well as Kirsty Cotten’s of course.

    Incidentally, also caught Hostel 3. Fucking hell – for DTV it’s seriously an absolute gem. So many clever aspects to the story, any individually would’ve made me recommend this film to friends, but together its a masterpiece horror in the DTV world. Watch it before reading anything – some of the reviewers out there who have equally enjoyed the film have then gone out of their moronic way to systematically spoil this movie – completely baffling to me.

  87. Wasn’t expecting much from Hostel 3 but decided to give it a go after reading your review. I gotta say, thanks Vern for not ruining those little twists, because you’re right, they make the movie a whole lot more enjoyable. Also there are a lot of strange little things that made it more interesting and funny for me.

    For example the guy who’s been tortured half to death that keeps repeating “It’s okay… it’s okay” to his torturer. Or the meat cleaver randomly slicing a dead guy’s face in half during a fight. Or the scene where the evil boss is motorboating his topless waitress, only to be disturbed by a henchman and pulling his face from between her breasts with a sigh of annoyance. Or the Tales From The Crypt-like ending.

    You know what, I think I kind of love this movie. For a dtv sequel especially this really is top stuff.

  88. I saw H1 at the second-run theater back when it was first out. This being the Halloween season, I decided to revisit and finally catch H2 (still haven’t seen H3).

    H1 holds up well. A nice juxtaposition of vibrant, camera-friendly youth with you this bleak, gothic, and sometimes dank Eastern European environment. I like that it’s a slow burner. It manages to create a creeping sense of dread. The locations are nice, understated but grim. The idea of this desperate, corrupt community, from kid mob to the hostel workers and shills who are complicit in this operation. The reveal that even the police are on the take. There is a very Chainsaw feel in the sense of still being on the map and nominally in civilization, but having wandered into this little enclave, where outgroups can be dehumanized and where economic survival or success trumps any basic empathy. And the notion of how everyone seems to be caught up in some form of exploitation or trafficking or other. The trading of degradation and/or violence for money.

    I also think Paxton is only a mild douche. He’s got a frat boy immaturity, but I submit that even early on, he is likable, and part of his arc is to battle exploitation, not just for his own protection, but for that of others and even for justice. We can forgive his douchey transgressions. I have no idea what eli Roth is like, but when Paxton encounters the fired-up american who is getting jacked about killing, it’s clear that Roth is taking the entitled, exploitative frat boy douche to its logical/developmental extreme in the form of this grown-up white rich guy douche who resorts to killing for sport simply for the buzz, the boredom relief, and as a because-i-can status expression. There is really a lot to chew on here, and not just torture, but true dread, suspense, and social commentary.

    I’ll share some thoughts on H2 later

  89. There are also So many great little choices in H1. The creepiness of the phone-pic of Olie. When Paxton encounters the two vixens without any make-up on in the local tavern. The main antagonist’s no-utensil dining manners and the awkward leg-touching. Of course, my horse. A lot of little creepy, odd, and/or endearing little moments.

  90. As for part 2, yesterday was my first watch. I found it underwhelming. I think most of it comes back to the fact that it feels derivative, and how could it not be? It is moderately interesting to see the customer’s viewpoint, but i grow tired of it pretty quick. The whole behind-the-scenes of the operation was IMO a complete waste and actually made it less scary. Yes, we can explore these other sides or points of view, but it’s not scary. It actually detracts from the scares by showing us more of the business operation or the clientele. Interesting enough, but kind of neuters it and drains the svasre factor the same way jokey, perfectly visible, set piece Freddy does for the Nightmare sequels.

    Also, whereas I thought that the first one mostly played the horror straight, the death scenes here are more plentiful, more outrageous, and campier–the old syndrome of having to find more inventive, gonzo kills that plagues any would-be slasher franchise. The guy fileting and eating the dude’s calves is just too much, as is the other “shocking” near-final kill. We’re veering into Freddy’s victims are meatballs on the dream pizza territory, here.

    What else? I think the increased production values are actually a big minus, as the film looks glossier and more polished or sylized, whereas the first on stuck with a more gray, dingy palette.

    It was hard for me to be as invested in the victims compared to those of H1. Maybe it’s a gender thing or a part 1 thing, or the twist with the “negotiating,” but I never cared as much about these three. The actual final kill is also essentially a repeat of Paxton’s bathroom scene at end of part 1. The kill is different, but it’s the exact same double-back for revenge plot device.

    There was no need to include Paxton in the movie. I appreciate the connection between the two films, and I know there us a precedent in various slasher films for the way Paxton is used here, but it feels like a cheat wtt part 1, and it does virtually nothing to serve the story of thus. Could have been edited out entirely.

  91. Sorry for tablet typos

  92. The Original... Paul

    October 9th, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Skani – I got into this a little in another thread, but the reason why I call “Hostel” a masterpiece isn’t just the many great moments (that fantastic moment of catharsis when Alex and the two girls suddenly appear in the road, the mirror at the railway station, “do it quick”, etc). It’s Paxton’s entire arc.

    See, what you have here is an obnoxious tourist whose only desire at the start is to have fun and bed as many Europeans as possible. He’s inconsiderate only in the sense that he’s unaware that there’s really anything he should be considerate of. He’s not deliberately cruel or condescending or anything, but neither is he particularly aware of just how entitled he is. Although he’s in a foreign country, he’s blissfully unaware of the potential hazards because he has so many crutches that he unconsciously depends on: his friends, his money, his passport. His greatest sin isn’t so much arrogance as it is complacency.

    So that’s how Paxton starts the movie. He’s not a particularly likeable character. And while I understand that that’s a sticking point for a lot of people, the movie wouldn’t work at all without this fact. Because as the movie progresses, Paxton’s crutches start to be kicked away, one by one. (This is pretty much the entire first half of the movie.) Everything he’s unconsciously come to depend on – gone. And what I love about the movie is that Paxton never consciously acknowledges this fact until it’s too late – not even when it’s openly revealed to him that the “hostel” is a trap, at which point he still has a chance to run away. He only comes to a full realisation at the point when it looks like the last thing he’s taken for granted – his life – is about to be taken from him.

    And it’s at that point that his character arc switches direction. No longer is Paxton looking for the things that he’s depended on in the past – he knows full well that they’re gone. Instead it becomes a case of him trying to find some kind of humanity within himself. That’s the importance of that one line, “do it quick”. One tiny act of mercy that has huge repercussions for his character. The actor who plays Paxton does an absolutely fantastic job, by the way. By the time he escapes the hostel he looks completely different to the guy at the start. Half-dead, in fact.

    This is why I think “Hostel” is a masterpiece of both horror and moviemaking in general. It’s also what so many other movies seemed to miss. Death isn’t necessarily something to be feared. But to have everything you’ve ever relied upon or taken for granted slowly stripped away from you, ending with your life? THAT’S fear.

  93. OP, yes. You nailed it.

  94. Guess who has tickets to the NYC premiere of GREEN INFERNO with Eli Roth in attendance?

    Hint: In addition to being devastatingly handsome, he’s also incredibly humble.

    Anybody else gonna be there? Broddie? Anyone?

  95. How did you know that Neil Patrick Harris has tickets for the GREEN INFERNO premiere?

  96. I automatically assume NPH has tickets to everything. He’s just that slick.

  97. I’ve heard that spending time with the protagonists of GREEN INFERNO is an endurance test of douchebaggery, but the same was true about CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST so whatevs. Hope you enjoy it.

  98. Funny story about CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. Recently, I was hanging out with this female friend of mine. Sweet as can be, a lovely puppy dog kind of innocence to her, despite the fact that she’s a part-time dominatrix. She was raised by wolves in between Paris and New York, so she knows NOTHING of pop culture. (Example: She has no idea who Charles Bronson is.) She confesses that she hasn’t seen very many horror movies, so I suggest we watch one. I’m about to start recommending my usual beginner horror movies (mostly late 90s post-SCREAM stuff with good production values, a few decent scares, and nothing that’s gonna make anyone need a shower afterward), expecting to gets some vicarious thrills out of watching her jump at shock tactics that have long since stopped working on me. Then she says, “Can we watch CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST?” She’s an anthropology major, you see, and she’d heard that the film’s depiction of anthropologists was “hilarious.” I was about to say that CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST isn’t really a “fun night with friends and cocktails” kind of movie, but then I realized that an attractive woman had walked into my apartment and asked to watch CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and I was about to say no. Naturally, I popped it right in, expecting to have to turn it off at the turtle scene. Nope. We laughed the whole way through. I was impressed and a little disturbed. I think I’m a pretty tough cookie, but even I got freaked out the first time I watched CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST.

    I think she might be kind of a sociopath. I’m only slightly in love.

  99. The rampant dickery of the whitey protagonists is pretty hilarious. More like CANNIBAL LOLOCAUST. She sounds like a keeper.

    The whole cannibal movie cycle is a really weird phenomenon. I’ve seen a lot of them, back when I was more interested in notoriously depraved movies, but they all blur into one big incoherent blob of bearded, sweaty Italians and animal slaughter. I remember liking Umberto Lenzi’s MAN FROM DEEP RIVER. Wasn’t there another throwback jungle cannibal movie fairly recently? I never saw it.

  100. Can’t remember what thread Mr Majesytk mentioned it on, but I caught up with the Dork Of Dark Eli Roth produced AFTERSHOCK. And it works good as a disaster/survival/urban horror flick. The first 30 minutes felt a bit like an episode of FRIENDS-On-Vacation, but once the earthquake hit it was all bets off.

    There was some good morality dilemma plays going on. Like Eli Roth’s (spoiler) trapped and dying character faced with the choice of selling out the location of the girls to the rapists who threaten to set him on fire. And the single mum who wouldnt let the group into the compound.

    And the final scene with FINAL GIRL is a killer.

  101. I don’t remember where I mentioned it either, but I did like AFTERSHOCK. It’s nicely mean-spirited in its insistence on punishing its characters in reverse order of how much they deserve it. And I liked that it treats the earthquake like Romero treats zombies: it started this mess, but the real problem is all your fellow survivors.

    I also saw GREEN INFERNO at a screening with the Dark Dork in attendance like a year ago, and it’s similar but better than AFTERSHOCK. I think I read that it’s finally getting released fairly soon.

  102. Yeah, I was thinking Romero during the survival scenes. Geez, some of these horror directors don’t have a very high opinion of human nature do they? I guess that’s part of their job, to remind us of our dark side. But it all comes down to perspective. Compare the post earthquake depravity on display in AFTERSHOCK to the post tsunami courage/hope of THE IMPOSSIBLE for example.

    I watched CABIN FEVER again last night for shits and giggles, and that would be the best way to describe it.(a shiggle?) A combination of horror/comedy that leans more toward the comedy, with a bit of yucky shit thrown in to make us feel uneasy. I can’t call it scary. Actually I can’t call any of Roth’s films scary. But Roth’s eyebrows? Now that’s some scary shit.

    The virus that infects the five cabin dwellers is the stand-in for the forest demons of The Evil Dead. The local yokels of Bum Fuck U.S.A. provide the broad comedy, which mostly worked for me. The Deputy-Dewey-type party animal cop started off being funny/annoying but was kind of evil at the end in the tradition of small town residents protecting their own(see EDEN LAKE), so he kind of redeems the annoying part. I also liked Dennis the feral kid with the blond mullet bowl-cut. I got no idea what Roth was thinking giving that kid a slo-mo karate kick scene, but damn if it wasn’t an absurd WTF moment, like the ADD weirdo kid in SMOKIN ACES.

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