June 5, 2007

Eli Roth and the Attack of the Critics

I was reading Dave Poland at The Hot Blog bring Eli Roth to task about violence in cinema and was intrigued by what I read. Also frightened. And bewildered. I was also a bit happy. Hopefully if Poland is any indication (which, let's face it, he isn't a lot of the time) then maybe - just maybe - people will actually get out there and make some mothafuckin' noise about this shit. From what I have read about Hostel Part II (as if the "Part" makes it sound like some important addition of a story that needed to be be told all over again) - and Poland makes a case for it himself - it is utterly absurd that this movie is rated a mere R in America. It's rated R18+ here in Australia too, but our R is the equivelent to America's NC17. However, here that rating is not seen as a reason to go into damage control - there've been lots of box office hits rated R18+. What will it take for a film to get an American NC17 rating based on violence? Will it take an actual on-screen murder? Or is that not enough? They'll give something like director Bernardo Bertolucci The Dreamers an NC17 based on nothing but a dick shot and a sex scene, yet all these horror films of late are deemed socially acceptable for anyone as long as they have a parent with them. How considerate.

Poland's review of Hostel Part II is scathing. It's worse than a bad movie. It's an offensive demeaning one. In referring to a much-discussed scene in which Heather Matarazzo is hanged upside down:

And then, I watched a scene that was the most disgusting, degrading, misogynistic, soulless shit I have ever seen in a movie that is going to be released widely in this country.


You have to remember, this is a movie. Not only did Eli Roth come up with this inhuman idea that has no meaning whatsoever other than his masturbatory fantasies about raising the bar.


And not only did he think of this, but he hung an actress, however willing, upside down and naked, gagged and bound, screaming, as nothing but a piece of objectified meat as Roth's camera moves her breasts in and out of frame like some sort of sick porn tease. This is not the first time a director has done something horrible to an actress, but as the scene dragged on, I felt as though I was watching Ms. Matarazzo being raped on a spiritual level. This director did not identify with her as a human in the scene ... she is just the target for a bloody gag.

And about Eli Roth himself.

Eli Roth became a little less human to me.


I never did respect Roth's work. Now, if he and I crossed paths, I would refuse to shake his hand.

Ouch. I've discussed before my ill-feelings towards Hostel Part II, what with it's niggling focus of tortured women, it's desire to advertise towards young males and a desire to be grotesque for no reason (although Roth is now putting on a cover of "subtext", which is the most ridiculous thing I've read all week). And as the anticipation for this apparently quite revolting freakshow gears up (My man Ja is completely guilty of that, teehee) I get not only continuously nauseated, but also continuously interested in actually seeing it merely so I can insult it some more out in front of the "but you haven't even seen it" argument. Maybe on a Cheap Tuesday? Ja joked that an entry about Eli Roth wouldn't be the same without a negative comment from me, and that's because he makes me angry. He's a deluded wanker. If he wants subtext in a movie, then maybe actually put it in there and not just disguise torture scenes as some allegory to the war in Iraq.

I hope more than enough people can show restraint and not see this movie. Roth has said that this will be the last Hostel film but, quite frankly, I'll believe that when I see (or not as the case may be). Even if Roth isn't directing, there will be more. And his insidious attitude* will continue to perforate through the filmmaking universe.

*Let it be known that I know Roth isn't the first, and won't be the last (unfortunately), person to make this type of film but it's just a fact that he's a damn good punching bag (who even knows the name of anyone involved with the Saw films?) And I know that these types of films have been around for a long time, but back in the '70s when the films Roth is seemingly trying to recreate in all their glory, these films were shown in driveins and were "underground". They needed violence to attract a crowd. But with movies going out to 3000 cinemas every week and with the internet, these movies market themselves. It's not fun knowing that there are 15-year-old boys out there thinking to themselves "aw man, that bitch is gonna get cut up!" with a thrill and excitement to it.

For me, horror films are split into two camps. Those that are scary and terrifying and are like punches of adrenalin (even stuff like The Last House on the Left from the '70s falls into that camp) and then there are the fun variety. The slasher ones, mostly. What they lack in genuine frights, they gain in being a sorta fun way to spend an hour and a half. But then there are ones like Hostel and the Saw movies. Those that aren't made to be scary (although they're marketed as being such), nor are they made for teen-thrill fun. They're made to have their filthy destructive energy out there. It's a disturbing trend having them out there in the mainstream and that people are going to these movies for the excessive gore, not the scares or the thrills. They're going to watch people get murdered.

I toyed with the idea of turning comments off for this entry because I'm sure at least one person has something to say against my thoughts, but I've left them on. If you feel so inclines as to defend these movies then go ahead. It'll be more entertaining than anything found in an Eli Roth film.


JA said...

Hi, Glenn! How ya doing? Good, good, glad to hear it. Yup, I'm doing fine. Tlak toi you later! Love!

Kamikaze Camel said...

I love you Ja. Please don't be angry at me.


JA said...

Oh I'm not angry. It's just movies! We can agree to disagree. ;-)

I'm actually completely exhausted by this arguing about so-called torture porn at this point; I've been making my case over at a post at Reel Fanatic in the comments, and I couldn't fall asleep last night, so reeling with these thoughts my brains were, so at this point I'm just ready to give up on the arguing in Hostel's favor. I don't have it in me anymore.

But lemme say that I finally watched Hostel again last night for the first time since the theater and I liked it more than I did the first time, which may have had something to do with not watching the film with an audience of jackasses whooping at the violence where I could see Roth's intentions even clearer (yes, he's got intentions, dammit!). So the same case as with Cabin Fever now, that I like his movies more with a second viewing. I still have problems with Hostel's ending, I don't think he earns that ending. But the violence seemed even less fetishistic this time, and I found the film even scarier. I mean, he shows a lot less than I remembered, and a lot more thatn I thought is implied.

As for Roth making a straight-out critique of ther Iraq war, I think only in the broadest sense that's what Hostel's getting at - this sense of the demoralization/desensitation (is that a word?) of culture is what he's really getting at. I don't want him to make it explicitly political, then he'd just be preaching at us with nonsense like the Saw movies do - "we are all sinners!" bullshit. Roth gives us these main characters that are assholes seeking out their next fix, in which they debase women without thinking on the consequences. And then he confronts them with these funhouse mirror images of themselves 20 years later in which the "next fix" has been taken to its extreme and suddenly they're on the opposite side, being exploited.

Urgh, there I go again, rambling. I can't help myself. I need to be put down like a deranged animal, I think.

Paxton Hernandez said...

I'll second JA! It's just a movie! Geez, Poland is just angry with Roth because, well, they're both Jewish and Roth is the one with CASH $$$. Screw Poland. He can't stand a horror flick. He doesn't like them. Why should I trust him?

And just for the record, Raimi's Evil Dead was rated NC-17 for its extreme violence.

Best Regards, to all, = )

Barry said...

I can't wait for Hostel: Part II. I guess I'm in the minority of the people that actually liked the first Hostel.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Pax, if memory serves he was one of the bigger fans of, if you can believe it, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. I really liked that one too, but critics were pretty much unanimously negative.

While I dislike Roth's Cabin Fever, I dislike it for completely different reasons than I dislike Hostel for. I thought it was too "spot the movie reference" for it's own good and every character was unlikable and there was that whole pancakes and kung-fu thing whatever that was.

As much as I didn't enjoy watching it, the razor sequence was very well done. Very ick-enducing, but as ick things go, it was very good.

Still... "PANCAKES!!!" huh?


Y'all should know by now that when I love something I love it with a feverish passion... and conversely, if I hate something I hate it with the burning fire of a thousand suns. I like getting riled up for good and bad things. It makes life interesting. Why be pleasantly nonchalant about everything?

Paxton Hernandez said...

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) has been one of the worst horror remakes in history. There goes any credibility left for Mr. Poland.

Mmm, Pancakes, so yummy = )