Hidden References in Eli Roth’s Hostel (2005)

Eli Roth wanted to make a big claim to the cinematic community with his 2005 release of Hostel; he wanted to make it known that he is an expert of his genre, a well-knowledge film-maker and an admirer of the all time classics. Hostel very much entertained the typical zeitgeist audience when released with its mass gore and special effects, but for the cineastes and genre fans he played homage to many films and included references to others keeping them occupied and a part of an “in-joke”.

The master that is Quentin Tarantino presented and produced Hostel and his name appearing on the opening credits wasn’t his only involvement within the film. As the three backpackers check into their new Slovak hostel in the background Samuel L Jackson’s iconic speech from Pulp Fiction is being played on the TV. It is also suggested how our antagonists stalked the halls of the slaughter house whistling could be a link to Tarantino’s Kill Bill.

Eli Roth also referenced the Kubrick and horror classic, The Shining. The boys are given room 237 which is the same hotel room which is forbidden in The Shining, something which is obviously not a coincidence. Alongside one classic is another as the film uses the same score from Hitchcock’s Psycho. The closing credits to Hostel plays homage to the opening credits of Psycho using the same style score but slightly giving it a modern twist.

Wanting to state his knowledge and ability to recognise his background, Roth referenced two very small but classic British horror films. The sex scene between Josh and the Slovak roommate is a direct link to the sex scene within The Wicker Man 1973 as our priest gets seduced through a wall by a form of witchcraft. It is referenced by the iconic music played over the top. Film of the same year, Don’t Look Now 1973 is also referenced clearly, the final scene in Don’t Look Now sees our protagonist chase a figure in a red coat, in Hostel Josh and Paxton looking for Oli start to chase a guy wearing the same Orange coat, the two scenes follow the same structure and even have similar settings.

Eli Roth also chooses to have many cameo’s including himself. In a bar scene at the beginning of Hostel, Eli Roth can be seen smoking and smashing a bong whilst laughing. Japanese director Takashi Miike also plays a role as the guy who Paxton asks “what’s it in like in there” too as he stands outside the unknown slaughter house. Extending his knowledge to that of Japanese Film finally the last reference is that to Suicide Club. The end scene which sees a Japanese woman jump in front of a train is a clear homage especially to shots where we see fellow passengers sprayed with blood, it is also the only reason Roth made that very character Japanese.

Did you spot any of these references?

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Personal Favourite Film Soundtracks

It recently occurred to me how the films that I have been watching lately have had brilliant soundtracks and ones which I have been listening to over and over again. So here is a list of my personal favourite film soundtracks.

I re-watched the Tarantino Classic Reservoir Dogs not so long ago and it once again reminded of how brilliant the all 70’s soundtrack is which sees “Stuck In The Middle of You” be played in time to Mr Blonde cutting someone’s ear off. Sticking with Tarantino it is only fair to mention Pulp Fiction which sees some unconventional songs such as “Jungle Boogey” turn into a classic moment.

500 Days of Summer also holds one of the best soundtracks which is one of the main highlights to the unusual non-stereotypical rom-com, with song “Sweet Disposition” constantly being in your head after. Similar film Juno also brings to the table a very up-beat warm soundtrack that again is a highlight and credit to it’s film.

Most recently in cinema’s both Inside Llewyn Davis and Her have produced amazing soundtracks which I have not stopped listening to as well as a high standard to 2014 films. Inside Llewyn Davis really shows off folk music and Oscar Isaac’s talents whilst Her’s mixture of synthetic scores and songs such as “The Moon Song” is just beautiful and rather complimentary to Spike Jonze’s creation.

Two of my all time favourite films also hold two of my all time favourite soundtracks. Drive is brilliant with such a upbeat award winning score with songs “Night call” and “Real Hero” being amongst the highlights.  Donnie Darko my all time top film holds a great score which compliments and foreshadows every event with the famous and iconic “Mad World” being the highlight.

Do you agree? What are your personal favourite soundtracks?

Hostel (2005)

Genre: Horror

Director: Eli Roth

Writer: Eli Roth

Starring: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson

Rating: ★★★

Eli Roth’s Hostel became a mass talking point and a somewhat cinema sensation when it was first released becoming a real zeitgeist, it was even claimed to be “the scariest and most horrifying film ever made” making way for a new genre of horror labelled “torture porn”.  Hostel is simply a gore-fest and one which is filled with screams, blood, teeth, guts and even eye-balls. Visually disturbing it becomes a great horror with a somewhat average concept and acting as the man behind Cabin Fever does create a film which has a lasting effect.

Three young American backpackers Paxton, Josh, Oli (Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson ) decide to travel to Amsterdam for a week of nothing more than sex, however when they arrive they realise how there’s more tourists than locals and no one is interested. After missing curfew and being locked outside their youth hostel a man invites them into his house where he explains and tells the story of a hostel in Slovakia where the woman are wild and have taste for American men.  Intrigued and hooked the group travel to Eastern Europe however they find to their horror that the described hostel is actually “to die for” when they see through a group who exhibit torture to a community, which pays to kill and slaughter.

Hostel has a simple concept, one which is seen throughout horror, a group of teenagers become isolated in a location they’re not familiar with and then encounter uncontrollable danger.  Eli Roth’s version works very well and in a sense is realistic. There is no real complexity but some scenes can be really tense but the main feature throughout is obviously the gore and the huge amounts of blood. Once the first act of the film is over, which consists of nothing more than perverted scenes and nudity, the action begins to unravel. We see torture although many of the killings are of screen; Roth sets the tone with a gruesome moment as someone gets both Achilles tendons cut and attempts to escape with their hills splitting apart. Aside from a few minor follow ups including someone labelled as “Edward Saladhands” everything is rather out of the blue and attempts to heighten as much brutality as possible.

Acting isn’t something Hostel attempts to thrive in; therefore it is only average despite some of the painful screams sounding and looking realistic and overall the main cast being fun and believable. What Hostel does attempt to thrive in and succeed in however, is their special effects and make-up.  Over 150 gallons of blood were used in the making of the film and that in itself describes just how much gore it contains. It was also reported that “the eyeball scene” make-up took more than three hours to apply. The make-up and effects are good as they do make you want to cringe slightly but being very overpowering and over the top it does take elements away from realism and subtlety.

Hostel is nothing more than a film that wants to create as much gore and brutality as possible with no other aspect being a highlight. The first viewing is horrific with scenes which do make you want to turn away but upon multiple viewings it really has no effect and becomes a very boring film. The first act of Hostel too is very droning and seems to drag with action and the main plot only really starting to take shape around the half-way point. It also seems to be filled with silly actions to heighten the gore, such as our main character choosing to turn back into danger and choose a hammer over a gun as a weapon. It is obvious that although horrifying it isn’t a classic which will last for ages due to the amount of flaws.

Eli Roth’s Hostel is a film which fulfils its proclaimed expectation, which is a gore filled hour and half with tonnes of blood, sex and violence.  It doesn’t have any special stand-out qualities other than the effects but nevertheless makes for a good watch upon your first ever viewing. With scenes that will stay in your mind long after the end credits, it is horrifying and a worth-while experience for horror fans.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Genre: Crime, Thriller

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Writers: Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary

Starring: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Edward Bunker, Lawrence Tierney

Rating: ★★★★★

Reservoir Dogs was Quentin Tarantino’s breakthrough film as it made a prestigious name at the Sundance Festival of 92’.  A mixture between cool, gruesome and fun it is one of my favourite films being somewhat flawless in form of story, directing, acting and soundtrack.  It is entertaining from the very first second and deserves its place as an all-time classic and one of the best films ever made.

The film stays mainly within a warehouse in the aftermath of a jewellery heist gone incredibly wrong after a police ambush.  As the story unfolds we are introduced to the infamous colour-coded gangsters as the four remaining survivors discuss who’s betrayed them and “what the fuck happened!” Mr White (Harvey Keitel) and Mr Orange (Tim Roth) charge into the warehouse, Mr Orange has been shot in the gut, blood everywhere, Mr Pink (Steve Buscemi) shorty follows, screaming it’s a set-up. Shouting, swearing, screaming they’re clueless in what to do and who has betrayed them.  The film then switches showing the story of how they were picked for the job by leader, “the thing” look-alike Joe Calbot (Lawrence Tierney). Mr Blonde (Michael Madsen) then strolls in; he’s psychotic and has a cop in the boot as a hostage; they attempt to find the rat again. Soon after Eddie (Chris Penn) arrives, the son of Joe, he’s angry, Joe is angrier, they go through the plan again together, the meetings, their history looking for the rat that has turned a robbery into a mix between a bloodbath and a western stand-off.

It is easy to spot the link between the pure genius in structure when looking at Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction as it is flawless. Starting completely with intriguing dialogue and introductions, followed by thrilling action which leads to “flashbacks” filling every hole and answering every question about each character and story; finishing in an amazing end climax filled with swearing, loud bangs and blood.  The script is hilarious at times with so many classic lines – “Why am I Mr Pink?” “Cause you’re a fucking faggot” –  “Don’t you think Mr Brown is too close to Mr Shit” – “Are you gonna bark all day little doggy or are you gonna bite?” – The dialogue is then complemented by classic scenes, including the famous and somewhat horrific ear-cutting scene which is filmed directly to the 70’s classic Stuck in the Middle of You as Mr Blonde decides to play games with his hostage, it is one of my favourite film scenes ever created.  The whole film, from start to finish is filled with fun and entertainment and rarely within in a film there is not a single boring moment you want to rush through.

The characters are excellently developed within the structure, Mr White is our main character somewhat, and we like him most. Mr Pink is annoying, selfish and pig-like, he also doesn’t tip waitresses. Mr Blonde is a psycho; however he’s cool mysterious and someone who you wouldn’t argue with. The stories are so well structured and planned out you learn and see into the personality of each character. The acting of these characters is also a faultless aspect, Harvey Keitel as Mr White is brilliant with the final and opening scenes really being his highlights.  Buscemi’s Mr Pink is also another standout, although annoying he deserves credit for some great moments especially when he’s calming down Blonde and White.

The all 70’s soundtrack is something which adds this fun and different element to Reservoir Dogs making it stand out.  Simply including it would have had a great effect within the film however in a master-class way Tarantino many times makes the music diegetic putting it within the “film world”. Shown in full extent as Mr Blonde cuts of an ear and then throughout as the gang plays K-BILLY’s 70’s classics driving around.

Reservoir Dogs is an unforgettable watch, one which you will go back to time and time again as the film is definitely one of the best and most definitely one of my favourites ever made.  Tarantino’s debut is simply faultless showing its own created style within every frame.  Classic dialogue, an excellently executed story, a cool soundtrack along with brilliant acting makes this an easily watchable, fully entertaining experience.

My Top 5 Actors Of All Time

#5 Bruce Willis: Born March 19, 1995 he’s currently 58 years old and has been in the film industry since 1980. He features in the top ten stars in terms of box office receipts made. Most known for playing hot-headed, wisecracking and hard-edged characters he has his own franchise that is Die Hard where he plays officer “John Mclane”.

Die Hard (1988) is rated just outside the best 100 films of all time, and has brought along sequels of Die Hard 2 (1990), Die Hard: With a Vengeance and more recently Die Hard 4.0 (2007) and Die Hard: A Good Day to Die Hard (2013). The franchise has made $502,440,899 in lifetime gross being one of the most successful set of films of all time.

Bruce Willis isn’t just an action-hero, he’s played roles in dramas, thrillers and sci-fi films. Most popular playing the lead role in The Sixth Sense (1999), written and directed by at the time brilliant M. Night Shyamalan it got nominated for a staggering 6 Oscars and is rated 143rd best film of all time. He has also worked alongside with possibly the best screenplay writer and director of all time Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction (1994) and finally he played lead role as a taxi driver in the brilliant The Fifth Element (1997) and starred alongside an all-star cast in Twelve Monkeys (1995).

 

Staring as lead role in an amazing amount of award-winning successful films he definitely deserves to be on this list. For me he is the best action actor and my favourite. His roles in the Die Hard films are amazing and they are one of my favourite sets of films. He is a truly talented guy too also writing, producing films and occasionally making soundtracks. He’s had a stunning career and is still going strong to date, well done Bruno.

#4 Morgan Freeman: Always playing “God” in films he has established a very godly prestigious role in the film industry and Hollywood. Known for his calm, and authoritative voice and demeanour he is possibly one of most well-known actors to date. Born June 1st, 1937 some would say he’s been around since the Stone Age but with those years he’s featured in some of the best films ever made, on the way winning an Oscar and a further 55 awards.

Playing one of the lead characters in The Shawshank Redemption (1994) voted the best film of all time, his role as Ellis the prison “getter” will be remembered for a very long time. He also played alongside Brad Pitt in the hugely successful Se7en (1995). Total gross of all of Morgan Freeman’s films stands to a staggering $4,003,514,144 with films such as Deep Impact (1998), Robin Hood (1991) and Driving Miss Daisy (1989) providing a big lump of that sum also not forgetting the Batman films.

He finally won his much deserved Oscar in 2009 for Invictus where he had the honour of playing the character of Nelson Mandela in his first term as president of South Africa in a battle to win the Rugby World Cup. In his career he has also been on set with David Fincher, Clint Eastwood to create amazing films.

For me he’s an outstanding, talented actor and without him some of my favourite films wouldn’t be as good. His presence is unique and his ability to draw you into a film is unbelievable. I think he no doubt deserves the credit he gets and of course the spot on this list. Although old he’s still going but you have to admire his fantastic career in film whether it be acting, producing or writing.

#3 Brad Pitt: A name that everyone knows and an even more popular face. Brad Pitt born December 18th, 1963 started his quest to Hollywood fame in 1987 in “Hunk” as an un-credited character of a guy with a drink on a beach. A further 67 films later he has been nominated for 4 Oscars and has won 37 awards, featuring in possibly some of the best films made.

The film that everyone will remember is Fight Club (1999), he played alongside Edward Norton in a film rated 10th best film of all time, but shhh we’re not allowed to talk about it. He has further acted in films such as Se7en (1995), Twelve Monkeys (1995) where he got his first nomination for an Oscar, furthermore and more recently films such The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and Moneyball (2011).

Moneyball a film that is personally one of my favourites, Brad Pitt played lead role as well as producing. About an underdog baseball team with a low-budget huge success it’s an incredible film that got nominated for a huge 6 Oscars. The total Box Office for Brad Pitts films stand  worldwide at 3 and a half billion dollars showing he’s a top actor in top films.

He’s an actor that brings a certain style and “coolness” to his films that no one else does. His outstanding acting and a relationship with Angelina Jolie he is probably the most famous Hollywood actor and is one of the highest paid A-Listers. He’s certainly a talented guy and with only being half way through his career we’ll definitely see more of Pitt, definitely deserving his place as #3 on this list.

#2 Leonardo DiCaprio: Just missing out on top spot is the heart-throb born in Hollywood, Leonardo DiCaprio. Born November 11th 1974, he started his acting career with minor TV series but after making the world flutter as his performance of Jack in Titanic he cemented his position as an all time great.

In my opinion Mr. DiCaprio hasn’t done a bad film, from the likes of Catch Me If You Can (2002) and more recently The Great Gatsby (2013), he is one of my favourite actors making and performing in some of my favourite films. The world of cinema must think so too as he’s been nominated for 3 Oscars and a further 31 award wins.

Titanic (1997) being his most famous film alongside Inception (2010). In Titanic he played the character of Jack in a romantic drama that swept the nations heart. Although not featuring as frequently in films as other actors every film he has done has been hugely successful. Django Unchained (2012), Shutter Island (2010) and The Departed (2006) all sweeping in awards. His total box office for films standing at an almighty impressive $5billion.

With his unique charm and class alongside be innocent child like look there’s no wonder he’s a popular man. With his extreme talent there’s also no surprise he’s #2 on my list. He has featured in some of my favourite films and played some of my favourite characters, in the words of Jay Gatsby well done old sport.

#1Tom Hanks: top of my list and I’m sure many others is the great Tom Hanks. Not only has he featured and played the lead role in a number of timeless classics unlike most actors he has played in every genre of film, from comedies, dramas, war to romance, each giving an amazing performance. Born July 9th, 1956 in Concord USA Hanks started his career of acting in the 1980’s with various TV series to then play in films such as Big (1988), The ‘Burbs (1989). He is now known for much bigger classic films, all time greats and he is known for his amazing acting and unique voice.

Tom Hanks has played lead roles in films such as Forrest Gump (1994) and PPhiladelphia (1993) that both won him Oscars. Two more of my favourite films of his and of all time, Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Cast Away (2000) also got nominations for Oscars. It’s safe to say his films have had huge success, and no surprise his performances in both Forrest Gump and Cast Away are my favourite and deserve huge credit.

Over the course of his prestigious career Hanks total box office for films is just over $6billion, more than every actor accept Samuel L. Jackson. Over the last decade  he has also shown his talents as he has started to produce and write films such as Polar Express (2004) and Larry Crowne (2011). He’s my favourite actor mainly due to his appearance in a number of amazing films from the Toy Story series to You’ve Got Mail. I guarantee if you ask people they’re top 10 films Tom Hanks is lurking in there somewhere.

 

Tom Hanks tops the list for his unbelievable amount of amazing films and his all round nice guy personality. A truly talented guy responsible for some of the best films and performances in the last 30 years truly deserve top spot.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

 Genre: Crime, Action, Drama, Thriller
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary
Staring: Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman
Rating:★★★★★
Pulp Fiction is one of my favourite films and Quentin Tarantino’s creation is undoubtedly one of the best films to be made to this day. Staring the likes of John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis performance wise Pulp Fiction is outstanding but for film lovers who look at a film cinematically Pulp Fiction is a masterpiece. The film is like a puzzle as it approaches with four plots that all interlink and combine together for an astonishing ending. It will leave you to watch it again and again, it provides an amazing storyline and action keeping you entertained.
The story starts with two small-time thugs Pumpkin and Honey Bunny (Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer) at a diner they decide the best thing to do is to rob it. The story then switches to two mobsters Jules and Vincent (Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta) who are on a job to pick up a suitcase for big time mob kingpin Marcellus Wallace. While Marsellus is out of town he asks Vincent to take his wife Mia out for a few days, whilst he’s out of town he is fixing a match with the Boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis), but the deal goes wrong. Although all these events are spontaneous and unrelated they all link and twist in together comprising a series of bizarre, action packed un-called for incidents.

I will not spoil this film, I will not tell you how the characters make the mistakes and I will not tell you what those mistakes are. Pulp Fiction provides amazing action and on top of that a constant suspense filled tense atmosphere as all characters are fleeing from Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). The thing that is most amazing about Pulp Fiction is how it’s almost three different films in one, but due to the brilliance of Quentin Tarantino and his writing team they combine to make one film that fits perfectly like a puzzle, playing on the domino effect. When first watching this film I was amazed how it all unravelled and came together and ever since I’ve found myself watching it again and again, its not only me who thought the same as cinematically it was voted the Oscar for best screenplay and original script and clocked up a further 59 wins and 46 nominations, so no wonder its featured as one of the all time greats. Pulp fiction is a definite must watch film, a classic that will be remember prestigiously in the film industry.