It’s hard to believe that the 2000’s were now over a decade ago and as we look back on that turbulent decade, it’s easy to see why “torture porn” horror was so prevalent. Society was reacting to the real life horrors of terrorist attack and images and stories of torture coming from the wars in the Middle-East.
When it comes to this graphically violent subgenre, none are as famous (or infamous) as Eli Roth’s Hostel. It certainly took horror by storm, and for most of that decade, it inspired a slew of imitators. But none were quite so effective at conjuring up fears of overseas travel. So as we celebrate Hostel’s 15th anniversary today, we thought it would be fitting to look at 15 fun facts about it!
1. Following the success of Cabin Fever, Eli Roth was offered jobs directing horror remakes like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Last House on the Left. However Quentin Tarantino convinced him that it would be better to proceed with an original film rather than a remake.
2. According to Eli Roth, the idea for Hostel came from a website he stumbled upon where people could pay $10,000 to murder someone. He still isn’t sure if it the site was legitimate or not.
3. While not directly inspired by James Wan’s Saw, Eli Roth admitted that after seeing that movie, he was convinced he could make a low budget movie look like it had a bigger budget.
4. One of his goals was to do for backpacking in Europe what Jaws did for swimming at the beach.
5. Initially, Roth considered making Hostel in the style of a fake documentary.
6. The torture scenes were shot in a former mental hospital in Prague, Czech Republic. The basement they were filming in had been closed for five decades, and it was such an unsettling location, that Eli Roth had a string quartet play classical music to lighten the mood and make everyone more comfortable.
7. Producer Quentin Tarantino had a cameo as a screaming, shirtless man in a window.
8. The villainous Dutch Businessman actor Jan Vlasák had to learn his lines phonetically since he didn’t speak any English.
9. Legendary Japanese director Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer) has a cameo as one of the sadists torturing people.
10. Originally, there was a much darker ending, in which Paxton kidnaps the Dutch Businessman’s young daughter.
11. Despite mostly being set in Bratislava, Slovakia and Amsterdam, the film was almost entirely shot in the Czech Republic.
12. Eli Roth gave a formal apology to Iceland for the character of Oli and his portrayal of Icelandic people as sex-crazed partyers. Apparently, the President of Iceland thought it was funny.
13. The movie was not as warmly received in Slovakia, as a member of their Parliament Tomas Galbavy stated he was offended, and that “all Slovaks should be too.”
Eli Roth was even invited to Slovakia for them to demonstrate that the country wasn’t as run down or horrible as he portrayed. Roth’s response was that his film was meant to display American ignorance, and that “despite movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, people still go to Texas.”
14. Hostel wound up being a massive financial success, grossing $82 million on a $4 million budget.
15. It was also nominated for Best Horror Film at the Saturn Awards, but lost to The Descent.
Which of these did you already know? Which ones surprised you? What’s your favorite Saw movie? Let us know in the comments!