Eli Roth

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Eli Roth
EliRothIBAug09.jpg
Roth at a premiere for Inglourious Basterds in August 2009
Born Eli Raphael Roth
(1972-04-18) April 18, 1972 (age 42)
Newton, Massachusetts, US
Other names David Kaufbird
Eli R. Roth
Occupation Actor, animator, director, producer, screenwriter
Years active 1996–present

Eli Raphael Roth (born April 18, 1972) is an American film director, producer, writer and actor. He is known for directing the horror film Hostel and its sequel, Hostel: Part II. He is also known for his role as Donny "The Bear Jew" Donowitz in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds for which he won both a SAG Award (Best Ensemble) and a BFCA Critic's Choice Award (Best Acting Ensemble). Journalists have included him in a group of filmmakers dubbed the Splat Pack for their explicitly violent and bloody horror films.[1] In 2013, Roth received the Visionary Award for his contributions to horror, at the Stanley Film Festival.

Early life[edit]

Roth was born in Newton, Massachusetts, to Dr. Sheldon Roth, a psychiatrist/psychoanalyst and clinical professor at Harvard Medical School, and Cora Roth, a painter.[2] His grandparents emigrated from Austria, Hungary, Russia, and Poland; Roth was raised Jewish.[3][4][5] Besides English, he speaks French, Italian and Russian.[6][7]

Roth began shooting films at the age of eight, after watching Ridley Scott's Alien (1979).[8] He and his brothers Adam and Gabriel[9] made over 100 short films before he graduated from Newton South High School and attended film school (the Tisch School of the Arts) at New York University. To fund his films while in college Roth worked as an online cybersex operator for Penthouse Magazine, posing as a woman, as well as a production assistant on feature films.[10] Roth also ran the office of producer Frederick Zollo,[9] leaving after graduation to devote himself to writing full-time. He collected unemployment and found work on Howard Stern's "Private Parts" as Stern's assistant, staying at Silvercup Studios in Queens at night working on his scripts while Stern slept.

Actress Camryn Manheim gave Roth one of his first Hollywood jobs, as an extra on The Practice, when he moved to Los Angeles. Roth would stay in Manheim's dressing room, working on his scripts, while she filmed the show. The two had become friends in New York, while Roth was working for Fred Zollo. Roth also met Manheim's cousin Howie Nuchow (former EVP of Mandalay Sports Entertainment and also from the Boston, MA area) at her family passover seder—this led to Roth's first animation project, "Chowdaheads," the following year. Roth also co-wrote a project called "The Extra" with Manheim,[11] who later sold the pitch to producer (and former CEO and Chairman of Fox Studios) Bill Mechanic's Pandemonium company.

Film career[edit]

In his final years (1993/1994) at NYU film school, Roth wrote and directed a student film called Restaurant Dogs, a homage to Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. The film was nominated for a Student Academy Award in 1995, and won its division (Division III.)

Through his internship with Zollo, Roth met David Lynch and remained in touch over the years, eventually producing content for Lynch with his fledgling website in the late 1990s.[11] Through Lynch, Roth met film and TV composer Angelo Badalamenti, whose music he used in his first feature film. He also met a member of special effects company KNB EFX, which contributed to his first feature.

In 1999, Roth moved to LA, where he wrote, directed, edited, produced, animated, and provided some voices for a series of animated shorts called Chowdaheads for Mandalay Sports Entertainment. They were to be shown between WCW Monday Nitro pro wrestling matches, but the C.E.O. of WCW who had green-lit the project was fired the weekend before they were to air, so they were finished but never actually broadcast. Roth's friend Noah Belson co-wrote the shorts and provided the other character voices.

In mid-2000, with financing from the website Z.com to deliver a 5-minute pilot, Roth wrote, directed, animated and produced a series of stop-motion shorts called The Rotten Fruit.[11] The dot-com company folded after several episodes were done, and its domain name was picked up by Nissan for its "Z" sports car. A portion of Roth's work for The Rotten Fruit was done at the Snake Pit studios in Burbank with miniature sets, poseable clay and foam figures, two high-end digital still cameras, and a pair of Macintosh computers. Noah Belson again co-wrote and performed character voices.

Cabin Fever[edit]

In 1995, a year after graduating from NYU, Roth had co-written a script called Cabin Fever with his college roommate Randy Pearlstein. They based the premise on Roth's having contracted a skin infection while riding ponies at a family friend's farm in Iceland in 1991. Much of it was written in 1996, while Roth worked as a production assistant for Howard Stern's movie Private Parts.

In 2001, Cabin Fever, produced by Lauren Moews of Tonic Films and executive-produced by Susan Jackson, was made on a budget of $1.5 million raised from private investors. Jackson, who brokered the deal, sold the film to Lionsgate at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival for $3.5 million, the biggest sale of that year's festival. Released in 2003, it was Lionsgate's highest grossing film of the year, earning $22 million at the U.S. box office and $35 million worldwide. Lionsgate stock rose from $1.98 a share when it bought Cabin Fever to nearly $6 a share after the film was released; the company used its new net worth to buy Artisan Entertainment.[12] Cabin Fever made Roth a star in the horror genre. In a 2004 Premiere Magazine interview, Quentin Tarantino called it his favorite new film and Roth "the future of horror."[citation needed]

Hostel[edit]

In 2005, Roth's second feature, Hostel, was made for just over $4 million. It opened No. 1 at the box office in January 2006, taking in $20 million its first weekend.[13][14] The film went on to gross $80 million worldwide in box office, and more than $180 million on DVD. In April 2006, on Roth's birthday, the Hostel DVD opened at No. 1.[citation needed] Although the story is set in Slovakia, all the exteriors were shot in the Czech Republic.

The story line is naively simple – three friends are lured to visit a hostel where they think their sexual fantasies will come true. Instead, they fall into the clutches of an international syndicate that provides first-hand torturing and killing experiences for sadistic rich tourists. The film was rated No. 1 on Bravo TV's 30 Even Scarier Movie Moments,[15] and Empire Magazine readers voted Hostel the Best Horror Film of 2007.[16]

Roth reportedly turned down studio directing jobs to make Hostel. He took a directing salary of only $10,000 to keep the budget as low as possible, so there would be no limits set on its violence. In January 2006, film critic David Edelstein in New York Magazine credited Roth with creating the horror sub-genre 'torture porn,' or 'gorno,' using excessive violence to excite audiences like a sexual act.[17]

Thanksgiving[edit]

In 2007, Roth directed and narrated the faux trailer segment Thanksgiving for Grindhouse as well as appearing in Death Proof, Tarantino's segment of the film. Roth and co-writer Jeff Rendell won a 2007 Spike TV Scream Award for best "screamplay" for their work in Grindhouse, sharing the honor with Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Rob Zombie and Edgar Wright.[18] According to IMDb, Roth is directing a feature-film version of Thanksgiving to be released in 2014.[19]

Hostel: Part II[edit]

Eli Roth with Ruggero Deodato on the set of Hostel: Part II. (2007)

Hostel: Part II opened in sixth place in June 2007, with $8.2 million; it went on to gross $17.6 million in US theaters. The film, which cost $10.2 million, earned $35 million in theaters worldwide and $50 million on DVD and pay television.[20]

Lionsgate attributed the lower grosses to the summer release, opposite blockbusters such as Shrek 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Ocean's 13, as well as the film's workprint having been leaked online before its release. Close to 2 million illegal workprint downloads were tracked the day Hostel 2 opened.

I don't know if it was the most downloaded film of all time, but there are tracking services that track what movies are being downloaded. And a copy of Hostel 2 leaked out before its release and they had it, it was like millions and millions of hits. Not only was it downloaded, but in the countries it was downloaded – like Mexico and Brazil – there were copies on the street for practically a penny. You could buy Hostel 2 for a quarter in Mexico City. As a result, in a lot of countries where the piracy was bad, they just didn't even release it.[21]

Hostel Part II was nominated for six Spike TV Scream Awards, including best horror film and best director. It was on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 20 best horror films of the past 20 years.[22]

Endangered Species[edit]

In 2009, while acting in Inglourious Basterds, Roth said he would soon begin his next film, Endangered Species.[23]

I can't say anything without giving anything away!… I saw Transformers and Cloverfield and thought, 'I have an idea for a mass destruction movie.' But it's going to be very different from those films. And it's science fiction, but a little more grounded than that.[24]

Other projects[edit]

Roth at the Spike TV Scream Awards, 2007

Roth has talked of doing Trailer Trash, another compilation of fake trailers. "Trailer Trash is not a horror film," he said, "it's a comedy. It will be very R-rated and completely insane, and I'm producing it with Mike Fleiss".[25]

He has also produced a kung fu film, The Man with the Iron Fist, written, directed, and scored by The RZA, who also stars in the film. According to Roth, Tarantino is involved as well. In an interview with CHUD, Roth said:

This movie will have everything martial-arts fans could want, combined with RZA's superb musical talent. This project has been his dream for years, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. Fans should know that yes, there will be blood... This ain't no PG-13.[26][27]

Roth is a frequent contributor to DVD "extras" content (liner notes, video commentary) for horror-film distributors Grindhouse Releasing/Box Office Spectaculars, particularly for two of his favorite films -- Juan Piquer Simon's Pieces and the North American DVD release of Lucio Fulci's Cat in the Brain.[28][29][30]

Men's Fitness magazine voted Roth "Most Fit Director" in their July 2006 issue, a title Roth takes very seriously. He follows a strict workout routine, which he documents on the Hostel DVDs. Roth claims he treats every red carpet like a Milan runway, and often jokes that he only makes films as a way to live out his lifelong dream of being a male supermodel. He spoke of his love for fashion in his interview in the October 2007 issue of Italian Vogue.

Roth also participated in the 2006 animated comedy film, Disaster!, voicing the lumberjack character in the opening moments. The lumberjack's comical "death by squirrels" is inspired by Roth's gruesome and often ironic ways of killing characters in his own films.

Roth recorded an audio commentary for Troma's 2005 DVD release of Blood Sucking Freaks with no formal credit, billed only as a "Blood and Guts Expert." The DVD is one of Troma's highest-selling. Roth often makes uncredited cameos in Troma films, such as his role as a Tromaville citizen in Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV in 2000.

Roth's role in Quentin Tarantino's segment of Grindhouse came about because Tarantino was impressed by Roth's brief part as Justin in Cabin Fever. Roth -- who left preproduction on Hostel Part II in Prague and flew to Austin, Texas, to film the scene at the Texas Chili Parlor -- said working as an actor for Tarantino is like taking a master class in directing. He quipped that the only directors he would ever act for are people who have won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Roth has also appeared in several projects David Lynch directed for his website Davidlynch.com.

Roth was profiled on the G4 TV show Icons, and was on the cover of Forbes magazine's "Hollywood's Most Profitable Stars" issue.[citation needed]

In 2002, Roth brought a shot-for-shot remake by kids of Raiders of the Lost Ark to the attention of both Harry Knowles and Steven Spielberg. He'd had a copy in his video collection for years, and showed it at Knowles' Butt-Numb-A-Thon film festival in December. The response was so great that Roth took the tape to his first meeting at DreamWorks to give to Spielberg. An executive called the next week saying Spielberg loved it and wanted to contact the filmmakers. Roth had never met them, but Google-searched every name in the credits until he found Jayson Lamb, the cinematographer. The three filmmakers -- Lamb, Chris Strompolis and Eric Zala (a former Activision employee) -- hadn't spoken to each other in years when Roth contacted them. Roth, feeling their film was so powerful he had to do whatever he could to make sure fans saw it, introduced it at its premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in May 2008, five and a half years after he first gave the tape to Knowles. Soon, the three reunited friends were touring the world, doing charity screenings.

In March 2006, Ain't It Cool News announced that Dimension Films had bought the rights to the Cell by Stephen King and would produce a film to be directed by Roth. In 2009, King finished the screenplay, and actors John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson have since joined the project.

In 2009, Roth wrote, directed and acted in a PSA for P.E.T.A. about the link between violence against animals and violence against people. Roth won a Telly Award for his spot (Public Service Category: Bronze.)

Through his company Arcade, with Eric Newman and Strike producer Marc Abraham,[31] Roth produced the horror film The Last Exorcism, (originally titled Cotton) which was directed by Daniel Stamm.[32] Completed in December 2009 and retitled in February 2010, The Last Exorcism[33] cost $1.5 million to produce. It opened at more than $20 million in US sales, and earned No. #1 opening spots in Canada and the U.K. The film had paid for itself when rights in a few foreign territories were sold before shooting began. It earned over $40 million box office in the US, and $70 million worldwide.[34] Roth also had a cameo as a contest emcee in Alexandre Aja's Piranha 3-D.[35]

Roth is a curator of the EMP Museum's exhibit "Can't Look Away," detailing the history of horror. He was selected, along with directors John Landis and Roger Corman, to represent three generations of film directors who have shaped the genre. The installation opened in September 2011, and will be open through 2014.

Roth hosted and executive-produced an episode of Discovery channel's series "Curiosity," called "How Evil Are You?" The episode explored the scientific aspects of evil, with Roth undergoing a brain scan and DNA sequencing at U.C. Davis with neuropsychiatrist Dr. James Fallon. Roth also re-created the infamous Milgram experiments for the documentary, with results identical to those from 50 years earlier.

On May 17, 2011, Roth returned to the director's chair for a film titled The Green Inferno, inspired by his love of Mondo horror films such as the infamous Cannibal Holocaust.[36]

In September 2012, he opened a haunted house, Eli Roth's Goretorium, in Las Vegas.[37] Haunted Desert LLC, which owns Goretorium, filed for bankruptcy protection in July 2013,[38] and the attraction closed in October.[39]

Roth directed the pilot of Hemlock Grove, a horror/thriller series, that premiered on Netflix on April 19, 2013.

Roth directed the music video for Snoop Lion's lead single "La La La" from his reggae-genre album Reincarnated which was released on April 23, 2013.

In February 2014, Roth announced he is directing Knock, Knock, which follows two young girls who seduce a married man and then do unspeakable things to him. Keanu Reeves is signed as star and executive producer.[40]

Filmography[edit]

Year Film Credited as
Director Producer Screenwriter Actor Role Notes
1998 The Horse Whisperer No No No Yes Office Worker #4
1999 Terror Firmer No No No Yes Shocked Onlooker
2000 Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV No No No Yes Frightened citizen
2002 Cabin Fever Yes Yes Yes Yes Justin aka Grim
2004 Tales from the Crapper No No No Yes Gay Party-goer
2005 2001 Maniacs No Yes No Yes Justin
Hostel Yes Yes Yes Yes American Stoner Cameo
2007 Hostel: Part II Yes Yes Yes Yes Head on stick
Death Proof No No No Yes Dov
Thanksgiving Yes No Yes Yes Tucker/Trailer Announcer Fake trailer
2009 Don't Look Up No No No Yes Béla Olt
Inglourious Basterds No No No Yes Donny "The Bear Jew" Donowitz
Nation's Pride Yes No No No Film within a film
2010 The Last Exorcism[41] No Yes No No
Piranha 3D No No No Yes Wet T-shirt contest MC Cameo
2011 Scream 4 No No No Yes Reporter
2012 The Man with the Iron Fists No Yes Yes Yes Wolf Clan #2
2013 The Last Exorcism Part II No Yes No No
Aftershock No Yes Yes Yes Gringo
2014 The Green Inferno Yes Yes Yes No
Clown No Yes No Yes Frowny the Clown Completed
2015 Knock, Knock Yes Yes Yes Question? Post-production

Collaborations[edit]

Eli Roth has cast certain actors in more than one of his films.

Cabin Fever Hostel Hostel: Part II Thanksgiving
Jay Hernandez Yes Yes Yes2
Jordan Ladd Yes Yes Yes2

1 Cameo.
2 Possible upcoming role.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kay, Jeremy (June 8, 2007). "My mission to appall, by the Splat Pack king". Telegraph (London). 
  2. ^ McCarthy, Phillip (June 15, 2007). "Captive audiences". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  3. ^ Fischer, Paul (September 2, 2003). "Eli Roth Has The Fever". Film Monthly. Retrieved 2007-01-07. 
  4. ^ Parks, Louis B. (August 19, 2009). "Eli Roth gets a head-turning role in Inglourious Basterds". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  5. ^ http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-11261473/TARANTINO-MOVIE-DRAWS-CRITICISM-LOSE.html
  6. ^ Cine Latino: 'Aftershock' Star Eli Roth Goes Mad for Chile, Talks 'Green Inferno' and Gives Horror Newbies Advice
  7. ^ Элай Рот говорит по-русски on YouTube
  8. ^ Shane Danielson (June 24, 2007). "Blood brother: Director Eli Roth, inventer of 'torture porn'". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  9. ^ a b Mary Ellen Egan (June 14, 2007). "Eli Roth makes box office gross – literally". Forbes via MSNBC. Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  10. ^ "Eli Roth talks about his Blueberries, body and cybersex proficiency". 
  11. ^ a b c Edgers, Geoff (November 9, 2003). "The family cut-up". Boston globe. Retrieved September 28, 2009. 
  12. ^ Source: Lionsgate website financial reports
  13. ^ Stewart, Ryan (June 10, 2007). "Audiences Hostile to 'Hostel II' At Box Office". Cinematical. Retrieved 2009-09-29. 
  14. ^ "Roth returning to 'Hostel'?". Time Out. February 3, 2006. Retrieved 2009-09-29. 
  15. ^ Kevin Kaufman (2004). The 100 Scariest Movie Moments (TV-Series). Bravo TV. 
  16. ^ "Empire Readers Awards 2007". Empire Magazine Online. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  17. ^ David Edelstein. "Now Playing at Your Local Multiplex: Torture Porn", New York Magazine, published on January 28, 2006.
  18. ^ "Giving Thanks With Eli Roth's 'Thanksgiving' Trailer". 
  19. ^ Thanksgiving at the Internet Movie Database
  20. ^ Hostel Part II (2007). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2011-09-08.
  21. ^ "Eli Roth 'Furious' Over 'Hostel' Pirates: 'I Don't Want Those Fans,' He Says". 
  22. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (October 30, 2009). "14. HOSTEL 2 (2007)". Entertainment Weekly. 
  23. ^ "Some Final Tweaks on Eli Roth's 'Endangered Species'". BloodyDisgusting. 
  24. ^ Faraci, David (September 7, 2009). "Eli Roth is being coy". Retrieved September 28, 2009. 
  25. ^ Russ Fischer. "Eli Roth Not Involved in Hostel III". Slash Film. 
  26. ^ Movies-Eli-Roth-On-RZA/s-The-Man-With-The-Iron-Fist.htm. 07.08.2008
  27. ^ Eli Roth Gives Chud The Scoop On Rza'S Martial Arts Movie!. CHUD.com. Retrieved on 2011-09-08.
  28. ^ Icons of Fright News and Updates: Lucio Fulci's Cat in the Brain Coming to DVD March 31st. Iconsoffright.com (December 29, 2008). Retrieved on 2011-09-08.
  29. ^ DVD Trash: DVD Release: Cat in the Brain. Dvdtrash.blogspot.com. Retrieved on 2011-09-08.
  30. ^ Fear.net "Final Cat in the Brain DVD Specs", Dec. 29, 2008, by Gabrielle DiPietro. Fearnet.com (December 29, 2008). Retrieved on 2011-09-08.
  31. ^ "The Power of Christ Compels Lionsgate to Purchase Retitled 'Exorcism' Flick, 'Cotton'". BloodyDisgusting. 
  32. ^ "AFM '09: First Ever Images From Eli Roth's 'Cotton'!!". BloodyDisgusting. 
  33. ^ "Lionsgate Nabs Cotton, Changes Title to Last Exorcism". DreadCentral. 
  34. ^ Swart, Sharon (February 11, 2010). "Lionsgate snags 'Last Exorcism' – Horror pic produced by Eli Roth, StudioCanal, Strike". Variety. 
  35. ^ "Eli Roth on Bloody 'Piranha' Remake, 3-D Technology". BloodyDisgusting. 
  36. ^ Robert Yaniz Jr. "Eli Roth Returning To Direct The Green Inferno". 
  37. ^ The Las Vegas Sun
  38. ^ The Las Vegas Sun
  39. ^ The Guardian
  40. ^ Eli Roth's Next Film is Knock Knock
  41. ^ "Eli Roth-Produced Cotton Screening for Sundance". DreadCentral. 

External links[edit]