1. It made more than ten times its initial budget
Amazingly Hostel was made for just $4.6million dollars, a shoestring budget even by backpacker’s standards. Despite it’s meagre funding however the film went on to make $20million dollars on its opening weekend, and more than $80million by the time it had left theatres a few weeks later. Talk about value for money.
2. Quentin Tarantino was a producer
Whilst director Eli Roth was a relative unknown, his fellow producer most certainly wasn’t. Yes Quentin Tarantino served as a producer on the film after being bowled over by Roth’s work, the famous filmmaker even repaid the favour giving the Hostel director a major role in his 2009 hit Inglorious Basterds.
3. The film is credited as creating the ‘torture porn’ genre
More than 150 gallons of fake blood were used for the film’s torture scenes which were so vivid that fans at a screening in Toronto had to be rushed to hospital after suffering from suspected heart attacks. It was pitch perfect publicity for a film that, alongside James Wan’s Saw, helped to create a genre of slasher cinema that’s still going strong today.
4. Roth turned down big money studio deals to make the movie his own way
Roth took a directing fee of just $10,000 in order to keep the costs on Hostel down to a bare minimum, but his decision to shoot on a shoestring budget wasn’t just one of necessity. In fact major studios were lining up to fund the film, however Roth decided to stick with the indy route as he feared the involvement of studio suits would force him to tone down Hostel’s violence.
5. The Slovakian government weren’t happy with the finished product
Not everyone was pleased with the finished film however as Roth suffered a backlash from the Slovakian government upon Hostel’s release. Slovakian officials were disgusted with the director’s portrayal of their country, which they feared would "damage the good reputation of Slovakia." They weren’t wrong as some Slovakian hostels reported that bookings were down more than 75% after the film first hit theatres.
6. It isn’t really based on a true story
Despite what the movie’s marketing materials would have you believe, Hostel isn’t actually based on a true story. Instead it was inspired by an internet story advertising ‘murder vacations’ where wealthy patrons could pay $10,000 to kill a terminally ill volunteer. Roth later admitted whilst appearing on an Icelandic talk show that he had no idea whether the stories were real or not.
7. Parts of the film were shot in a functioning mental asylum
Despite its Slovakian setting much of Hostel was actually shot in the Czech Republic. Indeed the interior shots of the slaughterhouse were actually filmed in a functioning mental hospital in Prague that had been originally built in 1910. The production team, who had taken over a wing of the asylum which had remained unused for 50 years, found the experience so unsettling that Roth hired a string quartet to play soothing music whilst people were on set.
8. There’s something familiar about the friends’ room number
Look closely when the movie’s trio of travellers check into their room and you’ll notice that they’re staying in number 237, a direct reference to Stanley Kubrick’s classic The Shining. That’s not the only Easter egg squirrelled away on the screen however. Eagle eyed viewers might also notice that producer Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is the film of choice for the Slovakian hostel workers in another scene.
9. Honorary vikings
Both Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino were made honorary Vikings whilst travelling to Iceland for the world premier of the film. Eyþór Guðjónsson who played Oli in Hostel arranged the ceremony.
10. The film originally had a different ending
While there’s undoubtedly something grimly satisfying about the ending that eventually made its way into the multiplex, the film’s original finale was actually significantly different. In Hostel’s initial script Paxton kidnapped the Dutch Businessman’s daughter, with the curtain coming down as he covers her mouth to prevent her from screaming. Deliberately ambiguous, the final scenes were changed after test audiences thought they were too dark and not satisfying enough.
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