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I was asked, by my friend Tyson at Head in a Vice, if I would submit my list of eight movies, one book and one luxury item that I would want to have with me if I were stranded on a desert island. I must say that I am glad that he finally asked as I was feeling left out and would soon resort to stalking and glaring menacingly at him while cleaning my fingernails with an ice pick. Just kidding, Tyson. Maybe.

I got to thinking about what to include on the list. I’m not a professional critic; I don’t know all about the various techniques that filmmakers and actors use to make a great film. I don’t use fancy words to describe a performance or a scene. I am just a guy from California by way of South Carolina who has watched movies since he was six and knows what he likes when he sees it.

So, here’s my list. As you can guess most are horror movies but with a few non-genre films tossed in for balance. I don’t think my choices will surprise anyone; but who knows. There is no particular order to the selections.

1. The Thing (1982)-John Carpenter

Alright, I told a little white lie. There is no way that I was not going to put this movie anywhere but Number 1. The Thing is the best film of John Carpenter’s long career and is a perfect example of how hand-made special effects are far more convincing than something a four year old could do on a fucking computer. Isolation, paranoia and a creature that can assume any form; what more could you ask for in a movie?

2. The Howling (1981)-Joe Dante

Best werewolf movie ever made! Best werewolf transformation ever! These are not your daddy’s Lon Chaney Jr. werewolves. These are werewolves whose sole purpose is to keep you, me and Little Red Riding Hood in therapy for the rest of our lives. I fell in love with Dee Wallace in this movie. There was no way I could have shot her; it would have been like shooting Ole Yeller.

3. Hostel and Hostel Part II (2005 and 2007)-Eli Roth

I’m cheating quite a bit with this selection as Hostel and Hostel Part II are two entirely different movies. But then again, how different are they? Both feature dumb Americans in foreign countries who get in way over their heads. Both feature torture and gore. Even the Bubble Gum Gang makes an appearance in both movies. Why do I love these two sicko movies so much? I have no fucking idea! Best line goes to Natalya (Barbara Nedeljakova) for “I get a lot of money for you, and that makes you MY bitch.”

4. Goodfellas (1990)-Martin Scorcese

Where do I start? I take nothing away from The Godfather; but in my humble opinion Goodfellas is the definitive gangster movie. I could, and did, write an entire post on this one movie. Give me time and I could write 10 more. There are so many great scenes in this film; Henry and Karen’s first date and that masterful tracking shot, Tommy’s death and Jimmy’s heartbreaking reaction. Last but not least there’s that great scene:

Henry Hill: You’re a pistol, you’re really funny. You’re really funny.
Tommy DeVito: What do you mean I’m funny?
Henry Hill: It’s funny, you know. It’s a good story, it’s funny, you’re a funny guy.
Tommy DeVito: What do you mean, you mean the way I talk? What?
Henry Hill: It’s just, you know. You’re just funny, it’s… funny, the way you tell the story and everything.
Tommy DeVito: [it becomes quiet] Funny how? What’s funny about it?
Anthony Stabile: Tommy no, You got it all wrong.
Tommy DeVito: Oh, oh, Anthony. He’s a big boy, he knows what he said. What did ya say? Funny how?
Henry Hill: Jus…
Tommy DeVito: What?
Henry Hill: Just… ya know… you’re funny.
Tommy DeVito: You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?
Henry Hill: Just… you know, how you tell the story, what?
Tommy DeVito: No, no, I don’t know, you said it. How do I know? You said I’m funny. How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me? Tell me, tell me what’s funny!
Henry Hill: [long pause] Get the fuck out of here, Tommy!
Tommy DeVito: [everyone laughs] Ya motherfucker! I almost had him, I almost had him. Ya stuttering prick ya. Frankie, was he shaking? I wonder about you sometimes, Henry. You may fold under questioning.

5. Taxi Driver (1976)-Martin Scorcese

Taxi Driver is one of the most perfect American movies ever made and by far the greatest performance of Robert De Niro’s career. It is a paranoid journey into the seedy heart of New York City. It is a film that the lonely can understand and that the rest of us can be awed by. The scene where Travis is pleading with Betsy over the phone is one of the most heart wrenching in movie history.

6. Role Models (2008)-David Wain

What? Did you seriously think I wouldn’t take a comedy with me? If I watched the other movies on the list without having something to laugh at I’d go insane. This goofy movie about two losers forced into community service at a Big Brother type program makes me LOL and ROFLMAO every time I see it. So take that, Reindeer Games. I know; you’re not Ben Affleck. You know something? You white, you Ben Affleck.

7. Inside aka À l’intérieur (2007)-Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury

I had heard that the French were making some brutal horror movies lately. I didn’t believe it at first; and then I saw Martyrs and this movie, Inside, and my eyes were opened. Brutal does not even begin to describe this movie. Beátrice Dalle is fucking terrifying in this film about a woman, her unborn child and the woman who will do anything to make it her own. Inside is intense!

8. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (2003 and 2004)-Quentin Tarantino

The Kill Bill films are my absolute favorite Tarantino films. QT pays homage to nearly every genre that he can cram into the narrative of his tale about a vengeful bride and Bill, the son of a bitch who shot her down. You’ve never met anyone quite like The Bride, Bill and the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.

My one book would have to be Ghoul by Michael Slade. This was Slade’s second novel and the first that I read. After that I haven’t missed one since. Slade’s books are mystery, history and bloody horror all rolled into one brilliant little package. Ghoul is a masterpiece.

As for my luxury item that would be a toothbrush. If she were with me my wife would at least want me to have healthy teeth and gums.


HOSTEL: PART III-United States-88 Mins. 2011

Kip Pardue as Carter McMullen

John Hensley as Justin

Sarah Habel as Kendra

Brian Hallisay as Scott

Zulay Henao as Nikki

Directed by Scott Spiegel

Written by Michael D. Weiss and Eli Roth (characters)

Guys, have you ever been standing at a urinal, just getting ready to zip up, when someone makes the comment about how if you shake it more than three times then you’re playing with it? With the first two Hostel films, Eli Roth and company shook us just enough to have a little fun. The third film in the series is just jerking us off altogether. I just watched this film and I am now completely aware of what a cheap hooker feels like. First of all, why did they have to set this one in Vegas? Was it supposed to be a pun? You know, ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ and all that bullshit. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the kills. The first two films had some pretty damn inventive kills. These were just anemic. But you know what really pisses me off about the kills? I have the unrated version of the film. If this is the unrated version of this film then the rated version must have been produced by Walt Disney. Mufasa from The Lion King, Bambi’s mom and Ole Yeller all had scarier deaths than this film.

The other thing that I hated was how they played us along by the old cliché’ of people not being what they seem. Hello! Assholes! Been there, done that a thousand times already! Get some new material. Anyway, if you want to be played with just enough to feel nice and tingly then by all means check out the first two films in the series. If you want to be anally raped without so much as a card or flowers, then Hostel Part III is the film for you.


The first film in the series to not have a theatrical release.

The first film in the series not to be directed by Eli Roth.

Barry Livingston, who portrayed Ernie Douglas on the television series “My Three Sons“, has a cameo as an Elite Hunting Club client.



THE RUINS-United States-90 Mins. 2008

Jonathan Tucker as Jeff

Jena Malone as Amy

Shawn Ashmore as Eric

Laura Ramsey as Stacy

Joe Anderson as Mathias

Directed by Carter Smith

Screenplay by Scott B. Smith

Based on the novel by Scott Smith

The Ruins has a lot in common with Eli Roth‘s Hostel. It is a film about Americans on vacation in Mexico, who meets up with a fellow traveler who tells them of a great adventure to be had by all. The adventure in Hostel was the three backpackers going to Slovakia for a snipur hunt. In The Ruins, the guys already have girlfriends, so they’re already getting all the snipur they can handle. The adventure for the five of them, four Americans and one German, is the site of an archaeological dig in the ruins of a Mayan temple. It sounds like so much fun. Oh, sure, it’s all fun and games until the natives don’t let you leave the place because you’ve become infected by the plant life that can not only get under your skin and consume you from the inside out, it can mimic the sound of your voice and even your cell phone. Can you hear me now? Good!

Another thing The Ruins has in common with Hostel is that the token foreign guy loses a body part in a violent way. In Hostel, it was the off-screen beheading of the Icelandic Oli at the hands of his captors. In The Ruins, it’s the very gruesome and chilling amputation and cauterization of Mathias the German’s legs after they become infected by the nefarious fauna growing around them.

Hmm, you know what? From this point forward The Ruins shall be known as Hostel with Plant Life. That’s not a good thing, ladies and gentlemen. Hostel was a good film, one of my favorites, in fact. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be remade as a plants on the rampage motion picture.

The Ruins is based on a novel by Scott Smith. If you remember, Smith is also the author and screenwriter of A Simple Plan. With that film, Smith looked like he may indeed be the next big thing. With The Ruins, he leaves us wondering what the big deal was in the first place.


Even though the novel and the screenplay were written by the same person, the deaths of the characters are switched around. In the film, Stacy cuts her knee and the plants start growing inside her. She ends up killing Eric and begs for the others to kill her. In the book, it’s Eric who cuts his knee, and he kills Mathias. In the film, Mathias breaks his back and later gets his legs cut off. In the novel, this happens to Pablo (who is called Dimitri in the film). In the film, Jeff is killed by the Mayans trying to save Amy so she can escape. In the novel, Jeff is killed by the Mayans trying to escape after Amy has been killed by the plants during the night. In the novel, Stacy is the last survivor. She commits suicide in front of the ruins to warn off others who might find the ruins. But the plants make her body disappear. In the novel, Amy is the first character to die. In the film, she is the only one who survives and, unlike any of the characters in the novel, she actually manages to escape.

The graphic amputation scene was the first to be presented to studio executives for approval.

The female corpse discovered inside the temple by Amy and Stacy is intended to be the same character seen screaming for help at the very beginning of the film, but the living character and the corpse were played by different actresses.



HOSTEL:Part II-United States-94 Mins. 2007

Written and Directed by Eli Roth


Lauren German as Beth

Roger Bart as Stuart

Heather Matarazzo as Lorna

Bijou Phillips as Whitney

Richard Burgi as Todd

Vera Jordanova as Axelle

What sets Hostel: Part II apart from the original film? The plot is pretty much the same, isn’t it? Let’s review, shall we? The first Hostel was about three male backpackers traveling abroad. The second film is about three female college students traveling abroad. The three guys fall prey to a nefarious murder-for-pay organization. Hostel: Part II-same thing. Two of the guys are murdered and the third must fight for his life. I wonder what happens in the second film? Oh yeah. Same thing.

So, Hostel and Hostel: Part II are the same film, right? Uh…no. The second film makes a bit of a detour with a subplot about two American businessmen who are willing to pay top dollar to have the opportunity to kill someone however they see fit. The two men are different from one another. Todd is brash and loud, the alpha male. Stuart is just a little bit unsure of himself. Todd is ready from the word ‘go’ to be able to extinguish a life. In the end what they expect and what they get are two very different things.

The scariest scene in Hostel: Part II comes after Sasha (the desk clerk Jedi from the first film) has scanned and uploaded the passport photos of the three girls. He sends the photos out to all the bidders and we see a variety of well-groomed men and women placing their bids for the chance to kill them. The almighty dollar speaks volumes. It can save a life and it can take it away just as quickly. In this scene director Eli Roth shows that evil doesn’t always come from darkness and decadence but also from the rich and the affluent. That’s not something we didn’t already know. Look at Lyle and Eric Menendez. The scene is scary because we know we shouldn’t be surprised about it.

The torture scenes in the film are more elaborate as well. The Bathoryesque death of Lorna is one of the most unsettling deaths I have ever witnessed in an American horror film. There is also death by castration, death by dogs and death by cannibalism. In fact, Roth pays homage to Cannibal Holocaust director Ruggero Deodato by casting him in the film.

I loved the original Hostel and have seen it on numerous occasions. The second film is just as good and sometimes even better than its predecessor. Despite popular belief Roth is a very talented filmmaker and I feel that he has quite a future in the horror genre. Hostel and Hostel: Part II are just the tip of the ice pick.



HOSTEL-United States-94 Mins. 2005

Written and Directed by Eli Roth


Jay Hernandez as Paxton

Derek Richardson as Josh

Eythor Gudjonsson as Oli

Barbara Nedeljakova as Natalya

Jana Kaderabkova as Svetlana

also starring

Jennifer Lim as Kana

Jan Vlsasek as The Dutch Businessman

and Rick Hoffman as The American Client

Hostel is by far one of my favorite horror films of all time. I have watched this film countless times and each time has been as fresh and exciting as the last. My blog today is going to be about what I specifically liked about this film. First of all one of the main things that comes to mind is the script. At first glance you might get the impression that the film is basically about three horny college guys backpacking across Europe in search of drugs and sex who are drawn into the nightmarish world of a society that provides victims for people who want to kill someone. Then when you look a little deeper you begin to see all the little things that make a difference. For instance, Josh and Paxton are from America and have probably never been outside of the United States. It is easy to see that they still have that ‘invincibility’ factor that a lot of young people seem to have. ‘I am young and I am strong and I am American. Nothing is going to happen to me’. What these guys don’t realize is that they could have left at any time but instead let their libidos’  lead them and not their brains.

Another aspect of the film that I enjoyed was the scene involving Oli’s death. The only thing you see is his decapitated head on the work table and his headless body on the floor in the background, still handcuffed to the chair. You know in what way he was murdered; but you don’t know how it was achieved. That, in itself, added to the fact that he is a likable character to begin with, makes his death all the more horrifying.

Also, I though it was genius of Eli Roth to use the great Japanese director Takashi Miike in a brief encounter with Paxton to emphasis the coldness of the men (and women as Hostel: Part II reveals) who pay top dollar in order to kill another human being. Miike tells Paxton ‘You could spend all your money in there’ as if he were describing a department store or hardware store and not a human slaughterhouse.

Finally the music was another strong point in the film. This is true especially in the final third of the film when Paxton is on the run from the organization and is fleeing for his life. Nathan Barrs’ soundtrack matches Paxton’s desperation and utter fear step by step all the way to the final moments of the film.

Hostel has been accused of being one of the films that started the ‘torture porn’ movement that is prevalent in films such as Saw and Captivity. Why? Is it because it shows scenes of people being killed in violent ways by depraved people? What about the Texas Chainsaw Massacre? That movie depicted people being bashed in the head and shoved onto meat hooks by equally depraved people. Why did no one accuse that film of being torture porn? I love TCM, don’t get me wrong. I just think that the accusations toward Hostel are shaky at best.

So, those are my reason as to why I love Hostel and feel that it will one day be considered one of the greatest horror films of all time. Remember, John Carpenters’ The Thing was ridiculed when it first appeared in 1982 and it is now considered a classic.


Eli Roth wrote the role of Oli for Eythor Gudjonsson after he met him doing press for Cabin Fever in Iceland. Roth was so taken with Eythor’s charisma and charm, he promised he’d make put him in a movie one day. Eythor was surprised when he saw that Roth had followed through with his promise, and happily accepted the role.

The porn film the guard at the factory watches on the DVD player is Sex Fever, the X-rated parody of Roth’s first film Cabin Fever.

The #1 Scariest Movie of All Time on Bravo’s TV Special “100 Scariest Movie Moments: Even Scarier Moments.”

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