Toronto: Eli Roth on the Dangerous Shoot for Gory Cannibal Movie 'The Green Inferno'
Eli Roth made his grand return to the director’s chair in high style, unveiling his cannibal horror movie The Green Inferno at Saturday night’s Midnight Madness program.
Roth is the big name at this year’s Midnight Madness, which is more in discovery mode with its titles than in previous years. He made his debut with 2002’s Cabin Fever, which premiered at Midnight Madness and went on to be a hit, but he's been blamed for helping to usher in “torture porn” with 2005’s Hostel and hasn’t been in the director’s seat since 2007’s Hostel: Part II.
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So it was a raucous crowd that accepted the new offering, like hatchlings with mouths hungrily accepting food from their mother.
“I wanted to take chances, I wanted to come back with something that was different,” he told the crowd at the postscreening chat. He summed up his attitude, saying: “Fuck it, let’s see what happens if we do a cannibal movie for modern audiences.”
The cannibal genre hit its heyday around 1980 and was known for its gore, torture and even animal cruelty, the latter being actual real-life killing, generating a lot of controversy. Cannibal Holocaust is a watermark in the genre, for good and for bad.
Roth doesn’t go to those classic depths with animal cruelty -- in fact, he does the opposite -- and while the movie is plenty gory, it’s also more conventional than one would expect (or fear).
Roth also seems to have grown as a filmmaker, something he attributed to working with Quentin Tarantino.
“My style, after Quentin, was to be more character and performance driven,” he explains. He also said he worked faster, ditched the monitor and went with his gut more.
The movie was shot in the South American jungle, and that came with all the dangers and risks you’d expect.
"There was a python, there were real ants. We had to get 'deparasited,' and we had to get fever shots. It was fuckin’ crazy," he said as he stood next to many castmembers, his co-writer and producer.
Roth, a born carnival barker, regaled the crowd with tales of shooting in the jungle, among them:
-- How he found an actual tribe to play the cannibals, a tribe that had never seen a movie and was convinced to act in one by watching the classic Cannibal Holocaust -- said Roth: “The entire village thought it was the funniest movie.”
-- How the production built a kitchen for the village and roofed every house after they wrapped production.
-- How Christian missionaries from a Texas super church almost derailed production at one point when they happened upon the village, all decked out in skeletons, heads on pikes and villagers in heathen cannibal garb.
Roth also offered a couple of unique twists on the final credits roll. Actors’ Twitter handles were next to their names. "I want people in the theater tweeting us," he said, adding: "I can’t believe it hasn’t been done before." He also included a brief history of the cannibal genre.
by Graeme McMillan
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