October 2, 2018. That’s gonna go down as one of my best days ever. That’s the day I MET ELI ROTH!!!. (Anyone else remember the mini project I did about him on this blog some time back?).

Let’s back up. It was Beyond Fest at the Egyptian Theater (finally giving me an excuse to go). I’d gotten a ticket to see Roth preview his new series Eli Roth’s History of Horror, which would be followed by a 4K restoration of Maniac. In between, he’d be interviewing Maniac director William Lustig with Saw mastermind Leigh Whannell. Needless to say, I immediately bought a ticket the second I read the email blast that told me about this.

Eli came out before the episode to introduce it. The show breaks down different subgenres of horror, talking with various directors, actors, and other horror aficionados. The one he showed discussed slasher movies with people like Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephen King, and Rob Zombie. They analyzed Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, and yes, Maniac, among others. I feel like I learned so much just in that one hour, I could have stayed there all night to binge the series. I also could have followed up each episode with the highlighted films, and it made me really excited to know I’d be seeing one of those at least.

Next of course came the interview. Since I hadn’t seen Maniac yet, it was a bit tough to grasp a lot of what they were talkign about. However, it did tell me what to make sure to pay attention to when I did watch. Either way, completely fascinating. There’s nothing like watching horror lovers talk about the genre like giddy little kids.

There was a brief intermission before the film started, and that’s when I had my shot. I saw Eli standing around in the oppose aisle chatting with someone (he’d been sitting in the audience for the screening). How was there not a massive throng gathering there? I wasn’t gonna wait for someone else to make their move and risk missing my chance. I went over, and stood nearby as he finished his conversation. When he looked over at me, I told him I was big fan and I politely asked for a selfie, which he obliged (in true Dawn fashion, it was blurry, because the more I care about the person in the pic, the worse the pic comes out). I congratulated him on the show, and told him that I learned a lot from it and couldn’t wait to see more. I quickly ran back to my side of the theater since there were a few other people gathering now. I assume they were getting their selfies, but I don’t actually know because I ran to go upload the photo (heaven forbid something happen to my phone before the pic was immortalized). I got back to my seat just as the film was starting.

So, Maniac. How much street cred will I lose if I admit that I hadn’t even heard of it before receiving that fateful announcement video? Hell, I’d apparently even seen the Elijah Wood remake (which I totally forgot that I’d seen, and that its on my movie wall) and I didn’t even know about this. Good thing I fixed that.

Released in 1980, Maniac is one of the most classic and controversial slasher movies in horror history. An incredibly menacing Joe Spinell plays Frank, a serial killer who terrorizes NYC, scalping the women he murders, and creating mannequin trophies. I might be able to attribute some of this to how much my heart was pounding from meeting Mr Roth immediately beforehand, but I found this movie terrifying. There were two scenes in particular that did it.

There’s an early scene where he strangles a woman. The expressions he was making are going to be seared into my brain’s nightmares for a very long time. That is not something pleasant to see in high def on a giant screen, up close (I was sitting in the second row so I could be close to the in person shenanigans previously discussed).

The other scene, which I’ve come to hear is iconic, was the subway chase into the bathroom. The suspense in that sequence was so thick you could cut it with Frank’s knife. With every tight close up of our victim, I kenw he had to be just outside the frame, but director Lustig took his time showing him. It was as drawn out and frustrating (in a good way) as I’ve ever seen. But that scene was particularly terrifying because it’s real world horror. As a woman, I’m wary of where I go at night, and when I frequented public transporation, I was always spooked by an empty subway tunnel. I avoided them after late hours as much as I could. This movie reinforced that fear,. in a way that I don’t know I’ve experienced with another movie.

Truly watching that movie was an epic experience to top off what was an epic night that’s gonna stay with me

Inglorious Basterds

“Alas, we have reached the end of #rothtober. I’ve saved the honor for Inglorious Basterds for two reasons. One, this is Roth’s signature on-screen performance. Two, he actually serves a dual role as an actor and special director.

About half of the time that I mention Eli Roth in conversation, it goes thusly “”Wha who now?”” “”Eli Roth. He’s a horror director”” *blank stare* “”He did the Hostel movies”” *faint recognition that’s quickly dismissed* “”He was in Inglorious Basterds”” “”Was he the Bear Jew?!!”” “”Yup”” “”Holy \m/ that guy’s awesome”” “”He also did the Thanksgiving trailer for Grindhouse”” *mind = blown*

My fascination with Roth actually took a sorta similar path. I fell in love with his character here. Heard he was a horror guy. Realized he was behind Thanksgiving. Then sought out to find his directorial work, namely Hostel. Therefore, if not for Basterds, this would not be the mini project I’d be working on right now. And I would not be planning a Feb trip to Vegas for my bday to visit the Goretorium

Right, we haven’t talked about that yet have we? Roth masterminded a year round haunted house that just opened on the Vegas strip. Do I hafta say anything more?

So I already discussed Basterds and all its glory on my write up for the Tarantino/Rodriguez project. Today we’re just focusing on our boy.

Random trivia. I heard that one day Eli’s very Jewish parents (wha, you couldnt tell from his name?) came by to visit the set. Their unfortunate timing brought them in on a day that one of Hitler’s scenes were being filmed. Tarantino, being the devious basterd that he is, told Martin Wuttke, the actor playing Hitler, that it was their birthday and encouraged him to serenade them. So here you have this sweet little old Jewish couple having Happy Birthday sung to them by Hitler. Yeah, that happened.

That first scene with Donny “”The Bear Jew”” Donowitz is classic. Technically, we see him in the background of the previous basterds’ scene, but this is where he shines. After one of greatest introductions and entrances in modern cinema (the buildup, the music, the banging sounds, his towering presence, the applause) he goes to town on a Nazi with a baseball bat and acts like he just hit a homerun at Fenway park. Oh yeah, have I mentioned that Roth is a Boston-area native? Love! My mental image of Donowitz is so strong from that scene, I always forget about his later stuff in the movie, but it’s rather amazing as well. Srsly, how could you forget the Margheriti scene.And not too long after you get to see him be even more badass as he takes a gun to more Nazis while the…ooops spoilers.

If you’ve seen Inglorious Basterds, you know that the film within a film, Nation’s Pride, plays a rather large role. It’s the reason that so many people are crowded into the theater and it’s partly responsible for the whole Shoshana/Fredrick thing. Tarantino actually handed over the directorial reigns to Roth for that. Brilliant move on his part, since it gives the inner film an inherently different feel, and if you have such a stellar director in your film, why not utilize him.

And thus we reach the end of #rothtober. I’m already scheming the next two mini projects, well more like an addendum to a previous project and another mini. Chomping at the bit to start on the mini-mini but I think I’ll wait until November, thus keeping October as #Rothtober. Either way, new movie write ups will keep coming, and I’ll be featuring old posts on Facebook when I dont have a new one.”


“Nearing the end of #rothtober. With today, we reach the final film in Eli’s list of favorites that he wishes that mainstream audiences had seen. Pieces.

Before we get to this one, two nights ago I rewatched Rock of Ages. Roth has a quick cameo as the director for the Z Guyeezz music video. Thought of including it in the project, but between the small role and the completely different tone, I left it out. But now I’m mentioning it for good measure.

As thus we move on to what Roth describes as “”the most fun you can have watching a movie””. He states that it’s a lot of fun, over the top, and gratutious. Yep. Here we’ve got a slasher movie about a serial killer on a college campus that cuts up coeds with a chainsaw. Roth recommends you watch this movie with a group of friends while drunk. Kinda wish I’d taken him up on that.

Part of the fun and the charm of the movie is how low budget it is. You can see the actor move his knife to the side so he doesn’t actually stab the victim in the head, before a cheap cutaway shot to the knife sticking out of her head. For example. I find those types of details strangely endearing. I’m \m/ in the head. We know.”

The Last Exorcism

“Expletive Dleted is starting to get a lil bit of traction on Facebook. Have you liked the page yet? For those of you just tuning in, now’s a good chance for me to point out that my write ups are closer to blog posts than critiques. My reviews, or write ups as I prefer to call them, tend to be really personal and anecodtal. I’m trying to start a conversation, not dictate what you should and should not see. I’m not an authority, just a fan, a stance that a lot of legit critiques don’t tend to share. Takes the fun outta it if you ask me.

Right, so #rothtober is nearly done. Today’s journey brings us to The Last Exoricsm, a film that Eli Roth produced. The premise is kinda cool. You’ve got a preacher man who’s been performing exorcisms for some time, but has decided to stop due to reports of people, especially children, dying as the result of these practices. He agrees to have a film crew film his final exoricism so he can expose it for the scam that it is. But of course, things dont quite turn out as planned.

To be completely honest, I kinda zoned out once things started to get interesting. To some extent, its because I knew there wasn’t gonna be as much plot, just action, but mostly my distraction is not the fault of the film. Just had other things running thru my head. This is why I try to watch as much as I can in the theater instead of at home. Less shiny things to play with.

A notable tidbit about this movie that makes it recognizable among all the many other movies from the past few years with “”exorcism”” in the title, is the physicality of our lead actress Ashley Bell. Yes, she really is contorting herself that much. It’s not CGI, just a really flexy, double jointed ballerina.”


“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, an earthquake releases some previously believed extinct species of incredibly vicious piranhas into a lake that happens to be populated with barely clothed college coeds on spring break. #rothtober brings us to Piranha, which features Eli Roth in a cameo role in front of the camera.

If you’re looking for quality, meaningful filmmaking, keep looking. Piranha is over the top cheesey. Lots of gratuitous, well everything. But it’s so much fun. I mean, c’mon, the reason there’s gratutious blood/nudity/profanity/etc is because people enjoy it. Among the people who enjoy it are some of the names they got for this film, even if only for short cameos. Besides the aforementioned Eli Roth, we’ve got Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Lloyd, Elizabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Jerry O’Connell, Ving Rhames.

There’s been some incredible gore throughout #Rothtober and Piranha continues the trend. The bit with the girl with the long hair and the motorboat freaked me out. No, I dont expect my hip length long hair to get caught in something and pull my face off, but I still dont like having that image in my head. Oh and our buddy Eli had a particularly gruesome death. More splatter than the majority of the victims. Quite fitting.”

Who Can Kill A Child?

“It’s getting colder and darker outside. Tis the season to be spooky. Ergo, tis the season for #Rothtober. Going into one of Eli Roth’s favorites. What draws him to this (besides the carnage with the bright, thick, paint-like blood I assume) is the dilemma that our protagonists are faced with. Quick plot recap: a couple vacationing in Spain comes across a small island that seems deserted. Turns out, it’s populated with a \m/ton of kids. Kids who have gotten rid of all the adults. And by gotten rid of, I mean *slides finger across neck*. Killed ’em. Right so the dilemma. You’ve got these vicious kids attacking you, but you don’t wanna hurt them because they’re kids, but the kids are gonna kill you. What do ya do?

I know there’s some people out there who are creeped out by kids. If that’s you, don’t watch this movie. Just don’t. The kids have a human piñata for \m/ sake. When the film started, there was a documentary-like narration describing the effect various wars have had on children. It was interspersed with creepy children singing. Yeesh.

The concept of the movie was really intriguing, but I thought it dragged. The build up was kinda slow, so by the time we really got going, I’d already lost interest. It did however get my complete undivided for the last few minutes of the film. Whoa it was messed up. That’s why I’m loving #rothtober”

Hostel Part II

“#Rothtober continues with Hostel Part II. It picks up exactly where Hostel left off, if you were watching the theatrical release. So we’ll just jump right in as well.

Putting together a good sequel is tough, but Roth pulls it off gore-geously. You have the same set up: Americans backpacking in Europe get taken by some big bads who sell them off for other people’s killing pleasure. But now you’re gonna get both sides of the story. Besides following our unsuspecting tourists, you also follow a couple of the buyers. You see them get notified of the available “”goods”” and the whole rest of the process from their side. And OhMyGod one of the buyers is Roger Bart! Sorry, musical theater geek moment.

I also really liked how this one ended. Yesterday I said that the two endings from the previous Hostel should have been combined so that it would be both dark AND satisfying. Hostel II nailed that combination. Really, the last possible ending I would have considered, and it’s perfectly wrong.

And of course, Roth turns the blood up a notch. The Elizabeth Bathory inspired torture scene for Heather Matarazzo’s Lorna is one of my all time favorite grisly movie deaths. If someone was ever gonna go there, my boy Eli was certainly the crazy person for the job.”


“And we have arrived at the signature Eli Roth film: Hostel. While Cabin Fever is what made his first big splat on the scene, Hostel is what made him a national treasure. Well, I treasure him at least.

Along with Saw, this is what kickstarted Hollywood’s obsession with torture porn. The difference between these and all the copycats that followed was the motive. Sure they were gore-fests, but Saw had a point behind all the blood (we won’t bother with that now). Hostel was pure fun, in a sick kinda way, which is kinda way awesome. The copycats were out to make money and disturb the nation. But yeah, especially now knowing some of Roth’s influences and background, he was just a kid playing with shiny toys. And he really is today’s master of all things gore. IMDB trivia tells me that over 150 gallons of blood were used for this film. Three times as much as Cabin Fever.

As the movie started today, wait let’s back up to before the movie. I had the menu playing for a while whence I was warming up dinner. The background sounds were saws and screams. Yes! Anyways, during some of the opening scenes, I was thinking that as a girl I should be _really_ offended. The way that the guys talk about going after girls, and the pictures they were ogling, I should have been upset. But this is me we’re talking about. I found it hilarious. Especially knowing what was gonna end up happening to everyone, it actually seemed fitting that they were so shallow and dumb. Meant that I wouldn’t feel too bad about their impending doom.

Speaking of knowing what was gonna happen, I hadn’t realized it before, but Roth is kind of amazing at playing with expectations. On the small scale, there was the bit where just before seeing someone’s toe cut off, the shot cuts to someone clipping their toenails. But on the larger scale, there were several scenes in a row where because you knew where our characters would eventually end up, you’d expect it. And the suspense would thicken into a fakeout where everything was okay. First, when they’re in Amsterdam, you see them go stay at a hostel. But nope, we’re not going there yet. Later when the girls give the guys drugs in the club, I expected them to go sleepy and wake up, let’s say, not in the club. Nope. There’s a few more bits like that. Its just draaaaaagged out. The most effective horror films are the ones that leave a lot to your imagination. Usually I interpert that as them being scarier when there’s less on screen, but it works here too. Your brain is going into overdrive starting to think of what’s going to happen to them. That build up is what gets me jittery and anxious and deliciously goosebumpy.

I did watch both versions of the ending: the director’s cut ending and the theatrical cut ending. I’m not sure which I preferred. The theatrical one felt more satisfying, but it was a bit obvious. The director’s one was much darker, well if interperted in a certain way, but it was a bit abrupt. I think I would have wanted a hybrid of the two. Yeah, that could totally work.”

Cannibal Holocaust

“Diving right in to more #Rothtober. It’s the Roth favorite that Eli Roth describes as “”the sickest most disgusting but really really effective film””. Cannibal Holocaust.

This film is one of the most notorious and controversial films ever made. Has an unconfirmed world record for number of countries in which it is banned. The director was brought up on murder charges because people were so convinced that the actors were actually killed. They had to bring in the actors and explain how some of the effects were done. The DVD I was watching actually had a really long intro that basically said that this film is ridiculously disturbing and that you really should not watch it, but because they believe in making film available and they dont believe in censorship.

This is also prolly the original found footage horror. Before the current trend. Even waaaaay before Blair Witch Project, even though its unlikely the Blair Witch crew ever saw this.

So why all the hooplah? Some of the footage in this film is really \m/ disturbing. Basic premise: An anthropoligist takes a team into South America to find out what happened to a film crew. They were shooting a documentary about some of the natives and disappeared. Anthropologist guy finds they’re dead but brings back the footage. And it’s not pretty. Did I mention the DVD includes an animal cruelty free version. Yeeeaaahhh there’s that. On top of everything else.

But beyond all of that, there actually is a very strong point to the whole thing. There’s a question of who the savages really are, and if it’s really just a matter of perception. It’s also a commentary on sensationalism in film, and this is back in the 70s. I can only imagine what these filmmakers would have to say in a post torture porn era. Now what does it say about me that the nudity made me more uncomfortable than the gore and violence? Whatever it says, I blame my parents.”

Don’t Look Up

“Today’s frightful #Rothtober adventure leads us to a rather meta role for Eli. In Don’t Look Up, he has a cameo as a horror director. Whoa.

Not gonna lie. A little disappointed when I realized that those first couple minutes of him were all we were gonna get. Yeah he has really high billing on the movie, and I totally get the marketing reasons behind it. Yup I fell for the ploy, and watched this movie simply because his name was on it. I’ve made worse decisions.

I was unsuccessful in finding a clip of his scene, but I did find this video where he gives some commentary about director Fruit Chan and what made him wanna do the movie. He talks it up with such \m/ enthusiasm, makes me wish I was paying more attention to the viewing. It’s just tough to drop everything when I’m trying to unwind from a long Monday.

I really loved the storyline. A 1920’s filmmaker, Bela Olt (played by Roth) is shooting a film on location about an old gypsy curse. Things get weird, he’es never seen again, and the movie is never completed. Fast forward to present day. Another director tries to film the same movie. Things get really weird. I liked the freaky, but wasn’t too into the characters and their storylines.

There was blood, there were guts, there was film within a film gore, there were flies. Yeah that was different. Lots and lots and lots of flies.

Also, if you’ve ever done the studio tour at Universal, you might recognize the water effects part of the tour.

Oh, and the faux filmmaker’s name was not lost on me. Bela Olt. Bela Lugosi (even though he was an actor, not a director). Acc to IMDB trivia, Arisztid Olt was one of his early stagenames. Yeah, I see what they did there.”