Yesterday, the festival of Gérardmer pays homage to the american director Eli Roth, who has “Cabin Fever” and “Hostel”, also an actor and producer. The occasion of a meeting with the director to discuss his relationship with the cinema of horror. Backgrid UK/ Bestimage AlloCiné : as a spectator, where does this affection that you feed to the genre films ? Eli Roth : I loved them when I was a child. The films that were winning academy awards didn’t interest me. I remember trying to watch Gandhi when I was little, and it made me deeply annoyed. The movies that I wanted to see it were those of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, and my tastes have not changed since. I loved Guillermo del Toro, Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam. It has always been the kind of movies that I wanted to do and horror movies are my favorite. There is a side that is a little unconventional, it is not supposed to see, there was something dangerous. What is your first memory of the viewer ? Star Wars, when I was six years old. I remember, my big brother is returned from the cinema. He had seen it without me because my father was not certain that I am old enough, so I went to see my turn and I wanted, above all, that Star Wars is real. I’ve never seen anything like it ! DR. Star Wars : Episode IV – A new hope (1977) And what is your first trauma of the cinema ? When I was eight years old, my father took me to see Alien. I pleaded, as I saw constantly the trailers on tv. I was so shocked that I wanted to leave the room, but I couldn’t because I couldn’t stop watching the movie, so I watched the last part of the film half-standing, half in the aisle. After the film, I vomited so much I was pissed off and elated at the same time. Ever a film had such an impact on me. These are all science-fiction movies ! When are you going to do your film in SF ? I have tried several times, but for various reasons it never happened, but I’d love to really make one. The genre films are very political. It is a dimension important to you ? Yes, of course, but I don’t want people to feel bad if they do not perceive. There is always a message, a reason for which you make a film, but the world will not see it for that. The first time that we are going to see a movie that scares, it is to be afraid, but when you look at it again, it becomes interesting to understand what is under the shell. A movie of a haunted house is never scary the second time and it is necessary for the people to have a good reason to review it. How the selection of the kind occur in the process of creation ? For example, when have you decided that Cabin Fever would be a horror movie ? In general, it is the kind that comes in first ! I also like to mix genres in my films, or from a genre that I like, take the elements that are inherent and push the limits, bend the rules. It is necessary to find a way to thwart the expectations of the spectators, but in a good way. I often heard about my films : “You’re not supposed to do that !” Eventually, when people see them, he say to me : “Ah, that is interesting that you have done it !” You say that now, it has been done, and this is what allows the genre to evolve. For all my films, the issue of gender came first. When we hear a story, we know immediately if it’s going to be a story that makes you laugh, scares, or makes them cry. Synergy Film Knock Knock (2015) You have first made horror films, and then with Knock Knock, you have switched to other genres. Is it that you had finished with horror movies ? No, we have never finished with something. We just need to feel inspired when you are telling a story. When one progresses in life, our ideas change, and I wanted to do something in the line of an erotic thriller from Adrian Lyne or of a film of Paul Verhoeven. I didn’t want to make a horror movie if it inspired me not. In regard to Knock Knock, after you have been in the jungle for the Green Inferno, I wanted something much more confined, which is based more on the acting. With Death Wish, I’ve been wanting to make my action thriller and revenge, and then I always wanted to make a film for children a little dark, so when the opportunity to realize The Prophecy of the clock is presented, I jumped at the opportunity. You’re also a producer. The transmission, it is something that matters to you ? Realize, it is exhausting. When you make a film, it represents a year of your life. Produce, it is a way to help other people : Damien Chazelle with The Last exorcism 2 [in which he was a writer], Jon Watts with Clown, Daniel Stamm of The Last exorcism, Ti West with The Sacrament. I like a lot. I am in a position that allows me to gather the money to fund young film-makers. With the company’s digital Crypt TV [which he launched in 2015], hundreds of filmmakers and female directors – it is almost the perfect equality – can create short films of horror. Instead of spending a million dollars to make a feature film, they can make a short that will be seen by millions of people. Some are still in high school ! This is another way to help new talent. Universal Pictures International France Eli Roth and Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009) Who are your masters ? It is something that evolves over time, according to the moments of your life. I have had the chance to meet a lot of my heroes, sometimes becoming close to some. As a child, it was Sam Raimi, Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, George Romero, Lucas and Spielberg… he Then had Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, David Lynch, Tarantino. It is amazing that I have been able to work with Quentin ! Of course, Guillermo del Toro , Christopher Nolan, who are of the generation just before mine. Each of their films is an event. There are also masters like James Cameron and the Italian master, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci… Roger Corman is also one of my heroes. But it all started with Lucas and Spielberg. And if you had to choose your favorite horror movie ? It is impossible. It doesn’t work like that. I can’t choose. If you were forced to do so ? The films that frighten you at different times of your life. You look at them again and again for reasons various and varied. If we watch a movie again and again, it becomes less and less scary, until you lose interest. I don’t know… maybe Pieces, Juan Piquer Simón. This one, I think I could regader loop without getting bored.
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