Thursday, November 01, 2007

HOSTEL 1 and 2, Alternate Ending... SPOILERS!!

Maybe it's my grim mood recently, but I recently watched the DVDs of HOSTEL and HOSTEL 2. Reviews can come later, but the new double-dip version of the first HOSTEL film features an entirely different ending, one director Eli Roth shot but later re-considered after some intervention by Quentin Tarantino (!). There are some

SPOILERS AHEAD!

DO NOT read on if you're trying to keep the twists and turns of the two movies to yourself.

HOSTEL the feature currently ends with the surviving victim coming across one of his torturers in a train station, following him into a bathroom and killing him. One thing that intrigued me about HOSTEL was that for all it's horrific violence, Roth opted for some version of "retribution" in the end. The tables get turned on the murderous, sadistic killers big time. Unlike so many hardcore horror movies (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE THE BEGINNING, anyone?), there is actually some redemptive comuppance for the evil-doers in HOSTEL, and I appreciated that.

The alternate ending, which is quite clever in a very sick psychological sense, is considerably less "audience friendly." In the alternate, our victim comes across one of his torturers in a train station, just as the torturer greets his young (six year old-ish) daughter. When dad and daughter split up to use the restroom, the daughter disappears and nasty Dad tries to find her, only to spot her in the clutches of our torture victim as they choo-choo away from the station on a train. The clear and unsettling implication from the little girl's struggles is that our victim intends to do her harm, hence becoming as cruel and demented as the torturer himself.

Obviously, the moral triumph deriving from the original ending would have been significantly, umm, "muted", in this version. I'm frankly not sure which ending I prefer, but in terms of "audience pleasing" (if such a term can be applied to a movie that features a kid getting power-drilled), seeing the torturer get his just desserts up close and personal probably trumps the little girl version.

Continuing on the theme of survivors and redemption, HOSTEL 2 opens pretty much where the first movie left off, catching up with the last survivor. And while I think Part 2 has, in many ways, a more compelling story than the first, something happens here that really bugs me. Call it the FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2/ALIEN 3/MANIAC COP 2 syndrome -- it's where the filmmakers wrap up the story from the last film by offing the last "survivor." What bugs me about this story-telling device is that it completely negates whatever sense of triumph the audience may have realized from the earlier chapter's resolution. So our victim survived the horrors of a torture chamber, so what? In HOSTEL 2, the bad guys track him down and take his cabeza off with a chainsaw anyway.

ALIEN 3 opens with virtually all the survivors from Cameron's brilliant ALIENS getting killed off camera. MANIAC COP 2 has the audacity to off Bruce Campbell's character (the BASTARDS), and FRIDAY 2 dispenses with the only survivors of Momma Jason's rampage in a jiffy. Guess it's just a pet peeve of mine, but can't we just leave some of these poor, troubled survivors alone?



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