Take a Look at Eli Roth’s Broody New Netflix Mystery Series, ‘Hemlock Grove’

After terrifying prospective study abroad students with his torture-porn Hostel series, pummeling Nazis to the delight of Tarantino fans and involving himself with a variety of projects from Snoop Dogg’s first video as Snoop Lion to a haunted house in Vegas called the Goretorium, Eli Roth is now executive-producing for television. His upcoming series, Hemlock Grove, joins the buzzy House of Cards and the upcoming season of Arrested Development in the burgeoning realm of Netflix-only shows, but has a much darker, angstier tone than either.

As seen in the trailer, mystery and family drama abound in the series, based on Brian McGreevy’s novel of the same name, with a good sprinkling of shouting and brooding, along with a werewolf or something. What’s a good mystery without a hairy, bloodthirsty beast in the middle, anyhow? The show’s events revolve around the murder of a teenage girl, and the prime suspects are Peter (Landon Liboiron), a young Gypsy from the rough part of town rumored to be said werewolf and Roman Godfrey (Bill Skarsgard, brother of Alexander), heir to Hemlock Grove’s powerful Godfrey estate. The two team up to track down the real killer. Also of importance is Bill’s mother, Olivia, the Grand Dame of the Godfrey estate, played by former Bond villain Famke Janssen. Watch the drama unfold in the gloomily-lit trailer below.

Get a First Look From the Set of Ti West’s New ‘Sacrament’

Ti West knows what he’s doing. The intelligent and weird director takes cues from classics of the past to transform contemporary horror into something original and refreshing that creeps up on us like someone breathing on our neck in the dark and the things that go bump in the night rather than cheap thrills and spooks hiding around the corner. When I spoke with him back in September for the release of anthology film V/H/S, he had some interesting things to say about what elevates a genre film into a more cineamtically challenging realm and his intentions as a filmmaker:

The Exorcist is a movie about a woman with a sick daughter, and then it’s a possession movie; or The Shining is about an alcoholic man who hates his family, and then it’s a haunted hotel movie. Those are things that make the movies personal or sociologically interesting and give them value beyond just the surface-level genre stuff. I think it’s missing [in most horror movies] because it’s easier to not focus on the story. Why go back and try to get A-list directors to make smart genre movies when you can make them for cheap with people who just take cool shots. [Those movies] make millions of dollars; from a business perspective, why would you do that? As far as me trying to do it, I think it’s the right thing to do. That’s just kind of a lame reason but that’s how I am. People will give me some money to make horror movies, so if I can take their money and promise them that, yes, it’ll be a movie called The House of the Devil and at some point there will be satanic stuff they can sell, but I get to do whatever I want. And whether it’s horror or not, I can put whatever I want in there that I think is valuable. The genre elements that are being sold to you are gonna be there.

And with the first photo released from his latest project in production, The Sacrament, we’re thrown into the fields of Savannah, Georgia where actor AJ Bowen appears to be bloody and on the run while engulfed into some sort of hallucinatory tunnel. The film, produced by fellow horror master and friend Eli Roth, also stars mumblecore king Joe Swanberg, Kentucker Audley, and filmmaker/Upstream Color star, Amy Seimetz. Yeah, we’re excited.

the sacrament

Eli Roth Directs A Video With Snoop Lion and a Bunch of Kids, Because Why Not?

For all the incidents which made him notorious before his rap career took off, Snoop Lion seems like he’s pretty good with kids. His short-lived up-close-with-the-family show Father Hood showed him as your typical goofy reality TV dad, and he sponsors a youth football league for inner-city youth. So it was only a matter of time before he made a Halloween music video with a bunch of kids running around in animal costumes, and have Eli Roth (fresh off the Goretorium!) direct it.  

Before the music begins in the clip for the Major Lazer-produced reggae jam "La La La," Snoop Lion is chatting with some of his kid collaborators, dressed as birds and bugs and lions and tigers. They ask him all kinds of questions, including why he changed his name and if he knows Jennifer Lopez. The video mostly consists of Snoop—at first donning his tricolor beanie before going into a coffin and emerging with a cane and a giant lion spirit hood—singing about very traditional reggae themes while the kids dance around, cute cartoon turtles stumble by and occasionally the animations get a little NSFW.If Sesame Street featured short-shorts-wearing backup dancers, not-so-subtle references of death and claymation anthropomorphic fruits smoking weed, then it would look something like this. Watch. 

Sex and Swordfights: ‘The Man with the Iron Fists’ Soundtrack is As Hot As the Trailer

As if you needed yet another reason to praise the coolness that is the RZA. The founding Wu-Tang member, sonic scientist, Grammy winner, cerebral über-producer, and author can now put writer-director-actor and purveyor of awesomeness on his already impressive resume with The Man With the Iron Fists–his feature film directorial debut.

For the pulp-ish martial arts flick (staring Russell Crow and Lucy Liu, and “presented” by the King of the B Movie, Quentin Tarantino) RZA enlisted Eli Roth to handle the co-writing duties and asked his oh-so-cool musically inclined pals to help with the epic soundtrack. Featuring a track list consisting of a new Yeezy song, a sick collaboration with the Black Keys and the RZA himself, and joints from Talib Kweli, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Corinne Bailey Rae, the aural accompaniment to the movie might be better than the flick itself, right? I guess you haven’t watched the kick-ass trailer that visually tantalizes with gravity-defying stunts, artful blood spilling, and enough s-e-x to break up the sometimes-gratuitous fighting. Thankfully, if sex and violence isn’t your thing, the soundtrack is available on October 23, a week before the movie’s release.

Trailer for RZA’s ‘The Man With the Iron Fists’ Features A Whole Lot of Knives

Wu-Tang Clan founding member RZA is a stranger to neither martial arts nor the film industry. From the ’70s and ’80s kung-fu flicks that inspired the early efforts of the Wu to his acting appearance in Ghost Dog to his scoring Ghost Dog and Kill Bill, the genre has inspired plenty of great work from the producer / actor / writer / emcee / composer. RZA’s upcoming directorial debut, The Man With the Iron Fists, is a further celebration of the martial arts film, and from the red-band trailer released today, it looks pretty sweet.

Iron Fists, which he also co-wrote with Eli Roth, reunites him with Kill Bill maestro Quentin Tarantino (who "presents" the film) and Lucy Liu, to whose Kill BIll character RZA wrote an ode for the soundtrack. Joining them are Russell Crowe, WWE wrestler Dave Bautista and another favored Tarantino actress, Pam Grier. RZA plays the blacksmith of a town in feudal China forced to make weapons. When power, money and rivalries lead to the seven clans breaking out in war, it’s up to the blacksmith to restore peace to the village. In between Point A and Point B, from what can be gleaned from the trailer, there’s a lot of clinking of steel, removal of already-skimpy clothing, cartoony fake blood spurts, lots of explosions and sweet, gravity-defying combat scenes. Sounds like a good time. 

And here’s RZA’s "Ode to O-Ren Ishi-ii" from the Kill Bill: Vol 1 soundtrack:

Eli Roth Wants You For His Vegas Haunted House

Back in May, torture-porn guru Eli Roth announced the launching his Las Vegas haunted house, the "Goretorium," in time for Halloween 2012. Now, the director of such gory wonders as Hostel and Death Proof (and co-writer and producer of RZA’s upcoming The Man With the Iron Fists) is recruiting all kinds of horror junkies, fiends and freaks to help bring the Goretorium to life come its September opening.

Naturally, the call-out starts with a zombocalypse/bath salts joke. For those who haven’t partaken in human flesh after downing terrifying amounts of chemicals, if "people scream just from the sight of you" or "children cry and hide behind their parents when they see you at the mall," you might be just the terrifying beast Roth is looking for. The application asks for would-be monsters’ blood type and oddities, so be creative. 

For a look at the sort of IRL scariness of which Roth is capable, check out footage from "Hunting Season," his Hostel-themed haunted maze from Universal Studios during fall 2011. Not for the faint of heart. 

Where Famous People Eat: Ryan Gosling, Howard Stern, & Kathy Griffin

● Ryan Gosling at the Blue Valentine premiere: I have a restaurant in Beverly Hills called Tagine. I’m biased, but I think it’s very good! ● Bobby Flay at Food Network’s opening of Barney’s holiday windows: We love The Breslin. I eat at Keith McNally’s places a lot. In L.A., Bazaar, Jose Andres’s place, where I order the classic tapas. ● Morimoto at Food Network’s opening of Barney’s holiday windows: I’m going to open a new restaurant in Tribeca that will close at 4 a.m. – no Japanese, no sashimi, no sushi. I don’t know when I’ll open it.

● Rob Schneider at the Friars Club Roast for Quentin Tarantino: Candle 79. It’s a vegetarian restaurant, but you would never know it. Everything’s awesome. ● Cheech Marin at the Friars Club Roast for Quentin Tarantino: Milos is a great Greek restaurant for the baked fish in salt. They have a restaurant in Montreal, too. ● Kristin Chenoweth at the Friars Club Roast for Quentin Tarantino: Joe Allen’s. ● Eli Roth at the Friars Club Roast for Quentin Tarantino: Pizzeria Mozza in L.A.. ● Howard Stern & Beth Ostrosky at the Friars Club Roast for Quentin Tarantino: Daniel, for the black sea bass with the potato. ● Kathy Griffin at the Friars Club Roast for Quentin Tarantino: Mon Ami Gabi in Vegas.

Omar Doom: Basterd Out of Catalina

Omar Doom is a real basterd. As Pfc. Omar Ulmer in this summer’s highly anticipated World War II bloodbath Inglourious Basterds, he’s one of eight American men sent to terrorize Hitler’s army in Nazi-occupied France — specifically to hunt and kill German soldiers, not capture them. So yeah, Doom gets a little bloody; it is, after all, a Quentin Tarantino film. Doom is two for two with Tarantino now down the red carpet at Cannes. He also acted in Grindhouse — which premiered at Cannes two years ago — the Robert Rodriguez-Tarantino double feature, with Doom in Tarantino’s half of Death Proof. Doom’s now part of that special actor club alongside Uma Thurman, Samuel Jackson, and another basterd, Hostel director Eli Roth. We chatted with Doom about writing his own music, scalping Nazis, drinking beer with the biggest movie star in the world, and playing with fire to the point where it put him in the hospital. Rather than stay exclusively dark, we also enjoyed a day o’ Doom on Catalina Island in Southern California (see full gallery) before he popped away to the London premiere of Inglourious Basterds. See the clip above for a demo of Doom’s slick golf-cart-racing skills, peruse the full gallery of his sartorially chic island time, and check out the full interview after the jump.

Did you know much about your role in Inglourious Basterds while Tarantino was writing the script? No, I got a call from Quentin about three weeks before shooting started. Eli Roth and I both kind of auditioned while filming Death Proof. Quentin basically broke it down for me over the phone for a while, and then finished up by saying, I want you to come to Berlin and be a Basterd! I was just like, Quentin, I’ve been preparing for that role my whole life!

You’ve been on two Tarantino film sets now. What’s the vibe like? Death Proof was a little more laid back than Inglourious Basterds. Basterds was more focused due to it being a bigger production and on such a tight deadline. Quentin definitely knows how to have a good time though.

What kind of good time? He always has cool music playing between takes and creates this very intimate environment for the entire cast and crew. It just really feels like a party where everyone is having a great time, and it doesn’t really feel like work. It’s a bit surreal as well because when you’re working on a Tarantino film, you’re working on film history. So yeah, it feels surreal to go down in history.

Kind of like “Quentin’s World” … Yeah, basically you’re in “Quentin’s World” during his shoots, and his world is a lot of fun. And within that world he has his actors he uses time and time again. I am very lucky enough to say I am now one of those actors.

What’s up with the Omar Doom vs. Pfc. Omar Ulmer? In every little detail in his films there’s some sort of reference point — it occurs in all his films and film buffs go nuts over it. He definitely had something in mind when he named my character Omar Ulmer, but it’s up to the audience to figure all that stuff out.

So who is Pfc. Ulmer? He is a Basterd! There are eight Basterds lead by Lt. Aldo Raine (played by Brad Pitt) to wreak havoc upon the Nazis, and Omar is one of them.

How was it working with the biggest movie star in the business? Brad Pitt is one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met. There are actors that roll up to a movie set flanked by an entourage of men in suits, and they offer up only a handshake and a fake smile to their fellow actors. Brad walks onto the set, solo, without an entourage of friends, publicists, or whatever around him, with just a six-pack of beer in his hands, like “Hey guys! Want a beer?” He’s just a straight-up cool dude.

In the trailer, Brad Pitt’s character says to each of the Basterds, “You each owe me 100 scalps and I want my scalps!” Did Pfc. Ulmer fulfill the request? I like to think so. Scalping those Nazis was the most fun I had on set. We even had to go through “scalping training.”

No way. Yeah, we were taken and shown how to properly scalp a human head by special effects guru Greg Nicotero. Quentin made sure to have us filmed during the scalp-training process to see who was, indeed, the best scalper. It turned out that person was me. Who would’ve of thought?

How does one scalp a human head? You basically get started by getting a good grip on the victim’s hair and make a small incision along the top of the forehead. Then as you’re slicing through, the rest of the scalp pretty much peels off of the head like a banana. Finally give the skin a good yank and rip it off. Once you’re done, you either put it your bag or on your belt, and move on to the next victim.

Given that you were both in Death Proof, did you have any memorable moments on-set with Eli Roth? There’s a scene where Eli and I are surrounded by flames in a burning building. Quentin insisted on not using CGI. All of the fire you see in the trailer is real. It’s all real! During the shoot, Quentin was up on a crane draped in a fire blanket, and there Eli and I were slathered in fire gel, blasting our machine guns in front of a gigantic wall of flames. There was a bunch of rehearsals, which were basically fire drills, because as soon as Quentin blew the horn, everyone had to leave the building. They did everything they could to make sure nothing would go wrong. Something did go wrong. The fire ended up being 1000 degrees where Eli and I were standing. We saw what was going down and just knew we had to soldier through until Quentin got the shot. I ended up being rushed to the emergency room and treated for burns on my head, hands, and the right side of my face. I heard that the fire marshal said if Eli and I were in there for only seconds more, we’d be in far worse condition.

I’d say Quentin definitely owes you one. I did only what was expected from a Basterd!

Aside from your acting duties, you’re also a musician. What’s in the works right now? I’m working on a solo album at the moment. It should be done in a couple of months and released in the fall. I actually wrote half of the songs in my off time while shooting Inglourious Basterds in Berlin, which lasted six months.

Since you’re part of the Tarantino actor family, anything in the works toward the future? There’s talk of a possible Inglourious Basterds prequel right now. Quentin has a lot of material to work with, and if all goes well we’ll be shooting again.

Track List: Inglorious Basterd Eli Roth’s Smackdown Soundtrack

In Quentin Tarantino’s latest WWII rampage, Inglourious Basterds, Eli Roth kicks some major Nazi ass alongside Brad Pitt. Here, the Splat Pack sergeant and Hostel director exercises killer taste by revealing the soundtrack to his Third Reich smackdown.

In my big scene, I beat a Nazi soldier to death. I wanted the audience to feel the pain and anger of every Jew that was killed in the Holocaust. I had to look like an animal filled with pure rage and violence. So, we’re out at this 200-year-old fort in the middle of the woods in Berlin, and I’m in this disgusting, dirty room in the back. A pull-up bar is set up for me, along with a makeshift punching bag and a bench so that I can do triceps dips and lift weights. I’m back there, in this cave, for four days, waiting to come out. By the time Quentin is ready to shoot my scene, I’m sweating, heaving and ready to kill.

Paper Planes,” by M.I.A. Jesse Novak, the brother of B.J. Novak, one of the actors in Inglourious Basterds, plays the guitar on this song. We’d blare it during van rides to the fort, while B.J. screamed, “That’s my brother, that’s my brother!” For whatever reason, this became the song of the shoot, with everybody bouncing along to it, thinking about killing people.

AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ’n’ Roll).” It’s all about the climb and working your ass off to get to the top. And there I am, in this cave, thinking, I’m 36 and I’ve worked so hard to get here and this is my moment. Iron Maiden’s “Drifter.” Pretty much every Maiden song is about going into battle. But this one, in particular, is about killing.

Bullet,” by Misfits. This song is so intense. It’s about JFK getting shot and brains splattering. I’m psychotic at this point, worked into a lather to pound this guy. Keep in mind—Quentin made me wait for four days in this state.

Hannah Montana’s “Nobody’s Perfect.” Before I left home to shoot this movie, my girlfriend loaded songs onto my iPod. She put Hannah Montana on there as a joke. I’m bouncing around to it—it’s got a good beat—when I think, What if Brad Pitt comes back here and catches me listening to Hannah Montana? It’s near the beginning of shooting and I want him to think that I’m cool and I’m worried that he’d tell Quentin, and Quentin would be like, “You’re supposed to be killing guys and you’re listening to Hannah Montana—what’s wrong with you?” And then Brad would be like, “Jesus Christ, my kids don’t even listen to that crap!” I’d be ruined! Then I realize, Jesus, this stuff makes so much money—what if I was Hannah Montana? But this is fucking nuts! I’m supposed to be thinking about the Holocaust and killing Nazis, and instead, I’m imagining what it would be like to be a secret pop star. This is when Quentin comes in screaming, “Now!” And I come out and crush that guy: killing. And killing. And killing.

“Deny Everything,” by Circle Jerks. The scene is over and Quentin says, “Okay, good—we’re going to do it once more.” But where the hell am I going to find that energy again? That’s when I put on the Circle Jerks. This song is like the musical equivalent of that scene in Pulp Fiction, when Uma gets an adrenaline shot to the heart.

Crazy Frog’s “We Like To Party.” Now we’ve got to film the other guys who have been cheering me on, while I’m beating this guy to death. So I put on this song by DJ Crazy Frog—it’s always played between innings at Dodgers games. Anyway, I put it on for the cheering scene, and instead of killing the guy off-camera, which is what I’m supposed to be doing, I start having sex with a dummy. I was wondering how I was going to entertain everyone when it came to me: What if I played DJ Crazy Frog while balls-out skull-fucking a Nazi corpse?

Everything She Wants,” by Wham! Quentin always plays music over the loudspeakers between takes and, at the end of one very long Friday, after filming in a theater with 300 extras dressed like Nazis, the sound guy puts on Wham! Everyone starts dancing. Then I start stripping. I do a full striptease—the full monty—in front of an audience of 300 Nazis.

The Who’s “The Seeker.” I’m now driving back to Berlin, in a van with all of the guys, after a full day spent killing Nazis. It’s the right beat at the right time—really relaxing.

“Grey Clouds,” by Franz Liszt. Right before bed, I put on the Eyes Wide Shut soundtrack. Even though I’m not sophisticated enough for classical music, there is something really dark and ominous about that song, like a storm is coming. It puts me in a creepy mood so, even though the day ended on this light, relaxing note, I fall asleep thinking that something very bad is going to happen.


Eli Roth, behind the wheel of his own Gunmetal Blue ’77 Bronco, Los Angeles Photography by Patrick Fraser, Styling by Jenny Ricker T-Shirt by John Varvatos, Jacket by Hugo Boss, Watch Vintage Steve McQueen Rolex Grooming by Cheri Keating @ The Wall Group.