Scott Spiegel – (Hostel: Part III – 2011).

I recently got the chance to talk to director Scott Spiegel about his new film, ‘Hostel: Part III’. Here, Scott talks about what fans can expect from this instalment and about his love for ‘Lost In Space’…

Hey Scott. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. Of course we‘re here to talk to you about your new film ‘Hostel: Part III’ – out on DVD.

You directed the feature – what can fans expect from this instalment? What’s the general plotline?

Four friends hook-up for a bachelor party in Las Vegas and are lured by two hot escorts to join them at a private party way off the Strip. The private party turns into a horrific nightmare when they realize they are the victims of a perverse game of torture where the Elite Hunting Club members bet on their lives playing “The Wheel of Misfortune”. There are no consolation prizes but there will be “parting” gifts.

The film stars Kip Pardue, Brian Hallisay, John Hensley, Sarah Habel, Chris Coy, Skyler Stone and Thomas Kretschmann – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?

I had a great cast in every way – Kip brought so much to the role, he came up with some of my favourite lines in the movie and he delivered a powerful performance. Brian Hallisay gave his character such a natural likeability you couldn’t help but root for him – Brian was great at the drama, the action and the horror. A really nice guy and so easy to work with. He really impressed me with his versatility. Chris Coy rocked the house with his edgy and varied performance. He really added depth and intensity to his character. Great to work and party with (kidding about the partying part, kinda). Chris recently joined the cast of HBO’s ‘Treme’. John Hensley brought humanity to his character – he created some poignant moments that gave the film an emotional center. I think John is one of the most under-rated actors working today. Skyler Stone was fantastic! Playing the comedy and the horror expertly – and what he went through in that torture chair! Sarah Habel who plays Kendra infused her role with just the right blend of sexy toughness the role demanded. Sarah was our savior because the role of Kendra was the most difficult to cast. She really nailed it. Thomas Kretchman was a total pro – in fact, during some of the actions scenes he was somewhat reluctant to fall on the concrete but as we continued with the scene Thomas noticed that Kip didn’t need a stuntman so Thomas decided to do the fall on the concrete – he did several takes and I really thank him for being such a good sport – I really appreciated that because of the tight shooting schedule we saved some time there. All of the actors understood that we had a lot of movie to shoot in 20 days without a second unit.

We should mention that you were an executive producer on the last two films in the franchise – why do you think the ‘Hostel’ series is so popular?

The idea of a ‘Hostel’ is creepy – it’s transient, you don’t know anyone, not really, and it’s all on good faith. Be careful who you hang with. I think an aspect of the ‘Hostel’ films sends a warning to potential victims: don’t be too trusting with strangers no matter how “hot” or “friendly” they appear. Another reason for the series popularity is the fact that there are copious amounts of gore and T&A.

I’m guessing a ‘Hostel: Part IV’ is in the works – in your opinion, do you think the introduction of 3D would ruin or improve any future sequels?

I’d like to see Angelina Jolie in 3-D, (that’s my room number). Seriously I think most directors are afraid to really use 3-D to full effect like they did back in the 1950’s or early 70’s. ‘House Of Wax’ or the 3 Stooges short ‘Spooks’ still impress because they were not afraid to really get in your face with the 3-D. In the 1973 3-D film ‘Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein’ the spear shooting out into your face with the bloody liver dangling on the end was impressive and it would be cool to have way more of those “in your face” 3-D gore effects in a future ‘Hostel’ sequel.

To date, what is your favourite ‘Hostel’ death?

That’s a tough question because I have two “favourite” ‘Hostel’ deaths but for different reasons – I would have to say the death of the EHC client in the bathroom at the end of the first ‘Hostel’ film (but not because it was the most creative or most horrifying death but because it was the most satisfying death). My favourite creative death is Lorna’s upside down slashing in ‘Hostel – Part II’ (tied with the “face peel” in ‘Hostel – Part III’).

Let’s talk a bit about you Scott. What made you want to get into the acting, writing and directing chair in the first place?

My parents loved movies and they got me hooked. My Mom won a GAF silent Super 8 camera and projector (for me!) after entering a Meow-Mix cat food contest – don’t we all wish we had a Mom like that! When we were kids we would do these little 3 Stooges like comedies – as people responded to the films we made more. Then I met up with Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi in Junior High school and we all started making movies together, mostly slapstick comedies but once in a while we dabbled in horror. We all wrote, produced, directed and acted at various times and it was a great training ground.

What advice would you give to people wanting to pursue a career in any of these? Would you say the ’almost impossible’ industry journey everyone takes is more about ‘who you know’, not what you‘re educated in, or is there something more to it? For example, I understand you introduced an unknown Quentin Tarantino to a producer in the early 1990’s, which in turn helped kick-start his career with ‘Reservoir Dogs’…

Make a short film that showcases your specific talents and then get out to Hollywood. You’ll meet people with the same interests, objectives. Even Quentin Tarantino who lived in the South Bay, way outside of Hollywood agreed that Hollywood is the place to be if you’re serious about making movies. And please give it time. Success will not happen in six months, or even a year. When I met Quentin Tarantino in the late 80’s he had been struggling to get a feature made for years – but he had some incredible scripts under his belt (‘Natural Born Killers’ and ‘True Romance’) and those scripts were so awesome I thought after reading them “Why hasn’t anyone snatched these scripts up?”. That’s when I introduced Quentin to producer Lawrence Bender and they went off to make ‘Reservoir Dogs’. Later, in the book of the screenplay to ‘From Dusk ‘till Dawn’, Quentin dedicated the book to me, saying: “Dedicated to Scotty Spiegel, who gave me the greatest gift, a career”.

As a ‘cult’ actor and director, what films inspired you growing up? Any favourites?

A lot of the 1960’s Hammer films scared the hell out of me (saw them on the big screen – ‘Phantom Of The Opera’, ‘Dracula Prince Of Darkness’, ‘Plague Of The Zombies’). Roger Corman’s ‘Masque Of The Red Death’ terrified me. On TV, ‘The Twilight Zone’ scared me, so did ‘Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea’ and the first season of ‘Lost In Space’. It was a great time to be a kid. In 1966 I saw a re-release of what turned out to be my favourite film of all time, Hitchcock’s ‘North By Northwest’ and that was my ‘Star Wars’ – it blew me away. When I was a kid we saw all kinds of movies at the Atlas Theater in Detroit. 35 cents was the price of a matinée and I saw ‘The Ghost And Mr. Chicken’ there, Disney’s ‘The Gnome Mobile’, ‘Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster’ and Elvis in ‘Tickle Me’ (which actually scared me – monsters in a haunted hotel – yikes! An Elvis movie scared me!!!). However once 6pm started the kiddie matinée was over and the “adult” film began – films like Billy Wilder’s ‘The Fortune Cookie’, Stanley Kramer’s ‘Ship Of Fools’, ‘A Thousand Clowns’ or ‘North By Northwest’ – on rare occasions, once the matinée ended we would hang around and stay and watch the “adult” movie so we stayed and watched ‘North By Northwest’.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three ’personal’ things could you not live without?

Ginger, Mary Ann and Mr. Howell’s millions. But seriously folks! I don’t know how “personal” these things are but here goes:

  1. Diet Coke
  2. Turner Classic Movies
  3. My MacBook Pro

If you could have a dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?

Walt Disney, Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling. Their body of work is both brilliant and timeless.

I left this question till near the end – saw this on your IMDB listing – is it true you’ve got ALL the ‘Lost In Space’ episodes on VHS? If so, what is it you like about the series so much, and what were your thoughts on the 90’s film adaptation?

I have both VHS and DVD versions of ‘Lost In Space’. It’s one of the rare (if only) series that was on for three seasons and each season is completely different – the first season was in B&W and was very serious (Dr. Smith wanted to kill all of them!) and they battled the elements and some alien creatures all with that rousing John Williams score. This was “THE SPACE FAMILY ROBINSON”. The second season was in colour and was pure camp (competing with ‘Batman’ seemed to pull the show in that direction) and as Guy Williams so aptly put it “The show became too “cutsie” and I agree. The third season is my favourite because it had a mix of the first two seasons. Plus, ‘The Anti-Matter Man’ is my favourite episode of any season – (it had all the imaginative elements and very little Dr. Smith who I loved in the first season but resented when the show became all about him, Will and the Robot (as a kid I loved that team but as I matured I realized the best episodes were the ones in which Guy Williams was the star). Interesting to see that Sean Penn’s dad Leo Penn directed the classic first season episode ‘There Were Giants In The Earth’.

The 90’s version was darker (literally and figuratively). The ‘Lost In Space’ movie poster had one of the most cleaver tag lines in recent memory: “Get Lost”. Wish I thought of that. But intellectualizing John Robinson didn’t work for me and the casting of that role was wrong – Guy Williams was really under-rated as an actor. The movie certainly had some really cool scenes and interesting casting choices overall and it was good to see some of the original cast members in there. I have it in my collection.

As a writer and director, would you like to re-boot the franchise in the near future?

I’d love to do a ‘Lost In Space’ re-boot as if Irwin Allen was producing it in 1968 – (use all those cool 60s sets and costumes with a few minor tweaks to eliminate any cheese). Focus on the “Space Family Robinson” angle. I envision a ‘Lost In Space’ re-boot to look like a cross between J.J. Abram’s 2009 re-boot of ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Galaxy Quest’.

What’s coming up for you in 2012?

There are a few irons in the fire – I’ll keep you posted when I’m on to the next one. Thanks so much for your interest Matt and have a great New Year!

Thanks for the interview!

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