Scott Spiegel is a man who’s been in the business of filmmaking for quite a while. His hand has touched some of the more popular horror films of the past few decades. In addition to co-writing “Evil Dead 2” with Sam Raimi he is responsible for either writing or directing such films as “From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money” (1999), Clint Eastwood’s “The Rookie” (1990) & “Intruder” (1989). He has also produced “2001 Maniacs” (2005) & “Hostel” (2005) & “Hostel 2” (2007). He managed to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to speak with me about his latest directorial effort, the long awaited “Hostel 3″ which will be released to DVD on December 27th.
HN: Why did you decide to set “Hostel 3” in Vegas & not another foreign country?
SS: That’s just what Peter Nelson, Chris Briggs & Sony wanted to do. The bottom line was with Vegas & the history behind it, what better place to set it? There’s a whole mythos about Vegas so it’s not a bad arena to set up shop in. But this could just as easily taken place in Mexico somewhere or some other places. Who knows? From Vegas you could get to Mexico…we could be writing up a fourth film as we speak! You know, there’s all kinds of different things we could do. I also think that “The Hangover” films were so successful had some influence on us as well. I thought the first film had some suspenseful elements to it although it’s obviously a comedy. But in the end somebody just had a cool idea for “Hostel 3” and we ran with it.
HN: It’s interesting that you mention “The Hangover” because I wanted to ask you about that. From all that I’ve read about the film it seems to share some similar elements with “The Hangover”, Was this by design?
SS: You know what? From all of our discussions…I can’t pinpoint it. For me, how I’ve been describing it since we started working on it was “Hostel” meets “Hangover”. That’s kind of the context in which it was viewed. The script went through an evolution, originally it was more of a police procedural. There was a detective involved & all that stuff. And that got completely jettisoned & things got revised as we moved forward. So Michael Weiss (Writer) must have had all of this in mind when he started writing it. I haven’t seen “Hangover” in a while so I couldn’t really say with any certainty but we don’t have any tigers in it!
HN: How long did the script take to go from just a concept to a final draft?
SS: I think Michael Weiss worked on it for at least a year. In that time period & I’m a bit fuzzy on this because I had come on just came on board just afterwards, a cool writer named John Fasano did some revisions. Then I worked on the script some with John & producer Chris Briggs. Our executive producer, Peter Nelson. I think at that point I had a lot of really cool ideas & most, if not all of them were implemented right down to certain lines in the movie. One of the lines I came up with was described by one of the executives as “Summing up that character and this movie perfectly”. It was Kip Pardue’s line when he says “When it comes to You know what I don’t have any friends”. I’m being kind of vague as to what “You know what”is. It sounds kinda lame I know…I apologize for that. You haven’t even seen the movie yet, have you?
HN: No, there was a screening for it last night that I attended but there was some sort of snafu & the print hadn’t gotten to the theater. But no worries…I was going to buy it next Tuesday anyway!
SS: Well, I am sorry for the confusion but since you haven’t seen it yet, it’s perfectly vague to you as to what that line means. So you’ll be surprised when you see it! I don’t think I ruined it for you at all…
HN: And for that I thank you. You mentioned the detective angle that was cut from the script and I had read some comments that likened “Hostel 3” as more of an action film than a horror film. Was this part of the plan?
SS: No, that’s all Michael Weiss. But you know what? I might have pumped up that volume a little more. The third act template was essentially gladiators in a room, one escapes & he is tracked down. In one of the drafts I read, the third act went on for a long time and I had to tell them that we only had so much dough, so we had to be really judicious as to how we spent it. But you’re right, at the end there is some crazy action! I’m hoping that even though it is action oriented there is a level of suspense for the characters & they get out of that mess unscathed more or less…maybe with just a finger or two missing!
HN: I understand that a lot of the film was shot in the Detroit Masonic Temple?Β
SS: That’s where Bruce Campbell & I graduated from in the 70’s!
HN: Were the torture scenes shot in there?
SS: Yeeah!<Laughing>, I couldn’t believe it! What frightened me the most was that I couldn’t remember graduating from there! I haven’t been back to Detroit since 1999 or so and not even Detroit. More like the suburbs of Detroit.
HN: Was there any negative feedback from the community in regards to what you were shooting inside? Did anybody even know what you guys were doing in there?
SS: You know what? Sean Penn was shooting a movie called “This Must Be The Place” & Sigourney Weaver & Alicia Silverstone were shooting a movie called “Vamps” all at the same time in the same area so we kept getting each other sets mixed up! So there was a lot of activity in the area. But it was a very depressing area.
There was the Masonic temple & just depression everywhere you looked. Burned out buildings, empty lots, abandoned cars…it was just surreal. At one point we were driving back to our hotel & we had stopped at a light when a cop came up to us & told us to go on ahead thru the light as it was a very dangerous neighborhood we were driving through.
Detroit is not for sissies, you better have your act together when you’re in Detroit. Detroit is a tough city, very very tough. There are great people there & there are some not so great people there. The movie industry has been incredible for the economy of Detroit. To see people working there was pretty awesome. There was some stuff happening there but I think they cut the incentive for the studios. Still it was cool to see some dough coming to the local economy but if they can’t get the crime problem under control…you can’t let your guard down for a moment and that’s whats really frustrating.
HN: It’s no way to live if you have to have your guard up constantly…
SS: Sometimes you just get lazy here in L.A. because the climate is so easy. There is some crime but it’s in pockets spread out all over. I don’t know, I guess I just really love the warm weather out here. Even the crime out here seems not as tough as in Detroit!
HN: Does “Hostel 3” end with the possibility of a sequel?
SS: Absolutely! What I really love about the series is that, aside from the first two, it can take place anywhere in the world. It’s kind of clean that way. You can make a direct sequel that ties into this third one or you can take it someplace completely different with a new set of characters. That’s whats so great about the concept behind “Hostel”. It can take place anywhere you need it to be.
HN: Have you been approached to direct a sequel yet?
SS: Are you kidding/ I have no idea as to what they want to do but obviously I would love to be involved in any way, shape or form. I’ve always dreamed of being part of a successful franchise. Especially a horror franchise…I always thought it would be a Freddy or Michael Myers movie though. It’s just really cool to take your passion & have it become a reality.
HN: I had mentioned to some friends of mine that I was going to be speaking to you about “Hostel 3” & more than a few of them had already seen the movie thru a Bit Torrent website. How do you feel about this?
SS: I don’t know what to do. The DGA (Directors Guild Of America) is trying a great many ways to stop his sort of thing from happening. But what can anyone do? I’m kinda speechless…I feel so helpless! But the DGA is trying hard to stop it.
Interview: Scott Spiegel – Director (Hostel 3)