Eli Raphael Roth (born April 18, 1972) is an American film director, producer, writer and actor. He has been dubbed the leader of a group of filmmakers dubbed the Splat Pack, because of their association and their focus on the horror genre. Roth is known for making extremely violent, low-budget horror box office hits, and has made himself a household name without any major stars in his films. Bloggers widely credit with bringing back R rated horror films to theaters at a time when studios would only make films that were PG-13. The total budget of his first three films is $16 million dollars, and the total worldwide box office of his first three films is $150 million dollars, making him one of the most profitable directors working today. He has never lost money on a film.
Roth began shooting films at the age of eight after watching Ridley Scott's Alien (1979). He made over 50 short films with his brothers Adam and Gabe before graduating at Newton South High School and attending film school (the Tisch School of the Arts) at New York University, from which he graduated in 1994.
By the age of 20, and while still a student at NYU, Roth was an intern/office manager/development head for producer Frederick Zollo, eventually leaving to devote himself to writing full-time.
After chatting together at her mother's seder, actress Camryn Manheim gave Roth one of his first jobs in Hollywood, putting him on as an extra on The Practice when he first moved to Los Angeles. (Roth had originally met Manheim in NYC at a 1993 premiere.)Roth would stay in Manheim's dressing room working on his scripts while she filmed the show. Roth also met Manheim's cousin Howie Nuchow (former EVP of Mandalay Sports Entertainment and also from the Boston, MA area) at this same seder -- this led to Roth's two animation projects in the years that followed. Roth also co-wrote a project called "The Extra" with Manheim; Manheim would later sell the pitch to producer (and former CEO and Chairman of Fox Studios) Bill Mechanic's Pandemonium company.
Through his internship with producer Fred Zollo in years prior, Roth met David Lynch, and Roth remained in contact with Lynch over the years, eventually producing content for Lynch with his fledgling website in the late 1990s. Roth met film and TV composer Angelo Badalamenti through Lynch; Roth would later use Badalamenti's music in his first feature film. Roth also met a member of special effects company KNB EFX through Lynch; KNB EFX would later contribute to his first feature.
Roth moved from NYC to LA in 1999; shortly thereafter Roth wrote, directed, edited, produced, animated, and provided voices for a series of animated shorts called Chowdaheads for Mandalay Sports Entertainment. The shorts were intended to be shown between WCW Monday Nitro pro wrestling matches, but the C.E.O. of WCW who had green lit the project was fired the weekend before they were supposed to be aired, and they were never actually broadcast, despite being completed. Roth's friend Noah Belson co-wrote the shorts and provided additional character voices.
After receiving $40,000 from the website Z.com to deliver a 5-minute pilot, Roth wrote, directed, animated and produced a series of stop-motion shorts in mid-2000 called The Rotten Fruit. The company (z.com) folded shortly after several episodes were completed, and the domain name "z.com" was picked up by Nissan years later to promote their sports car of the same name. A portion of the work for The Rotten Fruit was done at the Snake Pit studios in Burbank using miniature sets, poseable clay and foam figures, two high-end digital still cameras, and a pair of Macintosh computers. Roth's friend Noah Belson co-wrote the shorts and provided additional character voices.
Roth's NYU classmate Evan Astrowsky agreed to sign on as a producer Cabin Fever with Roth; Astrowsky brought the project to a pair of producers he had worked with before, Lauren Moews and the North Carolina-based Sam Froelich. The four producers were eventually able to raise enough money to begin production, but only three days before shooting began the main funding pulled out. They had already spent $50,000, but did not shut down production, and were raising money every day while they were shooting. Cabin Fever was filmed in 2001 on a budget of $1.5 million (raised with private investors). Cabin Fever was sold at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival for $3.5 million dollars after a massive bidding war between eight studios. It was the biggest sale of the festival that year. Cabin Fever made $34,553,394 theatrically worldwide. It was the highest grossing film for Lionsgate that year (who also committed $12 million to prints and advertising for the film).
Lionsgate used the theatrical success of Cabin Fever to raise the money to purchase Artisan Entertainment. Lionsgate's stock rose from $1.98 a share at the time Cabin Fever was purchased at the Toronto Film Festival to nearly $6 a share after "Cabin Fever" was released theatrically.
Roth reportedly turned down numerous studio directing jobs to make Hostel. Roth took a directing salary of only $10,000 on Hostel in order to keep the budget as low as possible, so there would be no limitations on the violence. Roth shot the film as an NC-17 movie, but the film passed through the ratings board with an R.
In January 2006, film critic David Edelstein in New York Magazine credited Roth with creating the horror sub-genre 'torture porn,' or 'gorno,' using excessive violence to excite audiences like a sexual act. Writer and Attorney Julie Hilden denounced the term 'Torture Porn' and defended the "Hostel" films in an essay.
He is currently producing a kung fu movie entitled Man with the Iron Fist. It is being written, directed, and scored by The RZA, who stars in the the film. Quentin Tarantino, is said to be involved with the movie as well. In a recent interview with CHUDD, Eli spoke on the movie:
This movie will have everything martial arts fans could want, combined with RZA's superb musical talent. This project has been his dream for years, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. And fans should know that yes, there will be blood... This ain't no PG-13.
Roth has been a guest on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," "Your World Today with Neil Cavuto," "The Howard Stern Show," "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," and served as a guest judge on the filmmaking reality series "On The Lot." He has been profiled and interviewed in the New York Times, G.Q., Elle Magazine, Maxim, Le Monde, La Republica, Time Out: London, Time Magazine, Empire Magazine, Premiere, and Italian Vogue. Dolce & Gabbana and Nike give him clothes for all his public appearances. Roth has also appeared three times as an answer in the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle.
"Men's Fitness" magazine voted Roth Most Fit Director in their July 2006 issue, a title Roth takes very seriously with a strict workout routine that he documents on the "Hostel" DVDs. Roth claims he treats every red carpet like it was a Milan runway, and often jokes that he only makes films as a way to live out his lifelong dream of being a male supermodel. He spoke of his love for fashion in his interview in the October 2007 issue of Italian Vogue.
Roth also participated in the 2006 animated comedy film, Disaster!, voicing the lumberjack during the opening moments of the film. The comical 'death by squirrels' the lumberjack suffers is inspired by Roth's gruesome and often ironic ways of killing characters in his own films.
Roth participated in a DVD audio commentary for Blood Sucking Freaks in 1996, having no formal credits, as a "Blood and Guts Expert." The DVD is one of the highest selling DVDs for Troma. Roth often makes uncredited cameos in Troma films, thanks to NYU friend Gabe Friedman, a former Troma editor also hailing from the Boston, MA area.
Roth had a role in Quentin Tarantino's half of Grindhouse, Death Proof, in a scene with Jordan Ladd. Tarantino was so impressed by Roth's brief role as Justin in "Cabin Fever," he asked Roth to audition for the film. Roth left his preproduction on "Hostel Part II" in Prague to fly to Austin Texas for one week to film the scene at the Texas Chili Parlor. Roth said working as an actor for Tarantino was like taking a masterclass in directing, and said the only directors he would ever act for were people who had won the Palme D'Or at Cannes. Roth also made appearances in several projects that David Lynch directed for Davidlynch.com.
Eli Roth brought the now-infamous "Raiders of the Lost Ark" shot-for-shot remake by kids to the attention of both Harry Knowles and Steven Spielberg. Roth had a copy in his collection of videos for years before showing it at Harry Knowles' butt-numb-a-thon film festival in December, 2002. The response was so overwhelming that Roth took the tape to his very first meeting at Dreamworks, and gave it to an executive to give to Steven Spielberg. The executive called Roth the next week saying that Spielberg loved it and wanted to contact the filmmakers. Roth had never met the filmmakers, but Google searched every name in the credits until he got a hold of Jayson Lamb, the cinematographer. The three filmmakers, Lamb, Chris Strompolis, and Eric Zala (a former Activision employee) had not spoken to each other in years when Roth contacted them out of the blue, saying that Spielberg wanted to write them a letter. This reunited the friends, who began touring the world doing charity screenings with the film. Roth felt that the film was so powerful he had to do whatever he could to make sure fans around the world saw it. Roth introduced the film at its premiere at Mann's Chinese Theater in May of 2008, five and a half years after he first got the tape to Knowles and Spielberg.
Eli Roth is co-starring with Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino's WWII epic "Inglorious Bastards," playing Donny Donowitz, a.k.a. "The Bear Jew."
As Eli Roth enters the room and sinks into an armchair, the pace of the conversation increases dramatically. He introduces himself, sits down next to Daniel Stamm, the director of the latest "Eli Roth presents ... " phenomenon The Last Exorcism, and takes off at a furious pace.
Sep 05, 2010; The horror of films and the press Eli Roth has struck gold with The Last Exorcism -- if only he could exorcise certain media too,...
Universal Studios Hollywood Presents "Eli Roth's Hostel: Hunting Season," a Terrifying New Horror Maze at "Halloween Horror Nights".
Aug 13, 2011; Eli Roth, the multi-talented director, writer, producer and actor, will adapt his enormously successful "Hostel" film franchise...
"Hemlock Grove" Eli Roth's Gothic Thriller Developed by Brian McGreevy & Lee Shipman Available Only on Netflix April 19
Jan 27, 2013; By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Entertainment Business Newsweekly -- The Netflix Original Series "Hemlock Grove," a...
Torture Porn and Bodies Politic: Post-Cold War American Perspectives in Eli Roth's Hostel and Hostel: Part II
Dec 22, 2009; During the press tour for his directorial debut, Cabin Fever (2003), American horror filmmaker Eli Roth compared his $1.5 million...