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The sickest movie ever?

Let's not make another fucking movie just to get paid," declares Eli Roth, as Total Film watches him work feverishly at his sound-mixing station in Prague. "Let's make a movie that, 25 years from now, we can look back and say, 'Yeah, we're the guys that made that one. We're the ones who made that sick-ass fucking movie that no one else would do.'" That "sick-ass fucking movie" is Hostel, the horror-shocker that fans are already calling cinema's first mainstream 'snuff' movie…

"It began years ago, with this website that Ain't It Cool's Harry Knowles showed me. We were talking about the sickest things you could find on the internet, like the two Japanese girls naked in the bath puking into each other's mouths," explains the 33-year-old writer/ director. "He said, 'Well, I got something that's beyond that.' There's a site that he found where you could go to Thailand and pay $10,000 to shoot someone in the head. I just thought that was the most disturbing thing I'd ever heard."

In 2003, David Lynch protégé Roth bludgeoned audiences with Cabin Fever, a genre-smart terror tale about teens ravaged by a flesh-eating virus. After that, he was linked to loads of projects, notably a big-screen version of beach'n'babes bonanza Baywatch (no, really) and The Box, a Richard Matheson short story he's been developing with Donnie Darko maverick Richard Kelly. But Knowles' story had stuck, leading to Roth settling on something much, much nastier: a self-penned gore-orgy about three backpackers (Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson and Eythor Gudjonsson) who head to a Slovakian city in search of sex, only to end up in a realm of suffering beyond their worst nightmares. It's a return to the genre that Roth knows best. "Down and dirty, balls-out, sick-as-fuck horror movies," he grins.

Roth wasted no time pitching the premise to friend and exec producer Quentin Tarantino, before inking the screenplay in just three weeks. Next stop? QT's house, for a meticulous polishing process - ironing out every crease, twisting in every brutal conceit. "Quentin said, 'I'm going to go through it and any time I call bullshit or movie convenience, you're going to find a better way to do it,'" recalls Roth.

The audience reaction at the Toronto Film Festival suggests Roth did (there were two medical emergencies as shocked viewers scrambled from the theatre) - and then some. Featuring unparalleled scenes of gut-wrenching violence, blood and sex, Hostel not only pulls inspiration from Asian sick-flicks Audition and Ichi The Killer but features legendary J-horror master Takashi Miike in an English-speaking cameo. One scene in particular is an eye-popping tour de force in on-screen torture.

Hostel is slated for a 6 January release in the US. Start getting afraid - Roth and Total Film will be bringing you a grisly update soon on the film that looks set to stagger the horror genre. Roth's macabre aspiration is simple, dead simple: "Just scare the fucking shit out of people!"