Thursday, March 30, 2006


Lynne Perrie

I feel something should be said for Lynne Perrie who passed away this week.

She was one of the Cornonation Street characters whom I would very much liked to see back on the cobbled streets.




Hostel

Orange Wednesdays tend to be the only time I'll go to the cinema these days.

"The Pictures" is something I've done less and less since the abundance of the remnants of the Morecambe Cocklers who trawl every backstreet Manchester pub hawking their pirate DVD's for almost half the price of a single ticket for the cinema.

Still - went to see Hostel last night - I'm still seduced by anything Eastern European, and having an Amsterdam connection added to the initial appeal.

Having just returned from Amsterdam it was nice to see how the Americans view Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is to the British in the 00's what Blackpool was to the British in the 90s.

Somewhere for people to go on a blowout weekend, a place for stags and hens to run riot in prmoiscuous debauchery.

Eastjet has become the natural successor to the minibus truindling down the M55, although the Americans see Amsterdam is somewhere as myserious and as culture-shocking as rural Japan.

Having recently been in Amsterdam I was irritated and bemused by the American tourists in the city.

Groups of about 17 people make not for an inconspicuous party - bearded 19 year olds called Zac and their female counterparts huddled round bings, pipes and chillums; their conversations peppered with words such as "far out".

I'm not one to pontificate about who should travel where, but these people personify "nightmare tourists" their overt bewiderment and cluelessness sticking out like a rasher of bacon at a bar mitzvah.

Pointing and giggling at prostitutes, asking the local police for "blow" and other such acts seldom endear these types to the average person.

The protagonists in Hostel typify these qualities - two US students travelling around "Yurrop" determined to cram in as much pussy and beer as humanly possible.

Anti-smokers and members of ASH should, in my opinion, I place in the same category as Mary Whitehouse.

I have often heard people say "I don't wish to go into a pub that's smoky" or "I don't want to go into a smoky pub" - my answer to these people is quite simple - "Don't, then".

With the exception of Ken Barlow in Coronation Street, traditional pubs are full of smokers, and the non-smokers who have so zealously and publicly supported a full smoking ban in licenced premises are the same people who have never set foot in a pub in the past ten years.

I digress - one of the characters in Hostel is sick to his stomach at the sight of a girl smoking.

My mind questions what exactly he was doing in Amsterdam as opposed to somewhere a lot more sterile, such as Disneyland.

In a normal situation whilst watching a film, one generally feels either empathy or spympathy with the protagonists - in the case of Hostel, my feelings towards the characters grew to an intense dislike as they became more narrow-minded, sexist, homophobic and ignorant.

However the longer I watch the film, the more I am convinced this is something which Eli Roth has engineered intentionally.

Clever tactic.

A random stranger the two main characters meet in Amsterdam tell them of the copious amounts of girls in a hostel just outside Bratislava who are horny for American guys all the time.

The two guys then pack their bags, and catch the next train to Bratislava - the train journey istelf proving to be bizarre with a man almost identical to Herr Lipp from The League Of Gentlemen sitting down and talking about "needs" followed by some inappropriate touching of one of the guys.

Upon arrival at the hostel, which looks more like the Gleneagles Hotel rather than any of the budget digs I've ever encountered, they are immediately pounced on by several European girls, who seem they can't get enough of bum bags or college t-shirts.

To cut a long story short, the stranger they met in Amsterdam is the "roper" in the situation, in a similar way to the man in the 80's advert who asked "Would you like to see some puppies".


Upon arrival in Bratislava, the tourists are seduced by the girls, then brought to a disused factory by one of the girls, either drugged, or on a flimsy pretext.



Within the bowels of the factory itself is a factory of torture, the screams of Japanese girls being overpowered by the blood curdling screams of American boys.

The man on the train re-apprears, this time performing sadistic surgery on one of the Americans.

The reason for this doesn't appear clear until towards the end of the film when it transpires that the factory is part of a Russian owned Human Hunting Club.

Members of the public can pay $5,000 to kill an Asian, $25,000 to kill a European, and $50,000 to ice an American.

Presumably the man on the train simply paid $50,000 for the experience as opposed to being part of the organisation itself.

The final American character introduced has seemingly paid $5,000 to kill a poor Japanese girl.

The film itself was not to my taste, however, it did leave me thinking about several things.

Americans being Americans they demonstrated a very sketchy knowledge of Europe.
Bratislava, which is in Slovakia, has never been part of the Balkans.
Slovakians also no longer speak Czech.

More disconcerting than that is the treatment given to Slovakia, a country where I have never visited, although I plan to.

I imagine the Slovakian Tourist Board to be up in arms about the representation of their country as a place where people can direct their own snuff movie and the police are in cahoots with deadly Russian gangs.

I visited Prague in 1995 and fell in love with the place, always planning to return.
In the past few years Prague seems to have been attracting a whole new type of tourist, seduced by the cheap alcohol and sex industry there.

Prague itself is trying to shake off that unwanted reputation, it's neighbour Bratislava has yet to set it's stall as a city break destination in the same way.

Budapest and Ljubljana are currently the Eastern European citybreaks de jour. I have planned on visiting Bratislava for some time.

I imagine that anyone who had planned on visiting the city would still do, after watching this film, although I can't help thinking that it won't get the airport onto Ryanair's schedules any quicker.

The added implication being that Americans will imagine the country to be as dangerous as a walk in Baghdad.

Who would have thought a simple visit to the cinema could provoke such thought...
Your Personality Is Like Cocaine
You're dynamic, brilliant, and alluring to those who don't know you. Hyper and full of energy, you're usually the last one to leave a party. Sometimes your sharp mind gets the better of you... you're a bit paranoid!
What Drug Is Your Personality Like?