Audio options are provided in English, French and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound tracks with optional subtitles available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. Closed captioning is available in English only.
While the video quality is only decent and not particularly remarkable, the audio quality on this release is very good indeed. The rears are used to really bring some of the more intense scenes to life and the effects sound great whizzing at you from all directions during a few key moments in the film. Dialogue stays clean and clear from start to finish and the score packs enough punch that it does help out with the atmosphere and the tone of the picture. There are no problems with hiss or distortion to report and the levels are all properly balanced. A bit more bass would have helped in some spots but aside from that, Hostel sounds great. Again, however, you're not likely to notice much difference between the audio on this release and the audio on the previous DVD.
Many of the supplements on this disc are going to seem way too familiar to those who picked up the last release but there are some interesting new supplements here to reward the die-hards who will want to double-dip or the give those who want to check out the film reason to prefer this new release over the previous one. Spread across the two discs are the following extra features:
Disc one starts off with four separate commentary tracks, each one carried over from the previous DVD release. Overkill? Definitely! Regardless, here's an overview. Track one features Eli Roth with producers Quentin Tarantino, Scott Spiegel and Boaz Yakin. This is the best of the four tracks as the participants are all recorded together in the same room so there's a nice conversational feel to the talk. The focus of this track is how the project came together and the producers have a fair bit of input here, talking about they all came on board to get Roth's film moving. They also cover shooting locations and what it was like working in Eastern Europe, casting the film, and some of the more risqué content in the film. There's a lot of good-natured humor in here and no dead air to slow things down. There is a lot of back patting and self congratulatory talk, but it doesn't interfere with the discussion nor does it dominate the commentary so it's a little easier to forgive this time out.
The second commentary is screen specific and it features Eli Roth, producer Christopher Biggs and documentary filmmaker Gabriel Roth, all three recorded in the same room. This is a pretty interesting discussion as it goes into a lot of detail about why specific locations were chosen for the film and what was involved in setting up the shoot in Prague. By this point, we're starting to get a fair bit of repeated information but at least this time around there's an enjoyable and jovial mood on the track and their thoughts on the importance of sound in the film are quite interesting. Other topics covered here are effects, casting, location shooting and various on-set problems that took place during the shoot.
The third commentary is a screen specific commentary track from Eli Roth who appears here all by his lonesome. Roth talks about how the success of Cabin Fever allowed him a bit of freedom with this project, how he came to become involved with Tarantino, and the involvement of the studio in the film. He also repeats a lot of the same information that's been covered on the first three tracks and while it's nice to hear Roth's take on the origin of the project and about some of the personal struggles he had to deal with to get this done, by this point it's hard not to be tired of the commentary tracks.
Commentary number four is pieced together from comments by Roth, editor George Folsey Jr., Ain't It Cool News guru Harry Knowles, and actors Barbara Nedeljakova and Eythor Gudjonsson. Again, there's a lot of self congratulatory talk here with Roth and Knowles going back and forth about how much they respect one another's work and this gets tiresome after a while, but thankfully the comments from the other participants are pretty interesting with Folsey's input in particular standing out. He points out where various edits were placed and explains why and he gives us some interesting insight into what his role really was on this project and how he tweaked parts of the film to heighten tension and to make things more effective. The actors really just talk about how they came on board and why they were cast in their respective roles.
Also carried over from the last release is Hostel Dissected, a three-part fullframe documentary that runs just over fifty-five minutes in combined length. Here we get interviews with pretty much all of the principal cast and crew members involved in the production, from actors and actresses to make up and effects technicians. While this documentary doesn't really get super in-depth in regards to any one specific part of the movie it does do a good job of explaining how the film was made by showing us some behind the scenes clips to go along with the interview segments.
The Kill The Car multi-angle featurette that was on the first release appears here again. For those unfamiliar with it, basically it's a two and a half minute clip where we can watch the kids who trash the car towards the end of the movie do their thing from three different angles.
The only extra exclusive to this new release is the Director's Cut Ending which is an eight-minute segment that shows Roth's original intention for the film's finale. Without wanting to spoil it for those who haven't seen it, let it suffice to say that this is a much more open-ended take than the one used in the final version of the film and it leaves much of the actual resolution to our imaginations. It's a more original ending than the one used for the film, but it doesn't bring the same sense of closure to the movie.
Rounding out the extra features on the first disc are some animated menus, a chapter selection sub-menu, and trailers for Hostel II, Rise: Blood Hunter, Blood And Chocolate and Vacancy.
The second disc starts off with the all new Music And Sounds featurette which, at twelve-minutes, gives us a reasonably thorough look at what the sound design team did to give the film such an intense mood. We get a tour of the studio where much of the work for the film was done, as well as interviews with composer Nathan Barr and a few of the audio technicians who worked their magic on the project. We get also get a peek at the orchestra recording the film's score. If you're interested in the way that sound can affect a film, you'll probably enjoy this segment as it's quite interesting.
From there, another new exclusive featurette, Set Design, gives us an all too brief five-minute look at how the sets were designed and what went into getting them physically built. We see some of the sketches and production art as well as some clips of the construction but we're not really given enough time to delve too deep into this process and as such, this segment really feels like little more than a surface dusting.
Up next is a half hour documentary entitled Hostel Dismembered which is a thirty-minute featurette that contains interviews with Roth, Tarantino and a few others involved in the project including Takashi Miike. This segment takes a look at the nastier side of the film and it explores how Roth was going for a very real, unpolished feel with the film and it details the now infamous torture scenes that the film has become known for. While it is interesting to hear about some of this material, too much of this is covered in the commentary tracks and the documentary on the first disc.
Another new featurette, the eleven-minute KNB EFX documentary, features interviews with the three men that make up the famous effects team as they wax nostalgic about their work on the picture while we're treated to some interesting clips and behind the scenes bits pertaining to their work. While it could have been a little longer and a little more in-depth, this is quite an interesting segment and well worth peeking through.
Also carried over from the prior DVD are the ten deleted scenes. Running eighteen-minutes in length, these are presented with little text intros from Eli Roth explaining why they were taken out of the film. None of these really change the movie much but it's always nice to see material like this included. The deleted scenes are as follows: Who Ate All The Pies?, Hypnoza, Oli And Vala In The Spa, On The Way To The Art Show, The Coffee House, The Factory Flashes, Police Station, The Toothless Cabbie, The Witch Finder Speech and Exploring The Village. Most of these are pretty brief and save for Coffee House, they're under two minutes in length.
Also new to this release is The Treatment which is a twenty-six minute radio interview where Roth talks about his motivations for making the film as well as his thoughts on the current trend of horror films. He repeats a lot of what we've heard on other supplements in regards to the origin of the film and details regarding the making of the movie but the chat is still worthwhile if you want to hear about how he feels about the horror movie industry.
Rounding out the extra features are the ten-minute Takashi Miike interview that was found on the previous release, four photo galleries (Behind the Scenes, On Set, Barbara Nedeljakova and Hostel Artwork), and a brief exclusive clip of Eythor Gudjonsson eating a lamb's head, apparently quite the tasty treat at his home back in Iceland. Animated menus are also included. The disc comes housed inside a keepcase which in turn fits inside a slipcase that features identical cover art and text.
If you own the previous un-rated release of the film, this two-disc set just doesn't bring enough new material to the table to make it worth the double-dip. That said, if you don't own the film and you know that you want to, this is the version to go for as it does throw some more extras your way. As for the film itself? Obviously it has its fans and it is effective in certain ways but Hostel probably isn't something you're going to go back to time and time again. Consider it a solid rental.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.