Thanks to films like Cabin Fever and Hostel, filmmaker Eli Roth has established himself as one of the most uncompromising contemporary horror filmmakers, inspiring and entertaining devout horror fans. His latest horror film, The House with a Clock in Its Walls, tones down the horror to a PG-level, which the filmmaker hopes will inspire a younger generation's burgeoning interest in terrifying tales.
"I wanted to make that gateway movie that the people that are parents now, that loved Hostel and Cabin Fever and Green Inferno," Roth shared with ComicBook.com. "You can't start your kid on those. You can't start them on IT or The Nun. You need a gateway movie. That's what I wanted to do, is a movie that you will be scared, but isn't gonna traumatize your kid and give them nightmares."
In his latest film, Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) goes to live with his Uncle Jonathan (Black) in a creaky and creepy mansion with an eerie tick-tocking heart. But when Lewis soon finds out he's in the presence of magic practiced by his uncle and neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett), his new town's dreary aura boosts to life in an exciting and dangerous way.
Roth grew up in the '80s, which saw the creation of the PG-13 rating for films that were too intense for children but not quite graphic enough to earn an R. The filmmaker noted that these early brushes with horror as a kid helped foster his growing love for the genre.
"I'm an unusual exception 'cause I went to see Alien when I was eight and that traumatized me in a good way. It made me want to be a director," Roth noted. "But the movies as a kid, when I was a little older, like 10 and 11, I was that sweet spot of being the age of the kids from Stranger Things at the time of Stranger Things. You could watch that show and that was exactly how old I was in 1984."
He continued, "That was called 'The Age of Amblin Movies.' They were the most exciting theatrical experiences you could have. Raiders of the Lost Ark was an event. Gremlins was an event. Back to the Future was an event. But really those scary Spielberg movies...like, E.T.'s a very scary movie for the first 20 minutes. Then when you get other really weird oddball movies like Time Bandits and The Dark Crystal. These are movies that you saw with your parents or saw at a birthday party that scared you but they were still safe. It still was okay but they got you. They gave you that thrill. It was like when you go to the amusement park and you want to go through the Fun House. It's not that scary. When you're a kid, it's just fun to be that scared but it's not gonna traumatize you. That's what you want."
Roth's The House with a Clock in Its Walls is out now on Digital HD and lands on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray, and DVD on December 18th.
Did you have a gateway movie as a kid that inspired your interest in horror? Let us know in the comments below or hit up @TheWolfman on Twitter to talk all things horror and Star Wars!