Eli Roth has been a divisive figure in the horror community ever since he debuted his first feature, Cabin Fever, back in 2002. The grotesque horror comedy, which follows a group of teens shacked up at a cabin in the woods with a flesh eating virus, reaped incredibly mixed reviews. Some said Cabin Fever heralded the arrival of horror’s next visionary, while others saw the film as a tawdry pastiche of superior films. With his subsequent films, Hostel and Hostel: Part 2, Roth played a key role in the emergence of the “torture porn” trend and the relentless debates over the subgenre that followed. His films have a tendency to split an audience down the middle.
Evidently, this is a quality Roth has always possessed. CryptTV has made his student thesis film, a Tarantino homage called Restaurant Dogs, available online for the first time and it’s weird as hell. So strange, in fact, that his professors were “completely confounded” and commented, “This person should not graduate,” as Roth recalls in the video. His fellow students, on the other hand, loved it. The film was nominated for a Student Academy Award in 1995, a national contest, and won its division. It even screened at the MOMA once, but that was the last time the film saw the light of day. Until now. Check out Restaurant Dogs below and get a look into the young mind of a future genre-leading filmmaker.