ARROW: How was the casting process?
ELI: Casting was a nightmare. Before we
had the money, we held a casting session in February of 2001 and what
we found is that a lot of people didn't want to be in a horror film.
You said "horror" and they immediately thought straight-to-video or they
thought it was just a piece of shit movie with no artistic value or merit. They didn't want to be in it. It was very difficult to
find people appropriate for the roles. You put an acting breakdown for
a 21 year old kid and people would come in and they'd be like 35. And
the other thing, which was very difficult to find, were the girls. There
was a whole thing with the nudity where these girls would come in and
say I'm not going to do the nudity because its exploitation and you'd say
what about the 7-page spread you had in STUFF magazine, with dental
floss covering your nipples, like that's high art?
ELI: Where now
we're talking a 30-second sex scene in a film where you show that you
fuck with your clothes off so that the audience believes that you're
actually a real couple, so when you get split up later they're would
be some emotional impact to it! They didn't want to do it. What about
getting ripped up by a dog? They were all fine with that. So it was
weird how people were all fine with the blood and gore, but didn't want
do nudity. So it was really difficult. Jordan Ladd, God bless her, was
the first one cast and once she came on, she had such a good rep that
other actresses wanted to be in it because she was in it.
casting right down to the wire. I actually went to www.wireimage.com
looked at party photos. I found a picture of Serena Vincent, tracked
her down and got her on tape. I saw everyone in Hollywood, but had to
turn over every rock to find them. Once I finally had them, all
together, it just felt great. Everybody that did this movie, did it because they wanted to, they didn't do it for the paycheck
everybody was working for well below their rate. A lot of people wound
up not getting paid because the Union took all of our money.
ARROW: When you cast Ryder Strong...did you ever
think for a second that his stint on "Boy Meets World" might play
against the movie?
ELI: No. I thought, if
anything, it would help. Nobody thinks of George Clooney or Kevin Bacon
as TV actors, but that's where they started. With "Boy Meets
had never seen the show before, I'm 31 and a lots of people my age
have never seen it. Now the girls that grew up on it, love him, they
had a crush on Ryder Strong and the guys, I figured, they fucking hated
him, they want to see him get tortured. And it's true! We had a
screening in Texas and this guy was like "I fucking hated Boy Meets
World and I fucking hated Ryder Strong, but after I saw what he did in
your movie, I fucking love that guy!" When Ryder came in, he was the guy
for the role. I think when you see the movie, the first 10 minutes
you're like "Oh, that's the guy from Boy Meets World", but once you see
him going crazy, covered in blood by the end of the film...nobody will
be thinking of that anymore.
ARROW: I agree, that's exactly what happened to me.
Once the shite hit the shan, Boy Meets World was thankfully a distant
ELI: Yeah, you drop it
very quickly. He's such a superb actor that he transcended it. "Boy
Meets World" is not who he is, "Cabin Fever" is who that guy is,
type of movie. You know what he said to me, he said, "Thank God I did
your movie. Now I can show something that I did to my friends that they
would actually watch".
That's pretty cool. Now in the film, they are a lot of kooky characters.
Lynch-ish characters as I like to call them. Being that Lynch is one
of the execs on the film...
ELI: David is not an exec
on the film...
ARROW: He's not???
ELI: It's an internet
rumor and I'm going to clarify it right now. When I was trying to cast
the film, I couldn't get any actors to read the script. We couldn't get
anyone because it was a horror movie. So I said, David, we need to put
your name on the film as an exec producer just so I can get the movie
going, and he did. Once he put his name on it as an exec producer,
every actor and agent that had passed on it, were suddenly excited
about it. You know making a film with no money is like a chess game: there are certain moves that you and your partners have to make to get
the movie made. So once they read it, the same people that said it was
a piece of shit said, see how Lynchish it is! This was October 2001,
so we shoot the movie and then I told everybody that David has a right
to take his name off the film if he wants to.
By the time David Lynch got to
Cannes to be part of the Jury, every journalist was asking him about
the new movie he directed called "Cabin Fever" and David came back,
watched the movie and he fucking loved it. He was laughing his ass off
and he said, "Eli, you don't need my name anymore, everybody is seeing my
name on this and they think it's a David Lynch film". He was like,
is you, this is an Eli Roth film. People still think that I directed
"Boxing Helena", critics still think that I directed "Naja".
this, produced it, directed it, it's your baby and I think that at this
point, it's going to be detrimental to have my name on there" and I
agreed with him. So we gave him a very "Special Thanks"
instead. David never
raised any money, I just needed his artistic credibility to open doors.
ARROW: Thanks for clearing that up.
No problem. Ironically, putting his name on the
movie and taking his name off the movie were the
two smartest things I could've done for the film. There is such an
unbelievable bias against horror movies
in the US. Everywhere in the world, they have festivals celebrating
genre films. In Spain, they have
them, in Montreal Canada they have Fantasia, they celebrate
horror movies, they're an artistic form there and people love them.
They love stuff like "Re-Animator" and they respect you for it. In the US,
you do a horror movie and you're
considered a moron, one step away from porn.
ARROW: Horror is the bastard genre...
ELI: Yeah, just
watch how many horror films that come out that are called thrillers...they are not
thrillers! "The Sixth Sense", they called it a supernatural
thriller, that term did not exist before that movie, they made it up
because "Silence of the Lambs" called their movie a thriller, even
though it's not and it won every Oscar. Even "Misery" was called a
thriller. They say it will play "wider" if they call it that--
that's bullshit. People want to be fucking scared! Now "28 Days Later" comes
out and they call it a viral thriller.
ARROW: I never heard that one!
Danny Boyle will not call it a horror film, despite the fact that
the last third of that movie is totally taken off "Day of the
I understand why because if they call it a horror film, people's first
association is to a pieces of shit, like "Valentine",
"I Still Know What
You Did Last Summer", "Ghost
Ship", "Thirteen Ghosts",
these fucking awful movies that are not scary with horrible acting. They just suck! That's immediately what people think
about when they hear
horror. It's only going to change when directors come in and
say, "I'm doing a fucking movie, it's there to scare you and fans come
out to support it opening weekend in the theatres". The opening weekend
gross makes or breaks a film.
People in Hollywood only want to
do what's been made before and what's been successful. "Freddy
for example...it's great. It made all that money, but it's going to get us
more "versus movies". It's not going to get you the next
"Texas Chainsaw Massacre". I know 50 other filmmakers out there in Hollywood with 50
original scripts ready to go, like original horror movies without
stars, but with great actors. My whole pitch was, you don't need a
star, you need great actors, if the actors don't look like their
acting, they're going to love it. Look at "28 Days Later", it's
made close to 50 million dollars, nobody cared that there was no stars in it, they
cared that it was scary and that it had a great cast. I'm so fucking
sick of these PG-13 pussy ass horror movies...they're non horror!
ARROW: You tell me, dude.
ELI: Another thing that
bothers me are these filmmakers saying their making 70's like horror
movies, but they're not!
ARROW: Yeah, I heard you hated "Wrong Turn".
ELI: I didn't hate "Wrong
Turn", I hated the fact that they fucking called it 70's. I hated the
fact that they said "look how 70's we are" and then they got a girl
with fake tits. Now that's not 70's and they didn't even have her take her
fucking clothes off! People fucking with their clothes on in an R-rated horror movie is
1997...it's not 70's! When you got three fucking
hillbillies that are so inbred that they fuck each other, the middle
guy is like "Am I going to fuck Gollum or am I going to fuck the big
guy?" and then they have Eliza Dushku on a bed and they don't even rip
her fucking clothes off. You are fucking kidding me! That is so NOT
fucking 70's, "The Crazies", they're fucking naked every 5 minutes,
Bloody Valentine", they're fucking naked every five minutes, if crazy
Hillbillies get a hot girl...they fucking fuck her, that's what they
do! Especially if they fuck each other.
Another thing that pisses me off
is that when I go see a Stan Winston movie, I don't want to see CGI, I
want fucking makeup! Don't tell me it's 70's, when you have
fucking CGI! It's fucking insulting to me. And don't set up a movie
with no fucking twists. I mean, come on...at least give me some twists or
some tits or something. You guys gotta do better than that! I hate
the fact that it was done by smart people that I know could do better.
They fucking missed the mark, they pussied out with that movie. They
pussied out by showing CGI gore and by hiring TV actors that won't show
their fucking tits in a sex scene.
And that's the difference between
Dusku and Katie Holmes. Katie Holmes gave us the boobs. When we saw
"The Gift" and she was standing there without her shirt
jaw was on the ground. And you know what, any time that girl is in an R-rated movie, I'll pay fucking money just to see it
because I know that Katie Holmes is willing to do what is required of the
not like "Look at me, I'm too good", she'll do what it takes. If
there's a sex scene required, she'll fucking do it, she's got my nine
bucks. These other fucking TV actresses that won't do nudity in sex
scenes, I'll watch them on TV for free...I'm not paying for it.
ARROW: I see what you're saying, but you had to
expect that. I sure did. "Wrong Turn" was a studio picture, they would
never go full-on hardcore where "Cabin Fever" was done independently and
then sold to a distributor. It's two different sports.
But that's the way you gotta do it! I believe that, in the end, it's totally up to
the public. Horror fans love fucking bashing everything, you get on
these websites and everyone is like "Cabin Fever" is going to
suck, but they haven't even seen the movie yet. Going on a website and
bashing a movie before it opens is wrong. I'm not saying it's wrong to
be critical, everybody has a right to their opinion, but arbitrarily
bashing a movie before it opens is not going to get you another "Texas
Chainsaw Massacre". What we gotta do is that the fucking horror fans
have to say: "You know what, if Cabin Fever is a fucking huge hit,
going to get us 50 other fucking great horror movies. And before we
judge it, let's give it a shot because this guy obviously loves horror
movies and he spent 10 years fucking making it and went out to make
the most fucking badass, disgusting, blood and guts, full on, old
school, fucking tits horror movie he could...let's, at least, give him a
Everybody loves horror! Horror
are like the best date movies, you have a better chance of getting
laid at "Cabin Fever" than at "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days". With
"Cabin Fever", every fucking 2 minutes gives you an excuse to grab
your date. If you don't hook up with your fucking date after Cabin
Fever, you're fucking pathetic. She should be sitting in your lap by
the end of the movie, she should be so fucking scared that she won't
go home alone and you're like, "Well, come over to my place", she goes,
you put on Willie Wonka and close the deal. Everybody wins!
ARROW: <laughs> I actually saw "Cabin Fever"
indoors-- I was sent a screener-- and I'm dead serious when I say this:
I watched it with a girl and yes, I did get laid afterwards! So thanks
a lot, Eli!
ELI: Dude! Thank you! Hey
man, I got laid off Cabin Fever too! The girl was like "All this blood
and guts got me really hot"...it works! When people are scared they
want that physical contact, the adrenaline is pumping and they're
freaked out! That's when you put on a safe movie to chill her
out, she feels safe, and you close the deal. Hearing that makes me so
happy. My dream for this movie is that you go see it in a theatre, you
hear people yelling, see them jumping and then, when it come out on DVD,
kids are like doing drinking games with it, like every time somebody
says fuck, you drink or some shit like that. I want to see tons of
people getting laid because of this movie.
ARROW: It's definitely that kind of movie. It's a
party movie...a fun ride all around.
ELI: Dude, I'm so glad
that you enjoyed it man. I really appreciate it
ARROW: No problem. This actually leads me to my
next question: Dennis the Mullet kid...where the fuck did you come up
with that shit?
ELI: <laughs> I had
already written some weird shit about the kid that bites and screams
pancakes and then this fucking kid comes in to audition and he's like
"Hello sir, my name is Matthew Helms and I'd like to play Dennis. I have a black belt in
Karate". I'm like "Really?" He was like "Yes sir, I
was on the Jay Leno show and on ESPN too". So I say, "First off,
stop calling me sir" and then ask can I see? And he just goes WOOOA,
fucking kicking his leg, flipping around, all of which wasn't in the
script, all of which was in the movie.
I was rewriting the scene in my head as the kid was going at it, I was like
"Oh my god, this kid
is fucking insane!" So I asked him how long he had been doing karate.
He said, "I've been doing it every day since I was two years old". I was
like, "Don't you go to school?" He's like, "No, I'm home schooled, my mother
teaches me". So I ask how much he practices? He says he practices six
hours every day. So I was like, "You've been training your entire life
to be Dennis. And he said, "Yes, sir". I remember showing his tape to
Jordan Ladd and asking, is this too weird, and she said: "Nothing is too
weird for this movie".
ARROW: That's why it worked so well. It was so
fucking random! It had me on the floor.
ELI: It's funny because his
dad now posts on every website. He's like, I hear this kid who plays
Dennis is very very great and I'm very excited to see Matthew Helms as
Dennis in Cabin Fever. It's so obvious too because his email address is something
like email@example.com. I'm
like, "Oh my god!"
That mullet was nuts...was he wearing a wig?
ELI: No, that's that
kid, he actually kept the mullet after the shoot, so that he could
be recognized. I really want kids to be Dennis for Halloween, that
would be great. I'm going to put some of his Karate tapes on the DVD...the shit I'm going to put on that DVD is going to be
ARROW: Is there already talk of a "Cabin Fever"
ELI: Lion Gate Films are all
over it already. I mean, "House of a 1000 Corpses" already has a sequel
in the works. It's funny because I've outlined the story for the sequel
and the one thing is that it has to be fucking weird...like
just really weird. The other thing is that the best horror sequels
have 3 or 4 years between them. Look at "Evil Dead" and
"Evil Dead 2"! Now I'm sure Lions
Gate will want to rush into a sequel, but I'm in
no rush. I'd rather wait and see what people really respond to in this
movie. You know there are certain things in a movie that people
respond to as an audience and I don't want to go off in production on
a sequel with a subject matter that nobody is going to care about.
I've tried to throw as much weird shit in there as I can, there's a
Bunny Man, Deputy Winston...I actually would love to do a whole sequel
with Deputy Winston.
ARROW: The Party Man...yeah, he rocked!
ELI: Giuseppe...that guy is
fucking insane. You go to his website, I mean, he lives in a trailer in
Ventura California and he makes these fucking DV movies for his crack
addict trash neighbors and John Waters would throw up watching
these films. They're crazy kind of Gummo-like movies.
ARROW: Groovy, I'll check out his site. Now you got
tits in the movie, you got the word "fag",
the word "nigga" and you got gore. How nice was the MPAA to
ELI: They didn't give us
a hassle about a damn thing...they were incredible. This is how we did
it: my producer Lauren is very smart and instead of submitting the
movie through Lions Gate, which the MPAA after "House of a 1000
Corpses", "Secretary", "Irreversible" and
"Rules of Attraction", had all
kinds problems with. Laurence came up to them as an independent
producer saying "I just made a film, it's pretty bloody can you help me
out please". They watched it, laughed and we got an R on the first
pass. We didn't cut anything!
ARROW: Wow, that's unheard of, in my book.
ELI: The MPAA eases up,
it all goes in waves. In the 80's, it was all about violence, but now
it's more about sex and nudity.
ARROW: They're definitely NOT consistent.
ELI: It's funny because they
were fine with the movie, but not the fucking website. They took out
all the gore. They also controlled the fucking poster, you can't have
a drop of blood on the poster. Like you'll never get another poster
like "Jaws" again because you can't show a woman in danger on posters
You're fucking with me, right?
ELI: Oh no, there's all
this shit we can't do, like we'll never get another poster like
"Scanners", "Pieces or Maniac"-- that poster will never exist today. And
the trailer, you can't have a fucking drop of blood in the trailer
either and that's where we got fucked because our whole movie is
tits, blood, swears and you can't show any of that in the trailer, so we
had to cut a trailer like "28 Days Later" because there was nothing left
to show. How do you get people in the theatres? We had to leak the
gore out through another site, it's fucking crazy! So the MPAA made it
very difficult for us to sell it.
ARROW: Well, there's a lot of hype about the film on
the web, people do want to see it.
ELI: And I hope people
feel that it lives up to the hype. I think, if people are prepared for
this movie, they'll love it. If people expect to go see "Mullholand
Drive", they'll hate it. You gotta understand, I love "Evil
Dead", "Dead Alive" and the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and I tried to do one
fucked up crazy film. If that's what they want, then that's what
they'll be paying for. And I think there's a huge audience for that, I
feel people want fucking gore in their horror and they don't want to
see these pussy ass PG-13 movies where you don't see any good stuff
ARROW: I agree with that statement and I'm sure most of
my readers do as well. Thanks a lot for your time,
ELI: No problem John.
And there you have
it guys. I had a blast chit-chatting with Eli Roth. The man doesn't
have his tongue in his pocket, says what he wants to say and loves his
horror. You gotta respect that! That attitude definitely resonated
through his film "Cabin Fever".
READ ARROW'S CABIN FEVER REVIEW