Cabin Fever (2003)
Director: Eli Roth
After graduation, five college friends go up to a remote cabin in the woods to celebrate their newfound freedom. But when they catch a deadly flesh-eating virus, they wind up partying harder than they ever could’ve imagined. I’m talking about partying 'till they freakin' puke blood and drop dead in gory, red messes! Ceeeeeelebration time, come on!!!
"PANCAKES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"-- Dennis the Mullet Kid
I don’t know about you hip cat killers, but this year has been whooping my ass with the likes of "Wrong Turn", "House of a 1000 Corpses", "May", "Freddy Vs Jason", "The Eye" and "28 Days Later" slapping me around with a strong dose of HORROR. And my lucky streak continues with Eli Roth’s relentless double-whammy known as "Cabin Fever".Who knew that witnessing a blend of dark comedy and ample blood puking could be such a hootenanny!
Roth obviously relishes his 70’s/80’s horror gems and any hardcore genre nut will not only be swayed by the refreshing old school vibe found here, but will also pick up on homages to the greats left and right. We get the starting premise, the setting and the POV shots of "The Evil Dead", the hillbillies from "Deliverance", the shock ending of "Night of the Living Dead", the group paranoia of “The Thing”, the feel of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (right down to a reprisal of the classic house revealing shot) and the eccentric characters of "Twin Peaks". Shite, even David Hess’ song “Wait for the Rain” from “Last House on the Left” boomed out early on. I highly respected that! NICE!
But fear not horny campers, "Cabin Fever" was more than just sly nods at the horror gold of the past. It also had its own twisted game to play. First and foremost, the script was exceptionally well written and tighter than a girl scout guarding her sugary cookies for dear life. The clever dialogue plus the grisly ideas were abundant (loved the campfire stories) and the main players appealing. Sure, the characterizations were nothing groundbreaking within the genre, but the peeps were still engaging due to the pinch of selfishness most of them displayed and the stellar actors portraying the roles. I cared about everybody because they rang true and not because they were all-around nice people. The same could be said about the nutty Lynch-ish side characters that populated this world and made the watch so much more engrossing. My favorites were my worst nightmare, Dennis the mullet kid from hell (wow, did I laugh...wait till you see the shit he pulls), ultimate loveable jerk Bert (DeBello) and Deputy “Party Man” Winston, a man I would love to hang with. All three rocked the shack till there were no walls or ceilings left to bring down.
Having said that, the film did take a while to kick into full horror mode, but that was okay since the amusing character interaction, the cute love story and the wacky situations kept me in the loop in the meantime. The flick also sported a ballsy tone that I lapped up fervently. For example, it’s not every day that you see a guy getting finger-fucked by his girlfriend as he busts a nut on film. You gotta appreciate the audacity. And once the action kicked in, the “out of line” happenings got jacked up a notch to take me for quite the bumpy stroll. I just couldn’t take a breather! Various threatening elements and psychotic events (I’ll never finger a dame the same way after this film) were constantly tossed into the mix to keep our heroes and the audience on their tippy toes. Tag to all that, delicious gory moments, icky “disease” results and a knack by Roth at knowing how to milk the anticipation level of the horrible things to come and you get a balls stapled to the wall middle block that thought me a lesson. I squinted my eyes like a maced purse-snatcher more than once. YIPPEE!
The two cherries on top of this bloody cancer began with the metaphorical nature of the events at hand that worked slyly as an analogy to when AIDS first hit our scene. That extra layer came with the appropriate themes (people’s ignorance, the isolation of the diseased, the mistrust, the selfishness) and made the film more than just a puke fest. Secondly, the refreshing politically incorrect tone totally did it for me. For example, the word “gay” was often used in the most inappropriate of manners. I know this might sound silly, but it was refreshing to hear! Not that I have a thing against men who love men further than a handshake, but I’m sick of horror films playing it so damn safe in this “let's not offend anybody era” we live in. In reality, folks are ignorant, angry, bitter and flawed. They don’t always talk in accordance to the politics of the time. So I admired "Cabin Fever" for bravely putting its shite on the chopping block.
Now up to approximately one hour and fifteen minutes in, this gig was simply outstanding. The comedy and the horror spices were well balanced, the pace was swifter than a two minute bootie call, the atmosphere dread-filled, the directing stylish, the nasty surprises abundant (loved that deer) and one character’s evolution endearingly brutal. The sick fun was simply never ending. But when the last ten minutes or so kicked in, the steam abruptly ran out. For one, I had everything invested in the remaining character and was not satisfied with how his/her fate was handled. Talk about choppy and a throw away! Furthermore, the final frames decided to drive down the "light" and "jokey" highway. I so wanted to be left off a bloody pulp as the end credits rolled, you know, beaten senseless and sent to the hospital for the weekend. Alas, the film's conclusion gave me room to pipe down instead of punching my lights out like Clubber Lang on Wheaties. A bit of a letdown.
But I gotta admit, when all was said and heartily vomited out, "Cabin Fever" wound up being a non-stop horror-coaster ride that Fed-Exed every single damn thing that I crave within our beloved genre into one outrageous, no holds barred and side-splitting sitting. It’s all in here my friends, all you got do is dig in and BARFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF with joy!
Although not as graphic as say "Dead Alive", the red sauce courtesy of the KNB boys still hit home. We get goodies such as severed limbs, a chewed apart body, lots of blood spewing, gross diseased damaged flesh, a nasty shaving legs in tub incident, gunshot wounds and yes…more! Yeah, bitch!
Rider Strong (Paul) made me forget his annoying smug role in "Boy Meets World" and delivered a mature show. Jordan Ladd (Karen) carried herself well and was a hottie to boot. James DeBello (Bert) stole many scenes as the loveable a-hole who likes to destroy shite. A man from my own heart. Cerina Vincent (Marcy) played the token slut well and she actually came across as likeable...go figure. Good job! Joey Kern (Jeff) came through as the uber selfish prick. Giuseppe Andrews (Deputy Winston) had me pissing my pants as the party-loving deputy. He was hilarious!
T & A
Cerina Vincent (Marcy Rider) revealed her hooters and I gave her a standing-O for them. The ladies get Rider Strong (Paul) shirtless and revealing mucho armpit hair. Joey Kern also took off his top for all to see.
Eli Roth directed with a firm hand and lots of panache, succeeding in echoing our cherished 70’s/80’s classics. We get some red filters, POV shots, slow motion, sweeping cam moves, lots of tension, an infectious atmosphere and sweet cinematography.
We get some hard hitting rock songs, an easy listening tune, engaging 70’s sounding ditties and an ASTOUNDING dark score by David Lynch regular Angelo Badalamenti and Nathan Barr. Yes, I must own that score. Now that’s a keeper!
Let's hit the horror bar and see what's on tap.
Barmaid: Hey Arrow, what will it be this morning?
Arrow: I’ll have a mixing of daring scenarios, in-your-face gore, firm tits, genuine laughs, slick visuals and strong writing that pays tribute to the horror of the 70’s/80’s. Straight up…can you wing that, honey?
Barmaid: Sure, how about a Cabin Fever?
Arrow: Mmmm, why not…how does that sucker hit?
Barmaid: Very strongly most of the way, but the last moments of the aftertaste are a tad weak. But overall, it’s a very potent beverage.
Arrow: When you say strongly...how strong we talking?
Barmaid: Stronger than Jason Voorhees on steroids, snorting cocaine while on speed.
Arrow: YOWZER! That’s some strong shite! Just give me the whole bottle, sweet tits. I’m taking the fever home for a night and a half of much needed horror skull numbing!
If you know what's good for your health, compadres, you'll order the same drink I just did. Ask for "Cabin Fever" and quench your thirst!
"Cabin Fever" was a hit at the Toronto Film Festival. A bidding war for distribution went down and Lions Gate Films won, paying the highest sum they ever shelled out to acquire a film.
David Lynch is listed as an “executive producer” on this film.
Eli Roth wrote the script while he was working on "Private Parts" as Howard Stern’s human alarm clock.
Eli Roth has a role in the film as Justin the dude with the big-ass bag of weed. Funny shite!