At about this point I realized... damn, I'm watching yet another corn, cheese, hackneyed rip off of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Wonderful, thanks! In truth, there are elements of that flick in Cabin Fever... there are elements of The Evil Dead, Dawn of the Dead, The Shining and (most horrific of all) Deliverance. This led me to wonder how in the name of Gandalf Peter Jackson himself raved about Cabin Fever, stating, amongst other things, "I loved it!"
So I kept watching (as is my wont, blud!). Cabin Fever isn't a terribly original movie, and writer/ director Eli Roth clearly THINKS he's funnier than he is (I know your pain, bro... the last time someone laughed at anything I wrote, they'd just finished a joint... and that was due to a misunderstanding)! On the other hand, taking into account that Cabin Fever is an HOMAGE MONTAGE like few others (at least few others not released by Mainline or The Asylum), Eli Roth's little movie manages to be, at least, pretty decent, packed with some decent comedy, passable scares and fantastic nudity.
Cabin Fever surrounds a creepy cabin in the woods, which is the week-long retreat of a group of five college goof balls. Let's see, we've got Jeff (Joey Kern) , Marcy (the beautiful and erstwhile topless Cerina Vincent), Bert (James DeBello), Karen (the beautiful, but clothed Jordan Ladd) and Paul (an unlaid wimp, somehow played by a guy named Rider Strong). Everything's coming up roses, especially for Jeff, who is soon living out the fantasy of every Mighty Morphin Power Rangers fan... having great sex with the Yellow Galaxy Ranger herself, Cerina Vincent. (I've actually never watched a single Power Rangers episode, but as of today, that's my fantasy too!)
Things stop coming up roses and start coming up "Ring Around the Rosie" when a diseased maniac named "Walter the Hermit" (Arie Verveen), who actually has a pretty nice house, staggers out of the woods, demanding help, spitting blood everywhere and pretty much acting like Gene Simmons with the Flu! So what do the kids do? They beat the crap out of him and set him on fire. Not that I'm criticizing... that's what I'd do! Actually, I think that's in the Norwella Boy Scout Handbook now.
Sadly, he wasn't a metaphorical "Diseased Maniac" like Lex Luthor or Fidel Castro. No, he's actually a maniac with a sick-ass disease like Typhoid Mary or Dick Cheney! Soon, one by one, the college gits manage to get sicker than the dog that keeps terrorizing them. Before long, the ladies aren't that hot anymore... in fact nobody's looking their best. Luckily Marcy gets naked one last time before she loses her looks.
Ol' Eli (who also appears in a pretty funny cameo) manages to pack in some legitimate scares (if not enough) and the occasionally laugh-out-loud moment, all wrapped around some pretty cool special effects. The thing is, Roth is far too obvious in his tributes. Hell, in the DVD Documentary feature "Cabin Fever: Beneath the Skin", he actually details the films he rips off. But hey, it's comedy, so that's okay, right? Still, Roth isn't only a rip-off artist, he's taken his influences and has worked them into something that is colossally, stupendously... adequate. Roth has a great camera eye and is a very fine director in his own right. Cabin Fever is an excellent debut feature for Roth, and it's clear that he's got a killer fright flick on the horizon.
Luckily, Roth and co-writer Randy Pearlstein didn't go this endeavor solely alone. Had they, Cabin Fever might have been another claymation episode of Rotten Fruit (actually, that'd've been kinda kewl, eh?). No, Roth's got friends in high places. Not only is the cast pretty good (if inconsistent) but Cabin Fever sports a score by the great Angelo Badalamenti (with additional work by Nathan Barr). Eli even counts David Lynch among his friends and fans (and gives him "Special Thanks" in the credits)!
Still, it's far too easy to see where Roth is going with this film. The target audience should most logically be horror film buffs, but horror film buffs have also seen most of this before. It's fun, and worth the time to watch, if for no other reason than to check out a young film maker as he's making it big. However, it also lacks any real resolution or back story. Three Stars out of Five for Cabin Fever. It may not be "all that great", but it's fun as hell, scary, amusing and hits the proverbial horror comedy spot right where it bleeds. Folks, I have to jet... I've kind of caught the whole "Eli Roth Bug" and it's time to check out his follow up, called Hostel. I hear that one is completely original in every way. This time some college-aged twentysomethings decide to vacation in a remote spot of Eastern Europe and are butchered by Rural Eastern Europeans. Yeah, now we're talking. Hope they remember the benadril and calamine lotion this time.
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