Cabin Fever

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By Mark Ramsey | 2003/09/14

As horror comedies go, I can’t tell if Cabin Fever is more a horrible comedy or a comedic horror.

This movie wants to tap the same bloody vein as Night of the Living Dead and The Evil Dead: a mix of roar and gore with cult audience aspirations. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, you can’t always get what you want.

Cabin Fever asks the question: What would happen if an Ebola-like virus strikes a quintet of young, dumb, attractive, starving actors? In most corners of Southern California we’d call that “divine justice” and post an immediate opening for experienced waitrons.

cabinfever_skull.jpg“This is the first time a movie has been filmed in 24 minutes and, thanks to extensive coverage, stretched to 94 in the editing room,” boasts writer/director Eli Roth.

It turns out Roth has previously done a lot of work in stop-motion animation which means, at least, he’s used to the kind of wooden performances which put the sputter between the splatter of Cabin Fever.

School’s out. And a group of the young and damned rent a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere. No clubs, no bars, no movies, no MTV, no radio, no phones. Just drink ’til you’re drunk while you watch your friends drink ’til they’re drunk watching you drink drunk.

Suddenly the fever sets in. Fever, when you kiss me, fever when you hold me tight. Fever in the the morning, fever all through the night. No matter how horrendous the carnage and blood-letting, it’s never too horrendous for hot girls in full makeup and totally cute outfits.

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An escape vehicle? Of course, our heroes have an escape vehicle! Unfortunately every time anyone approaches it, he or she invariably spews infectious hematological chunks all over the luxurious interior.

Worse, although the flesh-eating illness may be spreading like wildfire, acting talent is obviously not communicable! I’d need a HazMat suit just to handle these head-shots!

Imagine a day where everyone who’s anyone in the Screen Actor’s Guild is busy. Now imagine that’s the day this movie was cast. “It’s exciting working with actors the world had never seen before,” said director Roth, and I’m glad it’s exciting for someone. The cast is full of fresh – read “dirt cheap” – faces. See for yourself:

Rider Strong (“Paul”)

In High School, Rider Strong was voted “Most Likely to be named by Parents who did too much Weed.” As a youth, Rider was best known as the boy who suffered an unfortunate accident at a Coca-Cola bottling plant, later escaping from a 2-liter at a Winn-Dixie in Smyrna, Georgia.

Jordan Ladd (“Karen”)

Daughter of Charlie’s Angel Cheryl Ladd, heir to the vast Jordan Almonds fortune, Jordon is proof that in Hollywood talent is in the genes – or at least in the jeans. Recently, Jordan appeared opposite Tom Hanks – and by “opposite” I mean on the other side of the film industry.

Cerina Vincent (“Marcy”)

A former Miss Nevada Teen USA winner, Cerina now competes in that swimsuit competition called life. Poise and grace count for a lot in Hollywood, especially if you’re poised to sleep your way to the top and graceful enough not to admit it. But Cerina wouldn’t know, because she’s gotten to where she is today on the basis of raw talent. Here’s hoping that talent is one day baked, pan-seared, boiled, steamed, broiled, fried, or otherwise processed into something that resembles “acting.”

Joey Kern (“Jeff”)

Joey’s goal is to lose hair in every one of the fifty states. He first came to popular attention playing “Sandy” in the Haverford All-Boys School production of Grease. More recently, Joey was featured as “that guy way in back and to the left of Sarah Jessica Parker when she crossed the street during that episode of Sex and the City that time.” He claims he heard Kim Cattrall utter the F-word 117 times – and that was just before lunch. Joey brings a David Soul flavor to all of his roles, since the soul has to come from somewhere.

James DeBello (“Bart”)

James has a career which is best described as “Six Degrees of a Good Movie.” Last seen handing out beef sticks outside a Hickory Farms in Modesto, James now lives in Pasadena in a one-bedroom with the stuffed carcass of his mother in a rocker by the window and a league of cravenly submissive rats ready to do his bidding.

There’s a subtle subtext here which might say more about writer/director Roth than he intended: The fear of blood in this context – particularly among the boys and particularly about the girls – suggests an arrested development: A fear of menstruation, a fear of puberty, a fear of adulthood, a fear of sex, a fear of women.

Curiously, Roth’s next project is a stop-motion feature which he describes as the most “sophomoric, overtly offensive and gratuitously violent” animated film of all time.

I rest my case.


Photos Copyright ©2003 Lions Gate Films

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“This is where we would kiss if I was attracted to girls”