John's Horror Banana-nanza Episode Thirty-Eight: Cabin Fever
I've gotta say. I'm very surprised at how many people I've met that don't like this movie. Some even
dismiss it as one of the worst horror movies ever made. And I can't see why. Eli Roth's Cabin Fever
has some of the most gruesome images and moments ever in a horror film. It's got comedy, subtle
tributes to past films, and gore out the wazoo. So why is it that this movie is so widely looked down
Anyone who's seen it knows exactly why, and it's unfair. One word: Pancakes.
We'll get to that part in a moment. First of all, for those who haven't seen it, the story revolves around
five teens who go camping for the weekend. They stop at a grocery store run by rednecks, which of
course is a terrible idea. They piss off the locals before taking off to the cabin, honestly giving them
plenty of reason to kill them later.
So they get to the cabin, where Marcy and Jeff run off immediately to have sex. Paul and Karen go out
into the lake, leaving Bert to do pretty much whatever he wants. And what does he want to do?
Shoot squirrels and drink beer. The song from the ice cream scene in Last House on the Left is
added for good measure. However, after lighting a giant fire, he shoots what he thinks is a squirrel
and turns out to be a drifter.
The drifter isn't dead, however, but is dying from a skin disease and asks for Bert's help. Of course he's
told to beat it, shotgun style. Later on, Eli Roth makes an appearance as a stoner with a dog
named Doctor Mambo and the six characters smoke pot together and tell a story unrelated to
anything about a crazy bowler who bashed other bowlers with a hammer. Ouch.
So that night, after making a bet to not drink anything but beer the entire weekend, the kids encounter
the crazy drifter again, who points out to the others that he was shot by Bert. They again tell him to
leave, so he climbs into their car and throws up all over the place. So they set him on fire. Makes sense.
Then we meet Winston, who loves to party. Literally, that's all he talks about. Karen drinks some water
and BLAMO. She's infected. And if this didn't gross you out as a high school guy meeting the ladies, well,nothing will.
Meanwhile, a woman offers to help drive the kids back into town, but she's doing what I would call normal farmer stuff, you know, cutting open a pig, and she also knew the now burned to death drifter. So they pass on the ride.
Paranoia increases when everyone finds out Karen's infected. She's locked in a shed, and Bert figures out he's infected as well. Some more stuff happens that isn't really important, like Marcy having sex with Paul and Jeff running off into the woods, then Marcy shaves most of her skin on her legs off before being eaten by a dog.
Eventually, Paul discovers exactly what's causing all the disease, but by then, most of his friends are dead. We are treated to some excellent makeup work on Karen's nearly fleshless face, then Paul loses his marbles and goes on a rampage, killing just about everyone he meets Jason Voorhees style.
There's more in this movie I could talk about. Eli Roth's character in the cave, maybe. Or the ending with a real classy racist joke, if such a thing exists.
But what everyone wants to talk about, I'm sure, is pancakes.
When Bert goes into town for help, Dennis attacks him. But not before doing a karate kick in the air and exclaiming "Pancakes! Pancakes!". Look. The point is that the kid is a backwards redneck. He's not right in the head. And Roth was just trying to point that out in the most forceful way possible. I applaud him not only for that, but for this whole movie.
And this movie is relentless. It has tons of gore. It has all the elements of a horror movie. An isolated setting, redneck townspeople, an unstoppable killer, killer animals, sex, comedy, and even a punch in the gut ending that will either have you laughing or shaking your head. Not to mention top notch acting from Rider Strong as Paul and Jordan Ladd as Karen. My favorite, though, is James DeBello's character Bert. He's nuts, and he's the kind of guy you want to bring to a party.
So with so much going on but a tight story still played out to a T, why do people dislike this movie?
If you ask me, I say give it a shot. It's excellent, and has far more going for it than either of the "Hostel" movies or most of the remakes, sequels and reboots that have come out recently.