Monday, January 26, 2004

Cabin Fever

As regular readers may be aware, I have a soft spot for horror and zombie movies. There was a time when George Romero, Tobe Hooper, David Cronenburg, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Sam Raimi et. al. were churning out top quality genre pix that were both fun and intelligent. But as with all things Hollywood, the execs take over and Jeepers Creepers 2 is the result.

Once in a while though, and usually from the indie/arthouse circuit comes a little film that harks back to the heyday of 70s and 80s horror. Cabin Fever is just such a movie.

An interesting homage to seventies and 80s horror films. An astute eye will pick up bits of Evil Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, (a lot of) Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Rabid. Director Eli Roth hauls out every cliche in the book, but still manages to make a highly enjoyable film. Because of, more than in spite of the self-referential style.

It is a movie that cares about the details, and gets them right. Starting with the soundtrack, the "Mike Curb" pastiche of the generic pop music that these horror movie college kids listen too, is perhaps the first sign that this movie is extremely aware of itself. Spice that up with the fact that the "Hills Have Eyes" types party to folk music, and some John Carpenter style title music, and to add to the general eerieness of the whole thing, a number of themes by David Lynch collaborator, Angelo Badalamenti.

Roth also doesn't shy away from the requistie teen sex and nudity that was never missing from many of the seventies classic slasher and horror pix. Recent horror films seem to hug the PG13 rating for dear life, while pushing the envelope in violence and missing the boat in real scares.

It's got a fair bit of gore, no one will win an Oscar for their performance, it definitely looks low budget, and it is not for everybody, but for fans of the "classics" of the genre, it fills a need. The ending does haul out about five variations on classic horror movie endings. Could be a bit tighter. And the tounge is occasionally too firmly in cheek. Comic relief yes, make it into a borderline comedy, no.

It also stars "Boy Meets World's" Rider Strong, who has the best pornstar name in the business.

Update: After posting this I discovered that Polly Frost also had something to say about Cabin Fever. Broadly speaking, we agree. Read her review here.

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