Roth, Eli (Thanksgiving, Cabin Fever, Hostel 3, Endangered Species)
Next week Cabin Fever (the movie that made me use a little extra caution every time I shave my legs) and its sequel, Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, will be coming out on Blu-Ray and DVD, respectively.
Dread Central found this to be the perfect reason to catch up with writer/producer/director-turned-notable actor Eli Roth to reflect on the film that put him on the horror map and what he’s doing these days when he isn’t celebrating all the award season success of Inglourious Basterds, the highly acclaimed Quentin Tarantino flick that was released this past summer.
Cabin Fever was part of a new breed of horror that took audiences to visceral levels. Several years leading up to 2003, when Roth’s vision of horror was unleashed onto unsuspecting fans, the genre had been playing it safe with a slew of PG-13 releases. Studios wondered if audiences were ready to dabble in some R-rated horror.
Roth knew they were. I asked Roth to discuss his experiences with his journey of getting Cabin Fever onto the big screen.
“I wrote Cabin Fever in 1995 so it was an eight-year process for me,” explained Roth. “It took six years just to raise the money. So many people told me that I was crazy because horror was a dead genre when I was working on trying to make Cabin Fever happen. But I knew I had to keep persevering to make the movie become a reality.”
“We had the wildest audience during the test screening, which is what convinced Lionsgate to release it in theaters. I really think 2003 was the breakthrough year for R-rated horror, and I am honored that I got to be a part of that,” Roth added.
While it’s not unusual for a director to step away from directing a sequel in a franchise he starts, I wanted to find out from Roth what his actual involvement was with Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever.
Roth said, “When we sold the original Cabin Fever, the first thing we discussed was that I had to do a treatment for a sequel as part of my deal. My idea for the sequel was a 'Song of the South' horror movie filled with corpses and sex. The studio wasn’t on board with that so I wished them the best of luck and moved on.”
“When I met Ti West, I really liked him and I liked his work. I told the producers to hire Ti and told him to go nuts and make the sequel completely his own vision. So he took it in a totally new direction,” added Roth.
Another franchise that Roth had under his belt was Hostel, and since I knew he wouldn’t be back to helm the third installment, I asked him to talk about his decision to step away from the series.
“In terms of Hostel 3 I feel like I pretty much have given all I could to the first two films,” explained Roth, “but I have imagined what I would do if I was doing a third film. I’d want to do it in black & white and make it feel like a 40s post-war horror movie.”
Since Roth won’t be heading back into Hostel or Cabin Fever territory anytime soon, it was time to find out just what he has been up to these days. Turns out, he has multiple projects on his plate.
Roth said, “I recently ran into Robert Rodriguez, and we were talking about how happy he is with Machete and how we need to get Thanksgiving done. Jeff Rendell is currently working on the script so I can focus on my next project, Endangered Species.”
“What I can say though, remembering back, is that Thanksgiving was the most fun thing I have ever shot, especially the scene with the girl on the trampoline. We were all supposed to stay in the grindhouse style of shooting, using one to two takes for each shot. But as soon as I get a hot girl on a trampoline, I suddenly turn into Stanley Kubrick and now we’re doing 74 takes,” Roth joked.
While Roth had to stay pretty tight-lipped on his current script project for Endangered Species, I asked him to talk about what he loves about science fiction.
“I love sci-fi movies, especially Alien and Star Wars,” explained Roth. “I think sci-fi as a genre has been taken over by outer space movies, so people have forgotten what real science fiction is. I want to bring back real old-school science fiction with Endangered Species. It’s going to be something really different.”
Will Roth succeed in reviving old-school science fiction? Only time will tell. For now, you’ll have both Cabin Fever unrated on Blu-ray (review here) and Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever on DVD (review here) to tide you over.
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