When Cabin Fever came out in 2002, it was a sensation among fans of freaky frights. The film packed more than a little punch with its own version of the karate kid, a leg shaving scene that set disposable razor sales back for a year, and a German Shepherd who made Cujo look like a lapdog.
Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever left a legacy hard to live up to, but of course a dumbed-down sequel was released. It was directed by Roth’s BFF Ti West, but one would never guess that after the studio heads got hold of it in the editing room and butchered it.
Regardless, the Cabin Fever name still carries weight so there is a prequel that’s out now on demand and will be in theaters on August 1, 2014.
This time the story centers about the initial outbreak of the creeping virus. On a remote island, Patient Zero himself (Sean Astin) is being held in a secret lab by scientists trying to create a vaccine. But of course, the virus finds a way out… Enter the four young ‘n dumb teens who go to the island for a bachelor party. If it sounds silly, it is. But – it’s also surprisingly fun and entertaining.
We caught up with the director, Kaare Andrews, and here’s what he had to say about taking on the famous franchise.
Dread Central: How did this project come to you? And what it was that made you want to take a stab at part three of a franchise with two different directors having gone before you?
Kaare Andrews: I was a big fan of the first film, had followed its creation on the websites, saw it in the theatres, owned the special edition DVD… it was a cult hit and Eli Roth was a little older than me but I felt a certain kind of kinship to the kind of film he was making, the whole spirit of the movie. I hadn’t had a chance to look at the sequel, mostly because of the strange internet gossip circulating, but I was sent the script to Patient Zero and gave it a read. I thought the script was pretty good, had a conversation with Evan (the producer) and he offered me the job. It was pretty straightforward, really. I’m a young director and this was a chance to do a lot of fun and exciting things: work with special make-up effects, shoot in the Caribbean, shoot with high-speed cameras, experiment with storytelling techniques and just practice the craft.
DC: How soon did Sean Astin come on after you? What was he like on set and as an actor? (He’s really good in the movie and doesn’t seem like he’s just there for the paycheck, which is so often the case in low budget horror films).
KA: Sean was not involved [at first], but he quickly became part of the film. At the time, he was specifically looking for a horror movie to do because he hadn’t yet done one — strange, right? For such a long career in movies… So we kind of came along at the right time and scooped him up. Sean was a fireball on set. Like non-stop, go-go. To paraphrase Sean, he really enjoys these smaller movies because they allow an actor like him to be more than just a cog in a machine. He was always ready and was very generous with the other actors. He’s just been doing it forever and always knew where his light was, his eye-line, his framing… consummate performer. It wasn’t really until I got back to the editing bay that I realized how fortunate I was to work with Sean. So much material to work with. So great.
DC: Cabin Fever 7 is so gross and disgusting. And at first the characters don’t even seem all that alarmed… explain how you balanced the horror and humor in these scenes.
KA: That’s part of the elements of the first film that I liked so much, the comedy and the horror. I would go so far as to say the first act of Cabin Fever is a sex comedy. So I definitely focused on adding more humor into the Patient Zero script than was originally there and really pushed the horror visuals as far as I could. You know, when you have a crazy character like the Pancakes Kid or Party Man in that first movie, it gave me some allowances to do some crazy things myself. And really, I’m a big fan of old school make-up effects and it was so much fun to work with Vincent Guastini and do things for real and spray blood and put people though make-up. I really enjoyed that part of it.
The death-by-sex-toy was one of the funnest to shoot. The script had the sex toy show up in the first act but then was quickly forgotten. But as Billy Wilder said, ‘If you show a gun in the first act, it better go off in the third. And during shooting I had the chance to operate it during the… um… climax. Very cathartic! And one which I have heard the audience applaud for up here in Canada.
But I think it had to be the opening and closing credits that are my favorite parts. They are so meta and weren’t in the script. It was just me as a director, building. And I love playing with visual ideas. And both the opening and closing credits do that. Not sure if you’ve heard, but we actually shot those opening credits, at night, outdoors, in the jungle during a real hurricane! We had actually built ten rain towers for fake movie rain, but it was raining so hard – for real – that if we turned on our movie rain, we started flooding the entire village.
DC: Was Eli Roth at all involved with part 7?
KA: Eli wrote me a very nice letter before I started, just saying that the films in this universe can hold up to as much crazy as you can throw at them, and to just go for it. I really tried to take that spirit to heart and, even though we were a tiny movie, just push as much of the crazy horror and gore and situations as they could withstand.
DC: If you were to program a virus horror movie film festival night, what would your choices be?
KA: Okay, if it’s my list, my definition of ‘virus’ is going to be loose. There are so many virus horror movies it is hard to choose. Easily Alien and The Thing go straight to the top of that list, The Thing being the more literal ‘virus,’ but if you’ve studied viruses, you could pretty much make an argument for Alien to fall in this category. These are two of my favorite films of all time and in any genre. I would also include Rabid from David Cronenberg, an early film from the master, produced by Ghostbusters director John Landis and starring porn starlet Marilyn Chambers as a woman who contracts a deadly virus through the dangers of experimental plastic surgery. If that description alone doesn’t make you find this film, we can’t be friends. I would follow with The Stuff, another alien movie, this time disguised as highly addictive yogurt. And let’s end with a not so long ago film that is fairly under-appreciated, The Ruins. The Ruins is a gorgeous movie with great performances and was executive produced by Mr. Zoolander himself, Ben Stiller.
Zombies are pretty much virus movies, too, but that would need a list unto itself. Let’s just say that George Romero is a master and Day of the Dead is amazing and amazingly under-appreciated. Do yourself a favor and pick up the recent Blu-ray release. AFTER you pick up Cabin Fever: Patient Zero of course.
DC: What’s next for you?
KA: Iron Fist: The Living Weapon, a new comic I am both writing and drawing for Marvel Comics. It’s in stores now.
DC: Thanks, Kaare!
Kaare Andrews directs from a script by Jake Wade Wall. Sean Astin, Currie Graham, and Ryan Donowho star.
A group of friends planned the perfect vacation in the Caribbean, but when they head ashore to explore a remote island, their ultimate bachelor weekend devolves into their worst nightmare. After an ill-fated swim in contaminated water, they stumble upon a seemingly abandoned research facility where a deadly, flesh-eating virus has been unleashed.
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