Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
May 1st, 2004

Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever

Sit down and shut up, you little monkeys - time for class to begin.

And today in BIOL 305, "So You Want to Start A Pandemic," we're going to be watching the Lion's Gate DVD, "Cabin Fever." With loads of special features and subtitles in three different languages, so enjoy safely.

You'll notice that things begin rather simply - five college-age friends go off for a vacation at a cabin in the far-off woods. Two girls, three guys, in a horror movie-anyone think there'll be a lot of SEX in this? Sure there is!

And the vacation gets off to a strange start when one of the characters is bitten in front of a gas station/general store in the middle of nowhere. By a six year old towheaded boy named Dennis. Remember this little psycho towhead. He's going to be important at the end.

Meanwhile, the rest of our college characters gather supplies from the general store. Keep an eye on the elderly gas station attendant.the one who talks about fox urine at length. He's going to be part of a very big joke at the end.

Things are going pretty well out in the woods. Couples couple like an episode of a bad dating show and the fifth wheel is off shooting squirrels in the woods and setting things on fire.'s almost idyllic. Or at least as close to idyllic as five college kids who probably couldn't SPELL "idyllic" if there were a free keg riding on it are going to get.

And then trouble starts. Our fifth wheel who went off into the woods to shoot things accidentally wings a homeless guy.who's looking rather wan. And staggering. Red blotches are across his forehead, and he's having a hard time maintaining consciousness.

But, this act is soon forgotten around a campfire, courtesy of our pyromaniac of a fifth wheel. And the students do what kids do best around a campfire - tell stories laden with gore and roast marshmallows. And then, to make things even better, a refugee from Tony Hawk's Boom Boom Huck Jam Tour shows up.with free weed! And a dog! Named Doctor Mambo..ooookay, things are getting kinda WEIRD in the woods.

A sudden storm blows up, and our skater friend Grim returns into the woods. Soon there's a knock at the cabin door, and the kids go to answer it. Uh oh.surprise,'s our shot-up homeless derelict! And he's looking pretty BAD. His face is beginning to peel, and he's poised to steal the kids' car. An interesting scene of self-defense kicks up, and ends with the derelict being set on fire.

We rejoin our scorched derelict several hours later.face down. In a POND. We follow a pipe back from the pond.

.to the CABIN.

Yipes. Our flame-broiled derelict is now firmly embedded in the cabin's water supply.

And so, the next morning comes and our college kids feel a bit of remorse for setting the bum on fire, and go off to find him. What they find instead are a lot of truly unnerving sights. Empty lakefront cabins. A nearly abandoned environment. A hog farm where many of the pigs are turning up with some kind of awful disease, rendering them inedible. Something is going on in the woods.something very nasty.

Doctor Mambo comes back, and he is pissed. He's gone from friendly companion dog to Cujo in full attack mode dog. Only after a shot from the rifle is he scared away.

One of our two female lead's flesh starts rotting away, as one of our male leads discovers during a particularly intimate encounter. It spreads rapidly, and our panicky collegiates put the girl into a belated quarantine in a rear tool shed. They begin suspecting everyone else, turning on each other, each suspecting the other of being the next to show signs of the disease.

Doctor Mambo wastes no time in going after the new source of meat in the back shed.only a timely rifle shot intervenes before it's too late.

The fifth wheel suddenly starts coughing up a thick, bloody mess, and notices his own flesh beginning to rot. He hides as best he can, but his abrupt, panicky demeanor is a dead giveaway to the surviving students. The fifth wheel drives back into town to call for help, and returns to his starting point, the gas station / general store. Complete with insane little towheaded boy.who bites the fifth wheel's head while screaming about pancakes.

This enrages the shop's owner, who mobilizes a small posse to go forth into the woods and kill off all the infected students.

One of our last two uninfected characters goes off to seek help on foot, and finds the corpse of the burned derelict floating in the pond. On closer investigation, he falls in, and pulling himself out notices one very ominous sign near the pond. A sign made up of one word.


Now the whole town is at risk. Our adventurous male lead rushes back to the cabin to a scene of horror. Doctor Mambo has come back.and found both of our infected female leads.

The posse comes for our three remaining male leads, killing two of them and leaving only the student who knows the secret of the reservoir behind. The last surviving male lead rushes on and finds the corpse of our earlier skating buddy, Grim, on the floor of a cave.

Doctor Mambo got to him, too.

But our sole survivor doesn't get the chance to tell his tale.

The next day, a truck full of bottled water roars down the highway, right in front of the gas station / general store.

And there you have it. One pandemic. It started with just one bum, who fell into the town's water supply. And it blossomed from there into a silent massacre.

The bonus features are something else. Note the credits at the end-the hospital scene. The character "The Bunny Man" is credited to "We will never tell." Included are "the family version," a tongue in cheek version of the original film composed mostly of nature shots, a car driving by, and a head rested on a shoulder, followed by the words: "The End." Funny, no?

Also, the "chick-vision" version, described thusly: "chick vision will automatically block out the most frightening scenes as they approach, offering a happier viewing experience."

The really interesting part about this is that we get a good shot of group dynamics in a crisis situation with Cabin Fever. The panic and despair that set in are good lessons to take away. What could have been done differently to counter this most dangerous condition?

We also see very readily the immense possibility of harm done to our nation's food and water supplies. What can be done to counter them?

So Cabin Fever does what it sets out to do, which is a serious plus in its favor. Though it's not without its problems--it labors under a serious predictability problem--it's a pretty solid little film.



Now here's a story that's going to make you cringe, deep down inside. Dej Productions, a direct-to-video outlet that's steadily growing in prolificacy, brings you a story about a man and his bomb. I've seen maybe two from these guys in the last week.

On the topic of things that are "steadily growing in prolificacy," so do cockroaches. The comparison is surprisingly apt.

No subtitles folks, sorry, but some trailers attempt to make up for a fundamental loss.

And so does Lance Henriksen. Everyone's favorite caustic, raspy monotone is back for more science fiction-fantasy-mystery hybrid goodness.

Antibody drags the corpse of Russia for the bad guy this time out - we start outside the Russian consulate in Washington. Lance arrives to take care of a bomb planted inside the building. A rather large and nasty one, Lance takes care of it with his traditional no-nonsense aplomb for which he has grown understandably famous. Including, much to the collective dismay of Lance and the Washington bomb squad that has accompanied him to the crime scene, the death of the man whose hand was on the remote trigger at an airport several miles away. Lance directs airport security to shoot the triggerman, with live ammunition no less, and this causes the bomb to explode.

Surprise! Our triggerman's detonator was actually located INSIDE HIM! A "nano detonator", that is, a detonator roughly smaller than an electron.

And interestingly, a similar detonator is connected to a massive nuclear device under the city of Munich, set to ignite in eighty hours. And the detonator to this massive nuclear device, which the movie tells us all about with particular glee is fully one hundred times larger than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Of course, a detonator of this type is difficult to neutralize-killing the terrorist would set off the bomb, as would any attempt to destroy the detonator.

Lance, of course, steps in with his traditional liquid-nitrogen demeanor and begins issuing a string of orders, directing his men as though, ironically, he were a character in a movie. After a daring Special Forces-esque raid, all the terrorists are dead except for the very one Lance picked out, who contains the detonator. REAL terrorists would have tried misdirection to kill the one who HAD the detonator, making everyone think that it was a different terrorist carrying the detonator. But these are not real terrorists.

Suddenly, the movie suddenly decides that it's had enough of terrorists and suddenly turns into "Inner Space."

You note I used the word "suddenly" three times. That's not a mistake. This is a very SUDDEN move on the movie's part.

Within bare moments, I clock it at under five minutes, (the truly anal may now get out their stopwatches and attempt to confirm it. Send your findings to the movie has decided to take on almost the exact same plot as "Inner Space." To solve the problem of the nano-detonator, Lance and several teammates will be placed into a ship that will be shrunk down to a size less than an electron and injected into the terrorist. So the ship can take out the detonator. Whee!

And in a sequence positively laden with computer graphics, we now have the biggest ripoff perpetrated by man since Michael Bolton and "When A Man Loves A Woman."

The ship, along with a couple of prepackaged outriders, fight off a cloud of "whites", that is, white blood cells. Just like in "Inner Space." Gee. What a surprise. They roam through the body, hunting down the miniaturized ship, just like in - you called it - "Inner Space." And worse still, Lance fits himself into one of the prepackaged outriders and, while the white blood cells are distracted by a bout of cold bacteria introduced from the outside, disarms the bomb in a truly convoluted and hard to follow maneuver. Well hey! That was an ORIGINAL part! What happened, Dej, trying not to make your ripoff QUITE so obvious?

How exactly did Dej Productions get away with this? They recast an old movie with new stars, some computer graphics and a tweaked plotline. It's almost a word-for-word ripoff; weren't copyright laws designed to protect us from things like this?

Why isn't Lance Henriksen getting more work? I haven't seen him in anything major since he left "Millennium" back in the late nineties. Seems like some of the best shows ever start on Fox and then die a few months later. Millenium, Greg the Bunny, Futurama, Family Guy, you call it. Lance Henriksen is a genius. The man brings a new meaning to the term "cool." I know, I know, it's a little trite. But he's icy. Positively icy. The man could say that his wife died with a minimum of emotion if he had to. He's a high-quality actor. The man needs work!

Come right down to it, "Antibody" is a badly done recast of any of a dozen movies that came long before it, and were far better done. Lance Henriksen deserves better!