Monday, March 28, 2011

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever

A Panther Joe Yelp

Isn't it great when you find out that someone made a sequel to one of your favorite movies? Coincidentally, I was watching an old Boy Meets World episode that featured a young Julie Benz and thought, "what's Rider Strong up to these days?" I never followed up with that passing, mostly rhetorical question, but consider my amazement when I found Cabin Fever 2 available on Instant Watch...and Rider Strong with top billing! Unfortunately, unless you remember the exact ending of the original movie, watched it recently, or even remembered it was Strong who starred in the first one, you wouldn't know that he barely hits the radar on this underwhelming, straight to DVD sequel.
Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009)
Director: Ti West (Alan Smithee)
Starring: Noah Segan, Alexi Wasser, Rusty Kelley

Hoo boy, who's ready for some necrosis-themed horror/comedy? Without spoiling the efforts of the first film (which come highly recommended), a flesh eating virus has entered the public water system and infects the area of Springfield, including the local high school. This couldn't have come at a worse time for the young adults; it's Prom night and everyone seems to be drinking Down Home Water brand bottled water, which is shown ad nauseam to be the culprit for the virus. Vascillating between going to prom and not going, John (Segan) ends up going in hopes that his crush, Cassie (Wasser), will show up to the dance, which becomes riddled with extremely obese girls frolicking in the pool, vengeful school janitors pissing blood into the punch, and some sort of Center for Disease Control unit storming the school with automatic guns and gas canisters.

Most of the campy, gross, and hilarious aspects of the first film are just cheaply repackaged for a quick buck. While Eli Roth really tempered the gore and applied a comical tinge to it, the filmmakers responsible for this just went for the shock and awe gore factor. I will spare you most of the details, but we really didn't need an anatomically convincing, up close shot of a student prying off his fingernail and trying to reapply it with super glue.
From the opening scene you really knew what kind of movie you were about to view. When Rider Strong's character is seen wandering around in the woods, he of course stumbles upon a lonesome highway with a yellow school bus barreling toward him. Instead of slowing down to investigate the badly disfigured man, the bus driver seemingly swerves and intentionally hits him, splattering Strong's body to point of a minor explosion.

The head shaking didn't stop there. The first scene at school depicts Marc, the typical jock bully, harassing John about having feelings for Cassie. Marc eventually tough talks our protagonist, shoves him up against the lockers and delivers a warning complete with the phrase, "you and your bullshit friends!" C'mon, Marc, that adjective is just bull-headed and somewhat nonsensical. Perhaps if you read a book once in a while and stopped by such a jerk, maybe, just maybe you'd survive this movie*.
The acting as a whole was pretty porous, with the exception of the fast-talking best friend typecast, Alex (Kelley). John screams his lines to the point you'd think he pumped himself up by watching The Rock before shooting, other characters are dubbed horribly, and Judah Friedlander is in this. Similar to how Marc's empty threats couldn't be taken seriously, Friedlander struggled as the security guard for Down Home Water, even dropping this corny line when approached by a policeman: "She said she was 18. I always believe what children say."

If you like bad cinematic cliches, this flick is "infected" with them. I could see the writers now, deliberating the back story behind such tales of Prom babies being thrown in trash cans. "Hey, does that really happen? Well, it does now...shit's going in this movie!" The most disappointing thing about Cabin Fever 2 is if the writers would have stuck with cliches to finish out the film, it would have held an ounce of coherency. Instead, we are left with inane situations and setting shifts that really make it feel like you just switched the channel to a different movie. No wonder director Ti West wanted his name removed from the project.
While most aspects of this movie were trash, there remained some diamonds in the rough that I, as a campy horror film, appreciated. Clearly someone behind Cabin Fever 2 really dug the original Revenge of the Nerds...John announced early on that he was going to Adams, which was also the fictional university in Nerds, while one of the bit characters was a 12-year-old whiz kid, academically advanced well beyond his years and striking a similar resemblance to Nerds alum, Wormser.

Your patience is later rewarded as the funnier, more tactical stuff is saved for the last few acts. In probably one of the more out of place scenes in the movie, stoner cop Winston (Giuseppe Andrews, brilliantly reprising his role from the original) gets picked up by his cousin Herman to beat it out of town, only to see Herman drop an exaggerated elbow onto a distracted policeman that would make any garishly outfitted pro wrestler proud. Toward the end, the movie just broke down and got all metal on us. This stuff all happens in the course of ten or so minutes:

-A dude caves another dude's face in with a helium tank
-Guy has his necro-infected wrist cut off with a wood shop bandsaw
-Same guy forces another character to cauterize the amputation with a blow torch
-It gets wrapped in a comically large ball of duct tape
-Guy actually slams a claw hammer into the back of a female's head
-Girl shoots guy in the back of the head with a nail gun

"Parrrrty, man..."
While that stuff is all sorts of awesome, this isn't a movie I would recommend, except for maybe hardcore fans of the original. Even then, expect cheesy special effects, bad dialogue, and somewhat disjointed storytelling. The one scene I actually enjoyed enough to hunt down was the primitive, animated opening credits that stood alone as the only unique aspect of this film that ingested more like week old leftovers than a refreshing surprise. 3/10 stars

*He doesn't survive.

1 comment:

Ben Pearson said...

Nicely written, sir.