14 Surprising Facts About Cabin Fever

Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Fifteen years ago, Cabin Fever reinvigorated the modern horror movie scene by going back to the past. Written and directed by Eli Roth, the 1980s-style horror throwback followed a familiar genre trope—a group of college students make their way to a cabin in the woods—then turned it on its head. One sequel, one prequel, and one reboot later, the original film remains one of the best horror films of the past 20 years and has turned Roth into a modern master of horror. Here are 14 things you might not have known about Cabin Fever.

1. ELI ROTH GOT THE IDEA FOR CABIN FEVER WHEN HE DEVELOPED A SERIOUS SKIN INFECTION.

It wasn’t quite as gory as in the movie, but the idea for Cabin Fever came from an experience writer/director Eli Roth had in his late teens. “The initial idea for Cabin Fever came while I was working on a horse farm in Iceland when I was 19 years old,” Roth told Cinema.com. “I had been cleaning out a barn and got a skin infection on my face. I woke up in the middle of the night scratching my cheek, thinking I had a mosquito bite. I looked down at my hand and saw chunks of skin. The next morning I attempted to shave and literally, shaved half my face off. The strangest part was not only did it not hurt—it actually satisfied some strange itch underneath my skin. I went to see a dermatologist, who, judging by the horrified and puzzled look on her face, had never seen anything like it before.”

2. ROTH WROTE THE SCRIPT WHILE HOWARD STERN WAS SLEEPING.

Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Roth found the time to write the bulk of the script for Cabin Fever when he was hired as a nighttime production assistant to Howard Stern on Private Parts, where his job mostly required waking Stern up in the morning. “They built Howard an apartment in Silvercup Studios and I stayed outside all night, and wrote Cabin Fever,” Roth told Deadline.

3. IT TOOK EIGHT YEARS TO MAKE THE FILM.

Though Roth was often cited as an overnight sensation, the process of getting Cabin Fever made was far from quick. “I wrote Cabin Fever in 1995 so it was an eight-year process for me,” Roth told Dread Central. “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.”

4. THE FILM SHUT DOWN AFTER ONE DAY OF FILMING.

Boy Meets World star Rider Strong landed a starring role in Cabin Fever. Though he hoped it would be an opportunity for him to break away from Shawn Hunter, the character he played on the beloved teen sitcom, Strong admitted in an interview with Reno News & Review that, “We didn’t think this movie was going to get made. The first day of shooting, our independent investors pulled out because of the anthrax scare.” (The film began shooting just a month after 9/11.)

"It was insane working on the film," Strong's co-star, Jordan Ladd, told Media Mikes. "We shut down, we got up and running, and then we shut down again. We just hoped to finish the movie and hoped people would really understand and appreciate it. We had a blast doing it, even the tougher stuff. I'd rather work that way than on a big-budget fancy thing where you are completely separate from the process."

5. THE FILM—AND ROTH—PROVIDED JORDAN LADD WITH A CRASH COURSE IN HORROR MOVIES.

Ladd wasn’t much of a horror movie buff before Cabin Fever came around. “The genre kind of found me,” Ladd told Wicked Horror. “I hadn’t really defined myself as a horror fan at that point. But once we did Cabin Fever and Eli was so great with recommending references, older classics in the genre, I got a real education on that way of storytelling. So it kind of turned me into a fan and I started seeing great horror films that I really hadn’t seen before.”

6. THE SAME STUDIOS THAT PASSED ON PRODUCING THE FILM ENGAGED IN A BIDDING WAR FOR THE FINISHED PRODUCT.

Though Roth’s original plan for the film was to sell the script and have a studio produce it, no one was interested in buying it (hence the aforementioned eight-year process of getting it made). But a successful showing at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival changed all that: the film sparked a bidding war, with Lionsgate ultimately emerging victorious. Roth was paid $3.5 million for the film, and promised $12 million in prints and advertising. Of the many studios competing to acquire Cabin Fever, most had already passed on producing it.

7. THE FILM TURNED A HEALTHY PROFIT.

Lionsgate’s investment in Roth turned out to be a smart one. The film, which cost $1.5 million to make, ended up grossing more than $30.5 million worldwide.

8. PETER JACKSON WAS A FAN.

After hearing about Cabin Fever from several of his The Lord of the Rings collaborators, Peter Jackson requested that a print be sent to him in New Zealand, where he was filming The Return of the King. Impressed by what he was seeing, Jackson shut down production on his own film—twice!—to screen Cabin Fever for his cast and crew. Eventually, Jackson invited Roth to The Lord of the Rings set, where he offered to supply Roth with a quote about the film for his production materials. It read: "Brilliant! Fantastic! Horror fans have been waiting years for a movie like Cabin Fever. I loved it!”

9. QUENTIN TARANTINO DECLARED ROTH “THE FUTURE OF HORROR.”

In a 2004 interview with Premiere, Quentin Tarantino talked at length about his admiration for Cabin Fever, and called Roth “the future of horror.” The admiration was mutual. Tarantino and Roth would go on to become good friends and regular collaborators. In addition to directing Thanksgiving, one of the fake trailers in the middle of Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse, and playing Dov in the film, Roth had a major role as Sergeant Donny Donowitz in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009).

10. THE SUCCESS OF INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS LED TO THE RELEASE OF A DIRECTOR’S CUT OF CABIN FEVER.

Universal Pictures Home Entertertainment

Another reason why it pays to be friends with Quentin Tarantino: exposure! In a 2010 interview with Shock Till You Drop, about a then-brand-new Director’s Cut of Cabin Fever being released on Blu-ray, Roth shared that, “This is something I’ve been pushing for since the movie was first cut by the studio … Then after Basterds came out, suddenly my fan base grew and the people at Lionsgate were able to push it through ... It looks and sounds spectacular.”

11. THE PROPS LOOKED A LITTLE TOO REAL.

Robert Jones, who had been hired as a truck driver for the production, found out just how realistic the props looked when he decided to take one home as a souvenir. “So, I was riding through downtown Thomasville about 11 at night with this headless corpse sitting in the back seat,” Jones recalled. “Next thing I know the Thomasville Police Department is pulling me over.” An officer, weapon drawn, commanded Jones to get out of his car. “We all had a good laugh when they realized I wasn't some serial killer,” said Jones. “But man, that was scarier than anything in the movie.”

12. IT LAUNCHED A FULL-ON FRANCHISE.

In addition to spawning a sequel, Ti West’s Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009), there has also been a prequel—Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014)—and a remake, released in 2016.

13. ROTH HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SEQUEL.

Though the original plan was for Roth to be at the helm of a Cabin Fever sequel, it didn’t shake out that way. “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,” Roth told Dread Central. “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 [The House of the Devil director] 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.”

14. ROTH DID PRODUCE THE REMAKE.

In 2016, a remake of Cabin Fever—using Roth’s original script—was released to mixed reviews. But Roth was totally on board with the project. "They came to me exactly a year ago and said, ‘We want to remake Cabin Fever using your original script,’” Roth told Dread Central in 2015.

“You’ve got to realize that from an egotistical point of view, I wrote Cabin Fever when I was 22 years old. Right out of university. And for six years everyone told me, ‘This is an un-makeable piece of sh*t.’ So the fact that the same script would get made twice and that 20 years later, 20 years after I originally wrote it, it got sent around Hollywood and people were reading the same dialogue. I looked at it as like staging a play—as an experiment I just wanted to see how it would turn out. So I came on as one of the executive producers … I saw the cut and thought that what [director] Travis [Zariwny] did was so smart—he kept the original script, but he changed the deaths so all the kills are different … I’m happily surprised at how it’s turned out.”

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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Feel Nostalgic With the New Hello Kitty-Themed Tamagotchi

Bandai America/Amazon
Bandai America/Amazon

Back in November 1996, Bandai released the cult favorite Tamagotchi, a tiny virtual pet that users could feed, play with, give medicine to, and more. The name itself is actually a combination of two Japanese words, tamago and tomodachi, meaning egg and friend—and it was the toy's egg shape that was key to its distinct design. They could fit in pockets, on keychains, and inside the backpacks of any kid who wanted a distraction during the school day.

According to NME, more than 82 million of these egg-shaped digital pets have been sold since their initial release in the ‘90s, with 10 million of those coming within the first year alone. Now, the handheld pets are back again in the form of a collaboration with another famous Japanese creation, Hello Kitty.

Hello Kitty first took over hearts starting in 1974 when a Japanese company called Sanrio put the design on a vinyl coin purse. More than 45 years later, Hello Kitty (her real name is actually Kitty White) has been developed into video games, cafes, hospitals, wine, and more. This new Tamagotchi is the perfect mixture of two of Japan’s most famous brands, both of which have reached a global audience.

Bandi America/Amazon

In these new editions, Hello Kitty will help you raise your Tamagotchi. You’ll be able to feed them Hello Kitty’s favorite foods, like apple pie or milk, and play a balloon game and piano game. Based on how well you raise your Tamagotchi from an egg to an adult will determine which of the seven surprise characters you receive.

These new Tamagotchis will be released on December 1, 2020, and are available to pre-order in red and white on Amazon for $20.

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