Interview: Eli Roth Talks Cabin Fever Director’s Cut


And the upcoming sequel and Endangered Species

This week, Lionsgate Home Entertainment releases the unrated director’s cut of Eli Roth’s sticky feature debut Cabin Fever on Blu-Ray, boasting new footage and extras. An opportune time to look back, for sure, as Lionsgate is also debuting Ti West’s Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever. Shock caught up to Roth, currently enjoying the kudos Inglourious Basterds is receiving in the awards show circuit, to talk about both titles.

Shock Till You Drop: Talk about the supervising process you went through to get this Blu-Ray off the ground.

Eli Roth: This is something I’ve been pushing for since the movie was first cut by the studio. All of the cuts were made for time, like four or five minutes, but there was one cut involving a scare that I was bummed about. There’s other stuff, just dialogue and character things that don’t make sense. Now they make sense when you watch the movie. I thought one of the things that made the movie work was the characters. The weird characters. It’s a hang out movie. You put the movie on and you feel like you’re hanging out with those characters. Part of the thing they said to appease me is they told me we’d do a director’s cut DVD. But then there various changes over there and it never got done. Before Inglourious Basterds came out, there was a screening in August of this cut. I hadn’t shown it since the Toronto Film Festival. People went crazy for it and I thought it was a shame is wasn’t being shown. Then after Basterds came out, suddenly my fan base grew and the people at Lionsgate were able to push it through. They were great about it. We got another transfer and much to our surprise, a lot of the elements were gone. Some tapes were missing so we had to go back to the original negative and cleaned up the picture. We remixed the sound to 7.1 and cleaned up a lot of the dialogue, got a good mix. It looks and sounds spectacular.

Shock: Any chance you’ll get this on the road and show it in a few more theaters?

Roth: That’s not up to me, but of course I’d love to. If Lionsgate wanted to, I’d totally support it. But we recorded a new commentary with some of the cast members. There was one unavailable and was shooting but we got everyone else. Blu-Ray is such a new technology that, when we transferred two more of my animated shorts The Rotten Fruit, they had two channels of audio, one of the channels was missing. So the music and voices is gone. So in Blu-Ray live, they take that audio, uploaded it and people can now put the disc in and play those shorts with Blu-Ray live. Because of an error in the manufacturing, we can now correct it by putting that one little thing online. It’s a really cool technology.

Shock: Some filmmakers are finding Blu-Ray to be too revealing in regards to enhancing certain flaws, whether it be in the make-up or another area of the production. Revisiting this film, did you ever cringe at times about something you didn’t notice before?

Roth: Well, as a director, you always cringe about certain things in your movies, but I was concerned about what you’re talking about. Going under the microscope of hi-def. The make-up artists had to make it look real to the naked eye or they won’t work on camera. So up close, those things are disgusting. I really wasn’t that worried. I wanted practical make-up. I wanted people to be shocked by what those guys did and the whole fun was, while people were starting to move towards CG, I wanted to do what they did in the ’70s and’80s. But still, it looks gorgeous in this transfer.

Shock: We’re edging towards a ten year anniversary already for this film…

Roth: I know, we didn’t want to wait ten years to release this, with Inglourious Basterds coming out. I wanted to use that momentum.

Shock: Well, when you get behind the camera again for your next project, how do you think you’ll be different aesthetically than when you were when you first started rolling Cabin Fever?

Roth: You’re never conscious of how you’re going to change. With Hostel and Cabin Fever there was a very conscious change in that part of the fun of Cabin Fever was homaging my favorite horror movies. On Hostel, I wanted to shoot from the gut and find my way through a scene. Not do shots from other movies. After watching Hostel, I was watching a lot of early ‘70s giallo films. That influenced Hostel Part 2. And then even shooting Nation’s Pride for Inglourious Basterds, the way I shot things I was framing things differently. I was going for a different style to evoke that period but I think the whole way I’ll approach scenes now will be different, having gone through what I went through with Quentin. I watched how he deals with actors, goes through a scene and finds the shots. It all comes from the performance and that’s definitely what I want to do.

Shock: Now this release ties in with the debut of Cabin Fever 2…

Roth: I was the one who suggested Ti West to direct it. They asked me who I thought should write it and I said Randy Pearlstein, who I wrote the first one with, and he said they should set it at the prom. It’s fun for me because I had nothing to do with the film. The creative team kept the spirit of it and I’m excited to see what happens with it and subjectively see a Cabin Fever movie I had nothing to do with. I love Ti, I love House of the Devil and I think he’s great. I don’t think of it as Cabin Fever 2, and I don’t mean that as a slight to the movie, I just think of it as something else because that’s just how my brain works. Cabin Fever – so much of my life is in that movie, the dialogue and it’s a personal film for me. To see a movie that’s a sequel to that, well, it’s not my life experience but I’m looking forward to it.

Shock: Are you getting close to returning to the director’s chair for a feature?

Roth: Well, I’ve been writing. The awards season has been a fun distraction. Critic’s Choice, SAG, Golden Globes. I don’t want to miss any of this. I don’t know when I’ll ever be in this position again. To be an actor in a movie of this stature is such an incredible honor. I don’t want to look back and think I should have taken the time to enjoy this. A lot of time I get caught up in what the next thing is. With Hostel, I didn’t take the time to enjoy that. I was so caught up in getting the next thing going that I didn’t take that moment to being the number one movie and enjoying the accomplishment.

Shock: Savoring the moments.

Roth: Savoring the moments, and I may not be getting all of the writing done that I want to, but I’m plugging away. I probably won’t finish up the script until after the Oscars.

Shock: The script is done for Endangered Species, no?

Roth: The script is complete and Quentin read it. I won’t do anything until he reads it first and he had some notes. I wasn’t sure what direction to go in, so I wrote one version of it and it’s the kind of thing where you’ve got two hundred pages written and it has to be a hundred. So, I’m trying to figure out what to chop, condense and organize. It’s going to take a little work.

Source: Shock Till You Drop