The Cabin in the Woods

tn_cabininthewoodsWARNING: This review contains major GRUMPINESS

I liked THE CABIN IN THE WOODS, but it’s the kind of movie that people who don’t like horror movies say is THE BEST HORROR MOVIE IN YEARS. Of course it seems that way to them because 1) they don’t have that much to compare it to, they just have a hunch about what those other ones are like, those bad ones, and 2) since they don’t like horror movies that much they prefer one that’s not really that much of a horror movie.

If you say that I hope you’ve seen THE WOMAN, MARTYRS, INSIDE, maybe THE LOVED ONES, DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, HILLS HAVE EYES, HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. Throw on FRONTIER(S) maybe for good measure. Maybe P2. Hell, HALLOWEEN II. Not saying you’ll like all of these better than CABIN, but you gotta have something more to compare it to than PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and SHAUN OF THE DEAD.

Sorry to rant, but as a proud Fangorian-American I take this kinda shit personally. To me, CABIN IN THE WOODS isn’t a horror movie. It’s horror-once-removed, but an enjoyable example of that, like TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL. It has a clever way of playing with some of the more obvious horror cliches. It has a good cast, likable characters and alot of laughs. But I call bullshit on the idea that it also works as a legit horror movie. And you know how I am. I prefer the real deal.

Look, all I’m saying is that horror comedy is to real horror as smooth jazz is to actual jazz. That’s all. Nothing wrong with that. Real horror is an acquired taste, it isn’t for everybody. Alot of people prefer something gentle, like a songbird. I don’t look down on you for that. Freedom to, you know– pursuing liberty, or whatever.

Good, we all agree. Now, The Internet has decreed that the premise of this movie is a spoiler. If so I’m not gonna try to write a spoilerless review, because that would be a pointless review. So from here on out I’m assuming you’ve seen the movie.

I’m not trying to be a parade pisser. I really did like this movie, and I shouldn’t ruin it by worrying about what other people are saying. But I’m running late here and you’ve already seen 250 rave reviews, so I think it’s worth going into some of my quibbles with what the reviews and the movie itself are saying about the genre.

mp_cabininthewoodsEver since this played at Butt-numb-a-thon and some film festivals the reviews have been loaded with exclamation points and shit. As you can see, this poster managed to find a review with the words “groundbreaking” and “game changer” (although just in the headline it looks like). I just read a review that opened with the words, “When Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO opened in 1960…” I mean jesus. The more down-to-earth ones claim it will have an influence like SCREAM did, but I don’t buy that either.

Here are some things the success of SCREAM did:

* popularized the idea of characters in horror movies being aware of what happens in horror movies when they face similar situations

* to a lesser extent popularized horror movies where characters make direct reference to favorite horror movies

* began a wave of slick studio horror aimed at teens, with pop rock soundtracks and casts made up mostly of good looking television stars

* temporarily revived the PROM NIGHT style whodunit-slasher subgenre

A couple of those, actually, are still echoing in CABIN IN THE WOODS. But what influence could this movie have? Maybe inspire a few shitty “what if (type of horror movie) was actually being done secretly by scientists!?” copycats, but I doubt that’ll happen.

Maybe my problem is I kind of resent how some of these reviews talk about CABIN as some much needed kick in the ass for the genre. You really believe postmodernism and wisecracks is the missing ingredient in horror? If there’s a problem in horror right now it’s that there’s too much recycling and navel-gazing in the form of remakes and references and homages, and this falls into a couple of those categories. But we still got hugely original movies like THE WOMAN coming out, lots of crazy shit goin on overseas, even some of the remakes are good, the SAW-inspired wave seems to have died down so there’s an opening for some new cycle to come along… you know, there have been worse times for horror. I don’t think it needs to get sat down for a lecture about archetypes at this moment..

But I think most of us agree, even if CABIN IN THE WOODS isn’t “A GAME-CHANGER”, it is a clever twist. It’s part of THE EVIL DEAD plot, but puppeteered by a CUBE type massive experiment, overseen by mundane office workers, all as a metaphor about the place horror holds in our culture. That’s a unique combination of elements. And that’s a good thing.

What worked best for me was the cast and the characters. They say funny things and that makes me like them. Co-writer/producer Joss Whedon is known for his quips and stylized language, and he gets lots of those in without seeming too forced. Also the girls are kinda hot and sometimes don’t wear pants.

Within pretty standard types (the girl who needs to forget about school and let loose, that kind of thing) they have some good character-establishing moments, like when the new guy gets a chance to spy on the hot girl naked but feels guilty and warns her and switches rooms to make her feel better about it.

I liked that there was a dirt bike on the back of the RV, because that sends a message to the audience that says, “there is gonna be a part with a dirt bike later.” And its word is its bond. There is a part with a dirt bike later.

Some of my favorite parts of the movie are weird moments that, in retrospect, I’m not sure make any sense. If there’s a reason for the two-way mirror in the house I don’t know what it is. And the she’s-losin-it tension of the girl making out with the taxidermied wolf head doesn’t turn out to have an important story reason to happen, as far as I can tell. But I love it.

By the way, the power of IMDb has taught me that the actress who plays Jules, the slightly freaky, recently bleached-blond girl in that scene, appeared on a 2008 television program called Power Rangers Jungle Fury:

Screen Shot 2012-04-16 at 12.06.51 AM
So I’m sure some of the younger individuals who grew up on that show got some extra enjoyment out of the sexy dance she does. And if anybody out there has a thing for Yellow Rangers and for dead wolves then I’d say their Lotto numbers just came up. Congratulations, sicko.

I enjoyed these characters enough that a couple of them, when they died, it seemed like they were gone too soon. For example, Thor. And the dirt bike. I could’ve used more screen time for both.

The standout character is obviously Fran Kranz as the stoner guy. He somehow found a new way to play a broad, comic stereotype. And he’s believable both as a drugged out wacko and the most perceptive one in the group.

Richard Jenkins (LET ME IN) and Bradley Whitford (REVENGE OF THE NERDS II: NERDS IN PARADISE, M&Ms commercials) are pretty much playing their standard characters, but they’re well chosen for the job. They’re mostly there to alternate between arrogant and stressed out as they push buttons, pull levers, and spit out exposition. Alot of the fun in the movie is watching all the details of how they attempt to TRUMAN SHOW a group of normal people into fitting the stereotypes and behaviors of horror movie characters. People like to complain about characters making dumb decisions in these movies. Here that’s the result of a coordinated behind-the-scenes effort. I like that.

In some sense this movie’s dealing with the cliches of what the cliches of horror movies are. Really, how common are these tropes in modern horror, or even in the classics? I’m still not sold on the “final girl has to be a virgin” being a common thing in slasher movies, even though they said it was in SCREAM. Obviously the cabin comes from THE EVIL DEAD – who was the jock, the virgin, the fool in THE EVIL DEAD? Which category did Ash fit? In HALLOWEEN Laurie would have to be the virgin, and PJ Soles is the fool? Or is Annie the fool because she puffed on that joint in the car? Didn’t Laurie share it? Were any of these character categories in THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE or HELLRAISER (since it’s explicitly referenced in the movie) or any of the Romero zombie movies (since they got alot of zombies) or very many of the modern horror movies that have been popular, like SAW and HOSTEL? Not that much. But it is a fun idea that for some reason people like that are needed to be sacrificed to ancient gods to keep humanity safe, and there’s even an ancient carving of a guy holding a javelin, suggesting that the tradition of dumb jocks goes back to a long time before letterman’s jackets.

Weirdly, I think CABIN is sort of the reverse of many weak horror movies. Alot of times you don’t give a shit about the characters and the story’s not that great but alot of creativity went into making the killer look cool and giving him exciting ways to surprise and impale people. This one it seems like they put all of their effort into the characters and concepts and very little into the horror. There are approximately twenty times as many monsters and killers as in most horror movies, but none of them are very cool. Lots of people die, but I don’t remember being impressed by any of the specific ways. It’s well directed in the sense of performances, but below-average in the sense of creating atmosphere, a more important element in horror than in most genres. It has some really exciting shit that goes down but alot of the staging is very chaotic (and not helped by iffy digital effects).

Yeah, I know, they’re trying to do alot on a small budget. But that’s what all horror movies do. How many horror classics had as much money as they wanted in the budget? Maybe THE SHINING? You gotta do what you can with the money you have. That’s why THE EVIL DEAD is THE EVIL DEAD, isn’t it?

Maybe the smartest thing about CABIN is the way it plays with your identification. You side with the kids and want them to live because that’s what you do in a story like this, but you also find out that if they live then the world will end. But you’re still rooting for them and you disapprove of the scientists in the underground lab being so callous and having fun watching them die. But of course you’re also the guys in the underground lab watching them, feeling bad for them while wanting them to die for everyone else’s benefit. They have a shot or two of the scientists silhouetted against their big screens as a horror scene is going on and in front of that you see the row of people in front of you in the actual theater silhouetted against your giant screen…

But for me the split identification was also a slight problem because of the expectations it set up for the ending. Since I’m siding with the kids who have to die and against the scientists who are killing them to save the world, I’m hoping to see the kids win. And by them winning that means the ancient gods get loose and then we get to see the contingency plan they have for when that happens, right?

Oh no, when that happens it just means the movie ends. So it kind of felt like the cop out version of the non-cop out ending. Oh well.

Devin Feraci on Badass Digest pointed out that the movie symbolically shows horror formula as an important, world-saving ritual, and that it’s the self aware character that turns everything to shit and ends the world. Like a reversal of SCREAM. It’s your self awareness and deconstruction that ruins everything, wiseass. That’s a great point. Stop postmoderning everything and it’ll work better. The subtext of the movie is in love with pure horror. It just seems to me like the top layer didn’t get the memo.

The smart-alecky tone is what makes CABIN fun, but I think it helps make it not scary. If every time someone starts to make an impassioned speech or a dramatic point it turns out to be set-up for a joke (like the funny scene where the crazy-old-man-who-tried-to-warn-them is ranting about the end times and suddenly gets distracted that he’s on speaker phone), then it starts to feel like the dramatic parts don’t count.

That brings up the comparison to SCREAM again. What’s great about SCREAM is that it’s a deconstruction but it’s not a parody, it uses its deconstruction as its slasher gimmick. It really means it, so it works as one of the better entries in the whodunit-slasher subgenre. It has likable characters that the actors take seriously, it has a simple, primally scary mask, it has tense set pieces (especially that epic opening sequence).

Compare that to the fucking giant snake in CABIN IN THE WOODS. The filmatists show their hand in that final act. If they wanted this to be a sincere horror movie that actually scares people then they wouldn’t be so lax with the scariness level of their monster menagery. The idea of our heroes unleashing all the different monsters on their captors is brilliant all-hell-literally-breaks-loose horror action, so it’s fun. But wouldn’t it be alot more fun if it tried to be scary? They chose “wouldn’t it be funny if they were all the different ‘types’ of crappy movie monsters” over “let’s make a wide variety of great monsters!” So it’s “ha ha, this part is like THE RING” instead of trying to come up with something you haven’t quite seen before like they did with the SILENT HILL pyramid head, the WUFs in THE DESCENT, the little guys in DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, the different guys in PAN’S LABYRINTH. Something actually kinda spooky. Or at least cool.

Trivia: I noticed Ken Kirzinger, Jason from FREDDY VS. JASON, did stunts on the movie. But there’s no monsters in here as good as Jason. At least there wasn’t a cheap knock off of him, as far as I noticed.

Goddard and Whedon come from doing Buffy Vampire Slayer on tv, where they had to do a whole bunch of episodes and it was a one-off monster so if the “we need a demon that eats eyeballs this week” was kinda lame you could probly forgive it. But in a movie I don’t know about a giant cobra. Maybe the giant bat. Probly not the merman if it wasn’t kind of necessary after all the references to it. But definitely not the god damn Dollar Store Pinhead knock-off. That was where I almost turned on the movie.

I smiled at the HELLRAISER-esque puzzle earlier on. It was a funny idea that the basement was stocked with that, a diary, a medallion, a music box and film reels (a reference to THE EVIL DEAD’s reel-to-reel tape, I think), like they really had to put a bunch of evil-releasing shit in that cellar just to be sure. If they just had one evil artifact maybe none of the kids would find it.

I get it, but do I have to see a guy with buzz saws in his head that looks worse than the new guy playing Pinhead in the latest DTV sequel? Worse than the CD head guy in part 3? What’s the issue here, if they make up a cool new Cenobite it’s copyright infringement, but if they make a shitty Mad Magazine one then it’s fair use? There’s alot going on in there, maybe I missed the fedora-wearing burn victim with the long spikes on his knuckles and the yellow and blue striped sweater. If Fake Pinhead can be in a real horror movie then animated cat detective can be in a real action movie and LAST ACTION HERO was the best one since DIE HARD.


I’m glad you guys enjoyed it so much. Here is a video I think you will also enjoy:

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012 at 11:40 pm and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

281 Responses to “The Cabin in the Woods”

  1. I liked it because I do like horror comedy, prefer it actually, but also feel CABIN is exactly what I expected from Joss Whedon. I tickles all my self referential desires and I’m happy for that.

    Original is not something I think qualifies though. I mean, yeah, this is what deconstruction horror looks like. Not even surprising, since other forces orchestrating evil is something that pops up in a lot of Joss shows. I figured that’s what the twist on the cabin would be year’s ago, just by hearing Whitford and Jenkins were in the cast.

    So I like it and I love the non copyright cenobites and wish they’d done a Freddy or Jason. But I’m also way more into DETENTION and wish more of the horror gang had rallied behind that but it’s not their fault. The studio only released DETENTION in ten cities,

  2. Spot on, as usual, Vern. I’m not sure why this became the ultimate spoiler-proof movie (I got hate mail on my Amazon review for saying that, yes, there is a cabin in the woods in the film), given that the first scene basically reveals what’s going on. Question: if the internets had been in full swing back in the late 80’s, would WAXWORK have been hailed as a visionary kick in the pants that redefined the genre? Discuss.

  3. ok, to be fair I am a casual fan of horror, I know a lot of people eat, sleep and breath the horror genre, but that’s not me, I mean I like it a lot, but it’s not my favorite type of movie

    so The Cabin in The Woods probably worked better for someone like me, a casual fan of horror, than a hardcore fan like you Vern, I understand

    but still, I thought the movie was kind of creepy, I’m not going to say I had the shit scared out of me, but you know what? it takes a LOT for a movie to really scare me these days and the fact that The Cabin in The Woods managed to at least creep me out during certain scenes (like when the guy finds that painting of the hunters slaughtering a lamb, I’m just a sucker for creepy paintings in movies, probably ever since I saw House) impresses me, so I don’t think you’re being too fair in that aspect Vern

  4. and I found the movie creepy throughout, even during some scenes that were also funny (like the speaker phone scene)

  5. Yeah, Vern, this review is about 100% accurate as to my own thoughts on CABIN IN THE WOODS. I’m learning now that this movie becomes more & more interesting & rewarding as you discuss & read more about it. A 2nd viewing or some screengrabs (Was that blood-filled elevator a reference to THE SHINING, or was it just excess gore from all the killing?) might enhance the experience, too.

    Not as much of a brilliant mindfuck as INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, but the same clever spirit inhabits CABIN IN THE WOODS. In Mouthese, that’s a pretty high compliment.

    The good stuff is well covered here, so I’ll catalog my minor gripe-like musings:

    -I thought it would have been funnier if the dirtbiker had simply not jumped far enough, falling to his death THE OTHER GUYS style instead of hitting the forcefield.
    To me, that scene’s obvious Whedonverse parallel is the great moment in a FIREFLY episode when Captain responds to a bad guy’s threat by shockingly kicking him into a jet engine. Fresh & hilarious the first time I saw it, a tad predictable & stale this time around. But still entertaining (but coulda been more entertaining if there had been more dirtbiking action).

    -When the 2 survivors get out of their elevator cube, they seem to just happen upon an empty control booth, a security hub that happens to be vacated and has a bunch of easily operable levers to open doors or something. Maybe I missed something, but that seems like weak sauce. The whole place is tightly controlled, they have armed guards, encoded locks and etc., very professional & expensive, yet these 2 escapees (like Lisbeth Salander effortlessly infiltrating the Enya fan’s basement in THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) just jog right into where they have control over all sorts of shit.
    2nd viewing or a more observant viewer here might fix this.

    -At the very end, while smoking that final joint, I would have solicited the gods to become one myself. Might have been tough to do in the script without making it all goofy, but that’s what I would have tried if I were stoner dude or non-virgin girl in that situation, proclaim my greatness & worthiness to the Almighties about to swallow my home planet and force them to make me an honorary demigod or something.

    I’ve seen almost all those horror movies to which you link. I’ve become a much bigger fan of the genre the last couple years, partly thanks to the level of appreciation the writings of Vern impart, so I’m glad I’m not one of the hyperbolic Whedon fanboy CABIN-philes, not one of those SHAUN OF THE DEAD acolytes who doesn’t realize it’s not really a horror movie and not really a horror genre savior or historic groundbreaker.

    The final act of CABIN is joyful & fun, and I actually thought the CGI & costumes & killings were well done visually, but we’ll always wonder if it would have been better as more of an actual horror piece.

    Good movie, great review.

  6. Oh yeah, and the weapon action of the zombified pain-worshipping rednecks, the Buckners, could have been better filmed.

    They never established the mechanism & wounding effects of the bear-trap-on-a-chain [or whatever the fuck that was (could have been filmed more clearly)], so I didn’t know if it was going for a MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE type of thing or if it was just an unusually shaped spiked mace thing or ???

    And the dark skinned wide receiver guy gets spiked square in the back, but it barely slows him down. Like, the movie forgot he was injured, or the weapon never really dug into his back?

    Sorry, I’m nitpicking. That’s what happens when I realize that a good movie isn’t perfect like I want it to be.


    Mouth – I don’t quite get your complaint that Thor’s death was predictable when they explicitly go out of their way earlier in the film to show exactly what is going to happen to him. To me that is like complaining that Brad Pitt’s fate in THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD is predictable. While I agree that him missing the jump would have been funny, I’m not sure it would have been funnier than all the overly heroic lines he comes up with about bringing back help when you know he is 30 seconds away from riding full speed into a wall.

  8. Nah, not a complaint, Jake, just I thought it’d’ve been funnier to watch him come up short. It was still funny as hell.

    And, like Vern, I wanted and even anticipated more dirtbike screentime, so I thought there would have to be at least a full minute or so of some kind of maneuvering & Steve McQueen-in-THE GREAT ESCAPE impersonation before the little 2 wheeler ate it.

    Maybe if Thor had somehow landed/glided on something, setting up a Homer Simpson-in-the-canyon gag and adding a pre-mortem one-liner, I dunno, don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good etc..

    Also, if that moment was set up by that poor disappearing bird near the beginning of the movie, shouldn’t Thor have dissipated on contact with the hexa-forcefield instead of falling down down down? Or did I not see the bird’s death properly? Or is it because feathers are less dense than flesh of Hemsworth?

  9. I enjoyed it because when you take the horror out of the equation it just becomes a comedy and a damn funny one too. By the way, they don’t show him but there is a Jason person on the list but he is called Kevin. Also the unicorn was the best part.

  10. I’ve seen most of the examples named in your review with the exceptions of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and Last House on the Left, and thought this film unquestionably blew the others out of the water. Opening the review with a bunch of assumptions about the people who are unequivocally throwing out their support for this film seems a bit odd to me.

    I don’t really understand your definition of what counts as a true horror film, because I found none of the examples mentioned, along with this film, to be particularly ‘horrific’ or scary in any real way. Many of them are incredibly mean-spirited and exhausting to sit through, to be sure, but by this point I find a horror film that runs through all of the expected tropes to be incredibly tiresome compared to one that can take a step back and examine the absurdities of those same cliches in close detail. As the slasher conventions that we know and (used to?) love continue to age, they simply grow more and more stagnant.

    As a compromise, I would recommend checking out an Israeli horror film released a couple of years ago titled ‘Kalevet’ (‘Rabies’, overseas). That’s the first strait-laced horror film I’ve seen in a long time wherein I didn’t feel as though I could accurately predict every single step the film was going to take (‘Martyrs’ was another one, but I think most people have seen that one by now).

  11. I come very close to completely agreeing with you. I completely enjoy this movie for the “film that it is”, but do not find that it even comes close to the horror genre.

    That being said, I appreciate you touching upon the problem that I have found myself experiencing. We all obviously read a lot about films on the internet and when I read a slew of great things saying a film is one thing and then I watch that film and it is not that one thing, I find myself blaming the movie instead of the hyperbolic internet geeks. It takes me some time to actually fairly evaluate films after reading all of the gushing praise from a number of internet outlets and realize that sometimes I am angry at a film, when I should be angry myself for reading the people who wrote about it.

    So my question then becomes, when does film criticism become film criticism again and not “internet, fan based, geek film criticism”? Excluding Film Crit Hulk and this website, I do not find a lot of discussion I can relate to anymore. I’m more interested in the cinematic language of a film than I am in whether or not it does something geeky enough that the internet can embrace it and then decry the inherent ignorance of the masses who don’t.

  12. I liked this film a lot. Bradley Whitford made a good film into a much more fun film. He really made the movie for me, but I always loved his character on West Wing.

  13. “But wouldn’t it be alot more fun if it tried to be scary? They chose “wouldn’t it be funny if they were all the different ‘types’ of crappy movie monsters” over “let’s make a wide variety of great monsters!””

    Can’t say I agree there. Isn’t the whole point that all the monsters in this are supposed to be familiar/derivative?

  14. I prefer comedic horror because these movies cease to be scary once you’ve seen a certain number of them/reach a certain age.

  15. I’m really glad Vern brought up Tucker & Dale because that’s a comparison I hadn’t thought about.

    I wanted to like Tucker & Dale more than I did (I thought it was simply OK, good premise but not much else) and I think Cabin in the Woods was better than its “look at how clever we are!” premise would otherwise be.

  16. Vern, i haven’t read the whole f your review because i haven’«t seen the movie yet so i’m saving ymself from spoilers.

    However, i’d like to offer you a bit of food for thoughs: consider that this movie will be, for many, their entry point to the horro genre. This will be for many their first experience with the horror genre which will actually excite them or make them curious to the genre. It could be the movie that breaks most of their long hold cliched views of what an horror is and find themselves interested to genuinely explore know of the genre, to know more, to give it a though.

    The same way for me movies like THE SHINING or THE EXORCIST were for me to horror, or HALLOWEEN for the slasher subgenre. Everybody who is a horror fan but got so later in their years instead of being one from early teenhood or shildhood had their entry movie as soemthing which was either not a pure example of the genre, or one of those movies that tried to elevate the genre, like how Kubrick did with THE SHINING.

    Consider this though, Vern: If CABIN IN THE WOODS brings more people to the horror genre fold, what’s to be mad about? If anything., the movie did more for the genre then most straight examples mananged to do in ten years. And frankly, from the descriptions i see for this movie, that really seems to be the movie’s main reason to exist. That is not a bad thing, if you ask me.

    One thing i know for sure: Josh Weadon is not a cynical fuck like JJ Abrams. He actually has his heart in the stuff he makes, and it’s clear he loves what he does, and not all just a cynical exploitation of audiences. I’m no Whedonite, but i can see his qualities, and i liek what i see. He’s the Anti-JJ Abrams, and that’s a very good thing.

  17. Stupid Tucker & Dale question, can somebody explain the beginning with the reporter and the camera man? Did they manage to do the after credit “surprise killer is still alive” bit at the beginning or what?

  18. Vern, I’ve seen all those movies you mentioned and enjoyed most of them. But I think all that proves is that the genre as it stands has more than met its “I need a shower after watching that” quota. And I have no problem with that. I am about as sick a fuck as you will meet, and I applaud the visceral thrills of a movie that really manages to push the envelope in that regard. What the genre has been missing, in my opinion, is fun horror that has lots of monsters and blood and a slightly arch attitude about it all that says, “You are allowed to enjoy this. This is not horror homework that you must sit through to prove that you are a man and are fully aware of the depravity of the human experience, which is something that only I, a 28-year-old film school graduate making his first feature with hopes of putting together a decent enough reel to get hired to direct BATTLE: L.A. 2 or something, can teach you.” To me, the meta aspects were less important than the NIGHT OF THE CREEPS/RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD/TREMORS aspect, which is that I didn’t feel like I was having my nose rubbed in shit for two hours for the crime of watching this kind of filth, or that the movie was cynically trying to buy my love with excessive, supposedly transgressive gore, like, say, the PIRANHA remake (which I liked. it takes all kinds). It was just a fun horror show, the kind I grew up on, but since audiences today are much more literal-minded than they were in the eighties, there needed to be a clever post-modern twist to allow them to accept a movie with a werewolf and a fishman and a unicorn and a giant snake. If it had played all that stuff straight, most people would think the movie was being accidentally ridiculous and say it was stupid, because people have no imagination anymore. I would have liked that version of the movie, too, where there’s just a bunch of monsters running around for no reason, deal with it. But I like this version, too, where there’s a logic to them that also comes with some clever if none-too-original ideas about what horror means to us as a society.

    Basically, I liked this movie because I enjoy fun and laughter and also dragonbats. (I disagree that the monsters were lame. Best werewolf I’ve seen in a minute.) I don’t expect it to be a game-changer in terms of meta story mechanics, but I would like if it paved the way for more fun horror that wasn’t trying to open the doorway to ultimate evil on my ass all the time.

  19. ‘Worse than the CD head guy in (Hellraiser) part 3?’

    Thank you Vern for addressing something that has bothered me since 1994. CD Head Guy sucks. Fuck him!

    Wow! I really do feel better! Can’t believe I’ve been carrying that around for 18 years.

  20. Mr. M,

    Heartily seconded. I love me a good horror movie that leaves me disturbed and depressed, but also (be it a horror/comedy or a serious horror film) I also enjoy horror films that are just in the spirit of good fun. And we don’t get enough of those lately.

    CABIN IN THE WOODS is not scary. At all. It is, however, a shitload of fun, and not just for people who don’t like other horror movies. I think I remember reading either Goddard or Whedon describe it as a “loving hate letter” to horror movies, and in fact even though Vern has a great point that they go for a few too many obvious targets and that maybe not all the “cliches” they reference make sense, it’s clearly operating on a higher level than something like TUCK AND DALE (which I liked) or BEHIND THE MASK (which I didn’t). I think CABIN appeals strongly to horror fans. If nothing else, the ending is clearly a big sloppy blow job to horror nerds, setting up a situation where every horror movie monster from movie history are unleashed at once.

    Which is another reason why I love fake Pinhead. He’s not supposed to be a great NEW monster, he’s just supposed to evoke Pinhead. You see him and you go “holy shit, these guys have Pinhead in their collection!”

    Also, I think the movie has some pretty cool ideas about the nature of horror movies, and filmmaking, and audience expectations that are probably worth delving into at some point.

  21. I can’t imagine anyone actually liking CD Head. Only the worst, irony-drenched hipster would ever try to argue that he was a cool Cenobite.

  22. Oh, and I forgot to mention: obviously it would have been better if it had actually been Pinhead in that cell, but I understand why it couldn’t be. But my point is, he’s SUPPOSED to be Pinhead, not some cool new monster.

  23. Did anyone else find many scenes to be shot really dark, even some in the cabin? Just curious if this was the case, of if I got screwed by the theater saw it in by them dimming the bulbs way down.

  24. I don’t know, I liked the CD Cenobite. Not because I think he’s cool (he’s so, so, so not cool), but because I think he perfectly encapsulates why HELLRAISER III: JUST TURN PINHEAD INTO FREDDY AND SHUT UP gets everything so hilariously wrong. It turns the queasy S&M metaphysics of the first two movies into just another latex-and-Kayro geek show. But since I like latex-and-Kayro geek shows, I can enjoy it on that level. If that makes me an irony-drenched hipster, then so be it.

  25. I’d be on board with that if HELLRAISER 3 was a GOOD “latex-and-karo geek show” (great term, btw). But it’s a pretty stupid, silly and unimaginative one. Especially coming off of the special effects awesomeness of part 2.

  26. Delbert,

    I don’t recall thinking the movies looked too dark or dim for the most part. It wasn’t exactly beautifully shot or anything, but I don’t think it suffered from murkiness. Might have just been the theater you saw it in.

  27. A lot of theaters don’t bother swapping out the 3D lenses on their projectors, so that darkens the image considerably. You can check by looking at the projection booth. If there’s more than one stream of light coming out, you’re fucked.

    Dan: No, HRIII is not a particularly good example of a “latex-and-karo geek show” but that type of movie is like pizza for me: Even when it’s bad, it can only be so bad. It felt like the switch from Stewart Gordon to Brian Yuzna in the RE-ANIMATOR series. It lacked the central vision that made the original such a success, but it kept enough of the more easily exploitable aspects to make it reasonably entertaining on a superficial level.

  28. I clearly have no idea how to use HTML. I only meant to italicize “so.”

  29. I enjoyed the movie and I agree with most of Vern’s review (although it rankles to be compared to a Kenny G fan – I’m more of a metal guy – and not not “hair metal”!). I was a little disappointed by the ending but I can appreciate why they did it, and I do like the fact that it pretty much makes the movie sequel-proof!

  30. Abeberg and Majestyk:

    I struggled with this review from Friday night until I posted it late last night. Part of me wanted to avoid doing one of these reviews that’s reacting to other reviews, but part of me needed to get that off my chest. I honestly meant the list at the beginning not as a condescending “okay pal, I bet you haven’t seen these” but as a sincere “if you’ve seen lots of horror movies then it’s fair to like this better.” The petty beef I was dealing with there was with the reviewers on many websights who (it seems like to me) don’t really follow or like horror movies but then every couple years when there’s an acceptable one they declare it the best since SCREAM and that becomes the conventional wisdom.

    It’s kind of like I used to hate it when white college kids would declare A Tribe Called Quest the best hip hop when the only other rap they listened to was The Beastie Boys. But in retrospect they weren’t that far off so I shouldn’t be mad at them, or at people who think Shaun of the Dead is the best zombie movie, even though, I mean come on.

    All I mean by “real horror” is horror that means it seriously, and can be taken seriously. It can still be funny – I would include American Werewolf and Evil Dead 2, for example, but not Army of Darkness (good comedy though) or Dracula Dead and Loving It (well, I actually haven’t seen that one).

    I mean, don’t you think if Guillermo del Toro was producing this he could’ve made monsters following in different traditions, but still awesome, not like parody characters and SyFy channel escapees? Or at least on the level of The Monster Squad trying to put a new spin on the classic characters?

  31. I don’t know, Vern, I get where you’re saying but then it would be a different movie, and I like the one we’ve got. I love Del Toro but he’s not as funny as Whedon, and the funny was a lot of what I liked about it.

    But it’s cool. We all get bent out of shape about outside shit that affects our enjoyment of certain movies, even when we know it shouldn’t. I understand you weren’t really on the attack with that list. I just wanted to stress my horror bona fides so everybody knew where I was coming from.

    And that Tribe/Beasties comment was dead-on. I used to get into that argument all the time. But then this century happened, and now I would be fucking overjoyed if some young guy still thought Tribe was the best hip-hop group of all time.

  32. Not saying that wanting better monsters was getting bent out of shape about outside shit. That’s a perfectly valid criticism. I meant more critiquing the criticism, which we all do sometimes.

  33. vinylsaurus: don’t worry, I’m just flipping everybody shit with the Kenny G analogy. I liked CABIN IN THE WOODS and some of the other horror comedies mentioned, I will never like smooth jazz. Something fusiony like “Nautilus” by Bob James is about the closest I get.

  34. “Nautilus” is legendary. You could make an entire mixtape just out of classic songs that sampled it. “Beats To The Rhyme” by Run-DMC, “Children’s Story” by Slick Rick, “Follow The Leader” and “Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em” by Eric B. & Rakim, “Sun Won’t Come Out” by Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, “Clap Your Hands” by A Tribe Called Quest, “Daytona 500” by Ghostface Killah, “My Mind Spray” by Jeru The Damaja…and the list goes on. That song is a gift that keeps on giving.

  35. I’d say I’m a “casual” fan of straight horror. I don’t go seeking it out, but I’ve seen a number of classics and catch the odd newer thing on TV, often stuff Vern’s reviewed, like the CRAZIES remake, for instance. Really liked this, and I did actually find parts of it scary, the wolf’s head scene most notably. The Harbinger’s appearance did give me a fright too, despite the fact I KNEW it was coming, but because I misjudged the EXACT moment it came, it did surprise me. Dammit.
    I’d say EVIL DEAD 2 is just pushed into horror-comedy territory with the scene where Ash fights his possessed hand. That’s a pure slapstick sequence for me. It would have been actually scary if the hand had killed someone else and Ash had to watch before he could deal with it, but because it’s just attacking him and beats him by smashing plates over his head it’s just a funny sequence.


    I will reiterate what I said in another thread about not finding it convincing that those two would just choose to let the world end like that. I know it was kinda needed to have the final shot they did, but I was expecting that the girl not being a virgin would render the whole ritual a failure, or Marty would in fact turn out to be a failure and HE ended up the last one alive instead, subverting Final Girl cliche with a Final Boy instead.

    Also, I felt the soldier and female scientist characters were developed enough as being less detatched/callous to their job that I didn’t expect their deaths to be so throwaway.

    I also liked that the people behind the scenes we see are just the American branch, and there’s other departments in Sweden, Spain, Japan etc, giving us the hilarious scene of Jenkins cursing out the little japanese girls.

  36. This is one of those Apples and Oranges type deals. Everyone seems to agree it’s well-made, but it is a buffet style movie so your total enjoyment will depend on how you like the individual elements.

    I was able to laugh when the big betting board had “Angry Molesting Tree.” and different categories for Witches/Sexy Witches, but then I was able to feel horrified when the nice blonde girl got her stomach sawed open. It didn’t bother me that the entire movie wasn’t scary because I haven’t had nightmares about a movie since I watched Dream Warriors when I was 7 (Ok, that hallway scene in PULSE made me crawl up the back of the couch, but I was really, really, high).

    I think it’s a little unfair to compare the love Cabin in the Woods is getting to more recent straight horror films because most people haven’t seen those. Of course the general public responds to meta-horror because most of what they see either in the theater or advertised is the same old stupid shit that these movies are sending up. Sure we all fondly remember Hellraiser 1 & 2, but if all you see is Hellraiser 9 on Netflix instant of course it becomes a joke. Look at the main Redneck/Torture/Zombie family. Pick one of those 3 and you have 90% of mainstream American horror in the last 10 years. These trends are worth mockery and I feel lucky that we got a send up with an actual story and good dialogue and characters instead of Scary Movie 5.

  37. There was one thing in HELLRAISER 3 that i liked: the very hot lesbian subtext to the two main girls of the movie. Sadly, it was all for nothing. A sad missed oportunity.

    It is from Hellraiser 3 that they turned Pinhead into a villain, wasn’t it? Before he was purely a neutral figure of sorts. He just didn’t take kindly to be made a fool of a bargain. Aparently, the inicial idea was to make Julia the recurring villain of the Hellraiser series, but the actress got tired afterthe second movie, and it ws Pinhead who proved to be the popular freak of the show, so, as far i understand it, the series veered toward him and made him the Freddy Kruger of the show.

    I think that the first HELLRAISER movie exists on it’s own. You could just watch the first movie and nothing else of the series and you wouldn’t feel like you missed a thing.

  38. For what it’s worth, Hellraiser 2 was always my favorite. The first movie is pretty cool on its own terms, but I don’t think it really has a very interesting story or that it explores its themes very well (seems like it should be a lot more kinky and disturbing, considering all it’s big talk about pleasure and pain beyond comprehension), and it’s mostly fun for the awesome special effects.

    Part 2 isn’t necessarily much better in the story department, but it is a treasure trove of gross special effects, weird ass monsters, cool sets and effective nightmarish-ness.

  39. Dan Prestwich, it seems that the first Hellraiser movie is the only one that knows what story is wants to tell. The other ones are too worried about being part of a franchise they forget they are their own movies. The first movie is a movie, the others are segments.

    I can understand your interest in the second, however: the two leading ladies are mighty cute, and even Julia looks better and sexier.

  40. Asimovlives,

    I think you’re probably right about the franchise thing; as much as I enjoy the second film, I’m pretty sure I remember hearing it was rushed into production and came out a year after the first one. Whatever themes and ideas the first one maybe tried to explore (even if I don’t think they did it well) are pretty much thrown out the window, and the whole film is just an excuse for crazy special effects.

    That said, I happen to really, really dig all the effects in HELLRAISER 2. I probably pop it on once a year or so, preferably with friends and beers, and we just talk over all the dialogue.

  41. Ah yes…Hellraiser III. My most watched Hellraiser movie.

    Not because it’s really good, but I (still!) have a huge celebrity crush on Terry Farrell. What can I say?

  42. Love it or hate it, I think we can all agree that when the Merman came crawling out of the smoke towards Bradley Whitford, we had big cheesy grins on our faces. That was the funniest shit I’ve seen in a long ass time.

    Oh and when the Japanese school girls turned the evil spirit into a frog was brilliant.

    I can’t wait to re-watch this at home and have the ability to pause the screen at certain times, I know I missed some funny stuff, like the blackboard with all the possible summonable monsters. I saw pumpkins on there and was disappointed they never showed up.

    I’ve seen alot of mention about the two-way mirror making no sense in the story in other reviews and I just kind of assumed it would have been more of a factor depending on what other monsters they would have summoned, like The Strangers characters would have probably used it for something.

  43. How many of you guys seen the DTV HELLRAISER joints? INFERNO was no great shakes but it was still better than HELL ON EARTH and BLOODLINE cause at least it stuck closer to the tone of the first 2.

  44. Vern — ordinarily I would completely agree with you, and I’m real iffy on jokey postmodern horror. But here, the jokes are funny enough to easily let it slide on the horror front.

    I think a great comparison might be MACHETE. Not a great action movie, too jokey to really take seriously, it might be better if they’d just done it straight-up and let the action speak for itself. But it’s just got such a big goddam giddy shiteating grin on its face that you can’t help but be won over. Same thing here. Would it be better if it was a real horror instead of a pretend one? Maybe, but this is what we got, and I can’t think of another movie in a long time that I had such a fun time with.

    One complaint, which I also made in the Poptpourri discussion — The Buckners. I’m OK with it mostly being an effective postmodern comedy, but it’s a waste of time to pretend we’re scared of these generic pushovers. They needed to either cut through that bullshit or try a little harder to come up with some horror shit that still worked at a meta level but was *actually* scary. I still maintain it was the wrong call to try the disturbing horror route with things we know are entirely fabricated. The threat becomes entirely physical, and they’re not really much of a physical threat because they’re so easy to defeat. I mean, shit, by the time the kids go down the hatch, the Buckners have taken just as many losses as the college kids. If a stoned kid with a knife stuck in his spine can dismember your movie monster, I’m officially not scared of you. No problem, but the movie does pretend that we are for a little too long.

    The the third act happens, and everything is forgiven.

  45. Also: I saw the dirtbike early on but assumed it was just a PUMPKINHEAD reference, and was actually a little bummed when it turned out to be a plot point.

  46. Broddie: INFERNO was the fifth one, directed by the guy who made the THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL remake, right? (Yeah, I could just check IMDB, but whatever.) That’s actually a seriously good movie, if you can look past the fact that Pinhead basically tries to save a corrupt cop’s soul in this one. It has a creepy atmosphere, some cool visuals for an early 00’s DTV movie and a pretty good script. It’s pretty obvious that it wasn’t written as a HELLRAISER sequel (at least it feels like that), but it’s a very watchable DTV horror thriller.

  47. by the way, here’s a still of the “monster list” from CABIN.


  48. “Oh and when the Japanese school girls turned the evil spirit into a frog was brilliant.”

    good Lord was that hilarious

  49. “While those morons were singing What a friend we have in Shinto, we were bringing the pain!”

  50. Dan Prestwich, well, there’s nothing wrong in admiring the special effects on HELLRAISER 2 given how litle budget the movie had. In that regard, it’s quite an achievement.

  51. CJ Holden, Terry Farrell is indeed very yummy in HELLRAISER 3. Though i have to say black hair on her looks better. Still, it’s Terry Farrell, a very young Terry Farrell, so no complains. It’s just too bad the implied lesbian thingy they teased with us in the movie never come to any satisfatory fruition. My only true major complain with that movie.

  52. It’s got to be said:

    On top of everything else, there is also a ton of very timely symbolism for the way modern society operates in this movie. “Regular people willingly enter into a system that they are mostly oblivious to; an unseen hand does its best to predict and control everything they feel and do; and yet without this cruel, callous, restrictive and limiting system that by necessity preys on its participants, the world will turn into something unimaginably worse.”

    Um.. maybe one or two anti-establishment/corporate capitalism/pseudo police state/culture of surveillance/media & chemical & food conglomerate metaphors in there for anybody else? I realize with my recent comments on this site I am probably developing a ‘resident conspiracy theorist’ vibe, but what are ya gonna do, I call it like I see it. Please don’t think I’m suggesting there is some secret message hidden in this movie by the Illuminati or anything. I’m just saying there’s another, really awesome level of commentary besides the one about horror movies that Whedon and Goddard are working on here, and it would be cool to see it included on the list of reasons why it’s so good.

    Suffice it to say, I loved it, for the reasons above and also because it was just a fun, funny time at the movies. (For the record, I love Martyrs, too.)

  53. psychic_hits, i admire MARTYRS immensely, it’s a rarity among the so-called torture porn genre, it’s a movie with a physolophy. But to say i love it… well, that movie ruined the next 3 days after i saw it. I really got into a dark mood after it. The movie really hurt me.

    It’s a movie i admire, but to say i love it… you know what i mean?

  54. I also loved MARTYRS. Funny thing is, it didn’t ruin me, even though it is a truly punishing motion picture experience. In fact, I felt strangely uplifted when it was over. It’s like the movie had the same effect on me that the villains had on the main character: It tortured me into a state of transcendence.

    Still, no dragonbats. Fuck that movie.

  55. Asimov: I actually intended to use the word “love” there, but I know what you mean. I think that if the intent of the writer/director was to make the viewer feel as shitty as possible he would have included sexual violence, and mercifully, there’s none. Everything else is still pretty unrelenting, but I think Martyrs is a really beautiful film once it’s over. I thought it had a lot of truths to speak about trauma, sacrifice, empathy… IMO, it and Mysterious Skin have a lot in common under the surface.

    Majestyk: I know, not even a merman! Clearly it’s pure shit.

  56. psychic_hits – that’s a very good point and a very interesting observation, another pretty deep subtext I noticed in this movie is how people will normalize anything in an attempt to keep their sanity, I mean think about all the office workers and what they actually do and deal with, they’re responsible for people’s deaths for one thing, but they also deal with the supernatural and monsters and yet as a defense mechanism they all act like it’s just another average corporate workplace job, that rings very true I think

    and man, this talkback reminds me that I need to see Martyrs, I’ve been meaning to see that movie for ages

  57. CJ – Yeah that’s the one. It being developed at first as something unrelated to HELLRAISER makes sense. It explains why the cenobites feel so tacked on and have such little screen time.

    Even though it dragged at times it was indeed a solid little psychological horror DTV joint though and very true to the themes of Barker’s THE HELLBOUND HEART in many respects. It’s definitely one of the better sequels. Far ahead of HELL ON EARTH and BLOODLINE because it’s actually very similar to the first 2 in terms of tone. Definitely leagues better than the one with Lance Henriksen and Henry Cavill because it’s not http://WWW.HELLRAISER.COM

  58. I really enjoyed this movie but there’s no way I’m calling it horror. This really feels more like a sci-fi, new millennium, Twilight Zone type of deal to me. It wasn’t really scary at all, but it was highly entertaining in every way. Until I read this review I hadn’t really thought of the stoner character as a way of pointing out how the only self-aware character is the one who ruins everything. That makes perfect sense to me, especially when combined with Joss Whedon’s comments about this movie being a love/hate letter about the current state of horror movies. I like the original scream alot but I hate what came from it. Horror is not scary when everyone in the damn movie thinks they’re too smart for their own good. The movies that came after scream pretty much ruined mainstream horror. I don’t believe Cabin in the Woods is a game changer in anyway, especially since I don’t believe it should really even be labeled a horror movie. I’m still waiting for a real game changing classic since there really hasn’t been one in years.

  59. Griff, by all means, watch MARTYRS, it’s a remarkable movie. Just prepare to have the rest of the week ruined for you.

  60. Asimov: It’s interesting how much younger Terry Farrell looks in Hellraiser, if you consider that she made the movie only one or two years before DEEP SPACE NINE.
    I also recently saw her at a convention and let me tell you one thing: Now she’s almost 50 years old and her hair is turning grey, but damn, she is still unbelievable hot if you ask me.

  61. CJ Holden, i once saw a glamour beach photo she did while still on DS9, and let me tell you, age had nothing on her. And she must had been already in her mid 30s by then.

    Good to know she still looks hot pushing 50. It’s always heartbreaking to see beauty fading with age on all those beautiful girls we used to lust over them in our youth. Except Helen Mirren, there’s no way she can get un-hot. Age has no domain on her.

  62. Since the talk is now including Star Trek and their babes, i’d like to ask you guys to watch a Star Trek documentary called THE CAPTAINS. It’s directed by non other then William Shatner. The doc is about all the actors who played starship captains in the ST shows, and he interviews Patrick Stewart, Kate Mulgrew, Avery Brooks, Scott Bakula and Chris Pine. It’s a very good documentary, very funny, lots of fun, and ocasionally quite heartbreaking (Patrick Stewart being the biggest stand out).

    Like all of recent Shatner stuff, there’s a good level of self-deprecation in his own depiction in the documentary, but it’s really good stuff. And Shatner is a great interviewer, he turns it into a sort of confessional conversation, and with Mulgrew it has a bit of flirt to it, as he would.

    I’m suprised that Vern hasn’t reviewed this movie yet on his site. He would love to know that Avery Brooks is a great jazz enthusiast and quite an accomplished piano player, and his interview with Shatner he’s constantly playing on the piano, jamming, playing to the tune of the mood the interview is taking him. Good stuff.

  63. My favorite William Shatner work:


    Fucking great song, great re-interpretation of a great song.

  64. I guess TREKKIES turned Vern away from every Trek related documentary.

    And I totally agree about Shatner’s version of COMMON PEOPLE. I even prefer it to the the original.

  65. fuck his version of Common People, THIS is where it’s at


  66. CJ Holden, yes TREKKIES and TREKKIES 2 are quite scary docs. It was also one major reason why in the past i was a bit critical of the shows, even though i still had some respect. Then i rewatched, or rather, saw for the first time the whole of the TOS show, and my respect for ST gained an enourmus boost. And then i saw that exacrable abomionation of shit that is the JarJar Abramscheisse’ ASS TREK, and then i learned a big lesson: It’s foolish to mistake Star Trek for the trekkies. Also, what a smart show ST wasw comlared to the total mental and shitty filmmaking that is the JarJar Abramscheisse’s abomination.

    I wish Vern could still be open enough about Star Trek to watch THE CAPTAINS. It’s a really good show, and he could gain a new respect for the actors that made the show and what they had to sacrifice to make the show go on.

  67. I found the TREKKIES docs hilarious, especially the “this is the WORST possible time you could have called me! go away!” scene

  68. Between this and The Walking Dead I must really hate horror movies. This is news to me.

    Are there any other movies that, if I enjoy, also means I hate horror movies? Is it okay that I still like Human Centipede and Shaun of The Dead and Otis? I didn’t get the definitive list of movies that horror movie fans are allowed and not allowed to like so if anyone can help me out I would be very grateful.

    I thought Martyrs was pretty good so maybe I only kinda sorta like horror movies but then again I hated Frontier(s) and Rubber so maybe not. Maybe I’ll just play it safe and tell everyone I only like Dawn of The Dead and the original remake of The Thing.

  69. I witnessed parts of the filming of TREKKIES 2, btw. Maybe my buddy and me are even in it, but I never saw it. (No, we weren’t interviewed and we didn’t wear any costumes. If we are in it, it’s maybe just a few glimpses of the only guys at Germany’s biggest convention, who look like Jay & Silent Bob. [Like I said, we didn’t wear costumes.])

  70. The ludicrous idea why THE WALKING DEAD is not for REAL horror fans just pisses me off. There are more scary shit in that show than in pretty much any other zombie-movie out there. Or in most “real” horrormovies I´ve seen.

  71. Slightly on topic: Is Boz Scaggs considered smooth jazz? I like his music.

  72. As someone who’s seen dozens of zombie movies and hundreds of horror movies, I don’t see the big deal about that show. It’s like a handsomely produced but largely anonymous mid-budget festival also-ran that just happens to be a whole day long. The zombies are good but the show itself is dull as dishwater, something I could stand for 90 minutes but not for that amount of time. I’m not saying you’re not a “real” horror fan if you like it, but I don’t get why a “real” horror fan would be so into it when there are far more efficient and enjoyable zombie delivery systems out there.

  73. I can’t explain why I like it that will make you understand anymore than you can make me understand why you hate it so much, but I think the real issue here at the moment is Boz Scaggs.

  74. I don’t really hate it. It just doesn’t do anything for me. It just feels like another of those boring, color-desaturated, plinky-piano-score horror flicks that try to be all about characters and drama but don’t really have enough of either one to compensate for the lack of fun and thrills. I’m just really tired of horror with that tone, which is why I reacted so strongly to CitW. But if you’re digging it, that’s cool, too. I like Boz Scaggs.

  75. Is this weird? It seems obvious to most of us that CABIN IN THE WOODS isn’t scary, which is/isn’t okay, as it’s trying far harder to be funny than frightening. But in the theater, I witnessed a lot of counter-evidence — CABIN might actually play scary for some audiences. The women sitting next to me were screaming, jumping, eye-covering, groaning “aw god no no” and “that’s fucked UP” and “whaaat is going on?!?!” and it appeared entirely genuine and uncontrolled. Basically they were freaking the hell out and that was great.

  76. Chopper Sullivan

    April 19th, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Is Cabin in the Woods that much less scarier than say, Evil Dead 2? Sure ED2 had atmosphere, but who was scared by Henrietta turning into an ostrich or rotten apple head gushing blue blood at the end? Evil Ed eating Bobbi Joe’s hair?

    I don’t know, I love that fucking movie, and it was a revelation for me in ways that Cabin isn’t, but I think they’re fairly close to each other on the horror/comedy scale.

  77. I think scariness is overrated. If I only liked horror movies that scared me, I’d only like maybe six, total.

  78. I don’t find Evil Dead 2 scary in the least, the only Evil Dead that creeps me out at all is the original (which is also, in my opinion, the best one in the series)

  79. I think the best comparison for The Cabin In The Woods is Night of The Creeps and Night of The Comet, both are movies that are not very scary, but are nevertheless awesome and feel like real horror movies with comedy mixed in, instead of an outright spoof like those fucking Scary Movies

  80. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 19th, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Ok ok ok ok ok. I reviewed this one in the “couple reviews” thread and thought much the same as Vern did.

    BUT… I went back and thought about it some more, read some other reviews, and discovered a whole lot of stuff I’d missed because I’d been at the cinema after a HARD day at work, dead tired, not really in the mood, etc. And now I kinda want to see the movie again to see how well it stands up to a second viewing. So… initial impressions were the same as Vern’s, but thinking about it afterwards and with the benefit of other reviews, I honestly think I underrated the movie.

    My favorite scene was the bit where they discover the mirror and the guy decides not to spy on the girl, but instead they switch rooms and SHE promptly starts spying on HIM. And what do you reckon the chances were he was stripping off in his room for that exact reason? Joss Whedon’s great at little character moments like that.

    I still think they should’ve had Cthulu though.

  81. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 19th, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Evil Dead 2 wasn’t scary, it was a mindfuck. There’s a big difference there. “Cabin in the Woods” is similar in that respect, although the tone is very different in both movies.

    And while we’re on the subject of “Evil Dead 2”, THAT was a movie that contained scenes that were fucking awesome. “WHO’S LAUGHING NOW, HUH??!!!” In comparison to some other scenes that have been given the “awesome” moniker around here, which really really aren’t. Let’s keep some standards sacred, guys, and only put put the “awesome” label on scenes that really deserve it.

  82. Griff— thanks! I like your reading of it, too, especially since the cabin crew (except for Fran Kranz, I guess) is just as guilty of living in the present moment as the control room folks. “We’ve got to stick together!” “OK!” “Actually, no wait, we should split up!” “OK!”

  83. Hamslime: That’s not at all what I meant to come across in the review, as further clarified in the comments. My point is that reviewers who aren’t really into horror movies still have to review them for their job, so they make these “BEST HORROR MOVIE OF THIS GENERATION” type declarations all the time, and it annoys me. Of course I’m not saying that people who liked CABIN IN THE WOODS hate horror movies, because that would mean that I and 98% of the commenters here hate horror movies.

  84. When i first saw EVIL DEAD 2, i wasn’t yet savvy enough of the horror genre. i had recently seen the first EVIL DEAD, which is a genuine horror movie, and it scared the living shit out of me.

    When i first saw ED2, which was on TV, i didn’t saw the first sequence with Ash and his girlfriend arriving at the cabin. So, i had assumed the movie started directly from the ending of the first movie, when Ash is carried by the evil presence and goes flying trough the woods until falls face first on a dirty pond. So, for a while i took it as a serious scary movie. Until after a while i started to suspect that the shit shown on the movie has, shall we say, an ulterior motive other then horror. A friend of ine who was watching it turned to me and asked me “is this suppsoed to be funny?”. to which i replied, “yes, this is supposed to be funny. this is a comedy”. The scene that dispealed any doubts to me was when the room starts laughing, everything is laughing, the bookshelfs, the books, the furniture, the window panes, the moose head, and Ash himself. After that, i took the movie as it is, a bloody comedy… literally.

    The first movie, however, is real horror. i prefer the first movie. i don’t evne see it as a part of the Evil dead series that counds the second and 3rd movie. It’s easy to seperate them, in that one is EVIL DEAD where Ash is a sympathetic nerd, and the second and 3rd where Ash is a jerkass jock.

  85. I still mantain that if CABIN IN THE WOODS brings more people to the horor movie fold, be it their entry movie to the genre, then it did a good thing for the genre, more then most horror movies have in recent years.

  86. While I agree that it’s not so much a horror film as it is a film about horror films, it did get me a couple times. Most notably when the girl was making out with the wolf bust, I thought that thing was going to bite her fucking face off.

    Also, when Sigourney Weaver and the zombie girl tumbled over the edge at the end I thought for sure they were going to end up as ‘the fool’ and ‘the virgin’.

  87. Vern is, yet again, 100% on the mark with his review.

    However, I must say that Shaun of the Dead really *is* a masterpiece of horror comedy. The funny parts make the scary parts scarier because I really, really cared about Shaun and his mother. The scene where they have a Mexican standoff over whether or not to shoot her is one of my all-time favorite scenes. I didn’t know how they would handle it without destroying the mood of the entire film. It’s a sincerely scary and heartbreaking moment that functions much better than it would in a straight horror film specifically because of the laughs that came before hand.

    Also, the ridiculous deus ex machina of the purge button is apparently brilliant to cabinmanics because it’s *ironically* lazy writing. See how clever these guys are? Even their total cop outs are ‘clever.’

  88. Shaun of the Dead is one of my top 3 zombie movies (Day of the Dead and Re-Animator are the other two), “Paul’s Boutique” makes my top 10 hip-hop albums and a DVD of Hellraiser 3-5 is in my computer as I type this…

    I guess I gotta turn in my Outlaw Membership Card…

  89. Hey, Paul’s Boutique is a fucking classic.

    Now, if you’d said Check Your Head, that would be more telling.

  90. Vern – I got it. I read the response to Mr. Majestyk and Dan Prestwich after the fact.

    There was a lot of that “‘A’ is a ‘B’ for people who don’t like ‘B'” going on in The Walking Dead talkback here. It’s a phrase that comes off as extremely condescending and I was in disbelief that you of all people would go there. As I said though, I now get where you were going there and should have assumed I misinterpreted you.

    NOW, about Boz…smooth jazz or no? I’m thinking there’s plenty of smooth jazz elements to his music but I’m unclear as to whether it officially qualifies as smooth jazz.

  91. I don’t know if the purge button is lazy. Why wouldn’t a building that housed monsters have a purge button? Prisons have a button or lever that opens all the cell doors, don’t they?

  92. Does anyone have answers or explanations for my nitpicks & questions (elevator of blood? control booth? weaponry & wounding the dark skinned guy?) near the very top of this thread?

    I’ma go see it again probably next week, but it’d be nice if you guys can clarify some shit now so I’m not fixated on it throughout my 2nd viewing.

    Also, has Griff or anyone else yet gone & watched THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME, and if so do you see the similarities I’m seeing? If not, mebbe I’m insane, no big deal.

    Also, the only movies ever to scare me on any level are WIZARD OF OZ, BLACK SWAN, JESUS CAMP, MOOLAADE, GASLIGHT, ELITE SQUAD, ELITE SQUAD 2, and THE HEIRESS, and the first halves of MARTYRS & INSIDE.

  93. And maybe parts of WILLOW when I was a youngun. That wild boar opening is no joke for a 6-7 year old, plus the acorn-water monster, plus the witchcraft in the finale.

  94. Well…yes and no.

    I presume that prisons have a button that opens all the cells…but that’s probably one for each cell block, or one for each row on each floor of each cell block (which I know that Alcatraz has). If a prison caught fire and burned thousands of (disproportionately minority and mostly non-violent drug ‘offenders’) to death, the privatized corporate body that built the prison through illegal non-bid contracts would probably get sued and lose.

    In the case of Cabin in the Woods, there is no moral issue. Is Monster-PETA gonna come down on the secret government lab because they let a mega-cobra die? Hell, as near as I could tell, the vast majority of the beasties wouldn’t even be harmed by fire. You think Pesudo-Pinhead cares about your petty disaster preparedness programs? Please. That shit’s foreplay to him.

    There is no legal, strategic, logical or efficiency reason for there to be a purge button that can unilaterally send all of the monsters in the entire world in the room you are currently standing in. And even if there were, why would there be no fail safe? No no key to turn? No password? No retinal scan, finger print matching? You know, ANY kind of security?

    The existence of the Deus Ex Machina functions only as a commentary of Deus Ex Machinas and utterly fails as part of the narrative proper. It’s like the filmmakers are spitting in your face for even considering getting involved with the movie on a visceral level. When you write a story, you have to care about the story first and foremost. If you get caught up in sharing your ideology or subtext over the needs of the narrative, then you’re writing a lecture or a polemic. And while lectures and polemics certainly have their place, (ie, my second paragraph…see, I *get* meta), they fail my sniff test for storytelling.

  95. I don’t know, I’ve always thought Shaun of The Dead totally deflates after they get to the tavern, up until that point the movie is indeed a classic, but I don’t think they fully stick the landing

    I really need to see it again though, buying both that and Hot Fuzz (which I’ve yet to see sadly) on blu ray has been on my to do list for ages

  96. There were fail safes in place. For one, it was located in a basement that you would have to go through either armed guards or the way the kids came which was through the monsters themselves in a secure enough room.

    There’s no fingerprint scan but I would assume that anyone that worked in that area would have a pretty high clearance level so the fingerprint and retinal scanners would not be very cost effective. Hell at the shop I work at there’s acetylene tanks blocked up by nothing more than a chain. Anyone could come over, open the tanks, light a match, and witness a hell of a fireworks show (for the few milliseconds they’re still alive that is) as there’s no real security in place for them but who would do that? It would be suicide.

    As for the “monster PETA” I would say that the “guys upstairs” might have something to say about their investments being put in danger. I can’t imagine you could just pick up a cheap monster from Wal-Mart. Also their seems to be an understanding on certain rules between humans and the gods and perhaps having a purge button installed is one of the stipulations of their (our) contract.

    The honest truth though is that I don’t work at a monster factory nor do I know enough about them to know what rules and regulations are in place for businesses that house them. I do know that at that point of the movie my initial though to the guy hitting the purge button was, “YESSSSSS!” If they would have taken the time to explain why there’s a purge button I would have taken that time to make a quick trip to the bathroom and hopefully got back in time for “YESSSSSS!”.

    So I guess I don’t see it as lazy writing. I just see it as getting to the point.

  97. Look, when Beowulf was magically gifted with the only weapon that could destroy Grendl’s mother, it made sense within the context of that story and within the constraints of being, like, the first modern piece of storytelling. Sure, it’s kinda a stretch and sure it’s rather convenient, but by the time Beowulf gets the sword (the name of which I forget), he has emotionally changed and *earned* the sword.

    The gift of the Deus Ex Machina is received only after the protagonist has resolved his internal dilemma, thus allowing him to fight the external dilemma.

    But Cabin in the Woods not only has a *massive* Deus Ex Machina, it has a poorly constructed one too. Neither over-acting-stoner boy nor not-quite-pretty-enough-to-be-the-lead-in-this-type-of-movie girl has really learned anything or changed at all when they are gifted with the magical solution to their problems.

    A Deus Ex Machina’s function is to reveal the true point of the story. You *thought* it was a story about fighting terrorists in an office building, but actually, it’s about a guy coming to terms with his responsibilities to his ex-wife and his estranged children. You *thought* it was a story about a girl going on a magical adventure through a strange land, but actually it was about learning to be who you really are. You *thought* it was a story about a neurotic writer suffering from writer’s block, but actually it was about learning what it is to love selflessly.

    Notice how the repeating theme is a shift from a personal goal to a larger societal goal or a universal truth about the human condition? A good Deus Ex Machina doesn’t mess up the flow of the story because it’s overlaid with a narrative twist about the real reason for telling the story. I’ve only seen Cabin once, but I also read the screenplay, and neither one of them actually has any type of character arc.

    Unless, maybe the real Deus Ex Machina is the Not-Cthulhu that attacks at the end? If this is the case, then the entire movie is a concerted call for Nihilism. And…well…it’s not.

  98. I don’t know, it would’ve seemed less silly if it was a row of buttons instead of one (or was it?). But I think the characters earned it. They survived many attacks (and escape attempts), discovered the secret, dared to go down the elevator, made it to the room with the button in it. And they have an “oh shit, is that what I think it is, is this even possible?” moment that sells it.

    I just can’t wrap my head around liking Shaun of the Dead better than Dawn of the Dead. The whole thing is a worshipful homage to the real deal. Even the characters in the movie would be kinda mad about that. Could I compare it to somebody loving a tribute album to an artist they’re not really into? I guess it would depend on the tribute album and the artist.

  99. The characters that go to the cabin character archs are kind of fucked up because they don’t really have any growing to do. They’re good kids that are going to a cabin for a vaction. The arch is backwards though because the people at Monsters Inc. keep drugging them to turn them into the typical stereotypes you see in movies like this to make the sacrifice to the gods “legitamate” or at least legitamate acording to the terms agreed upon between the gods and the guys upstairs.

    I think it’s the people at the monster factory that get punished for their actions moreso than the ones at the cabin. They’re the ones that behaved immorally and paid for it by bringing on the end of the world. The kids in the cabin were essentially game pieces in the whole thing so you’re right that their character arc is fucked but they’re not your typical characters so it works for me. (and the writers I would assume)

    What exactly is the Deus Ex Machina you’re referring to? I assumed it was the gods thing but that was the whole premise of the story. It could be the purge button I suppose but I don’t really see a problem there.

  100. i like Rage Against the Machine’s Renegades better than most of the original songs… But then, Renegades was also the first album I ever bought and I was like 11, so it was also my first exposure to that type music.

    Shaun works for me because it is both funny and emotionally sincere, which makes it scary. Dawn of the Dead is, of course, a masterpiece in its own right, I just don’t find it as pleasurable. Plus, Edgar Wright is clearly the superior director, even if I haven’t really loved anything he has made since.

  101. The Deus Ex Machina is the purge button; an element that exists in the world of the story for the sole purpose of aiding the protagonist at a key moment.

    Of course, the movie has a construction wherein we’re actually watching the same movie twice. You see the kids going through the obvious horror movie on the surface level while the engineers simultaneously endure a similarly constructed though aesthetically different horror film in their lab.

    Because of this, you get two of everything. The technology breaks down in the cabin (cellphones don’t work, van can’t escape, ect.) and the technology breaks down underground (the explosives don’t go off, the drugging doesn’t work, ect.) Then, you get twin lowpoints (which it looks like the survivor girl is gonna drown and when all the other sacrifices fail) followed by twin Deus Ex Machina (the purge button and the literal Gods from the laboratory’s machinery) and twin climaxes.

    The problem is, we’re never allowed to understand why there is a horror film going on in the lab. We get vague allusions to, ‘Upstairs’ and the like…but WHY did the explosives not go off? Why did all of the other sacrifices fail? The film creates a meta-critique of plot contrivances in other horror films, but then never comes up with a good reason why the laboratory folks have the same problem. In fact, I’d wager that the laboratory folks trials *only* make sense within the context of a meta-critique and do not function in any way as part of the straight narrative.

  102. You KNOW I gotta push the purge button on that one, Tawdry. You probly just meant he was a “superior director” on a technical level, but I don’t see that yet. Romero isn’t the slickest visual director, but neither was Wright until his most recent movie. Both are directors who are beloved for putting their personalities into genre-ish movies, one coming from a counterculture perspective and the other from pop culture obsession. One was very influential and fiercely independent, the other charming and funny but has only done 3 movies. So far he leans heavily on referencing previous movies. Romero was more inventive, he did Night, Dawn, your favorite zombie movie of all time, Knightriders and Martin, plus his lesser tier stuff that is also good like Monkey Shines, The Dark Half and Land of the Dead. And I didn’t even mention Creepshow because I don’t like it very much, but most people do.

    At this point there is no evidence to support Wright being “clearly the superior director.”

  103. Yeah, I meant on a technical level. I actually had an asterisk in my post noting that Romero has made more movies that I liked than has Wright, but then I deleted it for some reason. However, it was all worth it because, “I gotta push the purge button on that” is a pretty good Vern-ism.

    In summary, go watch Blade II again.

  104. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 19th, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Ok… once and for all… why do Americans like “Shaun of the Dead”? Is it a cultural thing? Is it because they don’t see that the central three characters of “Irritating Condescending Wannabe Career Woman”, “Neurotic Under-Achiever” and “Stupid Lazy Slob” have been in every irritating British washing powder advert ever made? What are you guys seeing that I don’t? I grant you there’s some great slapstick humour and some good pop-culture jokes, but… the characters are SO unlikeable and SO annoying, I just couldn’t get into it.

    Two things I have to say:

    1) “Shaun of the Dead” uses a great bit of slapstick humour to lead up to the grand payoff of… and this almost made my brain drop out of my head – a joke about how everyone bought a Dire Straits album and subsequently regretted it. (In British culture that’s almost as rare as seeing Jerry Springer play himself in American film). Shit, guys, they’re just making it up as they go along.**

    2) Vernon Kay is in this film. And he doesn’t get eaten by a zombie. In terms of disappointments, this is up there with the kickboxer who doesn’t kick a snake in “Snakes on a Plane”. Look, if you have one of the (at the time) most recognisable, annoying men in Britain in your zombie film, you have him eaten by a fucking zombie! How hard is that to understand?!

    Actually, come to think of it, the “Snakes on a Plane” comparison seems like a much more apt one for “Shaun of the Dead” than “Cabin in the Woods” was. Maybe Shaun wasn’t as cynically marketed to a specific crowd (although it’s a zombie film starring a nerdy guy and his lardy friend, I don’t know how much credit I can give it there), but to me there was the same constant sense of this being a massive missed opportunity. But specifically the point about the main characters all being obnoxious stereotypes, mostly recognisable from advertising more than anything else, to me, was a deal-breaker.

    But I like how at least one person agrees with me on “Cabin in the Woods” and Cthulu. Makes me feel like I’m not completely out of touch on this one at least.

    **For some reason, I want to see how Jack Black’s character in “High Fidelity” would react to this scene. Would probably be a lot more entertaining than anything in “Shaun of the Dead”…

  105. There were set ups throughout the movie where it was evident that the monster factory had the same human errors as any other place of business. The chem lab and “the guys down in maintenance” etc. The monster factory ran pretty smoothly but there were errors made during the course of the movie and it stands to reason there were errors made before the movie as well.

    It’s more or less a typical 9-5 job for most the people that have worked there for longer than a few months. Things break down, don’t work properly, work tools are obsolete. These are all things that are part of a days work no matter how important your job is.

    The cave wasn’t blown up because (according to the guys in charge of demolition) no one was given the orders to do so. (it very likely could have been that they were fucking off instead of doing their job) It may seem convenient but these things happen a lot in all workplace environments. Especially ones with so many people on the payroll.

    The gas didn’t take effect because they didn’t take into consideration the effects pot would have in relation to the gas. A stupid mistake on the chem lab’s part but the guy from Billy Madison essentially describes them as being less than proficient at their job at the very beginning of the movie so that’s not really a stretch either. Think of it as The Office, but instead of making paper they’re preventing the end of the world by way of ritual sacrifice.

  106. I donno…I thought the characters in Shaun of the Dead were three dimensional and all evolved and learned things and changed. It was relatable to me and funny and had good gore and good makeup effects and when it got down to just Shaun and Nick Frost, I was actually scared and sad. I knew the comedy film wouldn’t end with the two characters committing suicide, but I also didn’t see another way out.

    And I’m not some British culture nerd. I watched the British Office once through, Spaced once through, and I like The Arctic Monkeys and The Streets…but I don’t unreservedly love media from any specific culture, except for maybe Korean film and pop music.

    I don’t even love all of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s work. Hot Fuzz and Paul underwhelmed me and Run Fatboy Run was a bit of a wash, even if it was better than I expected. Hell, I’ve spent a good amount of time with Pegg in multiple occasions and I get the impression that he specifically *doesn’t* like me. But Shaun works for me. And it *really* really works for me.

  107. Why doesn’t he like you? Is it because you’re black?

  108. I donno… I mean, he tweeted a picture of us together after we finished making a comedy short (while we were at Area 51 for the Paul junket), which was cool. But I absentmindedly made a joke about Xenu (Freudian slip, I actually meant to refer to a Klingon or some fictional alien) during our interview, and I think he took some offense to that since Tom Cruise has been a a major boon to his career. When I had dinner with him in LA – I think Fred was there too – he seemed a bit testy. But that might just be his personality.

    Realistically, I’ve done a few memorable press events for his films, wore a Tuskian Raider costume for a comedy skit with him for break.com and had dinner with him and 15 journalists at a fancy resturant on Hollywood and Vine. If the dude even knows who I am, it’s because he knows the website for which I write and maybe the costume I wore for the skit. He has no opinion of me, but seemed slightly annoyed by me on two brief occasions.

  109. Mouth: I think the reason that the control booth is empty is this: the Controllers realized that the kids were in one of the cubes. They sent all of their guys to go get them. While those guys were on their way, the control booth guy goes *first* to get them out of the elevator. He is the guy that they knock out, so when they find the control booth, it is both empty and unlocked (because the guy left the booth in a hurry and forgot to lock it or something, I guess).

    Why they have a giant monster factory but for some reason keep their hordes of armed guards far away from the elevators that apparently don’t do anything but let the monsters out is not something I have an answer to.

  110. If only you liked Hot Fuzz a bit more, you two would be BFFs.

  111. The elevators are to load in the monsters and probably to transport food.

  112. The best part of SHAUN OF THE DEAD is at the beginning when the skinny guy is supposed to be having a serious talk with the fat guy while he’s playing PlayStation, and, in between the serious parts of the conversation, the skinny guy keeps pointing out where the fat guy should be shooting bad guys on the video game.

    It’s good acting, it establishes a believable relationship, it’s funny, it’s unexpectedly bizarre but easily relatable for a guy like me who remembers having those weird roommate moments during my college years, and it’s totally tonally consistent with the rest of the movie.


    And Tawdry, when you say that CABIN IN THE WOODS “has a construction wherein we’re actually watching the same movie twice,” that’s essentially what I’m saying when I compare it to the great INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. And Vern kinda noted the same thing here:

    ***You side with the kids and want them to live because that’s what you do in a story like this, but you also find out that if they live then the world will end. But you’re still rooting for them and you disapprove of the scientists in the underground lab being so callous and having fun watching them die. But of course you’re also the guys in the underground lab watching them, feeling bad for them while wanting them to die for everyone else’s benefit. They have a shot or two of the scientists silhouetted against their big screens as a horror scene is going on and in front of that you see the row of people in front of you in the actual theater silhouetted against your giant screen…***

    I thought you liked that meta shit, thought you aspired to make some of your own scripts & ideas do the same kind of thing. It seems like you’re reaching for reasons to discredit CABIN IN THE WOODS, or maybe your [early] closeness to the actual text of the script is clouding your ability to give in to the movie as a regular viewer. No big deal, I could be wrong, and I’m not, like, a die hard defender of the movie. And it’s nice that we at least regard CABIN as worthy of all this heavy analysis, but it seems like it’d be up your alley and you keep dissing the story because… the characters don’t seem to change enough?

    [Is it giving the movie too much credit to point out that the fake blonde’s character arc occurred before the movie began, when she dyed her hair? And that the [non-]virgin girl’s character arc (as a talkbacker noted above) goes in reverse, as she begins the movie with no pants, immediately has a guy tell her to deny her studious nerdy nature when he insists that she not bring her nerdy textbooks, notes that she’s not a virgin, but then demonstrates repeatedly that she is hesitant to hook up with the guy she’s supposed to hook up with, acting all-virginy even in the presence of his “husband bulge,” and ends up with the one guy who’s not at all a sexual hook up target? They’re 2 neutered beings by that point, although his character growth entails converting his bong into a weapon, and his weed addiction into a defense against airborne chemical effects. Irony! Character growth! She goes from girl-in-her-panties-ogling-pic-of-her-older-lover in the beginning to asexual action almost-hero/anti-hero at the end. Character growth!]

  113. Gracias, braak.

    I’m always trying to form a mental blueprint & interior schematics for unfamiliar physical locations when I see them or walk through them, which is good for missions but a bad habit for moviewatching since we rarely see real buildings & full sets on the big screen.

    So I easily get headaches & cognitive dissonance when I see empty hallways & rooms & Tetris-y elevator shafts and I’m not sure what they’re connected to or how much space is between them and all that. And that’s why RUSSIAN ARK is such a pleasant movie for me.

  114. I just want to say that I quite enjoyed seeing that actress in her panties

  115. Chopper Sullivan

    April 20th, 2012 at 12:26 am

    I liked the part where a unicorn gored a motherfucker.

    I’ll throw down the gauntlet though. If you liked Shaun of the Dead more than the original Dawn of the Dead, you’re probably a butthole. I know you’re a young cunt and Rage’s shitty cover album was your first love, but that’s no excuse.

    Or maybe it is. It’s like with THE DARK KNIGHT. Maybe it ain’t that deep. So what? It’s still pretty fucking fun isn’t it? Can’t that be enough for once? Can’t I just enjoy it and go fuck myself without caring about what you think?

    Yes. I think I can.

  116. Goddammit, somehow Batman has now infiltrated this thread, too.

  117. Tawdry — As far as the Duex Ex “Monster Release” button goes…. let me ask you this, would you rather have them go through some convoluted bullshit where they overhear someone say the passcode or something, or would you rather just acknowledge that we want to see the monsters get out and accept that the plot just cuts right to that?

    To me, the whole thing is so laughably ludicrous on its face that I’d rather have them throw out the logic and get to the goods. Which I think the thing generally does with extreme prejudice. If adding a fingerprint scanner to that machine would make the whole thing logical and believable, I’m not sure you’ve really thought through the premise all that well.

  118. Actually…The Dark Knight was a pretty interesting treatises on the Bush Doctrine. Seriously.

    And I didn’t say that Shaun was *better* than Dawn, just that…if I’m gonna watch a zombie movie, It’s probably gonna be Re-Animator, Shaun of the Dead or Day of the Dead. Dawn of the Dead is great once a year, or to show to friends who have never seen a movie released before 1980. But Day has better gore and a more interesting story to think about (for me), Shaun has better characters and Re-Animator is just all kinds of awesome and features an antagonist who is the spitting image of John Kerry.

    Also, I haven’t listened to that Rage album, or ANY Rage album in about 8 years.

  119. Chopper Sullivan

    April 20th, 2012 at 1:05 am

    Fair enough. I’m a little defensive when it comes to DAWN, and when it comes to a band that does the WORST cover of Kick Out the Jams ever. Seriously? How do you fuck that up? The Presidents of the United States of America did a better cover.

    I don’t know. Maybe it’s about Bush. I thought it was about a dude in bat suit fighting a clown. It was pretty fun and smart for what it was, but it wasn’t the Godfather.

    And fuck the Godfather. What’s so meaningful about that? Some douches commit crimes and killing people they don’t like. So what? What the fuck does that say about the human condition? I don’t relate to those scumbags. Sonny never had to put a fucking box on a pallet. What the fuck do I care if he gets gunned down?

    I’m drunk. I took a LAYDEE to see Cabin tonight and she loved it. Didn’t get laid though. Can’t win them all I guess.

  120. I like their cover of “How I Could Just Kill a Man.” Also, I was tempted to edit Tawdry’s post to say “I haven’t listened to that Rage album, or ANY Rage album in about 8 years, 2 months and 3 days.” Just to make us wonder what the specific event was that made him stop listening.

  121. Also, my favorite Bob Dylan song is a cover of a traditional folk ballad (North Country Girl) and my favorite version of one of his classic originals is a cover by Cloud Cult.

    In summary, my taste makes no sense, except when viewed through the prism of Baudrillard and his theories of hyper-reality. But fuck, I’ve been meta since the day I was born. I mean, my first word was, “Dada.”

    Also, Vern you have my full permission to edit my posts for comedy purposes at any time.

  122. Chopper Sullivan

    April 20th, 2012 at 2:00 am

    And on an unrelated drunken note, why don’t you review CEMETERY MAN already? What are ya, a fucking fruit?

  123. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 20th, 2012 at 2:13 am

    Mouth – you have pointed out one of the things I LIKED about “Shaun of the Dead”. That kind of humour is, to me, where it worked. Can’t agree with the three-dimensional characters though.

    Let me elaborate on the “Dire Straits” thing though… and I admit this is a subjective point, you may very well disagree… See, back when “Shaun” was released, it was kinda the “done thing” to take the piss Dire Straits in that way. Especially for a certain subset of, let’s say, music nerds. Now if the record-throwing scene had subverted this – if they’d have grabbed a copy of “Brothers in Arms” and looked at it in horror, going “NO! That’s too rare, we must protect this!” in utter seriousness, I would’ve laughed my ass off.

    As it was, I felt like the movie was inviting me to share and take pleasure in these two characters being, well let’s say on the same page as a subset of unpleasantly condescending elitist assholes who I would have, at the time, happily invited to jump in front of a bus. It felt like it wasn’t subverting anything, it was playing into what the moviemakers’ perceptions of nerdy office workers (like myself) should be. And I think they got this part wrong.

    This is why “Hot Fuzz” to me was a HUGE step forward. The way it played with action movie tropes was as much an improvement over “Shaun of the dead” as the characters and character-based humour was. It subverts expectations but does it in a way that’s affectionate to the source material. Whereas SotD seems to do the obvious thing most of the time, but because it’s played out through the point of view of characters I don’t like, it comes across as a little “superior”.

    Or to put it another way: if “Hot Fuzz” had had a similar sense of humour to “Shaun”, I think the sea-mine would’ve exploded when they jumped over that hedge. But they’d have made wacky faces when they hit the ground and maybe made a one-liner or two when they got up. Y’know, so it was still funny.

    (In case I haven’t made this clear, I absolutely love “Hot Fuzz” unreservedly. I think it’s one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen.)

  124. JESUS CAMP sure looks like a very scary movie to me. i have exitated to watch it because i fear if i do, i’ll feel a huge urge to murder somebody. As if i didn’t detest religious fundamentalism enough!

  125. exitated = hesitated. Sorry for the typo, no excuse.

  126. Edgar Wright is an interesting case. I know his work way before many americans in here do thanks to the Tv show he directed called SPACED. It was a show created by Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson, which Wright directed all episodes. His directing on the show gave it a sort of cinematic feel and look which was part of the joke and what helped made it so funny.

    Like many among the geekry, i liked SHAUN OF THE DEAD quite a lot. It looked a very promising start for Wright’s cinema career. My disapointment started with HOT FUZZ. It’s a well made movie, and quite funny, but the problem came when the movie decided to be a loving hommage to the type of bad crap action movies of the Mickey Bay variety instead of what should had been: a complete demolition. That such talent involved in the movie decided to do hommage to shit action instead of taking them to school is disapointing beyond belief. It’s when the bubble bust for me.

    I couldn’t care for SCOTT PILGRIM for the life of me. The movie just sounds too idiotic for words, and the few scenes i have seen fails to sell it to me. Basically, i can’t be arsed to take the time to watch it. There’s lesbian vampire movies of the 70s that would rather catch my interest instead.

    DON’T was very funny, however!

  127. A classic, ruthless, utterly Fuckin’-A unedited Vern diatribe! Gotta love it.

    Yeah, I saw Cabin In The Woods the day it opened. Clever, funny, entertaining…. but not the least bit scary. It’s a faux horror movie monarch wearing the Emperor’s new comedy clothes.

    I’m usually not one to grovel, but Vern… please!… I implore you to review We Need To Talk About Kevin when it hits DVD on May 29th. It’s been called a drama, a thriller, a cautionary tale… but in point of fact it’s a very grim, unmerciful horror movie that both 1.) I wish I’d never seen, and 2.) I’m glad I saw, and feel compelled to watch again on DVD. It took me two days just to shake it off. It’s THAT kind of movie.

    Please seek it out when the time arrives. Thanks.

  128. Chopper Sullivan

    April 20th, 2012 at 2:58 am

    To paraphrase Auntie Entity, what’s scary got to do with it?

  129. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul, if i had directed SHAUN OF THE DEAD, i would had the heroes avoid throwing a DVD of a Michael Bay movie at the zombies because even those don’t deserve to get polluted by that shit. There’s standards to mantain even in the war against zombies.

  130. Stuff that used to terrify me when i was much younger nowdays do nothing to me. Familiarity breeds contempt, i guess. This is why for some, CABIN IN THE WOODS might actually work as a scary movie, if they are occasional audiences of the genre. For the more hardcore dudes like us, the movie might not look scary. As i said, it could just be a matter of familiarity.

    Or maybe the movie just sucks ass!

  131. To summarize:

    *Most of us liked Cabin In The Woods
    *No consensus on what it means to be a horror fan
    *Shaun of the Dead may or may not be better / more entertaining than Dawn of the Dead
    *No one has compared Shaun of the Dead to Dawn of the Dead (remake)
    *No one has pointed out the truth that Night of the Living Dead is the best zombie film ever
    *asimovlives has seen this show called Spaced (?) and informs the internet for the first time about its existence
    *Simon Pegg may or may not dislike Tawdry
    *Some people have strong opinions in both ways about The Walking Dead TV Show. Unsure about how people feel about the funny book.
    *Paul didn’t like Shaun of the Dead because it didn’t specifically try to specifically make him happy, or something
    *I think the cave explosion didn’t go off because of the wiring getting messed up by Shaggy

  132. I´ve seen SPACED so I knew of its existence. Odd and hilarious! Odd-larious!

  133. I have also seen SPACED! My powers are terrible and mighty!

  134. Casey, my experience is that more often then not the geekry in USA do not know what SPACED is, never heard it or never saw. So, easy if i assume many in here haven’t, because that’s the majority. No need to get your pants on fire.

  135. Mr. Majestyk, or you have a multi-region DVD.

  136. By DVD i mean a DVD player. In my country we just call them DVDs. Same thing with the disks. And we never get confused.

  137. I do have a region-free DVD player, but I didn’t need it for SPACED. They released the entire run on Region 1 DVD like five years ago. It might have once been pretty obscure in the U.S., but it’s pretty well known here now, at least amongst the type of people who post on ye interwebz on a regular basis.

  138. Or you watched it when it came out in the states on DVD like 4 years ago.

    Hey guys, have you all heard of this show called Doctors Who? Probably not, it’s British.

  139. I’ve never heard of SPACED!, and I’ve never seen DOCTOR WHO, thus I reject this “geekry” label and wish to fight anyone who directs it at me.

  140. It’s cool, bro, I’ll just wear my Affliction shirt underneath my Tap Out! hoodie and go get some more tribal and/or barbed wire tats before going to the local sports bar to eat some wings with my bros and watch some graps.

  141. I think everyone needs a geekery safety valve, by which I mean one genre, franchise, etc. that, as long as you remain blissfully ignorant of it, you are not really a geek. It can be anything, from D&D to Japanese picture books for perverted eight-year-olds to I FUCK ROBOTS: THE BATTLESTAR GALACTICA SAGA.

    Although I also choose not to partake in the aforementioned things, my personal safety valve is DR. WHO. Never seen an episode, don’t know what it’s about, don’t even know what a Dr. Who is or what one does. Therefore, I am supercool and am totally worthy of taking the head cheerleader to the prom, no matter how many theories I have concerning the metaphysics of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.

    Please don’t try to tell me what I’m missing. It might be the greatest thing ever for all I know. But I don’t want to know. I have no particular animosity toward DR. WHO. It merely serves as a symbol of the great precipice of total geeknocity I stand at the very edge of every single day.

  142. I feel like Spaced has been pretty well known in the US for a long time. A friend passed be a bootleg DVD of the whole series when I was in the 10th grade like 7 years ago. Maybe *that* was the reason I stopped listening to rage? I finally got access to movie and music bootlegs, which expanded my pallet.

  143. Lemme clarify something:

    When I referenced my interactions with Simon Pegg, it wasn’t supposed to make me look cool or insidery or whatever. I had previously commented that Joss Whedon’s films are automatically loved by a certain sect because of his “Friend of the Internet” status and wanted to juxtapose that against Pegg, who has a similar standing. Yes, Pegg is a friend of the internet, but I know that he and I would never be friendly in real life, and this in no way affects my feelings toward his art.

    Because I left out the Whedon-framing device, it sorta came off as douchey. And considering that I also admitted to liking a wide variety of shitty culture and below-par zombie movies, that was unacceptable.

    Apologies for both my awful taste and my poor choice of words.

  144. Today I’m finally working on my next Buffy post for the SERENITY thread.

    And I’m doing it exclusively because I think it’ll make me look cool.

  145. asimovlives – you wanna hear something really scary? I can speak from experience that a lot of the stuff seen in Jesus Camp is just par for the course in American protestant Christianity (you should really watch it btw)

    Mr. Majestyk – “Japanese picture books for perverted eight-year-olds”, you don’t know what your missing man!

  146. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 20th, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    “No one has pointed out the truth that Night of the Living Dead is the best zombie film ever”

    Casey, ok I’m gonna ignore the dig at me and apologise for this omission post haste. I should’ve been on this one.

    Griff – I have a theory that you can’t make an effective horror movie in a place that’s truly horrifying in real life. The closest I can think they’ve come is in films like “Candyman”. You wouldn’t imagine a horror film set in, for example, Auschwicz. I want to know if “Jesus Camp” adds weight to that theory or detracts from it, because that shit scares the crap out of me.

    Majestyk – I have never watched a full episode of “Star Trek”. I think that counts, right?

    Tawdry – I think “Spaced” is one of those things that is more popular overseas than at home, because I never heard of it until I started seeing Americans praise it on forums. A couple of my friends over here have since admitted to being rabid fans, but none of them ever talked about it when it was actually on, at least not to me.

  147. I really can’t say whether Jesus Camp would be an appropriate setting for a horror movie or not, but I do know that if you want to see some good old fashioned all American brainwashing, it’s the movie for you

  148. I’ve never seen an episode of MST3K, unlike seemingly the rest of the internet.

  149. Stu – you MUST see some episodes of MST3K, you MUST…..you MUST!

    seriously though, tons of episodes can be found on youtube for crying out out loud, you owe it to yourself to check some out if you want to laugh your ass off

  150. Don’t do it, Stu.

    Maintain your one shred of non-geek values, your safety valve.

  151. I have more, Mouth. Like, I’ve never played a Monkey Island game, and I don’t find the concept of insult swordfighting to be all that clever or amusing.

  152. don’t listen to him Stu!

  153. Insulting & belittling people is probably my favorite non-physical activity.

  154. I’ve never even heard of Monkey Island. I’m even cooler than I thought!

  155. I like how all three of us in a row have females as our gravatars

  156. MST3K is awesome. Nuff said. (So is STAR TREK.)

    and Mr. M, in the words of a Cracked article posted the other day, in regards to you panning SHAWSHANK the other day elsewhere…go take a flying shit.

  157. What’s this about SHAWSHANK panning? I might be prepared to give Mr. M some backup there TBH. Decent movie but best ever? Or even a contender? Get to fuck!

  158. That’s all I was saying. Okay movie, don’t get the pedestal its put on. But apparently in the Orwellian nightmare we’re living in, even that modicum of dissension is not allowed. I fully expect to be disappeared soon, all of my comments deleted as if I had never existed, for my thoughtcrime of not worshiping the SHANK.

  159. Rudolf Klein-Rogge

    April 21st, 2012 at 6:48 am

    I’m with Mr. Majestyk! Was a big fan back in the VHS era, but I’ve had no desire to pick it up on DVD or Blu… Watched the second half of it on TV a few years ago, and found it to be fairly enjoyable still, but hardly earth shattering stuff. What I find strange about the cult surrounding SHAWSHANK, is that I’ve never come across any good writing about the flick. It feels as though everyone thinks it’s one of the great movies, but no one really has anything interesting to say about it. Feel free to correct me though, and point me in the right direction. As I say, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen it.

    Stephen King is, IMO, most succesful when he’s not trying to say anything in particular. He has an active imagination, but if I want insight into the human condition I’ll rather turn to Bresson, Antonioni, Ozu, and a shitload of other great stuff, before I turn to the combined forces of King and Frank Darabont.

  160. Don’t know how good it is, but there was a BFI Film Classics book focusing on SHAWSHANK

  161. Thanks Vern – hands down your best review to date. You make all the points that the other 250 reviewers don’t get, completely missed and will never get anyway. Your review was 10/10, GROUNDBREAKING & INSANELY ENOYABLE!

  162. hey, I wouldn’t say The Shawshank Redemption is the best movie ever made or even in the top ten either, but it’s still a great movie, a movie can still be great even if it’s not “one of the best ever”

    1994 was in general a pretty awesome year for movies

  163. the first half of the 90’s is one of my absolute favorite periods for movies and Shawshank is one of the classics from that era

  164. also, not to go too off topic, but I can’t be the only one here that actually likes Forrest Gump can I? I’ve never understood the hate that movie gets

  165. Funny horror vs straight horror is just personal taste but I’m glad to see the conversation move towards how effective CABIN is in the former. I really enjoyed it and reviewed it very highly but have almost been second guessing myself. It certainly doesn’t do what SHAUN or EVIL DEAD 2 did in their day.

    I’m sure when I watch it again on Blu ray I’ll still enjoy it. It’s got the celebration of genre clichés I love but doesnt really challenge me. I guess that makes it like candy.

    Griff, ’94 was awesome. GUMP however stopped holding up for me.

  166. I like FORREST GUMP too.

  167. Fuck FORREST GUMP. I almost believe that movie’s ode t idioticy helped people voting for king of idiots Georgie Dumbya Bushie. Fuck FORREST GUMP up his gump.

  168. My man Matt Cale covered this ground 5 years ago @ http://www.ruthlessreviews.com/946/10-films-that-ruined-the-world/

    As obvious a pick as it is, the film nonetheless hits the trifecta of reprehensible cinema: demonizing social awareness and activism, lionizing apathy and outright retardation, and reducing all of American history to quips, clips, and humorous anecdotes. That it transforms a supreme dolt to the level of hero is beyond debate, but who knew it would also set the table for the presidency of George W. Bush, a man who, like a feather, floated along until being thrust into events he couldn’t possibly understand? Civil rights marches, anti-war protests, and even literacy itself led one to drug abuse, violence, disease, and death, while an all-consuming self-absorption typical of the brain damaged brought down the angels from their heavenly perch. Arguably the most reactionary motion picture ever conceived, it ruined the world most of all because it made deep, unshakable idiocy acceptable, even valued, in our families, our neighbors, and yes, even our world leaders. Still, the most appalling image of all remains Forrest’s shameless mugging while George Wallace blocks the schoolhouse door from the forces of integration. Now, instead of equating Wallace’s act with vile, pandering hatred, we have cheap laughs to carry us home.*****

  169. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 21st, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Asimov – I think it’s quite interesting that the thing I liked most about “Hot Fuzz” – and the thing I felt was missing from “Shaun of the Dead” – was also the thing you objected to. Subjective opinions, so divisive.

    I liked “Forrest Gump” when I saw it as a teenager. I don’t necessarily think my teenage self had very good taste in movies. (Also see: “The Abyss”.) And I’ve still never seen “Shawshank”.

    What possible comparison is there between “Cabin in the Woods” and anything from the “Evil Dead” series? I don’t think they’re even in the same genre of movie.

  170. I don’t get how someone can not enjoy Shawshank. That’s one of those movies that if I catch it halfway through, I can’t do anything until it’s over.

    As for Forrest…I don’t hate that movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s far from my favorite.

  171. hamslime – I agree.

    Personally, I would be insulted if somebody bashing SR tries to bring in FOREST GUMP, and those two goddamn things are apples and oranges. Thankfully nobody has done that yet. Among other things, I do agree with Asimov in that SR is probably one of the few movies I’ve seen with an unabashed happy ending that absolutely earned it and not just a cheap short cut.

    I’m damn certain that if the 1994 Oscars were re-voted, either PULP FICTION or SHAWSHANK would win. I had that ballot once on a website, and what happened was both factions cancelled each other out and GUMP won again.

    Mr. Majestyk, I’m sorry buddy but I’m going to have to detonate a bomb in your face with the perfect word for you on this subject: PRETENTIOUS. You’re better than that.

    Paul – Hey don’t bash THE ABYSS.

  172. So thinking SHANK is okay but not really my kind of thing is pretentious with the caps lock on. This argument seems totally legitimate.

  173. Of course it was Caps, it was a bomb! Duh.

    That WMD should be banned.

  174. A ‘Cabin’ well worth visiting, ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ review


  175. I also maintain a pretentious view toward SHANK, in that I believe it needs more Rita Hayworth and more tits. My refined, pretentious tastes demand such elements in my prison period piece dramas.

    Other than those omissions, 11-12 year old Mouth thinks it’s a good-to-great movie. It was one of those bizarre little personal discoveries from the video rental shelves — yes, I have pre-teen hipster cred because I independently discovered SR for myself with no recommendation other than the vhs cover art, before it became a beloved modern classic, before the internet had its odious ability to hype the world about every cult movie’s cult status before the movie even earned that status.

    Adult Mouth doesn’t want to revisit SHANK: REDEMPTION because my current to-watch list is ridiculously long. Also, Morgan Freeman’s hokey gravitas is played out now, and I doubt the great operatic prison shutdown scene holds up well now that I’m a more cynical, jaded non-child.

    Back in 1994-5, it was like a mark of personal achievement, a self-commendation of coolness & precocious awesomeness, if I “got” a serious drama like that, if I spent 2 hours with SHANK in my vcr instead of some fucking Nickelodeon or Goosebumps or whatever the fuck other middle schoolers were into. Nowadays, it’s generally kinda the opposite. Dramas tend to feel more & more like homework, with less & less reward, while genre flicks and “great trash” becomes more my go-to source of entertainment & cinematic fulfillment.

    (Lots of exceptions to this trend, of course. For example, Olivier Assayas’s CARLOS, a 5 hour miniseries period piece drama, was rather enjoyable, engaging, even thrilling homework.)

    I know Mr. Majestyk has expressed similar sentiments before, denouncing straight dramas and bigging up the likes of FRANKENHOOKER and SNAKE EATER. That’s why we’re TEAM PRETENTIOUS.

  176. Mouth – denial is a river in Egypt.

  177. I’ve been there. The handful of Nile I scooped smelled funny. Cairo smelled worse.

  178. This is pretty fuckin hilarious…first time I´ve heard of FORREST GUMP-hatred and calling it an “ode to idiocy”.Straightface-Status:Extremely low.

  179. RRA: “I had that ballot once on a website, and what happened was both factions cancelled each other out and GUMP won again.”

    I wonder how often that has happened even in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciencs itself. I wonder if that’s the reason why so many lesser movies have won oscars, because the good movies had the votes splited.

  180. FOREST GUMP is an ode to idioticy. The idiot unquestioning retard protagonist, who does nothing on purpose and just glides through life earns riches and friendship, and eventually the love of his life and a good son just by being nretard and doing nothing. while all those characters who are smart enough to relise how life stinks and what to change things are constantly pusnihed or treated as fucks. And the only people who get a bit of bliss are the ones that embrace their inner retard thanks to their dealings with Forest Retard Gump.

    So yeah, fuck the movie up it’s fucking ass. Fuck the movie, fuck the story it tells, fuck it’s implied and stated emssage, fuck the protagonist and fuck Robert Zemeckis.


  181. I don’t know. For me FORREST GUMP has always been a story about how we life our lives and complain about nothing interesting ever happens to us, although we encounter awesome things every single day, but we just can’t see them. Even if it’s sometimes just a random encounter with an interesting stranger at a bus stop.

    [Deleted line about PULP FICTION]

  182. (Gah, I still haven’t learned to read, before I hit “submit comment”.)

  183. FORREST GUMP is offensive, but not unentertaining.

    At the risk of “insulting” RRA, SHAWSHANK and FORREST may be apples and oranges, but apples and orranges are also the same kind of food, they just taste different. They’re both lavish films driven by emotion, and yes a certain kind of sentimentality. SHAWSHANK is grittier, but at the same time I’m skeptical that many prisoners in the late 40s would have been that enthusiastic about Opera.

    I’ve always thought the main thing about PULP FICTION losing to FORREST was that a groundbreaking, unconventional (by Oscar standards) “little movie that could” lost out to a big, safe mainstream movie. I would imagine many people would have felt much the same if SHANK had beat PULP. In fact SHANK losing the Oscar has ultimately helped the movie; it’s fueled the (largely fabricated) idea that it was “unappreciated in its time” which is a large part of the film’s mythos in critical circles.

  184. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 22nd, 2012 at 4:55 am

    RRA – I’ll bash whatever the hell I want, haven’t you learnt that by now? But I won’t labour the point, we’ve had this particular debate before. I give “The Abyss” at least credit for entertaining my twelve-year-old self, at least.

    And how come, whenever “Forrest Gump” is discussed, the “undeserved” Oscar gets a mention? Is it just because it was up against “Shawshank” and “Pulp Fiction”? I mean, holy shit, “Wrong film wins Best Picture Oscar” is not exactly surprising news. Has the RIGHT film ever won? Ever?

  185. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 22nd, 2012 at 5:12 am

    Talking of movies with the word Abyss in the title, I’m not sure if we’re getting “Jesus Camp” over here but I’m going to see “Into The Abyss” by Werner Herzog tonight (documentary about Death Row). I’ll let you guys know how it works out.

  186. SHANK and SHAWSHANK are significantly different movies. Although as both involve copius amounts of extracurricular male bonding activities I am not certain the distinction will be neccessary here, and definately not for Maj.

  187. the thing about Forrest Gump though is couldn’t it’s message actually, subtly be that America is a place that punishes those who show dissent and try to enact change and rewards those who just “go with the flow”?

    some people always simplify the movie as being “conservative” or whatever, but politics aside it’s just a well made movie and I don’t know about you guys but I can enjoy a movie without necessarily agreeing with it’s message

  188. Paul, ANNIE HALL rightfully won in 1977. I’d say AMERICAN BEAUTY in ’99 even though FIGHT CLUB was also that year, and my favorite TOY STORY 2 when there wasnt even an animated category, but what can you do. Quite like NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN in 2007 and though RAIN MAN was great in ’88 tho I don’t remember what the competition was. I actually did think TITANIC was the best movie of 1997, since they weren’t going to nominate FACE/OFF anyway. All this to say I don’t care what wins Oscars but sometimes the movie I like wins anyway.

    Griff, I’ve found that now that the novelty of the special effects has worn off there’s really no connective tissue to GUMP. And post 9/11 I find the idea of listening to a manhild

  189. … Listening to a manchild stranger talk about how his friend got molested as a child is just creepy.

  190. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 22nd, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Ok, “Into the Abyss”.

    Short question: is it as good as it’s hyped up to be?

    Short answer: yes. Oh God, yes.

    “Into The Abyss” is that rarest of films, a documentary about a hugely emotive issue that never feels judgemental or condescending. Herzog prefers not to show his face on camera, instead leaving the story to be told entirely through the point of view of his subjects (two Death Row inmates and the various people that they affected, or who affected them – family members, friends, police officers, prison employees.) He’s a master at the subtle art of getting people to “open up” on camera – even the two killers, the more obviously sociopathic of whom is sitting on death row when the film starts, and has been executed when it ends.

    I expected this to be a bleak film, and in some respects it was. But Herzog manages to piece the film together in such a way that, even in a situation where death seems to have touched everyone and there is a depressing cycle of crime and imprisonment (seriously, I could analyze this point for days) there is never a sense of hopelessness about the situation these people are in. I think Herzog’s greatest accomplishment in this film is showing the futility of the actions of many without ever portraying the situation as iredeemable. Weirdly – for a film about an execution – this is a very optimistic film.

    There’s not much else I can say without spoiling the film too much. The cinematography is excellent, the scoring is excellent, the editing is excellent. The film by necessity leaves many questions unanswered but never feels “incomplete”. The tone is perfect – again, there’s a total lack of condescention or judgementalism. Herzog removes himself almost completely in terms of voicing his own opinions, instead leaving it up to the people onscreen to tell the story. Thanks to his superb interviewing technique, this works brilliantly well.

    So do I recommend it… yes. Unreservedly. “Into the Abyss” is very, very different to what I’d expect a film about this subject matter to be, a documentary-making clinic, and a flawless masterpiece. It’s also very moving at points, but never emotionally draining. This is the work of a genius filmmaker at the top of his game and could very well be the best film I’ve seen in the cinema all year (I’ve seen so many freaking excellent films this year already, it’s difficult to say that any one of them is the best. But this would be a pretty damn strong contender for #1.)

    DAMN, it is turning out to be a good year for cinema. And a good month… “Martha Marcy May Marlene” was excellent, and now this.

  191. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 22nd, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    …And I just posted that in the “Cabin in the Woods” thread instead of whatever the current “Potpourri” is, didn’t I?

    Sorry Vern.

  192. What I don’t understand about Vern’s issue is this: why are horror films somehow off-limits as the subject of satire? Obviously Cabin in the Woods isn’t scary like a real horror film. The question should be, is it as funny as a real comedy?

    I mean, I guess there are some movies like Scream and The Woman that are both funny and scary. I think it’s fair to judge such a film both on its comedic and horror merits. If your character in Dungeons and Dragons is both a warrior and a mage, he has to earn twice as much experience points to level up. This is reasonable. But if the movie doesn’t seem to be making any genuine attempt at being scary (like, Shaun of the Dead, or I would argue, this Cabin film) I don’t see why we can’t just look at the satirical merits?

    All that said, I’m also rather shocked that the film is being worshiped as not only an authentic horror film but a revolutionary one. But I don’t think you can fault the movie itself for that.

  193. It seems that my comments have already been addressed in the lengthy conversation that followed the review. VERY WELL.

  194. Yeah Renfield, this is a personal taste issue for me, I just prefer “real horror” or best of all “funny but still serious horror” which is a rare jewel. I’m not saying it’s wrong to just be a comedy parody horror movie for laughs, and I like several of these movies. But to me they are easier and not as good as the real thing so I’m forever gonna be frustrated asking for something like that every time The Internet bends over backwards to praise another cute comedy as the best horror movie of the past 3 generations.

    Sorry to be off topic, now back to fucking Forrest Gump I guess. I don’t know.

  195. It is frustrating, I agree; the fact is that if Cabin in the Woods, for somebody, is the best horror movie of the last three years, then yeah, they must genuinely hate real horror. I do not relate to such people.

  196. Didn’t we all just get into an uproar a couple of weeks ago because Ebert chose to review the audience for THE RAID instead of the movie? I guess it’s okay when we do it, though.

  197. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 23rd, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    I would ask what on earth constitutes “real” horror?

    “Evil Dead” / “Evil Dead 2”? (Plenty of differences between even these two, as pointed out by another commentator…)
    “Friday 13th”?
    “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”?
    “The Exorcist”?
    “The Thing”?
    “Day of the Triffids”?
    “Urban Legend”?

    I could go on, and on… I don’t think I’ve ever seen a “pure” horror movie, because if a movie contained nothing but horror, I don’t believe it would be horrific. (This was the kind of comment “Human Centipede 2” was getting – I haven’t seen it so I can’t comment on it specifically, but those of you who have might let me know if I’ve got the right idea.) All of the movies I’ve listed above contain elements of what we commonly refer to when we discuss horror movies.

    Or to put it another way… I liked both “Cabin in the Woods” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. And I’m a fan of horror. Wouldn’t say that “Cabin” is the BEST horror of the last three years but it is still pretty good.

  198. I actually think of THE TERMINATOR as kind of a horror movie too. It’s kind of a slasher movie with guns instead of knives and a cyborg instead of a supernatural killer.

  199. I guess I’m just past the tough-guy stage of my movie-watching career where I give a shit if what I’m watching is “real” or not. I just like what I like. I don’t know if CITW is the best horror movie of the past however many years, because “best” is a word I try not to use until a couple decades have passed and we can view a thing in its full historical context. But I will say that it’s the funnest horror movie I’ve seen in several years, and the one I can see myself rewatching the most often. If that means I’m not a “real” horror fan, I can honestly say I don’t give a fuck.

  200. Mr. Majestyk,
    Well, if I was a movie critic and my official review of Cabin in the Woods consisted of nothing but discussing the nature of other people’s reactions, maybe that would be annoying. But nobody’s done that. Vern examines the film quite thoroughly after the little aside about overpraise.

    That said. You appear to be one of these people to whom I cannot relate. I thought CITW was a lot of fun but I fail to see how it’s a horror film. I mean, somebody mentioned how it’s preferable for CITW to be garnering acclaim than the latest Scary Movie installment. But if somebody said that Scary Movie 5 was the best horror film of the last n years, you would understand the beef right? Granted it’s not quite as silly as a Scary Movie, but it’s along those lines isn’t it?

    I frankly don’t see what all the fuss is about as far as figuring out what’s horror and what’s not. Horror films scare the shit out of me and/or make me very stressed on behalf of the well being of the protagonists, and I have little trouble distinguishing between them and the ones that are just out to make me giggle.

  201. “I thought CITW was a lot of fun but I fail to see how it’s a horror film.”

    Ah, semantics. I’m not going down this rabbit hole.

  202. It’s almost as if every movie is its own movie and that it is senseless to pigeon hole everything into its own category or something!

  203. How come we need to label movies so strictly? Can not a film by its own merit be a good movie without getting shit about what it should or should not have been?

  204. My lady wasn’t scared, and that’s saying a lot, because she was actually scared at parts of Scary Movie. ?!!?
    But it is a fun flick! It’s probably the best live-action Scooby-Doo movie we’ll ever see (minus Scooby-Doo, but plus plus Shaggy).

  205. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 23rd, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Stu – “The Terminator” is a horror movie in the same way that all of Carpenter’s movies are westerns. A near-unstoppable machine with no remorse that has a lifespan of many human lifespans and exists only to kill you… what could be more horrifying than that?

    Shoot – I think (Vern, correct me if I’m wrong here) that Vern’s point was that some people are calling “Cabin in the Woods” the best HORROR movie for years. Vern doesn’t classify it as horror, exactly. Not sure I do either, exactly.

    I think that all of this goes to show that horror film’s influence has spread far and wide. Films from all kinds of genres are now using elements traditionally associated with horror.

    Or to put it another way, I think Casey, Shoot, Stu, Majestyk and myself are making a similar point but in very different ways.

  206. Well, I don’t think genres are useless labels. I think they show you where art comes from and where it’s going. It’s all about archetypes and traditions and shit. I mean you can write a music review without using any adjectives besides genre labels, like “it’s sort of a garage funk thing with undertones of psych and math rock, filtered through a metal lense straddling thrash and sludge.” (Actually if you know of any albums that meet this description, let me know, sounds fun.) I mean, I get into arguments with people about traditional vs. funeral doom and stuff, but really if somebody says “doom” I know it’s going to be slow, plodding, long songs, use the blues note a lot, etc, so on some level it’s useful common ground for diagnosing shit.

    As far as horror goes, don’t you feel defensive about the idea that it’s just a trashy genre? I mean this is what the world at large genuinely believes. But it’s such an awesome and unique style of film, because it’s actually ALLOWED to fuck the audience up. People hate it when movies make rob them of a happy ending or whatever, but everybody wants to be punished in some way going into a horror film. By punished I mean “become frightened” or “feel suspense”. Is that really such a complex, nebulous, ambiguous idea? Is it really semantic nitpicking to look at CITW and say “does it make you become frightened, does it make you feel suspense?” I would think the answers to both are obviously no, and thus, it’s not horror?

  207. it didn’t for you, but I felt suspense in several of the scenes (not pants-wetting suspense, sure, but I’m a pretty tough cookie), and there were plenty of people around me who felt genuine horror, if all the fidgeting and eye-covering and “Oh no”-ing were any indication. Are you saying that a horror movie has to actually scare you to be considered a horror movie? What about bad horror movies? They’re not scary, but they’re horror. I think the genre has more leeway than you’re giving it. It’s a sliding scale, not a cage.

  208. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 23rd, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Renfield – I want every film I watch to take me to a place I haven’t been before, metaphorically speaking. And it needn’t necessarily be a place I’m comfortable with. I think that how people describe “genres” is telling you where you’re going to be taken, if the film’s any good. Horror takes me to a scary place, action to a thrilling place, drama to a stirring place. Romantic comedy to a place where I want to hit Matthew McConaghey in the face with a shovel. Y’know, those kinds of places.

  209. No, I mean, if it has the intention of scaring you and/or making you feel suspense, that counts too! I’m just surprised people thought that’s what the film was going for.

    Well, I can’t fault you for finding elements of the film suspenseful. But I quote Mr. Subtlety early on in the thread: “I’m OK with it mostly being an effective postmodern comedy, but it’s a waste of time to pretend we’re scared of these generic pushovers.” This was precisely my reaction, although I’m not sure the film was pretending so much, given that it’s constantly cutting away to the Puppeteers’ watching/commenting on the action, making fun of it etc. Every horror trope is accompanied by a massive wink. Tongue is firmly planted in cheek throughout.

    But I suppose I’m digging my own grave here rhetorically. I wouldn’t be arguing against people claiming Evil Dead 2 is horror. And this is a film where the hero literally gets attacked by the fucking camera! I mean you can’t get more postmodernly comedic than that. So yes, it is a sliding scale, and the fact that I found it at one extreme end of that scale doesn’t invalidate a reaction that places it somewhere else on the scale.

  210. I’m not invalidating your reaction at all. I guess all we’re proving here is that my “real” horror recipe allows for a little more humor (say, a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon) than yours does. It’s kind of a pointless argument, really. It’s like apples and other kinds of apples.

  211. I definitely didn’t feel invalidated. It’s funny how much more comfortable people are agreeing to disagree on this site than on 99.999% of the internet…

    Pirate Paul, I feel you. I would argue that, as far as the mainstream goes, people assume that horror is going to fuck with you moreso than they assume this about other genres. I mean it’s okay for them to break up in a romcom but they damn well better had get back together at the end, right?

  212. It’s alright guys, no need to argue apples & fruit, this genre/favorites debate has been officially settled by an official list:

  213. 100 horror movies and Gremlins is nowhere to be seen? I’m calling shenanigans. Surley you could take out The Orphanage or Wolf Creek or The Others or (sorry to say) The Fog.

    Overall though, I guess it’s not a bad list.

  214. Is nobody going to chastise me for not including 1992 in my years the Oscars got right?

  215. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 24th, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Mouth – oh good, we can all go home then. :)

    Hamsline – yeah, it’s a decent list. All the conventional choices are there, and more of them are conventional for a reason – they’re pretty damn good.

    Hmmmm… I’m happy to see Kaufman’s “Bodysnatchers” on the list – definitely one of my all-time favorite films right there – but a little surprised it’s so low down on it. “Wolf Creek” is supposed to be better than that? As for it being lower down than the 1956 version of the Bodysnatchers, I dunno… I can understand that point of view, but the original film definitely does not hold up now as well as it did when it came out.

    And “The Exorcist” at #1? Who saw THAT one coming?

    I love that they’ve put Carpenter’s “The Thing” so high up though – heck, they’ve put it higher than “Halloween”. That makes me a little happier inside.

  216. Brian Collins has a good rebuttal of my review today in his “Collins’ Crypt” column on Badass Digest:


  217. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 24th, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I’ve not read it yet but I’m gonna guess straight away that he brings up the “Tequila” scene. A scene I thought could’ve worked better if the security guard character wasn’t there, by the way…

  218. The more I read about people’s opinions, analyses, & rebuttal-analyses of CABIN IN THE WOODS, the more I appreciate JASON X.

  219. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 24th, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    …Nope, I was wrong.

    I think Collins makes an excellent case though – especially about the two guards being the heroes (although the “tequila” scene undermines that somewhat). Talking of which though, as far as horror goes, I think having a boozed-up party in front of a giant screen where an innocent human being (and an attractive one with boobs at that) is being literally beaten to death – if that isn’t “horror” then I don’t know what is.

  220. JASON X is universally hated but it’s actually one of my favorites in the FRIDAY series. I’ll never forget damn near choking on my weed smoke at the cinema we saw it in back then when he started banging the bodies in a sleeping bag against a tree. So much inspired madness in that muthafucka. Definitely my favorite [INSERT HORROR SERIES] GOES TO SPACE movie.

  221. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 24th, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Mouth – you mean you didn’t appreciate “Jason X” before? Damn, after I liked “Martha Marcy May Marlene” as much as I did I thought we were finally beginning to find common ground. :(

  222. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 24th, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    And Broddie, who on earth hates “Jason X”? I’ve read a couple of negative reviews (from people who either don’t “get it” or who get it but subjectively don’t like it – neither of which invalidates the love-affair I personally have with that film) but otherwise I don’t know a single person who didn’t at least have fun with it.

  223. JASON X is on the short list of movies I will watch whenever the fuck. There’s never a bad time for JASON X. Anybody feel like watching it right now? Let me just ditch this while work thing first.

  224. I can appreciate the leap from Jason going to hell and then going into orbit. Could´ve been worse.

  225. Paul I’ve seen many people online in different forums bash it like it’s fashionable over the years. I’ve even seen some insist that FREDDY VS. JASON curb stomps the shit out of JASON X and opinion that I completely disagree with on all levels. I just came to the conclusion that those people are just soulless peons not worthy of ever comprehending the sheer genius of JASON X. It’s good to see it get some love from you though TBH I kinda would’ve never expected it.

  226. *an opinion

  227. Speaking of shameless self-promotion and even more shameless segues, I just wrote my first new movie review in months. Keywords: Robert Ginty, chainsaws, incest. Click my name for access to the awesome.

  228. Mr. Majestyk – Holy shit dude. If it’s what I think it is (one of The Hammer’s finest hours) than I’m visiting your blog like yesterday.

  229. It’s exactly what you think it is.

  230. To clarify, I love JASON X. I saw it totally by chance one random night via my illegal cable box way way back in 2002-03, probably also while blunted like Broddie, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

    At the time, I had never been an internet movie talkbacker, never paid attention to the nerds’ concept of what horror is & isn’t, what real fandom is versus ironic hipster fandom/faux-appreciation, so at that point I didn’t have a concept of meta-commentary regarding sarcasm regarding tongue-in-cheek scripts trying for both real horror and commenting on the movie’s own meta-shittiness, all that clever & pseudo-clever shit that rarely works these days.

    When I heard, “This sucks on so many levels” and when I saw the pre-marital-sex-leads-to-the sleeping bag-tree-trunk-beatdown (“Oh, he’s good.”) or whatever it was (memory’s a little fuzzy now), I fell in love with JASON X. And when I educated myself on the Cronenberg connection, holy shit, mind blown, funny bone infinitely stimulated. Love that movie. And that won’t change.

    I’m saying that JASON X accomplishes most of what CABIN IN THE WOODS accomplishes more efficiently, more humorously, and with more of an inclination for pure horror. Somehow, though, CABIN is more thought-provoking and has sparked more intellectual-literary debate, so kudos for that.

  231. Wow bro now that is quite an inspired piece of cinema to choose to review. My respect level for you was already pretty high but consider it now to be multiplied by 5 good sir.

  232. ^ directed at Mr. M

    Mouth – I still haven’t gotten a chance to see CABIN but if it seriously follows a lot of the same tropes that JASON X did then I can’t hold back any longer and MUST see that shit this weekend at the latest for sure.

  233. Note the build-up and the controllers’ reaction shot to the girl’s tit shot in CABIN.

    “Ah, there it is.”


    Just like in JASON X:
    “We love premarital sex!” {violent death ensues}

    Surely others have noted this comparison, no? It’s so obvious to me, I figure you horrorphiles would be all over this one already. Am I ahead of the whole internet on this?

  234. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 24th, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Ok, from “The Inkeepers” thread: Vern at Asimov, and my reaction:

    ““If there was gonna be one person who got to decide which movies were good and bad it just wouldn’t be economical for you to be the guy because then pretty much everybody else would be offensively wrong most of the time.”

    And this is directed as Asimov? I don’t even know why I exist any more.”


    Now Broddie on my love of “Jason X”:

    “It’s good to see it get some love from you though TBH I kinda would’ve never expected it.”

    And all’s right with the world!

  235. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 24th, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Mouth – no, that comparison hadn’t occurred to me. But now that you point it out, there’s definitely an obvious connection there.

    Technically “Scream” did it first with the “guys watching Halloween girl getting her jugs out while Neve Campbell takes off her shirt upstairs” scene. But “Jason X” was FAR more entertaining (well, that particular scene of it was, anyway. I’m a self-confessed “Scream” addict.)

  236. He makes good points….

    about Jamie Lee Curtis.

    Actually, I think his main motivation is just not to have to watch another movie today.

  237. J/k btw.

    I’m convinced, he’s right Vern, you’re a dick.

  238. Soz, no more, I’m tryin not to do this, but the article made me come here to read responses and see how much sway his well reasoned arguments had. No more drinkin an postin…

  239. has been mostly workin…

  240. Soz, just realised you linked this already Vern. When I scrolled up seemed like the same old benign banter that was here last time, no debate of Collin’s points.

    Won’t get into em much myself in this inebriated state, but despite good argument’s he’s completely missed the point raised in this review so is just kicking the living fuck out of a Rodney King straw man. Cabin is not a horror. It’s a horror comedy. That’s all fine and good, but no, it’s not the best horror to come out in years, or ever. It’s the best horror comedy to come out in a while. Though I laughed a lot more at Scary Movie 5 with Jason, Pinhead, Leatherface, Jigsaw amd Freddy doing YMCA karaoke, and Dr Phil in there cracked me up. Cabin was a fun movie, like another horror comedy Evil Dead 3, but you don’t invest in emotionally like you do with the even more fun horror movie Evil Dead 2. Emotionally speaking, I was more invested in Small Soldiers, and as such honestly found it more scary to watch than Cabin.

    Arguing that Cabin is horror and not horror comedy is EXACTLY like arguing that Knight and Day is an action movie not action comedy. By comparison, the equally ridiculous scenes in Salt in no way detract from the fact that they are playing it seriously, and thus why Salt is an action movie.

    Apologies to movie fans everywhere though for comparing Cabin in the Woods to Knight and Day, accurate though the comparison is. Does it make the comparison less harsh if I compare Cabin in the Woods to the recent action comedy Red since Mirrin’s in it (not the infinitely better Red with Brian Cox).

    Perhaps that’s the point though. Red with Brian Cox is only better than Red with Bruce Willis if you care about emotionally investing in your movies.

    I have serious question of genuine interest – Shaun of the Dead is comparitvely (only to most films, and especially most zombie films) dull and overrated to me. Do you people who LOVE Shaun of the Dead have the capacity to emotionally invest in it?

    Though I have to say that I loved the (zombie) horror comedy Wasting Away a lot. As much as Cabin in the Woods. I enjoyed Cabin in the Woods, Wasting Away, and the Rise of Leslie Vernon all way more than Shaun because I found them all to be much more clever horror comedies, and generally more fun. Though would note that all of them for some reason employ tropes for humour that aren’t actually genre tropes for ardent horror fans (like the Virgin, etc.), but I can see how they have become pop cultural interpretations of what horror is about. It’s exactly like when people who aren’t genre fans compare Marilyn Manson to Alice Cooper, and fact is most people would believe those comparisons as valid.

    Perhaps hardcore metal heads roll their eyes when I call the latest Carcass album Death Metal, when really it is Death Grind. And lump into Death Metal, Black Death, Tech Death, Melodic Death, Deathcore, Trance Metal, Djent, Blackened Crust, Black Ambient and Viking Metal all into Death Metal. Though then I roll my eyes when Death Metal gets lumped in with Heavy Metal, or Industrial, or Thrash Metal, or even worse, Glam Metal. Yes, calling Cabin in the Woods horror, is the same as calling Poison a Heavy Metal band.

    What I don’t get, is how Brian has watched a horror movie a day for 5 years, and doesn’t get the difference.

  241. 12 beers and not one reference to Brian’s sexuality, man, I swear Vern, you have almost pushed me out from under my bridge, or burned it or whatever. Even changed my name on a new site to AutumnalRain cos it is very hard to bitchslap anyone when you are wearing such a serene outfit.

  242. Liked the movie enough to not post about how some of its fans are souring me on it after the fact, but that Collins article is begging to be called out. “One point of the film is that we NEED horror movies to keep the world from descending into chaos – because of that, The Cabin In The Woods has done more to validate the genre than you, I, or any other horror critic ever will.” In other words, horror fanatic praises horror movie for employing horror movie staples to put forward that horror movies are valid because they’re essential for global society to function.

    The guy reads Vern, so to be polite: His enthusiasm has possibly contributed to what might be considered somewhat lunatic hyperbole.

  243. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 25th, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Li – Collins wasn’t making that point, he was making the case that the MOVIE was making that point. And he was perfectly right. Yes, the guy is hyperbolic, but he talks a lot of sense.

    As for the bit about Whitford and Jenkins being the real “heroes”, well, I don’t think this movie exactly HAS heroes. So I think he’s off base there.

    But I’m still gonna take a leap and defend Collins here, because I think “Cabin in the Woods” is just a different type of horror. Look, I was the one who said the Tequila scene (yes, I will keep banging on about that one scene, because it’s the one that most perfectly illustrates my point) was undermined by the presence of the security guard character. But holy fucking shit, it’s still a bunch of people having a riotous party while on a big-screen TV in the background a girl is savagely being beaten to death by a fucking monster, how the fuck is that not “horror”? That’s like saying the girl being killed in the cinema at the beginning of “Scream 2” while everyone’s cheering it on isn’t “horror” because “Scream 2” also has other parts that are clearly tongue-in-cheek.

  244. This is way off the subject but I just had to stop by and say that The Avengers is one of the best superhero movies I’ve ever seen. I saw a screening tonight and they got everything right. The trailers looked good, but I’ve got to say that they aren’t even close to what the movie actually is. I’ll be looking forward to Vern’s review and a discussion on this one next week. All I can say is I will be seeing this one again. What a great start to the summer movie season. This is the anti-transformers. Good story, great villain, good comedic moments, and great action. Damn I wish I could say more,lol

  245. You’ve already said too much.

    (Yeah, I know, pot, kettle, etc..)

  246. Paul, agreed with Collins that CITW counts as horror, and agrred that Collins says the movie is making that point. While a point depicted in a fictional work doesn’t necessarily equal that point carrying weight in the nonmetaphorical nonfiction world, I entirely believe the moviemakers want us to (at least) consider how elements of the story relate to the real world. Collins though makes a few jumps – like, that the filmmakers aren’t entertaining possibilities but making a very specific declaration, and that by Goddard and Co. making this declaration in their fiction, an unassailable grand truth of real life has been revealed. Isn’t that what he means when claiming that CITW validates horror movies more than any critic in the real world ever has or ever will?

    I piled on Collins only because he was linked above. He’s not the only genre guy who’s having enough buttons pushed to lose perspective. IMO, the movie is lots of fun, and clever, and it stimulates thought. Most movies are lucky to hit one of those bases. But I’m not convinced that it’s some game-changer (thank you, advertisements). It’s terrific that some people are so taken with it; it’s great to be ridiculously in love.

  247. AU, SALT sucks. Sober up :)

  248. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 26th, 2012 at 5:35 am

    Li – Don’t agree about the “unassailable truth” bit – I think Collins’ tongue is firmly in his cheek there – but yeah, I do agree that Collins makes a few “jumps” as you put it. I think you’re reading a bit much into the hyperbole though. He doesn’t say it’s a game-changer, he says it’s the best horror film he’s seen in years and one of the most intelligent. He’s not making the case that this will “change” anything, just that it’s a great film that lives up to its premise. Note that I don’t necessarily agree with this – I was in two minds having seen the film, hence my own review and re-write – but I think he justifies MOST of his points. The Whitford / Jenkins as heroes thing, I don’t see – I don’t think the film HAS heroes. But otherwise I get it.

    (On the point of heroism though, couldn’t one make the case that Dana and Marty are the true heroes because they’re willing to rid the earth of the stain of humanity – as portrayed by the people who are willing to sacrifice dozens of innocents in order to appease the “Old Gods” – and give it back to its rightful owners instead?)

  249. Tawdry and hamsline: Regarding why the cave did not blow up earlier, I believe it was explained in the movie that something went wrong “upstairs” with the electrical system and that’s why it did not go off. And later, when the red phone from the Director rings, Bradley Whitford is told that someone was still alive “upstairs” and when you see the panel with all the wires pulled out and messed with by Fran Kranz, it shows why exactly the system malfunctioned and the explosives were not set off.


    OK, guys, i know this is the wrong forum to emtnion a different movie, and i appologise for that, but yesterday i saw CABIN IN THE WOODS. I checked the movie’s forum, but the last entry was dated the 26th of April. It’s basically a dead forum now. So, i wanted to put my two cents on the movie’s subject and be done with it.

    Vern says that it’s not an horror movie. I have to beg to disagree. I’m no horror expert or a great fan of the genre, so my opinion is worth what it is. But, however, watching the movie, it does make pretty clear to me that though there is a parodic element to the movie, it’s not directed at the genre. Basically, the movie IS an horror movie first and foremost. I’ll explain:

    The element of parody in the film is not directed at the genre. It might look like that at first. But by the end of the movie, after the reveal, we then realsie we had been watching a straigh horror movie.
    The “genre parody” element, if you will, is in fact part of the very plot, but that’s due to how thing shave to happen in-story.



    There will be spoilers

    OK, here it goes, with spoilers:

    By the end, we realise that Lovecraftian evil gods have been blackmailing humanity into making human sacrifices to apease them. It used to be they were contented with throwing virgins to a volcano and that would be it. But nowdays, those evil gods became gormets. They now enjoy more deliberate ritals for the sacrifices. Rituals that are performed like the plot of slasher or gorefiest horror movies. And this is a very important element in the movel if not the most important of all, which is the origin of all the contorvesy it has created among the horror fandom. To the point many, like our estimed Vern, felt the movie is mocking the genre.

    Quite the contrary. Yes, CABIN IN THE WOODS have parody elements. But it’s not of the genre. Or should i say, the movie doesn’t not mock the horror genre. The parody lies elsewhere. To whom? Well, the fans of the horror genre and the people who make the movies. That parody of the former cames from the way the evil gods want their sacrifice rutual played, and of the later in how the agency people treat their job as merely a day in life, things following a pre-defined formula as if working in a factory.

    If there is one thing in CABIN IN THE WOODS that makes it an angry movie is not for the horror genre but fow it has been deturped and simplified and turned to formula. How a new breed of horror fans who started to enjoy the terrible phyisical hurts and main and destruction that happen to people and cheer for a murdered to be creative in his maining and killings. How the fans turned their identification away from the victoms to the killer. And how the film industry, instead of making an effort to correct a misaimed identification from the audiences back toward the victims, they were complacent and compliant and just turned it all up to 11: more focus on charismatic killers and gore killings and futher away from the victims to the point they become even lesser creatures then walking cliches.

    CABIN IN THE WOODS is in fact a love letter to the horror genre. And a lamentation of how the genre has lost it’s ways so often. How it missed the point of the horror, in that we are supposed to identify with the victims, not the killers. That filmmakers stoped caring for characterization and just go for the gore. How it all became formula.

    It’s as if CABIN IN THE WOODS is a movie made by people who finally said “enough of this shit, i’ll tell you how it should be”, and meanwhile had fun messing with people’s expectations and certainties of the genre.

    CABIN IN THE WOODS is a straigh horror movie. Very straigh in fact. The unique elements in it is that it just incorporated what seems like tropes from the usual slasher or supernatural horror and made them THE PLOT of the movie. The other unique element of the movie, unfortunatly, is that, at least in regard to Holywood horror, is that it actually bother to create characters with characterization for the kill meat. It’s sad that such a thing, which should be par the course, now works as a subvertion of the genre.

    I always felt that the slasher genre had enourmous potential for drama just from the very concept of the thing. Which so often, if not all the times, has not been explored. CABIN OF THE WOODS, for a change, decides to explaore the possibilities and potential the slasher has, and does so very well. So, good stuff.

    Sorry for going on a long tangent here, guys. I just had to put my two cents on this subject, sorry if it disturbed the peac eof this forum. Peace.

  251. I’m not sure it’s trying to criticize horror movies for losing their way. But if it is it’s got alot of damn nerve, considering how lame all of the monsters are in this movie. You gotta learn how to do it before you tell everybody else they’re doing it wrong.

    I mean, obviously I get most of the stuff you’re saying there. I’m just saying it works as a comedy but not (for me) as horror. I actually see it exactly reverse of you, it seems like it means it until it gets to the all important climax and then it just turns into a bunch of jokes.

  252. So I picked up the DVD yesterday and learned something amazing in the special features: The practical creature effects were done by Nancy from NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Remember how in NEW NIGHTMARE Heather Langenkamp played a version of herself who was married to a special effects artist? Well, it turns out that was real. In 1990 she married a guy named David Anderson, who did makeup on a couple of Wes Craven movies, including SHOCKER, which Heather had an uncredited role in. (Random trivia: Charlie Sheen, a high school friend of the groom, was the best man at the wedding. I shudder to think of the bachelor party he threw.) So then the married couple formed their own FX house, which did the non-CGI monster effects for CABIN. Now, I’m not 100% sure there was a Freddy knockoff in the background somewhere in the movie, but if there was, that’s gotta be the most goddamn meta thing I’ve ever heard of.

    She still looks pretty damn good, by the way.

  253. That’s… insane.

    It’s kind of like finding out that the ball who plays Wilson in Cast Away actually wrote the novel that the film was based on.

  254. Vern, it appears you and most of the rest have been STARSHIP TROOPERSed. This movie is a commentary on the Hollywood studio version of horror wrapped in a supernatural thriller. Any notions that it is horror or horror comedy come from a marketing department that was bamboozled by Whedon and Goddard. Since I only skimmed the comments back when you first posted this review I think I’ll use the empty night of regular TV programming to rewatch the flick so I can comment more competently.

    Reading through all the reviews and comments while building the Timeline sure has been revelatory lol

  255. Clubside: Sure, I get that. It just wasn’t very good.

  256. Not so fast, clubside, my friend.

    I have been a fan of SERENITY since 2005 and a fan of FIREFLY & DR. HORRIBLE’S SINGALONG BLOG since 2010, and I’ve become something of a Whedon near-expert over the course of this last year, due to my BUFFY journal, my dalliance with ANGEL SEASON 1, and my very recent consumption of DOLLHOUSE (watched all 26 episodes over the course of a couple long flights and a German airport layover), and I have to point out that the guy is obsessed with the notion of secret underground big-corporation/cult group-controlled societal experiments that resemble slavery & mind control.

    THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is just another in the surprisingly long line of Whedon explorations of this topic — subterranean button pushers & secret gods/demons/corporate-brain-surgeons controlling major world events in the realm of humans. So I have to suggest you pull back the reins on your interpretation, bud. Whedon has a clear history of the stuff he likes to explore, exploit, and ridicule in his works, and “a commentary on the Hollywood studio version of horror wrapped in a supernatural thriller” is decidedly *not* his primary mode of filmatism/mindfuckery. Yes, that card is placed on the table, and yes, it is a valid interpretation, but it is *far* from the *definitive* way to approach TCITW.

    Frankly, it’s silly for you to suggest that the likes of Tawdry, Vern, and Mouth could be “STARSHIP TROOPERSed,” and in this case, the fact that no work of art possesses exclusivity of meaning notwithstanding, you are absolutely objectively incorrect in your assertion.

  257. maybe he’s a conspiracy theorist?

  258. The Original... Paul

    November 24th, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Ok, I found myself disagreeing with Vern on his point, and I couldn’t put my finger on why. Now I can.

    …Are the monsters in this movie anything to do with the “horror” of this movie, lame or not? (I would argue “not” in at least some cases, although giant CGI snake was pushing it a bit far for me.) Until the very end, they’re just tools – of the Gods, then of the agency controlling them, then finally of Dana and Marty. And even AT the very end, the humans are less worried about them than about the impending apocalypse.

    I would argue that that the real horror comes from how many horrible, horrible things people are capable of doing to one another in the name of survival, and how desensitized they become to it as a result. The monsters are just tools that they use. There’s a reason why the scene that seemed to me to be most horrifying was where Dana is being slowly beaten to death on a screen while a load of people have a party in front of it.

  259. So I saw this yesterday and after FIREFLY, THE AVENGERS and now this got all the same reaction out of me (“Pretty good, but far from being great or very memorable”), I guess I will never become a Whedonite.

    My main problem with CABIN, is that the first hour is just a boring ass horror movie, that tries to subvert cliches, by giving us a far fetched explaination. (“Oh, so the horny bitch and the jock are idiots, because someone pushed a button!”) The problem is, just adding that absurd explaination to the mix, subverts nothing. In the end we still see them acting out the same old teen horror cliches.

    Once the last two kids finally find the elevator, the movie becomes lots of fun, but seeing all these cool monsters just made me angrier, because all we got in the first hour, was some lame ass zombie family. I wish Bradley Whitford would have gotten his wish to see Mermen earlier, because THAT is something, that we don’t see every day. Shit, even the clown or the giant bat creature would have been cooler! But no, just a boring zombie family. You are trying to make “The horror movie to end all horror movies”, as Joss Whedon called it? Fine, but DON’T USE THE UNICORN ONLY FOR A CUTAWAY JOKE then!

  260. That’s the joke, CJ. All these awesome monsters on display and the people end up choosing rednecks and zombies again and again and again.

  261. holy shit, I forgot all about the unicorn, God this movie rocks

    good thing I got it on blu ray for Christmas, this sucker is gonna get re-watched soon

  262. and for the record, Cabin in The Woods is my favorite horror movie in years, there’s just something about it that really clicks with me

  263. I like it too, Griff, but I wouldn’t call it a “horror movie”. It is something else that is also good.

  264. It´s certainly not horror.More of a deconstructon of horror cliches.

  265. Yeah, actually I kind of hated it’s intermittent stabs at being an actual horror movie in the middle. Extremely weak sauce. But as a clever action-comedy, it’s one of my favorites of the last year. I don’t think any movie left me with as big a smile.

  266. Oh Jesus. This fuckin’ argument again. Action-horror. Horror-comedy. Comedy-action. Who gives a shit? It’s awesome. That’s what genre it’s in.

  267. Sorry, I didn’t mean to dredge up that old argument. I just think that the “best horror movie in years” (not implying you meant that, Griff) should be, you know, scary. I also wish my local video store had an Awesome section.

  268. Sorry, but this movie is deconstructing shit. Like I said, it’s just using cliches and gives an explaination for them, that only works within the universe of this movie. Or are you telling me that the victims in every slasher movie act like they do, because someone poisoned their weed? At least SCREAM had fun with twisting these cliches around a little.

  269. If you’re a fan of Buffy this is familiar turf indeed. Whedon is an expert in seeing the funny side of things without taking the piss. I really love this movie. Question; Since this is the case in every single horror movie, documentary, comedy, reality show, interview and action movie from the USA, I just have to ask are American youths between 15 and 25 really THAT childish, stupid and/or uninterested in anything besides sex and drugs?

  270. So are German kids, although recently they also developed a heavy interest in slacktivism. (= pretending that you are interested or even active in politics or even, by doing nothing more than voting for half-assed internet parties, sending angry tweets, writing angry comments on news websites or pushing the like-button underneath “protest” letters on Facebook and changing your avatar to one of those Guy Fawkes masks.)

  271. Vern, this may be your funniest review ever (even though I feel like I say that about 4 times a year). I feel like I should have had a stronger opinion about this movie either way, but as it is, it’s good, not great. It’s funny and enjoyable but not scary except for cheap jump scares (I’m not going to bother getting involved in the whole “is it horror or not?” debate since that’s the least productive debate to enter and inevitably leads to someone saying Alien or Terminator isn’t “real” sci-fi or the Bourne movies are technically espionage and not action or some shit).

    But yeah, it’s interesting and audacious but full of narrative short cuts that just keep it from greatness. Two quick questions – 1) I understand each culture has different archetypes, so the Japanese schoolgirls may not necessarily have a jock, slut, fool, etc.. Plus they were victorious in vanquishing the ghost. So what was required exactly to appease the Japanese God? A certain number/order of people dying like the American God, or for the ghost to be defeated? 2) So this movie pulls a Ghost of Mars and has a sly pro-drug storyline (the pot ends up being what makes the fool immune to the puppetmasters’ drugs/powers of suggestion). But if these same archetypes keep getting killed every year, and the “fool” is one of the archetypes, how come none of the previous stoners have ever broken the cycle? I think there’s possibly more stoners in these movies than virgins.

  272. 1. The Japanese schoolgirls being victorious is what made the situation in America so dire. All of the other sacrifices failed, so it was crucial that the American one be successful.

    2. The scientists laced his pot to make him extra stupid, but they didn’t know about his secret stash, so he didn’t get dosed with dumbass juice like all the previous stoners did, thus allowing him to remain just smart enough to “save” the day. Also, who’s to say others stoners from previous experiments didn’t break the cycle? It probably happened before. Only one of the sacrifices going on all over the world needs to be successful, and it had already been established that normally the Japanese can be counted on to pull through.

  273. Ah, thanks for the clarification, Majestyk. I somehow misunderstood and thought the reason Jenkins was pissed off that the Japanese schoolgirls beat the ghost so quickly was because he was mad that the Japanese scare team reached the desired end result faster than his team. I had no idea it was one of those “everyone else has failed, now it’s up to us or the world ends” scenarios (like in Vern’s Mortal Kombat video review!)

    Speaking of the previous stoners, etc… I was reading around to try to find out what “the ’98 incident” was (where the American scare team lost or almost lost) – some mention it was Blair Witch (even though it came out in ’99) which would actually be kind of a cool nod to the ways found footage turned the genre on its head. Others think it was The Faculty, even though I think that movie’s way too slight to be paid homage to 15 years later. Then again, the stoner/drug user saved the day in that one as well, none of the kids died, and the virgin turned out to be the villain, so who knows.

  274. How can it be Blair Witch since they all died at the end?

  275. I rewatched this last night (still awesome, by the way) and came to the conclusion that “the incident in ’98” was that 1998 was the year when all the young people would have seen SCREAM. Meta horror had gone mainstream, so all the kids knew all the “rules” of the genre and thus were harder to trick into fulfilling their stereotypical roles.

  276. I randomly read this review yesterday and then i watched episode 4 of ash vs evil dead. And i noticed that ash’s rv has a dirt bike on the back of it…so i will be very disappointed if that dirt bike does not get used later in the season.

  277. Just wanted to leave this Birth.Death.Movies. post here that I shared on Twitter since Vern mentioned he might revisit the film. Seems the whole “it’s not a horror movie” thing is quite the debate around the thing.


    As I mentioned in the Tweet I can’t share the actual URL given some Google Analytics error that shows up all over the sight.

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