Sunday, 5 October 2014
CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO (BLU-RAY) - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Enjoyable splatter-fest
Dir. Kaare Andrews, Scr. Jake Wade Wall, Cin. Norm Li, Ed. Michael P. Mason
Starring: Sean Astin, Currie Graham, Ryan Donowho, Brando Eaton, Jillian Murray, Solly Duran, Lydia Hearst, Claudette Lali, Mitch Ryan
Review By Greg Klymkiw
Years ago I discovered a lump on my chest. The Doc says, "It's just a cyst. Come back if it gets bigger or hurts. I'll lance it." A few days later I felt a tightness in my chest.
The cyst was the size of a fucking golfball. I ignored it because I had a movie to go to. On the way, I stopped at the bank. The teller took one look at me and her pretty face scrunched up into the horrific visage of a gorgon sucking a lemon. I followed her gaze. My white shirt had become a huge Technicolor Rorschach Blot of gag-inducing crimson dappled with sickening streaks of yellow, accompanied by the putrescence of a cheesy aroma. Infections, you see, are like that. One second you think everything is fine, the next you've got viscous raspberry custard pudding with melted Limburger geysering out of you.
Thankfully the cyst was the result of a bacterial infection. Viral infections are a different beast altogether. Some of them can kill. And God help you if it causes flesh to rot and infests the brain, turning you into a psycho pus-bag on two legs.
These were the delectable sugar-plum-fairy thoughts that came to me whilst indulging in one of the most insanely audacious low budget indie horror films I've seen in awhile. Cabin Fever: Patient Zero is a gloriously whacked and mega-fun prequel to Eli Roth's 2002 directorial star-making feature debut called - you guessed it - Cabin Fever. If you haven't seen Roth's picture, wait and watch this first. If you have seen it, Kaare Andrews's sophomore outing after his impressive feature debut, the claustrophobic thriller Altitude, should not disappoint. This movie is a blast.
Jake Wade Wall's screenplay is a perfectly serviceable vehicle to take us back to who, what, when, where, why and how the virus in Roth's film began. What's nice about the script is that it has all the delightful tropes of the horror genre that, quite frankly, go a long way in terms of added value for our plaisirs d'exploitation. It's got a decent handful of locations that are perfectly picturesque so that in spite of the low budget, it's not one of those typical single set movies that can betray the budgetary restrictions. The locales as imagined on the page add variety and colour to the backdrop.
Most importantly, the screenplay makes sure (unlike too many recent genre items, especially those of the Canadian persuasion) that there are just as many babe roles as there are hunk roles. A horror movie without babes can be utterly unwatchable. So hats off to Mr. Wall for delivering the potential of babe-o-licious babe-ery on the page for the our edification (as well as the director and cinematographer's keen-o-niftus kino-eyes).
Wall's plot is perfunctory, but in a terrific way. It's a simple coat hanger for some lovely set pieces - and not just gore, we get some boink-o-rama action too.
In a nutshell, we've got a bachelor party full of nice young fellas boozing it up in the Dominican Republic. This allows for plenty of babes in the background, too. The gentlemen, of course, have a wild time planned. They charter a boat, head out to an extremely remote island - with a babe, no less - camp out on the beach and crack open more booze. Yee-haa!
And, we get some boink-action going too. Yee-Haa Bonii points!
Unbeknownst to our party-hearty crew there's a strange, hidden complex on the other side of the island which is essentially a mysterious centre for disease control. Here, some shady official scientist types are performing experiments on Sean Astin. Yes, THE Sean Astin! Mikey from The Goonies, 1993's beloved Rudy and Sam from Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy appears here and has suffered whilst watching those he once loved melt into heaps of viscera from a flesh-eating virus he's host to. Because he's the host, he's been nabbed by the official types, shoved into quarantine and poked and prodded by the Docs. Sean is mighty upset. In fact, he's goldurn angry and suspects he's being exploited as a guinea pig.
Now, you might notice I've mentioned scientists and doctors. This is a good thing. Where there are scientists and doctors, there are nurses.
NURSES = BABES!!!!!!
Well, it doesn't take too long for our two clutches of characters to meet up and you can bet your sweet petunia that some bad shit's going to happen to release the virus, thus allowing hell to break loose.
Look, this movie's no masterpiece, but I loved it. It's got a delightfully morbid sense of humour, its last half hour actually had me on the edge of my seat wishing I had, as per usual, been wearing Depends and a lot of the stuff that works in the movie is extremely well wrought. Kaare Andrews directs with force and aplomb and keeps things chugging forward so we don't notice occasional holes and inanities in the plot, at least not while we're watching or at least not enough to bug us if we do notice. Most of all, he attacks the material with a really great eye and feel for the genre.
Working with the brilliant Canadian cinematographer Norm Li (the man who blew our minds with his eye-popping work in the stunning Panos Cosmatos retro-sci-fi head film Beyond the Black Rainbow), Cabin Fever: Patient Zero is shot mostly handheld, but it's not that horrible whiplash nonsense, nor is it shaky-cam unless it needs to be in moderation. It is, for the most part, really effective floaty-cam with smooth moves, solid compositions and terrific lighting in the night time exteriors and shadowy interiors. Michael P. Mason's cutting always moves things with skill and vigour in a delicious death-by-a-thousand cuts way and in the hairy roller coaster ride of the last third, his cutting delivers multi Les petit morts.
And indeed Andrews, Li and Mason dazzle our pants off during the last half hour. Even if you're a bit unsure of the movie for the first chunk, hang in there, because these guys deliver the climactic gold. The movie practically splooges terror and viscera all over our receptive faces AND if you think any of the aforementioned is hyperbolic, you ain't read nothing yet.
I declare, here and now - and we must doff our hats to screenwriter Wall for coming up with this - Cabin Fever: Patient Zero is blessed with the contextual Holy Water of one of the absolute best cat fights ever committed to the silver screen.
Seriously, who amongst you has a problem with cat fights? Who? I ask you, WHO in their right mind doesn't get hard or wet watching two babes slugging it out? Nobody. That's who! And if they say they don't, they're not only lying to me, to us, to the world, but themselves.
Cat fights are hot. Here, the cat fight is not only orgasm-and-vomit-inducing, it's thoroughly original. Everything comes into play here - direction, cinematography, cutting, stunt choreography, makeup effects and the jaw-dropping (in, uh, more ways than one) context for the cat fight. I guarantee you will have NEVER seen a cat fight like this in your life.
On the grave of my Granny.
Is it THE best cat fight? Well, no, because for the absolute best, nobody will ever top the estimable Russ Meyer in this department, BUT, it is way up there. So much so that I can imagine Mr. Faster Pussycat Kill Kill looking down upon this film from his lofty perch in big-boob-heaven turning broccoli-green with envy that he never thought of doing a cat fight like this one.
And you know, any movie that might instil envy in Russ Meyer, is one for the ages.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***½ 3-and-a-half Stars
Cabin Fever: Patient Zero is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada/Anchor Bay. Sadly, there are absolutely no extra features, BUT the Blu-Ray transfer really rocks and more-than-adequately showcases Norman Li's superb cinematography in ways that even a full-on large screen projection of a DCP doesn't. Feel free to purchase the film directly from the links below and, in so doing, support the ongoing maintenance of The Film Corner.