CABIN FEVER - Q&A with Cerina Vincent, James De Bello, Joey Kern and director Eli Roth
Movie Interview by Reece De Ville
With director Eli Roth and actors Cerina Vincent, James De Bello and Joey Kern at the London press conference.
Did you have any idea how successful the film would become?
ELI ROTH: When you make a film, you're always hoping for success. I didn't make a film just to show in my parent's house, you know, in their basement. Obviously, anything can happen when you're making a film and it's what I dreamed of. You make a movie dreaming that you'll get to go all over the world with it and that it'll play in theatres everywhere. It's wonderful to be the guy that had that happen to him.
How has the response to the film been?
ELI ROTH: The people who are prepared for it, that think it's going to be fun and disgusting and are ready to laugh and have a good time and get scared, they're the ones who have an open mind and enjoy it the most. The thing that I didn't expect, that's truly overwhelming is the way that my favourite directors have responded. David Lynch loved it; Peter Jackson stopped production on LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING three times to screen it for everybody; Quentin Tarantino waited inline to watch it at the L.A film festival and invited me into his house to watch movies. Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven, you know my favourite directors who are suddenly inviting me to lunch. That has been the most incredible, surreal, trippy thing. I love watching it with different audiences over the world. There's a two second delay with the subtitles, which is fun to watch when the audience get the comedy.
There are a lot of references to other films in there, how deliberate was that?
ELI ROTH: Well, there's certain things like the ass shot in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, that's something that I was doing in the storyboards before the shoot. There's certain things like structurally, where I sat down and looked at my favourite directors and their career trajectories and I thought Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson and David Lynch, all these people started by making small low budget ground making horror movies. And I said, so structurally, what am I going to do and so I looked at Sam Raimi's THE EVIL DEAD; John Carpenter's THE THING and Tobe Hooper's THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and looked at what made these films so successful: how many characters were there; what were the relationship dynamics; at what point do they reach their destination; at what point does the first character die etc. At film school, I really learned how to dissect a screenplay in a movie and analyse it structurally.
There's no question that I took certain scenes, but I wanted people to know that I wasn't just doing a complete rip off, you know, as who cares about that!
How much research did you do into the virus?
ELI ROTH: A lot of it I based on things that happened to me. I had a number of horrific medical experiences beyond shaving my face off and the skin infection. I found out about a foundation behind one particular disease through High Society magazine, my favourite porn magazine, which said "Flesh Eater: Is this worse than AIDS?" and there's pictures of before and after. I really did research it through survival stories on various websites. Two weeks before I went to Toronto, I found out about three fishermen who died from contracting this virus through the water. I mean even the part of the disease which I fictionalised in my head, spreading through the water, I later found out actually happened.
Any survivors that you know have seen the film and commented on it?
ELI ROTH: Yeah, actually. John Neff, David Lynch's sound mixer, saw the film and said that the way Bert gets it by looking at his waist and seeing the spots was identical. Another guy's girlfriend had it and she had an outbreak on her thigh, and she couldn't believe how it looked on screen.
Had the cast any knowledge of each other before?
JAMES DE BELLO: Me and Joey are brothers (laughs)!
Did the relationships in the film reflect your own between each other?
JAMES DE BELLO: Yeah, pretty much. We got along pretty well.
JOEY KERN: We didn't get along very well (to James). We kinda became better friends afterwards.
JAMES DE BELLO: Joey hung out with the girls. Me and Ryder kinda hung out all the while.
CERINA VINCENT: We all hung out together, it was a lot of fun. We all bonded immediately. We became close.
JAMES DE BELLO: Not that close!
Did your cast give you a hard time over your cameo?
ELI ROTH: They were the ones who made me do it! The original actor cast was Michael Rosenbaum from SMALLVILLE, which turned out to be the biggest hit on the Warner Brothers network, so we couldn't get him. I found someone at the last minute, but this actor just wasn't getting it so I was the guy on the spot really.
CERINA VINCENT: We were like, you have to do it! He wrote this character after someone he knew from high school.
ELI ROTH: I'd been reading it in rehearsals and the cast were like 'you gotta do it', and I just said no way, I'm in this movie enough! The crew were like, 'so you're a fucking actor now?' At test screenings, we asked the audience which characters they liked best and they mentioned me as Justin - and it wasn't because they knew me!
JAMES DE BELLO: Is that you in the bowling alley at the start of the film?
ELI ROTH: No, that's my brother Adam.
ELI ROTH: Justin was based on this high school guy, where everything he said was to try to get one up on you, 'yeah, saw Dolph Lundgren at my Karate club'.
Are you a better shot in real life than you are in the film?
JAMES DE BELLO: Never shot a gun. Never. Don't like them that much.
ELI ROTH: Yeah, but that's the only difference between you and your character!
JAMES DE BELLO: I've played that fake deer game, 'Buck Hunter 3000'.
ELI ROTH: You never shot a gun have you Cerina?
CERINA VINCENT: No, but I played 'Duck Hunt' on Nintendo.
JAMES DE BELLO: I shot some big guns in film, but not in real life.
Did you have any trouble with the censors over certain scenes?
ELI ROTH: None whatsoever. The trouble with the censors is that they no longer let you advertise violence. The studios won't cut violent trailers. The theatres won't show them. When you're making a horror film, you need to show what's in it! With SCANNERS, you see the heads blowing up, you can never have that shown anymore. Posters? You can't have a woman in danger, you can't have any blood, and you can't have any of that stuff. There are these rules of what you can't have because it'll be going in a lobby where families can see it. Horror filmmakers are fucked because what are we supposed to do? I mean you can't show the film for what it really is because you're not allowed to show anything! Then on the internet site, they erased the site! We had a really great, violent disturbing site. The day before it went on the site, they erased all the content. So we had to start putting stuff up on other sites. We're so restricted by the censors to accurately show what is in the film in trying to engage a wider audience. It's very frustrating as a filmmaker.
JAMES DE BELLO: You can show blood in the trailer, right?
ELI ROTH: No. You can't show anything.
JOEY KERN: Don't you think that works to your advantage in a way, as there's a lot of people who may not have come to see the film otherwise.
ELI ROTH: No, I don't think anyone gets tricked into coming to see a horror film. You know, THE RING makes a 100 million dollars. There's an audience out there. I think if people were honestly allowed to see the movie, then they'd enjoy it more because they'd be paying to see certain things. At the moment, it's like ordering steak but getting chicken - you've gotta know what's on the menu.