September 14, 2003|Debuting with a splash at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival, Eli Roth's zero-budgeted Cabin Fever sparked a bidding war won by Lions Gate Entertainment to the tune of $3.5M. A throwback to the Spam-in-a-cabin flicks of the early 1980s, the picture, for all its references and debts to films like The Evil Dead, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and John Carpenter's The Thing, bears the unmistakable mark of a young Joe Dante: equal parts Roger Corman and cartoons. Cabin Fever is energetic and puerile, best when it apes Dante's energy and sense of humour, worst when it takes on Dante's occasional sloppiness and lack of cohesion. It's dedicated, in either case, to providing a nostalgic glut of gratuitous nudity and gore while offering something I've been missing for a while now: a special-effects movie reliant on karo syrup, KY jelly, and imagination uncorrupted by the perfect lines of a mainframe. That there is the possibility for a deeper analysis of the picture, centering on menstrual anxieties and banning rituals, is almost beside the point when the picture boasts of a scene involving a lady Bic, a bathtub, and a girl infected by a flesh-eating virus.