Evil Dead Month marches on here at Bloody-Disgusting! One of the most important aspects of the Evil Dead films (sans Army Of Darkness of course), is the cabin they take place in. Having seen the new remake, I can verify that the aesthetic and layout are more or less the same as they were in the first two films of the original trilogy. Of course, while they may be the pinnacle of the “Cabin In The Woods” subgenre – there’s a sh*t ton more where that came from!
These kind of films are among my favorite in horror, I love a good rural setting. So I’m almost jealous that The Wolfman (@TheWolfmanCometh – on the boards) got the idea for this list – which he wrote – first!
There always seems to be an understadable amount of confusion whenever I post a story from “The Wolfman.” It’s NOT ME you should be praising (or bashing) in the comments, IT’S HIM! So head inside for The Wolfman’s 10 Top “Cabin In The Woods” Movies!!!
Definitely not your traditional horror film, and even as far as ANY genre of film go, Lars von Trier’s Antichrist is far from traditional. While trying to cope with the death of their small child, a couple goes on vacation to a cabin in the woods. While there, the question is posed to both them, and more importantly, to the audience, is whether the world is a good place where sometimes terrible things happen or is the world a terrible place and sometimes good things happen? Through visuals like stillborn deer fetuses to foxes eviscerating themselves, von Trier’s Antichrist is hard to watch, but it is a film that takes a more existential approach to the idea of people versus nature, as opposed to just a couple people in a cabin trying to not to die.
Yup, that’s right, I like Alexandre Aja’s remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes more than the original. Even though the remake might have less of a social message behind it, it’s a much more graphic representation of “us vs. them”. Granted, there’s not a cabin in this movie, but rather a family staying in an RV – and instead of the woods it’s the desert. But I still feel like there’s a lot of elements of isolation and the general fearing of unknown attackers made popular in most “cabin in the woods” horror films. Greg Nicotero’s special effects and makeup are some of his best work, the music provided by tomandandy combined with Baxter’s editing and the cinematography of Aja and Maxime Alexandre make the violence in the desert look gorgeous.
As a kid, I remember reading a book that told the story of the “Three Little Pigs” through the wolf’s perspective. He was just a guy trying to borrow some sugar and these little pigs started acting like jerks. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil takes the familiar plot of backwoods hillbillies murdering college kids and tells the story from the perspective of these hillbillies just trying to set up their vacation home and all these college kids keep accidentally dying all around them. Even though it’s more of a parody of the genre than an actual “horror” film, this is a comedy MADE for horror fans who will recognize all the situations that these hillbillies find themselves in. It also has enough comedic gore to satiate any horror fan’s bloodthirst.
Although only a fraction of the atrocities that our lead character goes through take place in a cabin, this film still represents the idea of trying to go on a relaxing vacation and having things go incredibly, terribly wrong. When Sarah (Camille Keaton) rents a secluded, lakeside cabin she encounters a group of local thugs who violently rape her multiple times. This turn of events leaves her so damaged psychologically that she turns the table and plans the violent torture and murder of her attackers. Considering most films involving cabins are people vacationing there instead of living in them, this film serves as the absolute WORST vacation anyone could ever go on.
I’m sure some would argue this is “tent” horror more than “cabin” horror, but there’s no need to be so literal! We’re all friends here, right? RIGHT? Anyways, a big theme in cabin horror films are being isolated in the wilderness, trying to fight back the unknown. Well, I’d say that possibly being stalked by a witch counts as the unknown, right? And think about how much more vulnerable a tent is than a cabin! All of the characters were incredibly exposed and helpless while wandering in the woods, and they did stumble into a house at the end of it, didn’t they? Let’s just call that a cabin.*
Most cabin horror films take place in some secluded forest, but what happens if you turn that forest into snow? Well, a forest AND snow. What I’m saying is that it’s freezing in Norway so imagine how cranky the characters on Easter vacation must have been in their cabin? I suppose that people typically group this in with other zombie movies, but I definitely think it earns a spot amongst all other “trapped in isolation against something trying to kill you” films. In fact, one of the characters even mentions how stereotypical it is to see college kids heading into seclusion for a vacation and how similar the scenario is to something like Evil Dead II. Sorry guys, this one totally counts.
Considering how big writer/director Eli Roth’s reputation is in contemporary horror circles, both positive and negative, it’s crazy to me that he’s only directed 4 feature-length films. Of course he’s been involved in plenty of other horror projects in various capacities, but none of those opportunities would’ve presented themselves if it weren’t for Cabin Fever. I remember knowing nothing about the film, but I saw Peter Jackson talk about loving it so I randomly checked it out. What followed was a hilarious and incredibly gory parody of many different horror movie themes. The dialogue is ridiculously immature and the characters are such exaggerations that they feel like cartoons, but Roth still managed to gross you out with the virus they’re all trying to avoid that causes your skin and flesh to melt off of you. Also, I’d argue that the leg shaving scene with Cerina Vincent is one of the most memorable moments in the past ten years of horror.
One of the most common reasons for characters to find themselves in a cabin in the woods in horror films is the excuse of a summer camp. If it wasn’t for vacations or summer camps, would there really be ANY people going to the woods? Sorry to make you guys look at three different movie titles, but I really can’t pick which one of these films is my favorite summer camp horror, and I know that if I picked any one of the three, people would be upset about the others not being included. Anyways, if you’re a teen attending summer camp and someone disappears or dies, LEAVE IMMEDIATELY. Wait until it’s daytime and get out of there, because as summer camp films teach us, you’ll have worse things to fear than everyone laughing at you in the outdoor showers!
If Cabin Fever is a parody of a cabin horror film, then The Cabin in the Woods is a film ABOUT a parody of a cabin horror film, where the characters REALIZE they’re in a parody of–wait, this is getting confusing. Not only does this movie have every stereotypical character and villain you’d come to expect in a cabin horror film, let alone EVERY horror film, but The Cabin in the Woods even ACKNOWLEDGES that its main characters are intentionally archetypes. I don’t want to give too much away for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie yet (which is probably like, 3 people), but Cabin holds a mirror up to not just every common horror movie theme, but also makes the viewer confront why they get so much enjoyment out of horror films.
I remember first hearing about Evil Dead and being told about a character whose hand gets infected with evil so he chops off his hand and replaces it with a chainsaw. SOLD! I ran to the video store and rented the Evil Dead. When it was over, I couldn’t help but think, “Hey, where’s the chainsaw?!” Even though Evil Dead is really good, I’ve always thought that Evil Dead 2 goes that extra step to become great. I think you can tell a lot about a person when they tell you which is their favorite film in the Evil Dead series. If they say it’s Army of Darkness, then it’s the comedy they prefer. If they say Evil Dead, then they prefer more traditional scariness of the original film. And if someone says Evil Dead 2 is their favorite, then I know that’s someone I want to hang out with because it means they equally respect the comedic and horrific elements of being stuck in the woods with a faceless “evil” lurking around every corner. Also, it’s the moments where our lead character Ash is alone in the cabin that Bruce Campbell’s talent shines through, solidifying himself as an incredibly talented physical comedian and Evil Dead II as the best horror movie featuring a cabin in the woods. Hail to the King, baby.
*Editor’s note: There actually is a cabin at the end of Blair Witch, so technically he’s right anyway.