Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever had so much potential, but didn’t quite live up to it, mainly due to a post-production clusterfuck that led to director Ti West trying to distance himself from the project. West recently appeared on the Bret Easton Ellis podcast where he talked about what happened for about ten minutes.
First off, if you’re a fan of West’s you should definitely give the whole show a listen here. In fact, you should probably peruse Bret’s other shows as well. There are a lot of great discussions in there including some with Rob Zombie, Alex Aja, and Kevin Smith to name a few.
There have certainly been plenty of nuggets about the Cabin Fever 2 fiasco in various articles and interviews over the years, but this is the most I’ve ever heard West talk about it. Ellis even brought the subject up by saying he had read a lot of interviews about it, but that he still couldn’t figure out exactly what happened.
West prefaced his response by noting he credits work on Cabin Fever 2 for some good experiences and getting involved with producers he still works with. From the sound of it, all of the pre-production and production parts went great. West even went so far as to call it “a phenomenal experience”.
“Most of the people that worked with me on the movie I still work with today,” he told Ellis. “So I can take that away from it that there were a lot of great collaborators that I couldn’t imagine not having in my life.”
However, he described the final product as “Dane Cook telling Seinfeld jokes” or “a local band playing Billie Jean by Michael Jackson.”
It’s just not the same. West, by the way, would be Seinfeld or Michael Jackson in these scenarios. What the movie is missing is that true Ti West stamp. As he explained, a joke can be funny, but the delivery can be wrong.
“And therefore I’m not laughing,” he continued. “And it’s like on paper it’s still funny, but it’s just not coming across right. And that’s how I feel about the whole movie. This scene is not coming across right because of the way it’s put together.”
He then went on to talk a little about his editing process, and how that prevented early cuts of the film from appeasing Lionsgate. He apparently had a hard time getting them to understand that it was going to get better as he worked his magic on it. It would seem he had clear ideas about what he was going to do, but these weren’t immediately coming across to the powers that be.
Then there was a financial problem. They wanted to hire another editor, but then they couldn’t right away. It took them four months to get one, and in that time, West said he just thought the movie was dead because he knew they were having financial problems.
While that was going on, he went on to start working on House of the Devil because he didn’t think Cabin Fever 2 was moving forward. In fact, he said the only reason he made House of the Devil was because he felt like his career was going downhill as a result of the Cabin Fever 2 fiasco. He was afraid it was going to end, so he needed to jump at the opportunity as it presented itself, and thankfully he made one of his most lauded movies (which he considered at the time to be a “mediocre movie I wrote years ago”).
So right as House of the Devil started to happen, they hired the Cabin Fever 2 editor. He said he got along with her, but the timing appears to have been the biggest issue. He said he thought they were just going to add some close-ups and “jazz” his cut up a bit, but when he went in to take a look, it was like a totally different movie.
“And that’s a really hard thing to take as a filmmaker,” he told Ellis. “It’s a very weird feeling. And I just felt very cornered, and very like ‘holy shit’.”
He knew they spent money on it so they weren’t going to undo it. Money that they didn’t really have. So there was no way they were going to start over again.
“I just felt fucked,” he added, noting that he liked the producer as a human being, but he just didn’t know what to do. He felt the movie was “so hijacked” and he didn’t know how to solve it. Plus he was about to go make the other movie. Then he and the editor started to not get along, and the editor was going to finish it while he was gone, which he said was really hard to take.
Finally, once he saw it again, he just felt like he and the editor were too far apart on it, and that he just felt like he should “step out of the way,” being understanding of the practicality of things. He added that he’s probably saying it “much more pleasant[ly] now” but he felt like there was nothing he could do to fix it in a way that would make sense to him.
West said that by leaving his name on the film, he just feels a constant need to defend that he didn’t do it. He tried to get an Alan Smithee credit to replace his, but was denied because he wasn’t part of the DGA.
Listening to West tell the story on Ellis’ podcast, I can’t help but sympathize with the guy. It sounds like it was just an unfortunate situation all the way around with no real center of blame, though to be fair, I don’t think the movie was completely terrible. It probably would have been a lot worse had West not been involved at all.
That said, it’s always been incredibly disappointing that we didn’t get to see West’s true vision for the film. I was a huge Cabin Fever fan, and didn’t much care for the idea of a sequel that didn’t involve Eli Roth until I learned it was West who was on board to direct it. If there was one other director who could get it right, I told myself, it was West. He had recently impressed a lot of us with The Roost and Trigger Man. Like Roth, he was a horror fan’s horror filmmaker. In hindsight, there were probably a few others who could have taken a decent crack at it, but I digress.
It would be nice to see a Cabin Fever 2 Director’s Cut happen one day, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one considering he apparently never really got to create that cut in the first place.
Seriously though, go listen to the full interview. West and Ellis talked about a whole lot more than Cabin Fever 2.
And if you’re wondering about Cabin Fever: Patient Zero, John Squires will tell you about how much that sucks here.