Temperatures Rising

Dumped and disowned, 'Cabin Fever 2' gets a one-off screening to benefit Austin School of Film

Oh, the horror: Disowned by director Ti West and dumped to straight-to-video by Lionsgate, <i>Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever</i> will screen once theatrically at the Alamo Ritz, with cast and crew in attendance.
Oh, the horror: Disowned by director Ti West and dumped to straight-to-video by Lionsgate, Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever will screen once theatrically at the Alamo Ritz, with cast and crew in attendance.

The good news is that Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, much maligned director Ti West's sequel to Eli Roth's gruesomely endearing spam-in-a-cabin freak-out of 2002, is finally going to be playing at a theatre near you.

The bad news is, the previous sentence is only true if you happen to be at the Alamo Ritz, Wednesday, Sept. 23, at 7pm. Then – and, presumably, only then – CF2 will have its theatrical world premiere in a benefit screening for the Austin School of Film, courtesy of Fantastic Fest. After that, Lionsgate is dumping West's semisequel straight into video stores.

What gives? CF2, which wrapped production all the way back in April 2007, has officially been disowned by its director, who spoke at the recent UK-based FrightFest. On hand for a screening of his homage to late-Seventies horror shows, The House of the Devil (which will also play at Fantastic Fest 2009), West claimed Lionsgate re-edited his cut of the film and essentially rendered the metaphorical cabin less febrile, possibly with St. Joseph's orange-flavored chewable aspirins. Of the rift with Lionsgate, online genre site BrutalAsHell.com quoted West as saying "[the original edit of the film] was like a John Waters or Todd Solondz film and featured heart wipes and star wipes and that the current version is much less esoteric and idiosyncratic."

Interestingly, West is suddenly press shy vis-à-vis the upcoming ASF benefit, but such is not the case for actors Rider Strong (returning from Roth's original), Marc Senter, Noah Segan, and Rusty Kelley (Dear Pillow) and producer Lauren Moews – all of whom are slated to attend the Alamo premiere.

Austinite Kelley, who last spoke to West at South by Southwest 2008, says: "Honestly, I saw the film the other day, and all the stuff that I really liked about the script was still in the movie. From my point of view, it's like, why [would West] throw this fit and abandon the whole project?"

So what should fans of Cabin Fever expect from West's sequel?

"To me the first film had a real surreality and an awesome sense of humor," says Kelley, "and what Ti did was amp that up into an almost slapstick level. Plus, there's even more of the Eighties, teen-camp references than the first one had. To me, this has a more Better Off Dead/Rock 'n' Roll High School kind of campiness to it that really works. And it isn't just another, 'Oh, there's another Eighties slasher film reference,' either: It all works together. If you liked the strangeness and weirdness of the first one, you'll love this one."

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever screens Wednesday, Sept. 23, 7pm, at the Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz. For more info, visit www.austinschooloffilm.org.

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Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, Rusty Kelley, Ti West, Austin School of Film, Lionsgate, Rider Strong, Marc Senter, Noah Segan, Lauren Moews

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