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Cabin Fever (2002) is an American Horror film directed by Eli Roth about a group of college students who stay in a secluded cabin on a camping trip and subsequently find themselves falling victim to a flesh-eating virus (Fever, geddit?). Roth's directorial debut, the story was inspired by a trip to Iceland, during the course of which Roth developed a skin infection.

Inspired by many of his favorite horror films, such as Evil Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Last House on the Left, Roth wanted to step away from what he saw as the "watered down" studio horror films. Rather, he saw the violence and nudity as essential ingredients of what he saw as a throwback to 80's horror. Roth would later continue down this path with the Hostel series.

Cabin Fever was followed by a sequel In Name Only, Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009), a prequel, Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014) and a remake in 2016.

Tropes used in Cabin Fever include:
  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": All most people know about the movie is that it involves a virus, and that there are no pancakes in it.
    • The latter being a myth - Look what the notorious bunny rabbit has in his hands.
  • Anatomically-Impossible Sex: Watch Paul's arm when he embraces Marcy at the end of their sex scene. It's level with the top of her hip. So her crotch must've been pumping Paul's belly or chest, not his penis.
  • Body Horror: It's a horrifying flesh-eating virus. What do you expect to happen?
  • Brick Joke: "That's fer niggers."
  • But We Used a Condom: Inverted. Paul and Marcy make a point of telling the audience they are doing the deed without a raincoat. Of course, riding bareback with a deadly disease spreading through the cabin is just asking for trouble. Naturally, one of them (Marcy), is already infected and is leaving Paul with a bad case of Cabin Fever.
  • Candlelit Bath: Possibly the worst possible timing (the virus is waterborne) and the worst possible outcome of shaving one's legs (she winds up shaving off huge bloody patches of skin).
    • The actual bathing is not shown, but Marcy tells the group she's going to take a bath after an argument earlier in the movie. Possibly how she initially became infected.
  • Coitus Ensues: Because when everyone around you is dying of an infectious flesh-eating virus leaving you alone in a cabin with your best friend's boyfriend, getting a little action is naturally the first thought on your mind, isn't it?
  • Cool, Clear Water: Played With. The virus thrives in the nearby river, which is seemingly clear.
  • Coming and Going:
    • Marcy and Paul's impulsive romp in the sack is framed around a shot of motionless Karen dying alone in the tool shed. Marcy's aroused breathing has even been inserted into the Karen shot. This was done to illustrate the moral decay that had developed within the cabin (with 2 teens selfishly enjoying a good screw while their friend lies dying).
    • Undertones of sex are subtly present across the entire spread of the disease throughout the main characters:
      • Karen is discovered to have the deadly illness when Paul is feeling her up - it's implied that her first wound was near her vagina, because that's the area Paul was touching her when he found the blood.
      • Burt's first disease wounds are discovered just above his crotch.
      • Marcy's first disease wounds are the rashes on her back that appear during her passionate sexual encounter with Paul.
      • Paul actually contracts the disease from his unprotected sexual encounter with infected Marcy (see Death by Sex). In addition, his first definite sign of being sick are small wounds he finds down near his crotch.
  • Creator Cameo: Roth plays the memorable character Justin.
  • Death by Sex: Marcy has sex with Paul because she's upset that Jeff bailed on all of them. Paul is concerned that they aren't using a condom, but Marcy claims that she hasn't caught the virus yet. Afterward, Paul douses his genitals with Listerine to be sure - too late! Turns out she was wrong, as we see her with handprint rashes on her back where he touched her immediately after they finish.
    • Another example happens earlier on where Paul is fondling Karen. He soon finds out that her legs are bleeding and infected, and he was actually touching one of the sores.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Though not as bad as many horror examples.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: Some edits of the film cut the actual sex scene between Paul and Marcy. Marcy's monologue about wanting to "fuck the person next to [her]" is immediately followed by Paul cleaning his junk. This caused a lot of confusion among viewers who were unclear about whether Marcy actually jumped his bones, and why on earth Paul would pour Listerine over his trousersnake.
  • Don't Go in The Woods: You just never should in general. Everything will want to eat you, including the bacteria.
    • Happened quite literally during filming. Actor Rider Strong went wandering in the woods during filming. He stumbled upon a group of schoolgirls on a field trip who immediately recognized him and chased him all the way back to the film site.
  • Downer Ending: The kids buying and selling lemonade made with contaminated water are infected with the virus and will most likely infect the rest of the townspeople, and the water is bottled and shipped to another part of the country.
  • Drone of Dread: A sickly whine is used frequently. Mostly to overlay shots of the infected water, or to indicate the moment a character becomes infected, or realizes they are infected (or both, in one case).
  • Eaten Alive: Marcy is chased and eaten by a rabid dog.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Marcy starts the third day with her hair tied back in a ponytail - the only time thus far she hasn't worn it loose. Then, when her boyfriend abandons her, she unties it apparently because she's depressed. She gets a brief monologue about how death is coming to get them, yadda, yadda... and then it's under the bedcovers with The Hero for some wild, "we're gonna die anyway" sex. The next time we see her, 2 minute later, she inexplicably has her ponytail back. Apparently, the only reason her hair was let down was so we could see it swishing while she did naked pushups.
    • She keeps the ponytail for all of two short shots, before it's loose again when she has her bath! WTF? Is she having a fashion crisis where she can't decide what hairstyle she wants to die in?
  • Facing the Bullets One-Liner: "...Goodnight, fucker..."
  • Gainaxing: Check out the sideways jiggle that peeks out past Marcy's back while she's rocking Paul's world. It looks like Paul might quite possibly be the first man to ever get slapped in the face by a girl while he's getting laid.
  • Gorn: Caused by a horrifying flesh-eating virus.
  • Great Way to Go: When her friends start succumbing to the disease, Marcy decides that what little time she has left would best be spent doing the horizontal mambo.

Marcy: It's like being on a plane when you know it's going to crash. Everybody is screaming "We're going down! We're going down!" And all you want to do is grab the person next to you and fu*k the sh*t out of them, because you know you just gonna die soon, anyway.

  • Hand or Object Underwear: Marcy leaves her jugs hanging free and visible when we first see her washing up after her intense sex scene. But she soon covers them with her arms, while holding a small towel up to her face and keeps them covered for the duration of the scene.
  • Heroic BSOD:
    • Marcy virtually shuts down completely after Jeff abandons her. Before she is assertive, selfless and driven. But afterwards all she does is have one last screw, resign herself to death and have a bath.
    • Paul grows increasingly out of control after seeing Marcy's mangled remains. Supposedly the hero of the film, he ends up going on a killing spree, killing several people including his own love interest.
  • A House Divided: None of the characters actually die from the virus.
  • Inferred Holocaust: The last shot is of the first shown victim lying in the river and bleeding into the water. It pans over to a truck of bottled water, presumably filled with Cool, Clear Water (see above) from the river.
  • Immodest Orgasm: Jeff at the beginning makes a lot of noise.
  • Improv: In the script, Marcy was supposed to be wearing the red robe while she washed her face after doing the horizontal mambo with Paul. She was going to lower the back of the robe so that we/she could see the rashes on her back. But Cerina Vincent found this situation awkward and improbable so she opted to film the scene topless. In the making-of:

Cerina Vincent: It was just too difficult to lower it without the boom operator seeing my nipples.
Eli Roth: Well, yeah, you gotta let the boom guy see your nipples!

  • Inescapable Horror
  • Irony: The brand of beer shown in the scene where Jeff takes all the beer and bails on his friends is the very real "Arrogant Bastard Ale".
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Jeff gets into a shouting match with Marcy as he's abandoning her. He tells her is that she "can fucking rot", but it also sounds like he says "...You two fuckers (Marcy and Paul) insisted on helping her (Karen). So you two can fuck and rot. But not me." This becomes a prophetic speech as Marcy and Paul do fuck, and then rot. In fact, in Marcy's case this pretty much describes all she does after he leaves. Also, Jeff never gets the flesh-rotting disease, just as he insists. He's the only member of the group who doesn't get sick.
      • Kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, because Marcy made it pretty clear she was pissed off with Jeff when she seduced Paul. And because Paul got sick by sleeping with Marcy, Jeff's abandoning her indirectly caused him to "fuck and rot".
    • Dennis randomly shouting "Pancakes!" when he bites Bert's hand and gets infected. Later, when he's being treated in hospital, the mascot bunny is actually feeding him pancakes.
  • ISophagus: At a party, a guy playing a harmonica gets it shoved down his throat after getting smashed in the face with a guitar. Cue him falling to the ground gasping for air complete with harmonica sounds.
  • Jerkass: Jeff, who runs off and abandons his girlfriend after two of their friends have caught the virus.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Jeff, the jerkiest of jerk-faces in the entire movie, quickly abandons everyone and only looks out for himself, even in a rare moment that he actually COULD make a difference. He's the only one that survives. Well, until the mob clearing out the infected gun him down when they don't realize he's clean.
    • Winston the Party Cop. He repeatedly survives encounters with numerous infected people in both movies, most of the time not even being aware of the true danger of the virus or even caring, as he's preoccupied with partying. At the end of both movies, he unknowingly ruins any hope of containment by accidentally spreading the virus even further. Hes avoided getting infected so many times one has to wonder if he's immune to it.
  • Karmic Twist Ending: "I made it! I fucking made it!" (*gunshot*)
  • Made of Plasticine: A young woman is torn apart annihilated by an Alsatian. Sort of justified here, as the virus in question makes people Made of Plasticine.
  • Mercy Kill: Paul kills Karen with a shovel to put her out of her misery.
  • Mistaken for Racist: The shotgun that's "for niggers" isn't to shoot them. Rather, the store owner has some black friends from out of town and the gun is theirs.
  • Modest Orgasm: Despite the pulse-racing tempo of her doomsday fling, Marcy reaches the grand finale with just a quiet gasp and a toss of her hair. Paul's reaction is even less noticeable (Though he's shot only from the back, so it's not like we're in a position to see him).
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Notice how Marcy can't shake off that bedsheet when she screws Paul, no matter how hard she works the goods? Sexy Cerina didn't want to show off her buns.
    • Also to a lesser degree in the immediate aftermath of Paul and Marcy working up a Cabin Fever of their own. Paul puts on jeans just to go to the bathroom. Marcy does likewise with a pair of panties, and soon after, a bathrobe she doesn't even bother to tie up properly. What's with getting dressed in such a hurry? There's nobody else around for 20 miles and they've both just gotten a good look at everything worth seeing on each other. It's especially odd in Marcy's case as she strips down to have a bath like 2 minutes later.
      • Partially avoided. Originally, she was going to put on the robe right after having sex. See Improv.
  • The Other Marty: Avoided. When Eli Roth pushed for Cerina Vincent to do the main sex scene completely in the buff, she balked and told him that he'd have to recast the role completely if he wanted the scene to show some substantial ass. Roth reached a compromise with Cerina.
  • Out with a Bang: Marcy justifies a spontaneous affair with Paul by rationalizing that they will both soon be infected and dead from the disease, so why not? By doing it, she actually infects (presumably) healthy Paul with the illness she was carrying.
  • The Plague: It is strongly hinted that the disease will reach pandemic levels.
  • Psycho Strings: A double beat string motif is used during the scene where Marcy infects Paul by having sex with him.
  • Scare Chord: After Paul is wheeled into the hospital, he has a dream of him and Karen before everything went down. There's very nice music, the final scene shows the two of them about to kiss...and then it smash cuts to Karen's flesh-rotted face with a JARRING scare chord playing.
  • Sequel Hook: The bottled water truck driving off at the end of the movie is shown in the sequel to have delivered its deadly cargo to the population of a high school prom.
  • Toplessness From the Back: Not Marcy's best angle, but Marcy's angle when she's at her best. And damn, Paul, you really did a number on it!
  • Sex Changes Everything: Subtle hints throughout the film show Marcy's relationship with Jeff decaying while she grows closer to Paul. A scene cut from the cinema version even shows them sleeping together (fully clothed) on their last night. On their last morning, they do everything together. Then, after Marcy finally gives Paul some face-time with her goodies, he can't get away from her fast enough.
    • Paul doesn't have much luck. After he cops a feel of his first choice, Karen, their relationship becomes very tense. Bleeding all over your wannabe boyfriend tends to have that effect.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: See Karmic Twist Ending.
  • Shout-Out: The ending where the only remaining uninfected survivor is shot in the head by the arriving posse closely mirrors that of Night of the Living Dead.
    • Speaking of NotLD, some locals investigate the titular cabin. While piling infected corpses to burn, one comments that they should check the basement for survivors.
    • Two characters are listed in the credits as "Shemp" and "Fake Shemp", in an homage to the Evil Dead films.
    • The Thing: Karen, like Dr. Blair, is banished to a tool shed by the group.
  • Shown Their Work: One of the sound mixers survived an actual bout with flesh-eating bacteria. He maintains that the makeup in the film is 100% accurate.
    • Eli Roth himself had flesh-eating bacteria while he was backpacking abroad in Iceland.
  • Slo Mo shot of Marcy's pert posterior swaying it's way up a grassy hill.
  • Surreal Humor: The "pancakes" scene.
  • Tempting Fate: See Karmic Twist Ending above. Did Jeff not realize what kind of movie he was in??
    • Marcy's half-assed assurance to Paul that she was "healthy" when he was worried about not using a condom for their spur-of-the-moment screw. I mean, it's not like they were in the midst of a major disease outbreak or anything, was it? Oh, wait...
  • There Will Be Toilet Paper: ...Just not nearly enough of it. Not enough in the world.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • I'd honestly like to take a poll of women to see how many, if when they were shaving their legs, the skin started to come off on the razor with noticeable amounts of blood and scraping noises to Squick pretty much anybody within the county out, if they would continue shaving their legs despite this.
    • Even forgetting about the deadly illness going around, getting hot and heavy bareback with a notoriously promiscuous woman doesn't reek of great judgement.
      • With the deadly disease floating all around causing bleeding wounds and rashes, why would Marcy assume the unusual marks on her back were from the rough sex?
    • Quite frankly, the entire cast.
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