There’s very little we can tell you about Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods, currently in theaters, that wouldn’t spoil the experience. We can tell you it’s fantastic. We can mention that the basic plot involves five college-aged friends vacationing in the cabin from the title. And we can go so far as to say that things don’t necessarily go as planned for the movie’s main characters.
Beyond that, it’s up to you to see for yourself. And you really should see Cabin out this weekend. It’s truly unpredictable roller-coaster ride through the horror genre, a crowd-pleaser that’s smarter and funnier than most other films sharing theater space this weekend.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Cabin doesn’t owe a debt of gratitude to an army of scary features that came before it. There are references galore sprinkled throughout Goddard and Joss Whedon’s genre exercise to classic horror staples, and the more you know about those films, the better you’ll appreciate what’s going on in Cabin.
So while we can’t go into detail on The Cabin in the Woods, we figured we could use The Five as a way of teasing what you might be in for when you grab a ticket to Goddard and Whedon’s wild ride. These are the five films that most definitely influenced the horror junkies while they were cobbling together the Cabin script. If you like these, you’ll love Cabin.
Be sure to swing by this feature and let us know in the comments section what you thought of Goddard and Whedon’s work:
1. Friday the 13th
Any time you have drunken, amorous frat kids stalked by a menace in a wooded area, we’re going to think of Jason Voorhees and his tireless quest to rid Campy Crystal Lake of those meddlesome “guests.” The threat in Cabin doesn’t wear a hockey mask, but there are plenty of nods to the long-running horror franchise in Goddard and Whedon’s screenplay.
2. The Evil Dead
Basically, the cabin that houses most of the insanity in Cabin is lifted right out of Sam Raimi’s masterpiece, where campers listen to an audio tape that unwittingly unleashes evil spirits. Goddard and Whedon don’t have a character quite as cool as Bruce Campbell’s Ash … but then again, Ash is about as one-of-a-kind as heroes get.
Bear with me here. I’m not saying that Raja Gosnell’s 2002 live-action Scooby movie was any good. But the film, like the cartoon that inspired it, dabbles in five very distinct character molds, and Cabin sticks to them like white on rice. You probably know them, but they are The Jock, The Beauty, The Brain, The Fool and The Virgin. Oddly enough, in the Scooby equation, the dog is the virgin. But as one crucial character says in Cabin, “We work with what we’re given.”
4. Night of the Living Dead
This isn’t a spoiler to say that one of the threats that emerges in Cabin involves zombies. Lots of them. And they’re descending on the cabin as it unsuccessfully protects our protagonists. You can’t watch key Cabin scenes without thinking of George Romero’s original classic, with survivors hiding out in a deserted farmhouse as they try – in vain – to protect their brains.
5. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
Charles Barton’s 1948 classic was the first to pair comedic dup Bud Abbott and Lou Costello with one of Universal’s vintage monsters. Audiences thrilled to the unexpected combo of comedy and horror, as ordinary citizens interacted with extraordinary beasts. Meet Frankenstein is the only one to feature Frank, Count Dracula and the Wolf Man, and the team-up on screen was exhilarating. Almost as exhilarating as Cabin … and you’ll see why for yourself this weekend!