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Driveway Tunnelers Fail to Find Hoffa, But Recover My Lost “Cabin in the Woods” Review

My daily MCC followers may recall a recent entry in which I eulogized one of my oldest entries, a review of The Cabin in the Woods that somehow vanished from this blog without malice aforethought or explanation forthcoming. Originally posted on May 6th, I tried to return to it months later to double-check something I’d written (I don’t even recall exactly what), only to discover a large hole in my history where once it had existed. The software left a trail of another post that I intentionally deleted a few weeks later, but not the Cabin piece.

Wanna hear a funny story about a forgetful old man?

The other day I was poking through the folders on my PC to review some old files saved from previous computers. While skipping up and down the folders and sub-folders, I located a folder that I forgot I’d created, in which I’d saved text-only copies of several early MCC entries. I think my original plan was to keep saving copies of every entry as I posted them in case if Internet disaster. At some point I forgot the plan and stopped saving copies. I’m 98% certain it was because of old age. Lo and behold, though, among those archived few was the lost Cabin piece.

For completeness in posterity, acknowledgment of the recent home-video release, and general value-added fun, represented below is the file copy of my original expression of Cabin fever. A few proofreading tweaks have been performed, but this should otherwise be an accurate recreation. Since only a handful of humans read the original version, I expect no outrage from hardcore blog preservationists accusing me of Lucas-izing my own completed work.

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Avengermania Fuels Nostalgia for Early Whedon Works Like “Cabin in the Woods”

After waiting an eternity’s worth of hours after opening day, I finally saw Marvel’s Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. Now I can rejoin the Internet, already in progress.

By and large, I was a happy camper through most of the movie, pausing only a few times for plot issues and uncouth crowd distractions. I laughed when the crowd did, which was often. I winced, I swooned, I marveled, I enjoyed each rush.

I didn’t have quite the same experience with Whedon’s co-written production of Cabin in the Woods, which I saw the week before. As a 1980s child raised on far too many horror films, I was curious to see what sort of (figurative) dissection he and director/co-writer Drew Goddard had in store for that genre. I’m a sucker for satire, especially when the target doesn’t mean as much to me as it used to.

I wanted to like it, but found myself stumbling over numerous hurdles. I kept them to myself because most of them weren’t necessarily the fault of the film itself, and didn’t feel like debating the points with online pals who loved-loved-LOVED it. Cabin peer pressure was indeed in force.

Now that Cabin is past and Avengers is present…

Momentary pause here for courtesy spoiler alert before I digress. If you have long-term plans to see Cabin for surprising cinematic enjoyment instead of a clinical exercise, or if you just don’t care, which I completely understand (arguably I shouldn’t even care this much), now’s as good a time as any to bail out. Please allow this 1960s monstrosity to escort you to safety, and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

spoiler alert

…so, my Cabin qualms, then:

Facebook friend meant well, spoiled it with one word. I appreciate movie recommendations, but hailing it as a “Lovecraft” homage was exactly the wrong puzzle piece to hand me. With that little slip from a “friend” freshly on my mind, as soon as Messrs. Whitford and Jenkins hinted at higher powers, I pieced together their basic backstory in seconds. If there was more to Lovecraft than pretentious portents of bloodthirsty, tentacular elder gods, I’ve forgotten it. I knew nothing of the sort was in the movie till he let it slip.

Fran Kranz attracts my attention too well. Every episode of Dollhouse, especially the early mediocre ones, was enriched by his manic performances as Topher, the amoral mad-scientist man-child. It was a given that his presence would stand out to me in all the trailers and publicity photos. I don’t remember which medium it was (trailer? Entertainment Weekly article?), but somewhere in the pre-release hype I glimpsed a shot of a perturbed Kranz lurking in the halls of CthulhuCorp. Not only did his face-off with Judah Buckner occur before any such scene did, said face-off also ended offscreen. Factoring in the geek axiom “no body = no death”, I deduced that Marty’s absence was temporary and anxiously counted the minutes until he returned to amuse and comfort me again.

Buffy season 4 climax revisited. The last twenty minutes of madhouse kill-spree homages gone wild were indeed a mind-blowing sight to behold. Once the dust had settled, I realized this wasn’t the first time we’ve seen a Whedon story climax with a supernatural prison riot. Substitute Marty and the virgin for the Scoobies, replace CthulhuCorp for the Initiative, add several millions of dollars to the CG budget, shake vigorously and appreciate more. It’s not a superfluous overhaul on par with George Lucas retouching three-decade-old film cels, but the thought struck me and left a mark.

I can do without topless scenes. I’m blissfully married and have no need for “fan service”. At all.

The central analogy fails for me. If I’m reading this allegory correctly, CthulhuCorp is actually Hollywood, forced to provide violent entertainment for the sake of survival, lest it perish in flames. The Ancient Ones are we, the Viewers at Home, who demand to bear witness to periodic bloodbaths or else it’s Burn, Hollywood, Burn. I realize the analogy is broad and not applicable to every conceivable nuance of what it’s illustrating, as is typical with any given analogy…but did there have to be blood? Had CthulhuCorp given any thought to staging a live-action rendition of, say, a top-notch Pixar film instead of a horror film? Are there, perchance, any ancient gods who threaten their subjects’ well-being unless they get to see marathons of wacky chick-flick scenarios? What if Shuma-Gorath has a secret fondness for Elizabethan dramas? Does he frighten his subjects into stockpiling unwieldy dresses and girdles, command them to repress their feelings, and dine heartily on WWII reenactments?

My audience was small and unresponsive. On the Tuesday night I attended, only seven other people were in the audience, all silent, one with his cel phone grafted to his hand like a tiny Siamese twin wearing a miner’s headlamp. Poor stoned Marty garnered nary a laugh except from me, and had to compete with lolcats for attention.

Today’s showing of Marvel’s The Avengers shared three things with Cabin: Whedon, Chris Hemsworth, and an unschooled cel phone user seated in front of me, fixated on the small screen he brought with him instead of the big screen he paid money to watch. If you’re waiting on a very important phone call, perhaps you should wait for it somewhere where subwoofers won’t drown out your babble and the ancient gods who thrive on polite moviegoing won’t target you for destruction. Just a thought.

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Department of Present-Day Plugging Postscripts:

The following link is provided as an experiment in social expansion: Follow my blog with Bloglovin!

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