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Posts Tagged ‘The Cabin in the Woods’


April 5th, 2013 No comments

Laid low today with the head cold that’s been going around, I was able to watch the final two episodes of Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated live. This last week has seen the show carry through with its crazy-as-a-soup-sandwich take on the venerable kids’ franchise.

Remember last week, when we learned that Scooby-Doo was descended from interdimensional aliens? And he visited the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks? Well, this week’s run kicked off with the entire Scooby gang venturing into that same sinister Red Room to meet up with the dancing dwarf, played once again by Peaks‘ Michael J. Anderson.

Oh, and later this week, this happened…

Yes, that’s Scooby-Doo blazing away with arm-mounted gatling guns. And check out the weaponized Mystery Machine.

The whole thing wrapped up in apocalyptic fashion, with a tentacled, Lovecraftian entity collapsing the town of Crystal Cove and eating…well, pretty much the entire supporting cast. If all of this seems rather dark for a show about a mystery-solving Great Dane, that was rather the point. The metaplot of the series was that the entire town–including and especially the various “four investigators and a talking animal” teams throughout the centuries–was tainted by this ancient evil.

It occurred to me about midway through this week that by turning the Mystery Incorporated kids into the latest iteration of an archetypal monster-hunting team, the writers were treading close to The Cabin in the Woods. I began to wonder which of them was The Virgin. (My conclusion: Scooby.)

While the ultimate ending leaned heavily on the reset button–which, come on, it had to once the whole community was fed to a titanic octopus-parakeet–it was a satisfying wrap-up that set those meddling kids back to the beginning and firmly onto the path they’ve traveled since 1969.

A Spotter’s Guide To “The Cabin In The Woods” Monsters, Part 3

October 22nd, 2012 No comments

For the third and final part of my examination of the monsters from the cult horror-comedy The Cabin in the Woods, I’ll run down the miscellaneous menagerie, including some that may exist solely in behind-the-scenes footage.


Japanese Stringy-Haired Ghost

aka Kiko, who is now living in a happy frog.


Horned Gorilla

No, his name isn’t “Buenos Aires.” This is a screengrab of one of the failed international scenarios. So, is the horned gorilla a traditional Argentinian horror?


Giant Spider

Yeah, I’ve got a better picture of the giant spider than this, but I hate spiders so you’ll have to make do.



Poor Amy Acker. Always getting killed.



A scorpion-like, buzzsaw-armed robot. It’s also among the initial batch of monsters at the elevators.


The Suffocators

Name taken from an interview with director Drew Goddard. One appears on the monitors. Photo from the Cabin wiki.


Creepy Girl

You never see her face. She walks slowly down the hall, singing “Hush Little Baby.”



I haven’t spotted him in the film. Photo from the Visual Companion.


Little Guy with a Hatchet

Another mystery, another Visual Companion photo.


The Ancient Ones

What it’s all about. Arguably, they’re us.


And the Rest

Some unidentified humanoids seen in the rampage. Perhaps one of them is the Reaver (from Joss Whedon’s TV series Firefly) that’s alleged to appear?

This cow-skull-headed giant is on the DVD’s behind-the-scenes featurette.

Not pictured: several creatures from the videogame Left 4 Dead appear in the holding cells. They’re holdovers from the abandoned plans to create Cabin-themed downloadable content for the popular horror game.

The special effects artists of The Cabin in the Woods created holding cells in different sizes in order to make insects and costumed actors appear giant. Here are a bunch of creatures that they used to fill out the prison, many of which defy easy categorization. However, you will note knock-offs of The Blob and The Fifty-Foot Woman. Also the Ku Klux Klan.


And that’s all for now, unless someone finds a photo of Kevin! Hope that you found useful this guide to the forthcoming apocalypse!

(Part One!) (Part Two!)

A Spotter’s Guide To “The Cabin In The Woods” Monsters, Part 2

October 15th, 2012 No comments

Part Two of my guide to the monster menagerie from The Cabin in the Woods (Part One was published last week) covers the right column of the whiteboard. Let’s take a look at it again.


The Scarecrow Folk

A flock of these break into the control room and attack Truman before being blown up by an errant grenade. Photos from the Cabin Visual Companion.



So far, no one seems to have spotted this one.



The dragonbat is very prominent, breaking into the security booth and later smashing through a wall.



The Nosferatu-style vamps are mostly off-screen. Photo from the Visual Companion.


Dismemberment Goblins

You can barely catch a few glimpses of the goblins, which is too bad because they’re charmingly goofy. During the elevator massacre, they rip a soldier in half and fling the body at the camera. Later on you can see them driving a golf cart. According to the novelization, they use it to run down pedestrians. Photos from the DVD and Visual Companion.


Sugarplum Fairy

She’s the lamprey-faced ballerina Marty sees in the holding cells. Later she performs a bloody dance of death on the big monitor. Photo from the Visual Companion.



“I’m never gonna see a merman.” Photos from the Visual Companion.


The Reanimated

Not positive about these. The Cabin wiki thinks that they’re the ceiling-crawling humanoids with the upside-down heads.



Guess this lab worker wasn’t a virgin.


The Huron

Snagged this photo from the Cabin wiki. I don’t know where they found it. I haven’t seen the Huron in the film myself.



I love that no one is certain whether its a sasquatch or a yeti. Or possibly a wendigo. Photo from the Visual Companion.



Four Dolls emerge from the elevators. They’re also on one of the monitors, carrying a can of gasoline and setting people on fire.


The Doctors

Seen here about to operate.


Zombie Redneck Torture Family

So much for their “100% clearance rate.”


Jack O’Lantern

A skinny, pumpkin-headed, fire-breathing humanoid in an old-timey suit.



Presumably this guy, seen here in a behind-the-scenes shot from the DVD.



You don’t get a very good look at them, but these two little girls–presumably a riff on The Shining–are briefly glimpsed both in the cells and on the monitors.


Come back next Monday for Part Three, in which I’ll cover the deep roster of The Cabin in the Woods, including quite a few monsters you never saw.

(Part One here.)

A Spotter’s Guide To “The Cabin In The Woods” Monsters, Part 1

October 8th, 2012 No comments

The Cabin in the Woods–a sly meta-commentary on the entire horror film genre–is one of my favorite films of the year to date. The DVD recently came out, allowing me the opportunity to indulge in a bit of filmic archaeology: an attempt to unearth as many of its many, many monsters as I can. The infamous betting board listed quite a few, but numerous others were glimpsed during the film and still more showed up only in behind-the-scenes footage.

My sources for this series of articles include the DVD, the Visual Companion (highly recommended) and The Cabin in the Woods wiki. The “system purge” sequence of the film is so fast and furious that it was difficult to get clear screencaps; in some cases I’ve had to resort to book scans and various websites.

(Okay, heads up. Total spoilers ahead. If that bothers you, do not read the rest of this post, much less the forthcoming parts two and three.)

To begin, I’m going to run down the whiteboard list in order.



Prominently featured in the movie, the werewolf moved fast enough that it was hard to capture him in focus. Here he is from the Visual Companion.


Alien Beast

The facehugger-esque creature leaps out of an elevator onto one of the soldiers. The production photos from the Visual Companion give a better view.



Seen on one of the monitors vomiting on a victim. Marty shoots one in the head. Photo from the Visual Companion.



Dana and Marty see one in the holding cells. During the purge, it whooshes down a hallway.



You don’t have to look very hard to find lots of zombies participating in the rampage. Photo from the Visual Companion.



I’m presuming that’s the creature below, seen in a screengrab from the DVD’s behind-the-scenes feature. Part of this scene shows up on one of the monitors, but all you see is its foot.



Clowns are scary. And this one is  impervious to bullets.



During the elevator attack, one of these flies overhead and rips out a soldier’s soul. Photo from the Visual Companion.


Sexy Witches

As far as I know, these never appeared on-screen. Unless you find the above witch sexy.



Any number of miscellaneous horrors might fit under this heading. See the forthcoming Part Three.


Hell Lord

aka Fornicus, Lord of Bondage and Pain. He’s a piss-take on Pinhead from the Hellraiser films, complete with puzzle ball.


Angry Molesting Tree

Another specific film reference, this one a callback to the tree-rape scene from The Evil Dead. It pulls one of the soldiers into an elevator. The torrent of blood that ensues is also reminiscent of the Evil Dead films.


Giant Snake

Note that he’s a combination cobra/rattlesnake!



Also an Evil Dead reference. I haven’t positively identified any, but deadites are close enough in appearance to zombies that it’s hard to be sure.



Ah, the legendary Kevin. Director Drew Goddard swears that he’s in the film. However, since he’s supposed to be a blandly-normal person (who can exsanguinate a victim in a second) he might be hiding among the office workers.



I’m not sure that he appears on-screen, but here’s a shot from the behind-the-scenes featurette.


The Bride

Not sure about this one. The Cabin wiki thinks it’s the gauze-covered, skinless creature below. That doesn’t explain the sledgehammer it’s wielding. You can see it hammering on the sides of its cell. Later it’s visible on one of the monitors.

“The Bride” could also be a Kill Bill reference, suggesting that something in the cabin’s basement might summon Uma Thurman.


That’s the left column of the whiteboard. Come back next Monday for Part Two, when I tackle the right column!

(Part Three here.)

“Cabin” Log

April 16th, 2012 No comments

(Note to you first-time visitors: Welcome! I just learned that io9 posted a link to my blog thanks to the “whiteboard” image below. I went from 631 hits yesterday to 2,222-and-counting today. I just want to give credit where credit is due; I found that image on the Twitter feed of one @johnfalvey, and reposted it here just to help disseminate it. So, thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoy what you find here.)

The first weekend gross is in for The Cabin in the Woods, and while the $14 million+ take isn’t bad, the “C” CinemaScore is terrible. It means that Cabin is very much a love-it or hate-it experience, with lots of “F” ratings balancing out the stellar reviews and fanboy raves. It’s ironic (or perhaps the opposite of ironic?) given that the film is all about what happens when “the audience” doesn’t get what it wants. And apparently the audience wanted what the title and non-spoiler description promised: five kids in a cabin being butchered, without all the meta-commentary and betting pools and system purges.

And now, some random observations…


First off, this is not my image, but I know that a lot of folks have been looking for a clear shot of the “whiteboard” and I’m here to help.

Not sure if all of these made it into the film. Both the “Deadites” and the “Angry Molesting Tree” are references to the Evil Dead films, and the “Hell Lord” may be the Hellraiser-inspired creature listed in the credits as “Fornicus, Lord of Bondage and Pain.” Anyone want to guess what “Kevin” is?

I like that there’s a distinction between “Witches” and “Sexy Witches.” Also that no one is sure whether one monster is a Sasquatch, a Wendigo or a Yeti.

There are some on-screen creatures that didn’t make the betting pool, notably the scorpion-like killbot and the tentacled thing that grabs Amy Acker. Pretty sure that I saw a giant centipede in the “zoo” shot. (A book called The Cabin in the Woods – The Official Visual Companion is being released tomorrow. Perhaps it will give a full accounting of the menagerie.)

One thing I didn’t mention in yesterday’s review was my appreciation of the film’s moral ambivalence. From a certain point of view, the staff of the murder factory are actually the heroes of the story, trying to save the world from ancient evil. It’s the resourceful “final girl” who dooms humanity by refusing to stick to the script. And yet, how can we root for the folks who have casually manipulated so many young people into gruesome deaths?

I was initially disappointed that the final shot of the Ancient One was of a humanoid hand and not a squamous, Lovecraftian horror. In hindsight, I get it. It’s one final horror trope: the hand bursting out of the earth ala Carrie. It also supports the metaphor that the Ancient Ones demanding blood are us.

Something I’ve been mulling: how many movies conclude with the end of the world and everyone in it? (Thus discounting post-apocalyptic stories as well as disaster flicks like When Worlds Collide and 2012 in which enough people survive to build anew.) In the Mouth of Madness comes to mind, and one could make a case for another John Carpenter film, Prince of Darkness. In the nuclear Armageddon category, there’s Dr. Strangelove, On the Beach, Beneath the Planet of the Apes* and (arguably) Miracle Mile**. I haven’t seen it, but I understand that Melancholia doesn’t pull any punches. Then there’s 1977’s cheapie End of the World, in which the Earth explodes in the final shot. You don’t get any more certain than that.

*Yes, Cornelius and Zira get away, but that’s not until Escape from the Planet of the Apes grants them a get-out-of-apocalypse pass.

**We can never be sure if anyone actually makes it to Antarctica.

These Five Kids Walk Into A Cabin…

April 15th, 2012 No comments

The Cabin in the Woods, the newly-released movie co-written by producer Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard, is frustrating in that it both demands and defies discussion. Believe me, I very much want to dissect it, but like Fight Club the first rule of The Cabin in the Woods is that you do not talk about The Cabin in the Woods. The less you know the better.

So if you’re even thinking that you might see it–and if you’re at all a fan of horror films or even the idea of horror films, you should–log off the Internet right now and just go. We’ll catch up later.


The Cabin in the Woods, from its generic title to its premise of five young people heading into the dark forest for a weekend of sin, sounds like every scary flick you’ve ever seen. Which is precisely the point.

But if you’ve seen any of its advertising you already know that there’s more going on. That’s not a spoiler. The very first scene features the office drones who are orchestrating the messy deaths of these doomed kids. That’s the what. The why is something else.

If this sounds more like the Scream franchise with its knowing winks at genre conventions, that’s closer to the truth. But not even Ghostface and friends are as “meta” as The Cabin in the Woods. This is a movie that wants to explain why those kids behave so stupidly and why we want to watch them die.

It’s worth saying that this is not all that frightening. Oh, there are jump scares and rushing torrents of blood, but as we start right off knowing that the scenario is artificial, it doesn’t grab you by the throat in the way that even the first Scream did. It’s okay, that’s not the goal.

I don’t want to oversell this as the best horror film ever. (“Apotheosis” is closer to the mark.) The characters are thin by design. The conclusions reached are not that deep. Still, it’s an experience I wholeheartedly recommend, and the sooner the better.

Okay, have you seen it yet? Good, because now I’m going to give away the whole thing. You have been warned.


While there are plenty of obvious references to famous fright flicks–notably The Evil Dead and HellraiserThe Cabin in the Woods left me thinking of other possible influences. One was an old Doctor Who storyline called “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” in which the characters performed a never-ending cavalcade of deadly acts to appease an audience of evil gods. Here the suggestion is that the show has been going on since our world began, with movies about cannibal zombie rednecks only the latest iteration of our propensity for telling tales about the butchery of the young.

The Cabin in the Woods argues that we have become too inured to this sort of thing, and that perhaps it’s time to wash off the chalkboard and start fresh. Moments after the lead office worker remarks how he’s almost rooting for the spunky “virgin” to win, he’s obliviously popping the champagne in celebration as the monitors in the background show her being relentlessly attacked by a beartrap-wielding zombie giant.

There’s a boardgame called Betrayal at the House on the Hill in which the players enter a spooky mansion and start fiddling with stuff until they set off one of a myriad of random scenarios based on horror tropes. The Cabin in the Woods called to mind what would happen if the staff of Wolfram & Hart* sat down for a game of Betrayal. Sure enough, the halls would soon run red with their own blood.

The last 20 minutes of The Cabin in the Woods, in which literally all hell breaks loose, are monstrously entertaining. I want to go again right away just to get a better look at the vast menagerie of creatures slashing and swallowing the hapless salarymen. While the money shot of the movie might be the Cube-like image of the terrible underground zoo, my favorite moment is when all of those elevator doors open and every nightmare ever emerges.

*The demonic law firm seen in Whedon’s TV series Angel. Goddard contributed a number of scripts for that show.