10 Twisted Facts About The Cabin in the Woods

 Diyah Pera, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Diyah Pera, Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Revered by horror lovers and haters alike, The Cabin in the WoodsDrew Goddard’s directorial debut—twisted the genre into something new, kicking it in the pants the same way Wes Craven's Scream did for slasher films in the 1990s. The 2012 film tossed genre clichés into the blender to create something surprising that also forced us to question our own, voyeuristic love of watching people get fictionally murdered.

In typical trope-y fashion, a group of young, attractive men and women head to a remote, ahem, cabin in the woods where they accidentally call down their own creepy doom that they can’t avoid because they make super dumb decisions. Fortunately, there’s a government bureaucracy to explain why they can’t escape slow-moving zombie killers.

Here are 10 facts about the meta commentary on scary movies.

1. THE OPENING SCENE WAS MEANT TO CONFUSE AUDIENCES.

“Opening the movie with this scene is one of my favorite things that we accomplished,” co-writer/producer Joss Whedon said in the DVD commentary about the early sequence where Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins chit-chat in a hallway about childproofing cabinets and an office betting pool. They purposefully wanted people to think they’d sat down for the wrong movie and had to convince the studio that people wouldn’t walk out.

2. IT WAS INSPIRED BY THE NUKES AT LOS ALAMOS.

Sure, it’s a slasher flick, but The Cabin in the Woods is really about bored employees ensuring the success of murder machines in the face of the end of the world. It might not be that surprising to learn that Goddard grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico. “The whole town exists because it’s a government lab that designs weapons. And that’s the only reason the town exists,” Goddard said. He and the production used images from Los Alamos in the 1950s to craft the set and even some costumes.

3. HORROR ICON HEATHER LANGENKAMP DID THE SPECIAL MAKEUP EFFECTS.

Robert Englund and Heather Langenkamp in 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' (1984)
Melissa Moseley, New Line Cinema Entertainment

Legendary Final Girl Heather Langenkamp is known for playing Nancy in the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, but she and her husband David LeRoy Anderson also do prosthetic makeup, monster costumes, and makeup effects through their company AFX Studio. She’s listed in the credits as Heather L. Anderson.

4. THE WOLF HEAD HAD POWERED SUGAR ON IT.

If you’re gonna make out with a taxidermized wolf head, a little sugar helps the medicine go down. That’s why prop master Dan Sissons helped out Anna Hutchison during her Truth or Dare scene with some powdered sweet stuff on the wolf’s tongue (which was detachable and made from silicone).

5. DREW GODDARD AND JOSS WHEDON MADE IT AS A “LOVING HATE LETTER."

L to R: Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard on the set of 'The Cabin in the Woods' (2012)
Diyah Pera, Lionsgate Home Entertainment

The reason The Cabin in the Woods works for horror fans and non-fans alike is that it hews closely to the classic rules for the genre to deliver the scares, but also mocks them mercilessly. Whedon saw it as both an exercise in how much fun they could have (they wrote it over a single weekend) and as a serious critique of a genre they loved that had descended under a wave of needless torture and stupid characters crafted solely to be killed in terrible ways.

6. THERE WAS GOING TO BE A VIDEO GAME TIE-IN.

Video game tie-ins have become the standard for a ton of genre movies, but instead of making a crappy game on the cheap, The Cabin in the Woods was going to be ported into the already-popular Left 4 Dead series. It was a natural fit, as players could have fought their way through both the cabin setting and the underground bureaucratic office. There are still Left 4 Dead monsters inside the cube facility in the movie, but the movie never made its way into the game because the original studio went bankrupt, and the delay in release killed the crossover.

7. THE BREAKFAST CLUB HELPED SHAPE THE SCRIPT.

Kristen Connolly and Jesse Williams star in 'The Cabin in the Woods' (2012)
Diyah Pera, Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Who’s the villain of The Cabin in the Woods? The college crew getting drunk, having fun, and just trying to survive? The government entity putting them through the ringer to save the world? The Old Gods that demand blood? One reason the movie connected with such a wide audience is because all the characters display a distinct philosophy that we can relate to. Chris Hemsworth and friends don’t want to die, but the entire world depends on them getting slashed. According to Goddard, we have him watching The Breakfast Club as an adult to understand the non-teens’ perspective to thank for The Cabin in the Woods’ moral complexity.

8. THE FULL LIST OF MONSTERS INCLUDES A NOD TO SIN CITY.

There are too many baddies to name here (so here’s a list), but among the witches, sexy witches, mermen, and unicorns, there’s Kevin. He’s a kind-seeming dude who might show you where the movie section is in Best Buy but dismembers people during his time off. It’s possible that he’s a reference to the relaxed, quietly sadistic slasher played by Elijah Wood in the movie version of Sin City.

9. ONE OF THE MONSTERS IN THE CUBE FACILITY IS JUST A GIANT CAT.

Obviously the movie is crammed with references to genre icons like vampires, creepy clowns, mummies, zombies, Kevin, mermen, Hell Lords, and aliens, but there’s also just a big ol’ cat that could have ripped the attractive young people apart one by one. The Egyptian cat statue in the basement is what summons it, and it presumably would have tormented the kids by apathetically knocking things off shelves and cuddling.

10. THE BODY COUNT IS OFFICIALLY 69 BUT IT’S TECHNICALLY WAY HIGHER.

The next time this question pops up at bar trivia, you’ll know that 69 bodies hit the floor during the movie’s runtime, but if you want to be annoying about it, the death toll is technically 6,800,000,000 because that was the world population in 2009, when the film was shot, and the story ends with the planet’s destruction (which is also why it’s weird that people keep asking about a sequel).

8 Sequels That Received Oscar Nominations for Best Picture

Jasin Boland, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Jasin Boland, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

It’s rare when a movie sequel manages to stand up to the original entry in a film series. Even rarer? When a sequel is so good that it nabs an Oscars nomination for Best Picture. Here are eight movies that did just that.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

When Mad Max: Fury Road was released in theaters in 2015, no one thought that it would be a critical darling—or an awards contender . But when the Academy Award nominations were announced in 2016, the latest entry in George Miller’s Mad Max franchise earned a whopping 10 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Fury Road is the fourth installment in the series and was the first to hit theaters in 30 years (since the release of 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome). It’s also the first movie in the franchise to receive any recognition from the Academy.

2. Toy Story 3 (2010)

A still from 'Toy Story 3' (2010)
Disney/Pixar

In 2011, Toy Story 3 was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Animated Feature. Though The King’s Speech ended up taking the night’s top prize, Toy Story 3 (which was named Best Animated Feature) made history that night, as it was the third ever animated movie to score a Best Picture nod; 1991’s Beauty and the Beast and 2009’s Up are the other two films to earn the same accolade.

3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Although the first two installments in The Lord of the Rings trilogy—2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring and 2002’s The Two Towers—were each nominated for Best Picture, it was the final movie that ended up winning the Academy Award in 2004. In fact, The Return of the King won 11 Oscars that year, sweeping every category in which it was nominated, and tying Ben-Hur and Titanic for the most awards received in one night.

4. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

In 2003, The Two Towers won two of the six Oscars for which it was nominated, for Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects. Rob Marshall’s musical Chicago beat it out for Best Picture.  

5. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in 'The Silence of the Lambs' (1991)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

In 1992, The Silence of the Lambs made a clean sweep of the “Big Five” categories: Best Picture, Best Director for Jonathan Demme, Best Actor for Sir Anthony Hopkins, Best Actress for Jodie Foster, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Ted Tally. Although The Silence of the Lambs isn’t a direct sequel to Michael Mann’s 1986 film Manhunter, it’s based on the sequel novel to author Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon, on which Manhunter was based. It also features the character Hannibal Lecter in a major role, who was played by Brian Cox in Manhunter—before Hopkins made the role his own. Got that?

6. The Godfather: Part III (1990)

Though it’s often considered the far inferior film in The Godfather trilogy, The Godfather: Part III received seven Academy Award nominations in 1991, including Best Picture and Best Director for Francis Ford Coppola. Ultimately, it lost to Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves, making it the only installment in The Godfather Saga not to win a Best Picture Oscar.

7. The Godfather: Part II (1974)

Al Pacino in 'The Godfather: Part II' (1974)
Paramount Pictures

In 1975, The Godfather: Part II became the first sequel in Oscar history to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It won the coveted award two years after the original film was named Best Picture. The sequel was nominated for a total of 11 Oscars, with three separate nominations in the Best Supporting Actor category alone: one for Michael Vincenzo Gazzo (who played Frankie Pentangeli) and Lee Strasberg (as Hyman Roth), and one for Robert De Niro, who took home the statuette for playing the younger version of Vito Corleone.

8. The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)

Though it lost Best Picture to Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend at the 1946 Oscars, The Bells of St. Mary’s is the first movie sequel to be nominated for the Academy’s biggest prize. The film is a sequel to Leo McCarey’s previous film, 1944’s Going My Way, which won the Oscar for Best Picture a year earlier. While Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary’s feature different stories and casts, Bing Crosby stars in both movies as Father Chuck O'Malley.

An earlier version of this article ran in 2016.

James Cameron Directed Entourage's Aquaman, But He Could Never Direct the Real One

Tommaso Boddi, Getty Images for AMC
Tommaso Boddi, Getty Images for AMC

Oscar-winning director James Cameron is no stranger to CGI. With movies like Avatar under his belt, you’d expect Cameron to find a particular sort of enjoyment in special effects-heavy movies like James Wan's Aquaman. But Cameron—who directed the fictional version of Aquaman featuring fictional movie star Vinnie Chase in the very real HBO series Entourage—has a little trouble with suspension of disbelief.

In a recent interview with Yahoo!, Cameron said that while he did enjoy Aquaman, he would never have been able to direct the movie itself because of its lack of realism.

"I think it’s great fun,” Cameron said. “I never could have made that film, because it requires this kind of total dreamlike disconnection from any sense of physics or reality. People just kind of zoom around underwater, because they propel themselves mentally, I guess, I don’t know. But it’s cool! You buy it on its own terms.”

"I’ve spent thousands of hours underwater," the Titanic director went on to say. "While I can enjoy that film, I don’t resonate with it because it doesn’t look real.”

While Aquaman was shot on a soundstage, Cameron will be employing state-of-the-art technology that will allow him to actually be underwater while shooting underwater scenes for his upcoming Avatar sequels.

[h/t Yahoo!]

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