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With Spring Break upon on, families and friends are having fun in various ways. One choice is kicking back on the lake, having a blast at the lake, and renting a cabin. The isolated setting of a cabin is one that has been a mainstay in horror films going back decades. Whether it’s Ash battling Deadites or a zombie-beaver hybrid, the setting has become a popular one. Here is a list of five horror films on vacation at a deadly cabin in chronological order.
(Author’s Note: I was tempted to include ‘The Strangers’ (2008) on the list. The couple were attending a wedding and stayed at a vacation home. It felt out of place to include the film because it didn’t fit the theme of Spring Break nor was it a cabin vacation. Check out ‘The Strangers’ though, it’s great!)
Horror on Vacation:
I Spit on Your Grave (1978) – Directed by Meir Zarchi.
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics Score 53 percent, Audience Score 40 percent
In 1972, legendary horror director Wes Craven released his first film titled ‘The Last House on the Left.’ The film was a revenge tale rooted in its raw and gritty aesthetic. In the years that followed, many films would follow this template to varying degrees of success. The most popular of those films was Meir Zarchi’s ‘I Spit on Your Grave.” The film tells the story of Jennifer Hill who rents out a lakeside cabin to write her next novel. She is soon sexually assaulted by a group of local men before enacting her revenge.
Described as a “vile piece of garbage” by critic Roger Ebert, the film has grown into a controversial franchise in the horror community.
A Classic Never Dies
The Evil Dead Franchise (1981-Present) – Created by Sam Raimi
(Original Film) Rotten Tomatoes- Critics Score 95 percent
In the late 1970s, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell came together to shoot several Super 8 mm films, including the Evil Dead concept short ‘Within the Woods.’ Following its success, ‘The Evil Dead’ was released in 1981 and became a massive horror hit that dominated the video rental stores. ‘The Evil Dead’ follows the store of Ash Williams and his four friends as they rent out a cabin for the weekend. After finding and reading the old book, the Necronomicon, the dead soon come to life. Two sequels followed, as well as a remake/reboot in 2013, and then a TV series.
Cabin Fever (2002) – Directed by Eli Roth
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics Score 62 percent, Audience Score 44 percent
In 2002, then unknown director Eli Roth released his freshman directorial effort in ‘Cabin Fever.’ The film was a love letter to many films before it, taking cues and inspiration from some of the best horror films in history. The story follows a group of college students who rent a cabin near a lake before a flesh-born virus spreads quickly. The Evil Dead was an inspiration, while also sampling its score from ‘The Last House on the Left.’
Rider Strong, star of the 1990s TV show ‘Boys Meet World’ leads the cast on an entertaining and gross journey over the course of 90 minutes.
Horror on Spring Break: A New Take
Cabin in the Woods (2011) – Directed by Drew Goddard
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics Score 92 percent, Audience Score 74 percent
The horror genre is often criticized for its unrealistic portrayal of events. In ‘Cabin in the Woods,’ director Drew Goddard has some fun poking fun at this criticism. Five students, led by a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth, rent a cabin in the woods for a weekend of fun. One by one they are picked off and killed but not all is what it seems. A group of scientists are pulling the strings, sending monsters, zombies, and other horror-related themes at the college kids in the process. The film became an instant favorite among horror fans for its unique take on the genre.
Finding a Balance
Zombeavers (2014) – Directed by Jordan Rubin
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics Score 71 percent, Audience Score 32 percent
Finding a balance between horror and comedy is often a tough choir for any filmmaker. For Jordan Rubin, the balance in ‘Zombeavers’ works perfectly. Three girls rent a cabin by a lake to get away from their boyfriends, who soon find a way to join along. However, not everything goes according to their plan. A toxic barrel falls off a truck and into the water supply, resulting in the local beavers turning into zombies. Look out for an early cameo from musician John Mayer and comedian Bill Burr.