On the fact that Cabin Fever is based around a real virus...
Eli: Well a lot of it is based on things that happened to me. I had a number of horrific medical experiences--shaving my face off in Iceland when I got this skin infection, a parasite called giardia. And then I found out about this necrotising faciitis. Actually it was High Society magazine, one of my favourite porn magazines, which had a whole thing that said "Flesh eater! Is this worse than Aids?" And it had these pictures of people from England, like one guy before and after, and it was so much nastier than what's in the film! And if you go to the websites, they have survivor stories and there's photos. It's the sickest stuff; it's disgusting! And so I really researched it and sort of knew what it could do. And I thought, "OK, I'll just make it happening in the water," I hadn't really heard about that. But then two weeks before we went to Toronto I found out there's a really nasty thing called photobacterium damsella, which is a violent flesh-eating disease that three fishermen in Boston got it from the water. So even the part of the disease that I had fictionalised I found out later had actually happened. But this isn't a medical movie. It's not meant to inform people; it's meant to get people discussing it. And now there's a lot of attention to it.
On the power of suggestion...
Eli: It's like with medical students--every illness and every ailment they read about they develop. I'm that way; I'm the ultimate hypochondriac. Any time I get so much as a paper cut and I don't know where it came from I immediately think, "Oh that's Aids, that's cancer!" That's what I do all the time. And that's why I'm insane. But I think that's just human nature.
James: But when you're working on a movie, you don't give it that much credit, because you're just in this little world, you don't really think about that. I didn't get itchy or anything! I didn't even think about it. I don't think anybody did. I don't think the crew was like, "Oh my God, a flesh-eating virus!"
Eli: Yeah, they're not having the movie experience. They're looking at it in pieces, we've got to get this shot, we've got to get the actor in makeup. We were at a screening here where the reporter from Cosmopolitan magazine fainted. And one girl left the screening halfway through, she was crying and I was like, "What's wrong?" And she said, "I can't stop itching." She couldn't stop scratching herself. She was nauseous. And I was like, "I want to marry you and take you to every screening. You're my favourite audience member." And I dragged her back into the theatre and she started crying and she left. It was great!
James: That was really nice of you to take her back in there.
Eli: Well I didn't want her to miss the leg shaving. You can't miss that!
James: That's horrible! She was probably this, like, 17-year-old PR girl.
Joey: "I'm reviewing this for my school paper."
James: "Let me go!"
About the N word...
Eli: I was in North Carolina to look at locations and I was at one guy's property. He was the nicest guy, giving us lemonade, really friendly. But he had this rebel flag up and I said, "Isn't that offensive to some of your neighbours? I mean you're the only white guy in the neighbourhood." And this sweet old man was like, "Oh you don't have to worry about the niggers around here. They don't mind that none." And my skin just crawled. You think you're going to be a New York Jewish guy going, "Racism's wrong! Let me tell you why!" But this guy has guns on his wall and he doesn't understand why that's an offensive thing to say. So you don't say anything to correct him, but then by not saying anything it's like, "Am I silently acknowledging that it's ok to talk that way?" So you say goodbye, and you just leave. And that's a real moment that I wanted to write to show that we're not in Kansas anymore. It's funny because people gave me more sh*t about that--I had to take it out of the script while I was raising money, because people would read it up to page 5, see the word "nigger" and close the script and go, "I'm sorry, your movie's racist. That's offensive." And I'm like, "Hitting a girl in the face with a shovel, ripping someone apart--that's all fine. But six letters coming out of one character's mouth explicitly to make people feel uncomfortable?" People are so up their own ass about racism. They would talk about "that scene with the N word", and I'm like, "You mean 'nigger'?" People are so afraid of being called a racist, and even while I was editing I had investors begging me to take it out of the movie. And I'm like, "This is a great joke! If you're offended by that, there are going to be so many other things that offend you in this movie. It's just the kind of movie it is." So then the first time we saw it with an audience and people went so f*cking crazy you couldn't even hear the dialog. They were laughing all the way through the credits. It was a very satisfying moment.
On taking the movie around the world...
Eli: I didn't make a film that would play just in my house or my parent's basement. You make a movie dreaming that you'll get to go all over the world with it. So it's wonderful that it's actually happening because not a lot of people get as lucky. It's been incredible. The thing that I didn't expect, that's truly overwhelming, is the way that my favourite directors, my heroes, my idols have responded--David Lynch, Peter Jackson, Quentin Tarantino, Richard Kelly, Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven. I mean I am still very much the fan and all of a sudden these people are inviting you to lunch and quoting your movie back at you. That's been the most trippy, surreal, incredible, wonderful thing.