Sunday, 29 October 2017

THE LEIGH SPENCE MOMENT: CABIN FEVER: DAS DUMME FILMVIRUS


48. “Most of the squirrels in this forest are so gay.”



29/10/2017



Context is key to how this eleven-minute animation came about. “Cabin Fever: Das Dumme Filmvirus,” otherwise known as “Cabin Fever: Dingo Pictures Remake,” was posted to YouTube as an April Fool’s Day joke in 2017, ahead of a review of the 2016 “Cabin Fever” remake. The film was posted by its maker, the Canadian filmmaker and reviewer Phelan Porteous, in collaboration with partner and fellow reviewer Allison Pregler. The film combines the worst of the main two groups of films that Porteous has made videos that satirised – poorly made, poorly thought-out horror films, and poorly made, poorly thought-out animated films.

I have been following both their videos for a while now, combining an easy-going style with a good level of research. In particular, Porteous’s use of the bizarre ending of the Italian horror “Nightmare City” – “The Nightmare Becomes Reality” – and the use of an A&W Root Beer jingle to accent slow, plodding scenes or characters, makes me smile every time.

The film follows the plot of the first “Cabin Fever” film (2002, remade 2016 using exactly the same script), where a partying group of teenagers become infected with a flesh-eating virus carried by a nearby river. From going by Porteous’s reviews of both films, and the sequels, they suffer from having too many unlikeable characters, apart from one dubbed as “Party Cop.”

On the other hand, Dingo Pictures is (was?) a German studio that appeared to make its films using a copy of Deluxe Paint that was bundled with an Amiga 500. They specialised in knock-offs of films made by Disney and Don Bluth, although their answer to avoiding copyright on characters was to trace them extremely badly, rendering them as GIFs to be placed in any scene, or film, as required, with slackly moving mouths and choppy walk cycles. Colouring is  not untextured, with little attempt at shadows, and backgrounds are often watercolours over hastily-drawn pencil. The company’s mascot GIF is Wabuu, a raccoon-wallaby hybrid whose quote is, “Most of these animals are soooo stupid.”

The voice acting in “Das Dumme Filmvirus” captures the Dingo Pictures vibe effectively, with Porteous and Pregler sounding like they are reading their scripts phonetically, not understanding what they have been asked to say. The portentious style of Armin Drogat’s portrayal of fake-Simba’s father in “Lion and the King,” and of Rasputin in “Anastasia,” is followed very closely, being continuously hampered by bizarre diction - examples like, “Mmmm, even if that squirrel is incredibly stupid, it’s not done,” and “His name is Doctor Dog, so respect or I’ll turn you all into damn hell rubbish.”

Once you are up to speed with how badly Dingo Pictures’ films are made – and the sanest way to do it is to watch Porteous’s reviews of them – you will see what is perhaps the funniest part of this production. As seen in reviews for both “Birdemic” films, and in his use of the “Old Man” from the 1992 Goodtimes Entertainment version of “Beauty and the Beast,” Phelan Porteous is capable of producing satirical reviews that are more accomplished technically than the films that are being picked apart. So, while “Das Dumme Filmvirus” makes sure to include where characters and backgrounds have been cut off, the editing is tight, the sound quality is perfect, and characters’ mouths move in time with when they are actually speaking, instead of at random. This is the contrast between producing an otherwise perfectly poised parody, and having your own professional standards.

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