The movie's opening was a deliberate attempt by filmmakers Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon to confuse the audience and make them think they walked in to see the wrong movie.
The thermal coffee mug/bong was a fully functional mug and bong as portrayed in the film, the prototype of which cost $5000 to make.
During the lake scene, the only student not to jump into the lake is Marty, who remains fully clothed on the dock. This was partially due to Fran Kranz noticeably being in as good, if not better, shape than the other male students. In the commentary for the film, the writers joke that he was "ripped like muscular Jesus" and assert that if Marty were shown being that fit it would ruin the character. This is partly also why Marty wears baggier clothes than the other students.
When Jules kisses the wolf head on the wall, the wolf's tongue is covered in powdered sugar to give it a dusty look and to make the scene tolerable for Anna Hutchison.
Much of Drew Goddard's inspiration for this movie came from his own upbringing in Los Alamos, New Mexico, a place filled with scientists and co-workers all going about their business and living seemingly routine and ordinary lives even though they were building nuclear weapons that could potentially destroy the entire world. He talks about this in DVD special features interviews and commentary.
During production, MGM saw the dailies of a scene where Chris Hemsworth instructs his friends. On the basis of his performance, they signed him on for Red Dawn (2012). Two days later, Hemsworth was also chosen to play the lead in Thor (2011). Both Red Dawn and The Cabin in the Woods would eventually be delayed for several years when MGM went bankrupt, and were finally released a year after Thor.
Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon wrote the screenplay for themselves after both came off failed film projects. They locked themselves up in a hotel room in order to challenge themselves, and wrote almost the entire script in one weekend.
According to the director, the scene that tested highest with audiences was the Merman sequence.
The indiscernible signs Tom Lenk holds up on the monitor were intended to be visible and read "Help me. I'm in the utility closet. A dragon bat has my scent. I'm Ronald the Intern." Drew Goddard attempted to zoom in and make them readable to the audience but it simply was not possible.
After the film was shelved due to the studio's bankruptcy, even director Drew Goddard and producer Joss Whedon had little faith in it, until Lionsgate saw the finished film, loved it and picked it up for release.
Kevin, one of the monsters in the white board, is a tribute to the Elijah Wood character of the same name from the movie Sin City (2005) and the original Frank Miller graphic novel.
The failed rituals from other countries are references to various classic movies and monsters. The Kyoto ritual is a reference to Ringu (The Ring). Buenos Aires ritual is a reference to King Kong. The Stockholm ritual is a reference to John Carpenter's The Thing. The Madrid reference appears to reference Dracula.
The Latin that Dana reads from the diary is: "Dolor supervivo caro. Dolor sublimus caro. Dolor ignio animus." It means: Pain outlives the flesh. Pain raises the flesh. Pain ignites the spirit.
The scene where Curt asks Jules about the textbooks, "What are you doing with these? Who gave you these? Who taught you about these?" and she answers, "I learned it from you! Okay? I learned them from watching you!" is a take-off on a 1987 Anti-Drug PSA where the father confronts his son about drug paraphernalia and gets a similar answer.
The being with the golden sphere is named in the credits as "Fornicus, Lord of Bondage and Pain".
Drew Goddard's directorial debut. His first day as a director was the scene at the gas station, which proved to be an immediate challenge since the set was unexpectedly covered in snow.
Writer Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard created over 60 different types of monsters that were created specifically for The Cabin in the Woods.
Fran Kranz received extensive prop and behavior training in order to capture the stoner persona of Marty. He received a two-hour joint rolling session and a separate bong lighting session from expert consultants. In addition to the famous travel-mug bong, a number of more subtle marijuana paraphernalia appear in the film. These include Marty's stash, his secret stash, a smaller pipe, a 'tulip-joint', and a joint kept in the pocket of his pants. The prop crew even designed the film's own brand of rolling papers, 'Smiling Buddha' papers.
Drew Goddard was extremely uncomfortable directing Anna Hutchison's nude scene. Goddard attributes his high level of discomfort with nudity to his Catholic upbringing. But the director says that Hutchison was purely professional and actually comforted him by suggesting that taking her top off was not a big deal at all.
The film's release date was postponed because the studio wanted to convert it to 3D, despite objections from Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard. These plans were eventually scrapped, and the film was released only in 2D.
Several of the control room screens had to be manually synchronized. The sequences that take place in the underground control room feature a bay of monitors. Since the film was not made on a gigantic budget (by Hollywood standards) someone had to manually sync all of those monitors, rather than using green screen. Drew Goddard cites that as one of the most difficult aspects to pull off but also one of the most rewarding.
Screenwriters Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon had considered several directors, including Victor Salva, as both men liked his Jeepers Creepers (2001) and its sequel. Goddard was actually hoping to direct himself, until Whedon also stated the desire to direct his own screenplay. Finally, Whedon allowed Goddard to do the honors while he produced the movie.
Heather Langenkamp (Nancy in A Nightmare on Elm Street) serves as one of the members of the actual make up crew that created the different nightmare creatures. Her husband is an SFX artist
The car that Marty (Fran Kranz) is driving is the same car that director Drew Goddard drove in high school. Goddard also had the strange habit of locking the doors without rolling up the window.
Many of the scenes that take place in the control room were shot on location in an actual office building. As such, the production team had to shoot many of those scenes at night when the location was vacant.
Won five 2012 Fright Meter Awards, including Best Horror Movie, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.
The film's final scene, written by Whedon, is meant to be his version of the "You always were an a**hole, Gorman" scene from James Cameron's "Aliens."
Maya Massar claimed that it took 8 hours to apply her makeup for the character of Mother Buckner the first time. She noted that after the first application it still took between 4 and 6 hours to apply her makeup for each day of filming.
The Floating Head monster was played by the movie's special effects Makeup Artist, David Leroy Anderson, Heather Langenkamp's husband.
One of two films featuring Chris Hemsworth that had been filmed in 2009, but not released until 2012. The other being Red Dawn (2012).
The Harbinger (Tim De Zarn) was cast using a scene that had him fighting with a vending machine over a dollar while remarking on some pretty big, and kind of out there, existential ideas.
The camper that the characters drive to the cabin in is a reference to The Hills Have Eyes.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Lionsgate was so behind the film that it re-convinced Goddard and Whedon that it was a good movie.
The Evil Dead (1981), 1984 (1984), Resident Evil (2002), the Friday the 13th franchise, Cabin Fever (2002) and Saw (2004) are considered influences behind the film.
The entry date in the book they read from is April 4th. That is the same setting as the first chapter of the George Orwell novel "1984," also about extensive ill-intended camera surveillance.
After production was completed on the film, Chris Hemsworth returned as Thor the God of Thunder in The Avengers (2012) which was directed by Joss Whedon and it was Hemsworth's 2nd collaboration with Whedon.
The film was originally scheduled for release in Australia on the 12th of July, 2012, but was pulled by its distributor, Roadshow Films, in late April. Already incensed by the delayed release, the news of canceling its cinema run altogether prompted backlash from fans who filled Roadshow's Twitter and Facebook feeds with angry hate mail calling for reconsideration.
The first day of filming was at the gas station location where the group meets Mordecai, The Harbinger.
When Mordecai is on speaker telling Sitterson and Hadley about how the group did not heed his warning, Sitterson and Hadley are also not heeding his warning, laughing at Mordecai's unwavering seriousness.
The actor who plays Mordecai/The Harbinger is familiar with horror movies. He previously played the Slaughterhouse Owner from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, the man who delivered Leatherface.
The actress who plays Patience Buckner, Jodelle Ferland, is no stranger to horror or supernatural roles. She appeared as the vampire, Bree Tanner in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and also played Sharon/Alessa from Silent Hill.
Joss Whedon was the screenwriter of the science fiction horror film Alien Resurrection (1997) which starred Sigourney Weaver, who plays The Director in this film.
The foot of the Reptilius monster steps into the frame of one of the cameras like the T-Rex from Jurassic Park.
In Dana's college bedroom, there is a yellow K Records sticker on the window (a K inside of a hand-drawn shield). This is the Olympia Washington based alternative music label that launched grunge, lo-fi and the riot grrl movement among others. The sticker gives a little indication of Dana's attitude.
Amy Acker and Fran Kranz were in another Joss Whedon project called Dollhouse (2009) and Much Ado About Nothing (2012).
In the opening scene, Hadley comments that there'd been no problems "since '98." The number one horror film at the US box office in 1998 was Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) in which the final girl definitively kills the slasher (despite the series continuing afterwards).
One of the Buckner characters tilts his head to the side, much like how Michael Myers tilts his head in every Halloween movie.
The scene where Jules (Anna Hutchison) makes out with the wolf head took a multitude of takes.
Both Anna Hutchison and Chris Hemsworth were in soap operas. Anna Hutchison played Delphi Greenlaw in Shortland Street (1992) and Chris Hemsworth played Kim Hyde in Home And Away (1985).
Sigourney Weaver and Chris Helmsworth would later be in the reboot of Ghostbusters (2016)
They refer to the RV as "the Rambler," but it's obviously not the old American Motors Nash Rambler brand.
Both Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon had contributed to Marvel. Goddard acted as the showrunner and creator of Marvel's Daredevil (2015-18) for Netflix. Whedon would serve as a writer and director for the Marvel Cinematic Universe films The Avengers (2012) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2019). Whedon also served as the creator of the show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013-2020) for ABC Television.