Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil
Director: Eli Craig
Cast: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden
Review by Brian M. Sammons
Horror comedies are hard to pull off right. For every good one, like Student Bodies and Scary Movie (the first one) there are really bad ones like Scary Movie (any after the first movie), Stan Helsing, Vampires Suck, Transylmania, and Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday The Thirteenth. Yes that last one is a real movie, and if you have never suffered through it, do yourself a favor and just take my word for it that you really don’t want to. So with that undeniable fact firmly in my brain, I approached this new horromedy with a bit of trepidation.
Was I all scared over nothing, or was my fears justified? Let’s find out.
T&DvE, as I like to flippantly call this film, takes the familiar premise of the good old backwoods slasher (i.e. Just Before Dawn, Don’t Go Into The Woods, They Prey, etc.) and turns it on its head by making the hillbillies the good guys and the young, pretty, city-folk the ones with the problems. Tucker and Dale are two good natured good old boys who are going up to their new cabin to fix it up for the weekend. Along the way they cross paths with a SUV full of college kids who naturally think the rednecks are right out of Deliverance or perhaps even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. After a night of drinking and spooky stories about killer hillbillies, the kids go skinny dipping. When one of the cute coeds starts to drown, Tucker and Dale are right there to save her. Unfortunately to the rest of the young people, it looks like the evil hillbillies are abducting her for nefarious reasons.
The college kids rally themselves to save their friend, but through a series of comic misunderstandings and incredibly bad luck, mixed with a healthy heaping of stupidity, the kids keep accidently killing themselves in a variety of gruesome ways. The other campers don’t see the accidents and think the hillbillies are murderous psychos, while clueless Tucker and Dale think the college kids are part of a weird suicide cult. Therefore they must protect the young woman they saved from drowning, who they have become friendly with, from the others kids that they think will kill her too. Yes the majority of this movie is one, long, Three’s Company classic misunderstanding joke taken to goofy and gory extremes. However, as inane as that sounds on paper, it really works on film. Or at least, it works in this film, and that must be a credit to the writing, direction, and acting that the moviemakers were able to pull it off so well.
There are two things that make this movie both really good and a must see for horror fans looking for some giggles. One is the comically gory death scenes. Highlights include a couple of self impalements, a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the face, and the best of the bunch: one idiot accidently jumping into a running wood chipper.
If you’re not a fan of splatstick comedy, you’ll probably not going to be a fan of this movie. But even if your tolerance for gore gags is low, you still might want to catch this film for the other reason that it’s so good; the acting chops of the two titular leads. Alan Tudyk as Tucker and Tyler Labine as Dale, both best known for their TV work, really bring their A games to this film. They portray the hillbillies with warmth, humanity, and humor. While most of the college kids were insufferable jackasses that I found annoying to watch, which might have been exactly what writer/director Eli Craig was going for, Tucker and Dale were a joy. I liked them, a lot, and that’s rare for most horror/comedy flicks, where characters are just walking punch lines.
As good as this movie was, the extras on this lil’ Blu-ray from Magnolia are a bit of a mixed bag. There’s a commentary track with the director and misunderstood hillbillies themselves, Tyler and Alan. Some DVD/BD commentaries are informative but dull, others are fun but light on the inside info. The one here is that rare, well-done mix of both and it’s very enjoyable.
Unfortunately the rest of the special features aren’t so special. There is a short “making of” featurette that is pretty forgettable and is the usual PR “oh we all had a lot of fun making this movie” kind of thing. There is a shorter “HDNet Look At…” feature that is just more of the same. Perhaps the best extra is a 16 minute reedit of this movie called Tucker & Dale ARE Evil that tells the story from the vapid college students’ point of view. I mean, it’s not all that great, and it is just clips of the same film you already watched, but it was kind of fun. Some outtakes, a few storyboards, and a theatrical trailer bring the extras to the close.
Tucker & Dale is a fun blood soaked comedy. If you’re a fan of the backwoods slasher flicks then you’ll get a lot more out of this film than if you’re not a fan of that subgenre, but even then you’re sure to get some laughs from this. The two leads, Tyler and Alan, are the absolute stars of the show and they both really shine here. The kills are as goofy as they are gory, but I do wish the filmmakers would not have leaned so heavily on CGI effects that often look a bit iffy at best. All in all, T&DvE was a fun flick, so it gets a big, grinning, thumbs up from me and a hearty recommendation to check it out.