‘Tucker & Dale vs Evil’

Halloween is getting closer and I’m running out of time to pack in the horror flicks! I’m glad to have gotten a couple of stinkers out of the way early on. These films keep getting better and better! Let’s see what’s queued up today…

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010) Directed by Eli Craig. Starring Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Philip Granger.

I haven’t been drawn to horror comedies as of late. The Evil Dead series, Peter Jackson’s early films, and Return of the Living Dead are great films that still have some scary moments, but I guess I’m feeling more of the full-on scary films these days. I am particularly put off by comedies that aim for a campy b-movie feel by trying to be bad. If a film is campy, I prefer that it happens by accident. Intentionally bad acting somehow isn’t as entertaining as genuinely bad acting. I’m thinking of Troma in particular, a production company whose films often incorporate some creative effects but have a goofy tone can quickly grow tiresome. But I had heard some good things about the recent comedy (not by Troma) Tucker & Dale vs Evil so I gave it a chance and discovered a hilarious, and not too campy, horror-comedy flick.

You’ve got your usual group of students heading up to the remote mountains for some of the usual college-style partying you find in these types of films. They run into Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), who are just a couple of lovable hillbillies heading up to Tucker’s new vacation home. But the kids mistake them for a pair of deranged redneck killers and, as a result of this misperception, much gory, violent death ensues.

Tucker & Dave vs Evil gives the “urbanoia”, or rural horror, sub-genre of slasher films a much needed kick in the nuts. These are films where a group of city folk head into remote rural areas and run into a group of crazed redneck killers who apparently have spent their lives devising horrible methods with which to torment and kill. Think DeliveranceTexas Chainsaw Massacere, or The Hills Have EyesNot only is the style growing tiresome but it can also be offensive in its stereotyping of rural populations. Still, these films carry their own fun type of crazy violence that can be entertaining, so I reserve the right to watch them anyway.

Instead of the deranged hillbillies killing the kids, the kids are offing themselves, by accident, victims of their own biased perception of who they expect Tucker and Dale to be. Which makes their deaths all the more gleefully entertaining. Yeah, it sounds ridiculous but somehow it works. And while this film may be a comedy, it doesn’t shy away from the blood and gore. There’s a run in with a wood chipper that’s fantastic. Tucker and Dale don’t know what to make of it. They speculate that the kids have made some kind of violent suicide pact; what else could it be?

You might not get it from what I’ve described so far, there’s a lot of warmth in this movie, and not just from the spurting blood. Thankfully, the actors don’t ham it up but they play it straight instead. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine have created a great pair in Tucker and Dale. They bounce some hilarious lines off of each other and in an early scene manage to make a sitcom-style innuendo bit not feel overdone. Tyler Labine is especially charming in his role as Dale; he is really the star of this film. As much as I enjoyed him in the short-lived TV show Reaper, he’s even more entertaining here. There’s even a romance with cutie Katrina Bowden.

Even if you’re reluctant to watch horror comedies, check out Tucker & Dale vs Evil anyway. Instead of scary you’ll get a cheerful and gory little flick. Heck, you might even make it a double feature with Shaun of the Dead.


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