It’s automatically hard to take a movie titled “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” seriously. But to be perfectly honest, that’s a good thing. With a budget of under $5 million dollars and almost no studio support, “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” made a strong impression at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. It finally got a very limited theatrical release in September of 2011 and now it’s available on DVD. It’s an unfortunate example of a good film that was shunned by the studios but that deserves an audience.
This is a movie that’s all about parody. It pokes fun at every splatter movie cliché and gimmick you can imagine while also packaging in a load of genuinely funny dialogue and hilarious gags. As I was watching the film, it offered me funny takes on so many movies including “Deliverance”, “Evil Dead”, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and several others. But while there is certainly a horror element to the movie, this is essentially a comedy and a very funny one. In fact, I would say that it offers more clever and well delivered humor than most of the stuff that comes from Hollywood’s comedy favorites.
The movie’s lead characters (as you probably can guess) are Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), two simple-minded hillbillies heading up in the West Virginia hills to fix up an old rickety cabin (or as they call it, their new summer home). Also in the hills is a group of stereotypical slasher movie college kids who are on a camping trip. You’ve seen them all before. You have the beautiful shapely blonde, the full-of-himself preppie, the nerdy guy, the pot smoker, and your token kids who are mainly there to add to the body count. They act stupid, do ill-advised things, and leave you wondering how they could ever pass a college course. But co-writer and director Eli Craig has a lot of fun with them. He’s clearly spoofing them but he doesn’t overexaggerate. Instead he injects some really funny lines and gags into these basic, cookie cutter characters.
Tucker and Dale first meet the kids at a gas station and through a hilarious misunderstanding they don’t leave a good first impression. The misunderstandings mount up after they cross paths in the mountains and the kids conclude that Tucker and Dale are psychotic hillbilly killers. This results in a bloody and often times rollicking chain of events that’s so cleverly put together. The good-natured back and forth between Tucker and Dale, even in light of the horrific things happening around them, will leave you laughing and Tudyk and Labine are believable from the first moment you see them. They may not be big household names but they are very good here.
This certainly isn’t a movie for everyone. The blood and gore is gratuitous but intentionally so and it sometimes plays a big part in the parody. This may turn some people off but it’s easy to forgive considering how it’s used. The movie does stumble a bit at the end. There’s a big showdown at an old lumber mill that also gives us our big revelatory moment. It was pretty anti-climatic and didn’t work for me. Again, it was soaked in parody but it still felt a little too conventional, something that can’t be said about most of this film. “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” isn’t a movie you can pigeonhole and that’s a real strong point. It’s bloody and hilarious and you may find yourself grimacing and laughing at the same scene. It’s truly that funny.
Nice review. I normally don’t watch horror movies, so I initially skipped it until a friend of mine told me to watch it. Glad I did as it’s hilarious. Also checked out Cabin in the Woods recently which I also liked a lot (although it isn’t as funny it also pokes fun at horror movies).
Thanks Nostra! You’re another person that has mentioned Cabin in the Woods to me. I’ve yet to see it but with so many good recommendations I’m going to check it out.
Yeah you should, it’s very entertaining. Try to read as little about it as you can, the less you know the better.
Thanks for the heads up. As for Tucker & Dale, Leonard Maltin wrote an interesting little piece on the walls the filmmakers ran into from the studios when it came to getting someone to back the movie. You should look it up. Interesting stuff.
Got this one to watch at some point in the future and am looking forward to it. I haven’t seen a huge number of slasher films so might miss some of the references but it still sounds like fun.
You may miss a few references but you’ll get most of the parody for sure. Would like to hear your take on it.
Nice review Keith. I liked this a little less than yourself but I could still see the appeal and it’s definitely handled very well.
Thanks man. It was handled well although it lost me at the end. Other than that, I found it to be quite funny.
Can’t believe I haven’t seen this yet. Need to get it on-demand at some point – love the genre and adore Alan Tudyk! Looks like a lot of fun.
It’s quite fun! Intentionally goofy and gory!
Yeah I totally agree about the ending. That’s where I lost interest and it was a real shame after so much fun for the rest of the film.
I kinda came unraveled didn’t it?