Firstly, I wanted to make sure that I thanked the kind folks over at the Queer Film Society for getting me tickets to see this movie at Terror in the Aisles 8. Not only were the kind enough to get me into the movie for free, but I got a total of FOUR passes to see this, and they were awesome for making those available. I also want to thank the Portage Theater for holding this event time and time again, because I love supporting horror films and this is one of the best theaters in the city. Even if I can only stay for one of the three films that are typically shown during these mini-marathons, the more I go, the more I want to come back and see everything. I really knew very little about Tucker & Dale vs. Evil before going to see it, other than I kept seeing it being compared to Shaun of the Dead for the next big horror/comedy. I made it a point to not look too much into it, didn’t even watch the trailer, so I could go in with a fresh outlook and hopefully see something more entertaining than the Scary Movie franchise. Lucky for me, I was overwhelmingly surprised by how much fun this movie is, and can’t recommend it to enough people.
I mean, this does kind of give the wrong impression about these two being psychopaths, doesn’t it?
The first few minutes of the movie look like any other movie where bad things happen to douchebag college-aged kids in the woods. Whether they would fight hillbillies, bears, or flesh-eating diseases, all the characters make you want to slap the shit out of them. When they arrive at a gas station, they get a creepy vibe from Tucker, played by Alan Tudyk, and Dale, played by Tyler Labine. From the group, it seems as though Dale has the hots for Allison, played by Katrina Bowden, and attempts to flirt with her, causing all of the college kids to flee in terror. It’s about this time that we realize that Tucker and Dale are being misjudged, as they are really only heading into the woods to fix up the new cabin that Tucker has purchased. While Tucker and Dale do some night fishing, that happen to see the college kids doing some skinny-dipping, and when they see Allison slip on rocks and smash her head, Dale dives in after her. A gruesome, bloody, and hilarious chain of events is kickstarted by these friends witnessing Allison “being captured”. Rather than give away too much about the movie, I’ll just say that what follows is a 90 minute film filled with cliché horror movie moments that could be easily explained had someone just come out and said “It’s not what it looks like!”
Ya know, I didn’t want to get into the suspension of disbelief, but you REALLY expect me to believe that Katrina Bowden could make a HUGE pair of clothes look THIS good?! GIVE ME A LITTLE CREDIT!
When I say something like “I was laughing my balls off”, I really mean it. Well of course I don’t mean it literally, but it’s entirely possible it could have happened and I wouldn’t have noticed. You might notice my description seems a little vague, but I really don’t want to give away any of the good stuff. I was able to enter this movie with a blank slate, and hopefully you can too. If my description isn’t a good enough sell, I’ll at least point out some of the smaller, yet still quite creative moments, that I feel really highlight how smart and witty this movie is. When Dale goes to talk to Allison in the gas station, Tucker gives the advice of “being yourself”, as well as “make sure you smile and laugh”. When the awkward Dale approaches Allison and out of nowhere makes a comment about her cooler, followed by forced smiling and laughter, it looks like a scene from every other horror movie where kids feel threatened by one of the “locals”. Dale is just awkward in front of girls! And when Tucker and Dale rescue Allison and all the kids run away in fear, Tucker makes sure to shout “Hey college kids, we got your friend!” This movie was just so cleverly written, by Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgenson, that it’s almost like they took specific lines of dialogue from other films, used those lines, but then filled in the gaps with a “What if…?” scenario of everything else these characters are up to. And if you think those two bits are funny, which you should, it’s only the tip of the iceberg with all the other jokes, and how the laughs are heightened when the physical comedy gets involved.
HOLY SHIT I FORGOT ABOUT THIS AWESOME DOG THAT WAS IN IT. IT WAS SO AWESOME.
It can be a lot of pressure having your character’s name be in the title of a movie, but both Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine completely handle all of that weight. You might not recognize Tudyk by name, but will definitely recognize him as that supporting character who is used for comedic relief, or if you’re a nerd, you might remember him as Wash from the Firefly/Serenity projects. It was great to see him step up and take on a lead character and spend a lot more time seeing just how funny he can be, and especially partnered up with Labine, who I would say plays more of the “straight man” role. I haven’t seen Labine in anything else, and he definitely fits the look of a hillbilly, but is also able to show you that not every bearded guy in overalls is a psychopath. I’ve only seen Katrina Bowden in 30 Rock where she is playing the token “ditzy hot girl”, which she’s great at doing, but seeing her play the role relatively straight, while being able to mix being a very sweet character who was also capable of physical comedy, was a welcome departure from your typical lead female in a horror movie. Also, the entire supporting cast of asshole college kids were portrayed 100% accurate and you really just can’t wait to see them die, and when they do die, it’s in the stupidest of ways and you cheer over the fact that they deserve to die for their stupidity. Funny how I thought that Eli Roth really nailed that stereotype in both Cabin Fever and Hostel, and now we have another Eli who was able to get the same performances from his actors.
Completely gratuitous picture of Katrina Bowden in her underwear, in hopes of perverts giving my site traffic. As if the people coming to my site weren’t perverts anyway…
I know that I brought up the comparisons this movie has been getting to Shaun of the Dead, but I don’t really feel that’s accurate. I think the creative team behind SotD were fans of the genre and wanted to make a zombie movie with lots of comedic elements, whereas I feel the creative team behind Tucker & Dale set out to make a comedy with lots of elements of horror. I can’t really say I ever felt scared, and for the most part, I feel as though the elements of “horror” towards the end really only existed to give the movie a sense of purpose and motivation for the events that happened, but that’s totally okay. Rather than comparing this movie to SotD, I would be willing to say it is more reminiscent of a movie like Young Frankenstein, by taking a traditional horror setting and cast of characters and completely reinterpreting the course of events. And even though it’s a movie that’s more recent, this film also reminded me of a movie like Fanboys, which was paying tribute to Star Wars, because with both films it was funny to watch if you were oblivious to the references, but knowing the references made it even more funny. I really can’t recommend this movie enough, and I really hope that everyone involved with this movie gets the credit they deserve for making a movie that is smart, creative, and is thoroughly entertaining from start to finish for fans of both horror and comedy.
Wolfman Moon Scale
WARNING: WATCH TRAILER AT OWN RISK OF SPOILING HILARIOUS CONTENT