The horror-comedy. No other sub-genre makes hardcore horror fans cringe more. I’ve been pretty lucky and have seen some strong horror-comedies. Last year I reviewed DOGHOUSE, and just last week I saw the surprisingly successful ATTACK THE BLOCK (I won’t mention the ones that suck; we don’t have enough room here). Well last night I saw another entry into this rapidly growing sub-genre, TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL, and I was worried (very worried, in fact) that my luck was gonna run out. But to my surprise, not only did TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL totally work as a horror-comedy, but it might just be the best horror-comedy I’ve seen (yes; even better than SHAUN OF THE DEAD).
Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are two self-described “hillbillies.” No they aren’t inbred; no they aren’t cannibals; and no they aren’t looking to stalk, capture, and torture any- and everyone that stumbles into their neck of the woods. Tucker and Dale are … brace yourselves … normal guys going out to the woods to fix-up a cabin Tucker brought for a vacation getaway spot. On the way to the cabin they run across a group of twenty-something college kids who’re in the area to enjoy the great outdoors. The college kids have watched way too many horror films because they take one look at Tucker and Dale and immediately think they’re out to capture, torture, rape, and kill them. But they’re not. They just want to spend a relaxing, albeit busy, weekend of fixing up the neglected property, drinking some beer, and going fishing.
Then one night while the college kids are getting ready to skinny dip, Allison (the very cute Katrina Bowden) slips on a rock and hits her head underwater. Dale jumps to her rescue but the other 20-something’s think Dale has abducted her and they all run away. (“Some people,” Tucker tells Dale “just ain’t good in a crisis.”) Dale’s heroic act sets off a series of mishaps that usually ends in the 20-something’s killing themselves as they try and “rescue” Allison. And let me tell you that this movie will have you laughing out loud. Seriously!! There were many scenes here that I almost woke my kids up because I was laughing so loud.
In all fairness TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL isn’t really a “horror-comedy.” This falls more accurately as a farce, which is:
1. a light, humorous play in which the plot depends upon a skillfully exploited situation rather than upon the development of character
2. humor of the type displayed in such works
3. foolish show; mockery; a ridiculous sham
The humor here isn’t external to the plot and characters (as it is in horror-comedies). The humor comes directly from the situations that writers Morgan Jurgenson and Eli Craig (who also directs) create. I know this is gonna sound weird, but as I was watching TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL, I couldn’t help but feel as though I was watching a story written by Shakespeare himself. I know, I know; I’m fucked up. But the way the plot unfolds and the way that Dale and Tucker find themselves in more and more screwed up situations really reminded me of THE COMEDY OF ERRORS. No matter what Tucker and Dale did, they unintentionally kept making their situation worse and worse. For example, Tucker uses a chainsaw to try and remove a tree stump from the yard. He hits a bee’s hive and ends up releasing hundreds of bees that attack and sting him making him dance around maniacally and flail the chainsaw around. He looked like Leatherface at the end of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE!!
Everything works here, no doubt thanks to the actors playing Tucker and Dale. Both actors have incredible comedic timing and each plays the “straight man” brilliantly. At first they’re completely oblivious that the 20-something’s think they’re inbred killers, but as the college kids keep accidentally killing themselves they slowly realize what’s going on. It’s a fantastically written and executed film. And the gore? Writer-director Craig doesn’t skimp at all. This is the perfect film if your looking to laugh your ass off as well as seeing a gore-fest on screen. Just wait until you see the wood chipper scene; not since AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON has a director made me laugh out loud and cringe all at the same time.
I could go on and on praising how much I love this film, but you’re gonna have to check it out for yourself. TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL expertly screws around with the established roles of “killer” and “victim” while at the same time giving us one of the funnest genre movies I’ve seen all year. Do NOT miss this one!! For the last year TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL has been dominating the festival scene, and finally on September 30, 2011, Magnet Releasing, who also brought us THE TROLL HUNTER and HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, will be releasing TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL. No word yet on if it’s getting a theatrical release, but I’ll keep you all updated. Don’t miss this one.
Director: Eli Craig (& co-writer with Morgan Jurgenson)
Plot: 5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 8 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer