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Ever since Herschell Gordon Lewis unwittingly launched the "Hicksploitation" genre with "Two Thousand Maniacs"(1964) with it confederate flag waving loony's showing a group of unwittingly tourists a whole new kind of southern hospitality , the redneck community have seemingly been demonised eternally with the likes of "I Spit On Your Grave" (1978) and "Southern Comfort" (1981) hardly helping while the words "Squeal Piggy" are still able to send a chill down the spine thanks to the mountain men of "Deliverance" (1972), while Hollywood has continued to see them as the last easy target when in need of a bad guy fodder, especially with every other social group now deemed untouchable from movie xenophobia, while the hillbilly is frequently used as a representation of the more primitive side that as members of civilised society we have since long left behind.
Still the red neck community should fear no longer as Director Eli Craig has set out to not only readdress the balance, but with "Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil" to also spin on the genre on it's head as the roles are reversed as two hillbillies and best friends Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) head up to Tuckers rundown holiday shack with plans of fishing, drinking beer and generally doing the place up, unaware that a group of college kids are also camping nearby. After rescuing one of their group Allison (Katrina Bowden), after a skinny dipping mishap, the boys soon find themselves on the wrong end of a series of misunderstandings which sees them being mistaken for the same crazed rednecks responsible for a series of murders in the area, as the college kids attempt to rescue Allison.
Despite being essentially a one joke film Director Craig has somehow managed to turn this film into so much more and what could be one of the funniest films of the year, as he shows us the flipside of the familiar horror scenarios and managing to really blow a simple to misunderstanding to the extreme, especially as the bodies start to pile up in a series of increasingly exaggerated deaths as wood chippers, hatchets and even the woods themselves prove to be surprisingly deadly to the unwitting college kids, with the majority of deaths in the film being accidents which only further paint Tucker and Dale as the psycho hillbillies they really aren't.
The key reason for the success of the film lyes in the fact that Tucker and Dale are such a fun creations that they make the already brief run time fly past even quicker, as it's a blast to be in the company of these two, as they play off each other with perfect comedy timing like the wilderness version of Laurel and Hardy, with Tudyk taking a break from playing oddballs and generally creepy killers which seem to be the majority of his recent roles since being thrown into the acting wildness, since the premature end of "Firefly" were he memorably played Walsh and here he's crafts another fun creation as the frequently bewildered Tucker trying to figure out exactly were all these college kids are coming from, let alone why they seem to so intent on killing both him and Dale. Labine is also on great form as Dale, the slow witted best friend of Tucker who is just a big softy as well as painfully, despite his size frequently giving the opposite impression. Meanwhile the naivety of this duo also provides fertile ground to further play off familiar horror clichés, as they seem completely oblivious to the animal bones hanging from the walls of the shack, let alone the collection of newspaper cuttings about the college kids massacred by a killer hillbilly, instead focusing on the coupon for free hotdogs.
The college kid on the other hand are usual stereotypical group of slasher fodder with some of the group such as dumb blonde Chloe (Chelan Simmons) especially being played for laughs as she runs around the woods in her heels, meanwhile thanks to a fantasy campsite massacre any archetypes missing from the group, such as the geeky guy are covered for, while not only adding to the surprisingly high body count, but also adding gas to the groups misunderstanding as they soon start drawing comparisons between those rednecks and their current counterparts.
Gore wise things are played strictly for laughs, as the gore and violence is kept comical throughout with geyser of blood being the order of the day, with Craig thankfully never feeling the need to take the film into any kind of darker place, even when the kids are goaded into a misguided torture attempt by the real crazy of the film Chad (Jesse Moss) who not only doesn't taken rejection well, with his darker side first making an appearance after being Allison, but somehow manages to get the group to frequently follow his misguided attempts to rescue her. Still each of these failed attempts only seem to make him more deranged, especially as his social circle slowly begins to dwindle, so that by the films sawmill climax he is a full blown chainsaw welding crazy.
Despite having the plot essentially being one joke, it never seems to be stretched thin even with seemingly filler scenes such as when Allison attempts to conduct a misguided therapy session to try and clear up the misunderstandings between the two groups while each refuse to put down their individual weapons. Meanwhile a blossoming romance between Allison and Dale is introduced with Dale slowly winning her over with his clumsy and goofy affections, yet this never feels in any way forced or unnatural even if it is the most unlikely of parings. Still were the film truly succeeds is in its accessibility, for you can watch this film with only the barest of ideas about the films it is paying homage to and still have a blast while smart dialogue and writing saves it from being reference heavy as the painfully tedious (Insert Movie genre here) Movies have become, having long since drifted away from their "Scary Movie" roots to the point were even the genre they are spoofing seems like an afterthought, unlike here were focus is never traded for a quick laugh, with the humour being largely organic with none of the deaths including the standout wood chipper death seemingly like anything other than an unfortunate accident, rather than a telegraphed sequence, with this style of humour continuing even as Tucker and Dale's situation become all the more farcical as noted by Tucker when questioned by the local sheriff
"Oh hidy ho officer, we've had a doozy of a day. There we were minding our own business, just doing chores around the house, when kids started killing themselves all over my property."
While this film seems set to be a film which will find its audience on DVD like so many cult comedies, it is still worth hunting down for the whole new take on Hillbilly horror which makes you wonder why no one has thought of doing this before. Still with Tucker and Dale we have a duo who I'd love to see further adventures from, perhaps seeing them unwittingly battling more traditional bogeymen, rather than being left as one hit characters as they currently seem judging by no immediate plans to follow this film up with a sequel, but for now here's hoping this isn't the last we have seen of Tucker and Dale.
Genre - Horror
Country - USA/Canada
Certificate - 15
Run Time - 89 minutes
"Tucker: He's heavy for half a guy!"
When you get to a certain age, the age where you would rather be in than out, you rely on DVDs to get you through the winter. And it's the horror genre you grow out of first and so when something original comes along you need to shout about from the roof tops to your fellow thirty plus brethren, especially at Halloween! Tucker Dale V Evil is certainly that.
The enjoyable angle here is playing on those American slasher movie stereotypes by flipping things on their heads, yet still using all the traditional ingredients, like that of the perfunctory camper van full of randy students, the cabin in the woods and the hungry hillbillies, armed with a chainsaw, a threshing machine and all manner of pointy farming things! You get the joke early on but its one that has so much potential for laughs and so stretched like Michael Hasslhoff's face in those Barclays commercials. You won't have seen anything like this, and as its so-tongue-in cheek, it sneaks a 15 certificate for its violence and bludgeoning. I can imagine director Eli Craig's eureka moment when he thought of the idea for this one.
Tucker: "When you see a college girl prancin' around in front of you half naked, you do not call out my name!"
Tyler Labine ... Dale
Alan Tudyk ... Tucker
Katrina Bowden ... Allison
Jesse Moss ... Chad
Brandon Jay McLaren ... Jason
Christie Laing ... Naomi
Chelan Simmons ... Chloe
Travis Nelson ... Chuck
Alex Arsenault ... Todd
Adam Beauchesne ... Mitch
Philip Granger ... Sheriff
Tucker: "Holy sh*t. We have got to hide all of the sharp objects".
Loveable hillbilly lugs and best friends 'Tucker' (Alan Tudyk) and 'Dale' (Tyler Labine) are heading out to the woods in their rusting pick-up to do up their newly purchased cabin by the lake in the West Virginia hills, although the lake more of a swamp. Elsewhere a group of eight randy students, consisting of the usual couple of jocks, two sexy blondes, two ethnics and two dorks, are packing into a camper van in Washington DC and heading up to the same woods ready for a weekend of sex, booze and ghost stories.
Oblivious to each others presence both parties are soon cracking beers and going about their vacation. But when the college kids are skinny dipping they run into Tucker and Dale night fishing on the swamp, blonde number one, Allison (Katrina Bowden), slipping off a rock and banging her head in the panic to escape, the others seeing her lifeless body dragged into the hillbillies boat, the kids presuming the worse, banjos at dawn and squealing like a pig going through their minds.
But these are misunderstood rednecks and gallant Tucker rescues Ali and she is taken back to their hut for safety. Once Alison awakes the next morning and is reassured they are harmless a friendship of sorts forms, the teddy bear Tucker fancying his chances with Ali. But outside the cabin the students fear for their friend and think she will surely meet a gruesome hillbilly end in the cabin if they don't act, calling in the local sheriff (Philip Granger) to investigate. But senior member of the group Chad (Jesse Moss) rallies the guys to arm themselves with what ever is around to get Ali back before they too also end up wearing a chainsaw as a necktie. If college kids are dying everywhere with various sharp objects sticking out of them or flying into the shredder then it must be the rednecks, right? Tucker and Dale, alas, are totally unaware of the kid's interpretation of events and soon under siege, mistaking the coming carnage as a mass suicide pact by the kids as they begin to meet a gruesome end one-by-one.
Never judge a DVD by its cover seems to be the lesson here, Tucker and Dale V Evil a surprise hit. It's funny from the off and the unknown double act in the lead surprisingly funny in the way Harold & Kumar are. I laughed a lot in the first half hour and once we settle into the gruesome self destruction of the students as they go to war with the hillbillies you don't stop laughing. It's a great remedy for all those tiresome American flasher movies over the years.
It's a non pretentious horror bromance giggle and delightfully unpredictable, mixing that gruesome Final Countdown humor with those cabin in the woods hillbilly clichés. For its low budget of around $2 million it did $ 5million back and would have been much more if it had a better distribution and marketing budgets. I think the director knew he had a hit on his hands and it as all down to word of mouth to sell it from there on in, most of its cinema release in college towns. If you are of that age and seen it all before in the genre and you yearn to be surprised and delighted by a horror film then this is the one for you on Halloween. Oh, and the very clever 'Cabin in the Woods' also well worth a rent tonight if you are stuck for choice guys.
Imdb.com - 7.6/10.0 (59,234 votes)
Metacritic.com - 85% critic's approval
Rottentomatos.com -65% critic's approval
NY Times - 'A droll send-up of the killer-in-the-swamp genre that gets funnier as it rolls along'.
Movie Crypt -'...a far-fetched but bloody fun film that doesn't talk down to its target audience so much as it celebrates fans of the genre'.
Chicago Reader - 'Here's something you don't see every day: a genial, politically correct splatter comedy'.
The Daily Bugle - 'The timing is impeccable, the gags are wonderfully tasteless'.
The Springfield Times - 'Film fans who believe there's no way they could ever cheer for rednecks (a lifetime of Deliverance and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre will do that to a person) will sheepishly smirk as they find themselves rooting for the rubes holding center stage here'.
= = = = Special Features = = = =
-The Making Of-
A fun behind the scenes look at the mid budget cult horror hit.
Not that many as they simply didn't have the budget for them.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
I first heard about tucker and dale vs evil on a blogging site where someone posted an article about it. Since it is an indie film with little advertising I hadn't previously heard of it but I recognised one of the actors as they made a guest appearance in 'Zack and Miri make a Porno' and found him funny so I presumed I was in for a treat, and thankfully I was right.
I suggested to my boyfriend that we watch it together and he was sceptical about it because the name makes it seem like it would be a shockingly bad film, but it isn't and I can happily say that he was pleasantly surprised and, well, I was right.
When you think of Horror Comedy you instantly think of something like "Scary Movie" right? Yeah so did I, I assumed it would be a ridiculous series of mockery of horror films but it actually wasn't, it was it's own movie in itself but still had that spoof element that points out the obvious flaws in horror movie plots.
Tucker and Dale are two redneck individuals who are perfectly innocent and polite creatures who are mistakenly assumed to be twisted axe murderers because of their social awkwardness. A group of teenagers cleverly decide to camp in the woods and after events occur, they start to become paranoid about tucker and dale and try and stop them from the evil they supposedly doing when in all the while Tucker and Dale are a little bit dim and are only trying to help.
They help one girl from the group who has an accident and she soon realises that they are completely friendly and helpful but their friends are all under the illusion that they are your typical horror story red necks who want to kill them - the rest goes on from there and the hilarity ensues.
I really enjoyed this film and I was rather surprised at how great it was. I expected it to be really cheesy and shoddily done but it seems it had a high budget for an indie film as it was really well made and the dialogue was great despite being sarcastic and ironic at times.
I absolutely recommend it as it is something that is well worth you time and I'm surprised it isn't that well known. You can watch it on American Netflix, via iTunes or download it from another source and can find it on ebay and amazon for very little.
TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL
Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), two affable yet clueless hillbillies, are on holiday looking to do some fishing and drink some beers whilst patching up Tucker's new vacation home (which looks eerily like the log cabin from The Evil Dead). But they're not alone in the woods. Some frat-brats have also decided to pitch up a tent and party. One skinny dipping session later, where Tucker and Dale save one of the hapless college girls from drowning, turns into a simple misunderstanding where the remaining bunch of students presume their friend kidnapped and likely to suffer unspeakable evil at the hands of the duo. Fearing for their lives that Tucker and Dale will come after them next, the remaining frat-brats decide to strike first blood by harassing and hounding the care-free hillbillies for the rest of the night.
Tucker and Dale vs Evil is a welcome return to the horror ethos of old. Gone is the stale, tedious torture porn of the last decade, replaced by a homage to what once made the genre great; lots of gore, balanced by entertaining comedy moments and featuring an intelligent satirical streak that belies the lead duo's relative stupidity. Unsurprisingly, the reversal of norms is what initially makes Tucker and Dale a compelling watch. Here the usual Brady bunch of backwards, inbred, deep-south archetypes are a warm, friendly duo that unfortunately look like they might be a couple of unpleasant psychos. The college gang are typical fresh-faced smart-asses, but with deep-rooted prejudices and at least one psycho nut-job amongst them. That the frat goofs seemingly accept everything observed at face value is where much of the initial farce derives; 'hey, we've got your friend' calls a friendly Dale once they've pulled her from out of the lake, only to be met with cries of terror.
With the set-up complete, the film just gets on with the lovingly crafted punch-lines; dispatching the incompetent students via hilarious accidental deaths that befit their mis-reading of situations. A sequence with a wood-chipper is not exactly unexpected but still reaches the echelons of horror-comedy genius (thanks mainly to Tudyk's brilliant reaction). This is almost bettered by a chainsaw sequence involving Tucker and a horde of restless bees that will have you chuckling away like a gibbon. Proof that someone running at you screaming with a chainsaw in hand doesn't necessarily mean they're attempting to kill you. And any film that has the blonde bird with the massive norks splashed with gore in between the mayhem for simple chuckles is always onto a winner.
Tudyk and Labine, as needs be for the titular leads, are excellent throughout, providing Tucker and Dale with banter and warmth reminiscent of Val and Earl in Tremors. They're incidental characteristic traits are delightful, from Tucker pouring beer onto his ever growing list of injuries for medicinal purposes to Dale's photographic memory being of little use to his erstwhile social awkwardness. Most of the laughs are generated by the twosome, be it their own interpretation of the bizarre circumstances happening around them ('suicide pact') to their explanation with the local law enforcement about the host of dead bodies littered all over their property ('Hidy ho officer, we've had a doozy of a day'). Without such an endearing partnership, Tucker and Dale would easily be a less engaging watch. The students are also much more spunky and memorable than the usual brand of college personas that you almost feel sorry for their ineptitude. Jesse Moss is particularly excellent as the slightly unhinged Chad who leads the mayhem against poor old T&D, whilst Katrina Bowden is rather plucky as the damsel in distress.
Parodies are a tough concept to deliver, yet Tucker and Dale succeeds largely on the underplaying of the situation. It's less nudge, nudge, wink, wink, look how clever we are (i.e. it's not unpalatable shit like Scary Movie), instead opting for a more seamless transition into routine horror, but one that tells convention to ever so slightly do one (kind of like Bubba Ho-Tep). Sure, the plot loses its way in the last third - the appearance of an improbable newspaper cutting from 20 years previously positing a big revelation is incredibly hackneyed - and the 'don't judge a book by its cover' platitudes are as obvious as Wayne Rooney sporting new hair follicles. But at only 90 minutes long these do little to undermine the carnage and laugh riot that has already preceded. Tension, chainsaws, laughs and bucket-loads of gore, but not how you quite expect it, Tucker and Dale vs Evil is a unique entry into the genre. It also happens to be rather wonderful.
Overall - A rare gem of a movie. Tucker and Dale are cult characters in the making; sequel please!
Director: Eli Craig
Screenplay: Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgenson
Tyler Labine... Dale Dobson
Alan Tudyk... Tucker
Katrina Bowden... Allison
Jesse Moss... Chad
Philip Granger... Sheriff
Brandon Jay McLaren... Jason
Christie Laing... Naomi
Chelan Simmons... Chloe
Travis Nelson... Chuck
Alex Arsenault... Todd
Adam Beauchesne... Mitch
Running time: 89 minutes
© clownfoot. February 2012
Tucker And Dale does for horror movies what Scream tried to do many years before by completely sending up the whole genre, at the same time managing to still be highly entertaining in its own right. The only difference being that Tucker And Dale does it better!
Tucker And Dale are two hillbillies who have just bought a cabin in the woods. Deciding to go on vacation, the pair set off in their truck but after a slight altercation at a Gas Station with some College students who are going camping, everything starts going wrong.
It all starts when Dale attempts to talk to one of the young college girls he has taken a shine to but because of his inferiority complex and shyness, comes over as threatening and scary. The group of college friends drive away in a hurry not realising their chosen camp site is right close to Tucker and Dales latest purchase. When the pair are doing some night fishing later on, they witness one of the girls dive into the river and smack her head. Dale dives in and saves her but when the pair take her back to their cabin, the college friends think she has been abducted. As they try to get her back, a series of accidents and serious misfortunes lead the group into believing Tucker and Dale are serial killers just like in the movies. And the more the pair try and explain, the worse things seem to get! Before long, the bodies are lining up all over the place and Tucker and Dale find themselves facing the blame following a very unfortunate series of events that just seems to keep spiralling further and further out of control!
Though this is a comedy, the more squeamish amongst you should know that there is still an equal measure of blood and gore! One scene with a wood-chipper immediately springs to mind! That being the case, this film offers instant appeal to both horror fans and comedy lovers alike and there really is something for everyone here. Though the college students are deliberately portrayed as the usual bunch of stereotypes, real kudos must go to the actors who play Tucker and Dale who absolutely excel in every scene. I was laughing for a very large portion of this film and can honestly recommend it to anyone who might have blinked and missed the recent passing of this film which I believe ended up going straight to DVD.
Honestly, if you want a horor comedy that is somewhat different to the norm and incedibly funny, then look no further than this perfect jewel of a movie......
I don't recall this coming out at the cinema and I hadn't heard anything about it until coming across it in Blockbuster. It looked a bit different and good as an easy watch for a lazy evening; it met those expectations and a little bit more.
Tucker and Dale vs Evil was directed by Eli Craig (who has helped product, act in and direct a few small things). We're introduced to Dale Dobson (Tyler Labine) and Tucker (Alan Tudyk), two hillbillies living in a secluded cabin in the woods. They're literally loners, keeping to themselves mostly in the middle of nowhere. Enter a group of students, and already we're seeing the inklings of the standard trashy horror: actors older than they claim to be and wearing next to nothing who are then at the mercy of some psychopathic loner-type guys.
Here's the twist. This flick is actually quite a satirical look at the average Hollywood horror flick, turning the stereotypical upside down. The usual convention is inverted as these to hillbillies are actually quite harmless, and are indeed trying to help the lost students. But when one of the group goes missing, the students have the perspective of almost being held captive, unsure of who these guys are.
The question is, who's most dangerous? The not-so-bright but innocent hillbillies, or the confused students who are afraid and think the guys intend them harm? It's quite an interesting take on the usual turn of events and it takes the mick of standard happenings and characters you'd likely come across in a horror film. It's a tale of how perspectives and assumptions lead to different beliefs and events, and it's done quite cleverly.
This had some reasonably clever funny moments, such as using the power of perspective to show how a guy running around with a chainsaw could be doing something completely harmless, whereas to a girl at the window he looks like a crazed psycho killer. I'd say that there were times it could have pushed the plot and comedy a little further, and to have more of the memorable scenes that stick in your mind like the chainsaw one that stuck in mine.
I would class this as a horror comedy because it takes the gorey elements and deaths and mixes them with satire to provide something that's entertaining and quite light-hearted. I liked the characters used because they reflected stereotypes well: the rednecks as not being the smartest or most popular, and the preppy, highly irritating college kids.
The run time was 85 minutes, which kept the film at a good pace and avoided dragging scenes out unnecessarily. Overall, the film had a fairly well-polished and well-scripted feel to it, and whilst it could have been stronger in parts, it held its own enough to make me want to keep watching from start to finish.
All in all, this is a little-known film that's underrated. It's quirky and a little bit different, easy to watch and comical enough to provide entertainment at the expense of trashy horror films the world over.
Released 2011, rated Certificate 15, running time 85 minutes
Selling on Amazon for £5.99
[Also reviewed by me, gothic_moon, on Ciao)