Tucker and Dale VS Evil: An Ode To Horror History

Tucker and Dale vs Evil

They may smell bad, but they done act good.

Written and directed by Eli Craig, this horror/comedy hybrid film made its debut in 2010 to a small circuit of film festivals and independent theaters to the feverish acclaim of critics and fans alike. With it having been recently released onto Netflix Instant streaming and other on-demand video services, now is the perfect time to revisit this raucous, moonshine-fueled, bloody, laugh fest.

Lovable Rednecks

The film stars Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine who play Tucker and Dale respectively. Admittedly, I was first drawn to this film due solely to the fact that Tudyk was headlining as a loveable redneck. I was pleasantly surprised that this movie could deliver on all of the promises made in the trailer.

tucker and dale film

They’re more scared of you than you are of them

Unique Plot

Plot-wise, Tucker and Dale are fairly typical hillbillies who drive a beat up truck and wear overalls, flannel, and dirty trucker hats. They have recently purchased a “summer home” which is a decrepit cabin in a remote part of the woods near the town in which they work. They are both a bit rough around the edges and aren’t exactly Rhodes Scholars, but they have a certain endearing charm all the same.

Friends Through Thick and Thin… Blood

Tudyk and Labine have a bright relationship that is part “buddy cop” (a.k.a. hardened professional with a rank amateur) and part “funny guy, straight man.” Labine’s Dale is always messing things up, or accidentally injuring either himself or Tudyk’s Tucker through direct actions or inaction. Their chemistry is quite warm and it is pretty clear that they like each other on and off screen. Normally, the “inept redneck” character type would get very bland after a while, but Labine keeps it interesting and injects a lot of non-traditional personality into the role that keeps it fresh and three dimensional.

Tudyk Pulls it Off

Tudyk is fairly “one note” as the constantly exasperated Tucker, but his comic timing, lovable demeanor, and deadpan delivery absolutely save the day from what could otherwise have been a cardboard cutout of a character. He fills in the gaps and uses his talent to flesh out a vibrant character that is not only a likable hillbilly (which is rare), but is also an endearing everyman to which even city folk can relate.

Packs a Punch

For a small budget Canadian/American indie film, T&DvsE, has some great kill scenes with high production quality. It relies primarily on practical effects rather than fancy CGI for its gore sequences. It’s easy to see that Eli Craig had a coherent vision for the narrative and that director of photography David Geddes could really frame a scene. There are a few visual gags in the film and they are brought forth flawlessly, hitting the audience perfectly without lingering too long. The film itself looks like it had a much higher budget than it did, which is much to its credit. The blood and guts look quite realistic and when left on the characters for comic effect it has an eerily macabre quality in addition to the lighter humor it seeks to impart.

Jaw droppingly scary tucker and dale vs evil

Why is them college kids is killin’ themselves all over our property?

A Horror Film With a Heart… And a Lesson

This film isn’t just funny for funny’s sake. It has several rather serious themes that it attempts to explore. Sometimes it can get a bit didactic in its stances, as demonstrated by the quite beautiful and talented Katrina Bowden, who plays the college girl love interest named Allison. Her character wants to be a counselor and explains that “so many great conflicts throughout history have been caused by simple miscommunications,” which serves to pretty much overstate the obvious at that juncture, since every terrible thing in the film so far has been caused by a blatant lack of communication. Bowden’s reading of that line is not on trial here, but the line itself should have been left on the cutting room floor since it all but breaks the fourth wall in order to hold the audience by the hand through an already simple narrative. As if we didn’t get the point by now, since every death in the movie up to this point had been caused by some form of miscommunication or misattribution of blame. Aside from that, the other common horror film tropes upon which this film tramples are freshly executed and comically tuned to deliver an outstanding skewering of just about every horror film and/or genre that takes itself too seriously.

Heavy Meta

A fun meta-game to play while watching this 98 minute gallop through horror film history is called “spot the horror film reference.” I won’t spoil the game by listing them all here, but among the great films referenced either directly or thematically in T&DvsE include Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Unhinged among many others. If you’ve already seen this film, then there is no better time to revisit it now in the spirit of the recently passed Halloween season. If you haven’t, then you will enjoy its sly humor, great story, and classic horror.

 

Author bio: Zack Mandell is a movie enthusiast and owner of www.movieroomreviews.com and writer of movie reviews for movies like Tucker and Dale VS Evil. He writes extensively about the movie industry for sites such as Gossip Center, Yahoo, NowPublic, and Helium.

 

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