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10 September, 2011

Bobbie's Movies to Look For: TUCKER & DALE vs. EVIL

Title:  TUCKER & DALE vs. EVIL

Year of Release—Film:  2010

Two hillbilly rednecks, best friends Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) finally realize their life-long dream of owning a summer cabin up in the woods where they can drink beer and fish to their heart's content.  Stopping at a local gas station/general store, Tucker buys hardware and tools (ax, nail gun and nails, a scythe, hammers, chainsaw etc) while Dale spots a lovely collage girl who, along with her uppity college friends, are planning a weekend get-away in the very same woods.  Terrified of girls but encouraged by Tucker, Dale makes the worst first impression ever, causing the spooked collage kids to flee.  Unperturbed, Tucker and Dale continue on to their cabin.  Declaring the decrepit fixer-upper shack to be "Perfect!  Just needs a little dusting,” Tucker and Dale decide to do some night fishing.  Meanwhile, the snooty college kids decide to go skinny-dipping.  As the lovely college girl, Allison (Katrina Bowden) strips, she sees Tucker and Dale who are spying on her and she falls into the water, knocking herself unconscious.  Dale jumps in after her and, as Tucker pulls them both back into the boat, he yells "We got your friend" to her startled friends, who skedaddle in terror.  Murderous hillbillies have our friend!  What should we do!?!  Obnoxious, preppy Chad (Jesse Moss), who wants the lovely but dismissive Allison all to himself, decides they must rescue her at all costs.  Sending one of them back to town to get the sheriff (Phillip Granger), Chad attempts to organize the rest in an onslaught to save Allison.
By now, all of you hillbilly horror fans are thinking "Yeah, nothing we haven't seen before" and rolling your eyes.  Murderous hillbillies have been standard horror fare since the last dying banjo notes of DELIVERANCE (1972).  Mutant hillbillies in THE HILLS HAVE EYES.  Inbred hillbillies who live off the forest and the occasional and unlucky traveler in WRONG TURN.  The tribe of wild men living in the woods who take exception to intruders by slaughtering them in RITUALS.  But, with TUCKER AND DALE vs. EVIL, you'd be wrong.  Dead wrong.  Allow me to continue!

Bandaged Allison wakes up the next morning to see an ugly dog staring up at her and yawning.  Suddenly, the bedroom door opens and in walks Dale, carrying a breakfast tray.  Allison begins screaming, startling Dale who says "It's the pancakes!  She doesn't like pancakes!" and he leaves, slamming the door behind him.  A few minutes later, he returns with bacon and eggs.  Allison asks why she's here and Dale explains and they make each other acquaintance while playing a game of Trivial Pursuit, during which Dale shows surprising intellect and knowledge.  Meanwhile, outside the cabin, Tucker goes about his clean up by chainsawing into some fallen logs, one of which contains a beehive.  Unknown to Tucker, one of the college boys trying to rescue Allison is sneaking up behind him.  Badly bee-stung, Tucker, chainsaw still in hand, begins yelling and running.  The boy likewise begins yelling and running, thinking Tucker is out to do a Leatherface number on him.  He's wrong.  Dead wrong.

And so the deadly dance begins.  The college kids have the preconceived notion that all hillbillies must be ignorant, deadly backwoods killers bent on protecting their land from intruders.  And while Tucker and Dale aren't the sharpest tools in the shed, they come to the realization that the college kids have joined a suicide pact and that this must be the reason that they are killing themselves all over their new summer vacation home property!  The most hilarious part is there is no "bad thing" here.  The kids all off themselves through either their own stupidity or miscommunication.  All the gore that follows during that one bloody night is brought on by the notion that they must rescue Allison from the "bad guys.”  When in fact, Tucker and Dale are pleasant and polite, if not very smart, men who just want to go fishing and drink PBR.  But, frat-brat Chad is determined rescue Allie even if he has to kill her doing it.

Director Eli Craig, whose only claim to fame up to this point is being the youngest son of actress Sally Field, get his directorial debut with this highly entertaining hillbilly movie that knocks the Hick genre film a full 180 degrees.  He, along with co-writer Morgan Jurgenson, employ many horror and thriller film references (FRIDAY THE 13th, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, FARGO) in this inventive script.  Labine and Tudyk are uproarishly hilarious as the bumbling country bumpkins.  Katrina Bowden as the lovely Allie, upon whom Dale has a serious crush, is compelling in her role as the sweet but at-first confused damsel in distress.  But it's not her distress but that of the preppy-turned-Rambo Chad that drives the bloody gore.  The rest of the cast were more or less disposable characters, as well they should be.  After all, aren't all college kids, bimbos and minorities disposable in the horror-gore genre?  Cinematographer David Geddes handles the tight interiors spaces of the shanty and the college kids van with inventive style and the exterior shots, supposedly set in West Virginia's Appalachians but actually filmed in Alberta, Canada, are skillfully done.
Set to be shown in limited theatrical locations beginning Sept 30 and currently available on Video on Demand, this comedy-horror film deserves an official DVD release.  And although I am including a youtube link to the official Redband trailer, I caution those who are planning on seeing TUCKER AND DALE vs. EVIL to refrain from clicking on it because the trailer shows most of the sight gags that make it work so well.  TUCKER AND DALE vs. EVIL will kill 'em with comedy!



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