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Tucker & Dale vs. Evil(2010)
Tucker & Dale are on vacation at their dilapidated mountain cabin when they are attacked by a group of preppy college kids.
For more about Tucker & Dale vs. Evil and the Tucker & Dale vs. Evil Blu-ray release, see Tucker & Dale vs. Evil Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on November 11, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss
Director: Eli Craig
» See full cast & crew
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil Blu-ray Review
Upended slasher movie clichés meet hillbilly hilarity.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, November 11, 2011
You know the drill—a group of preppy college kids drives into the mountains for a weekend of drunken debauchery, only to get picked off one by one by mutant inbred rednecks or deranged, psycho-killer country bumpkins. It's the standard Wrong Turn, backwoods-slasher formula, the origins of which can be traced all the way back to 1964, with Herschell Gordon "Godfather of Gore" Lewis' southern-fried torture film, Two Thousand Maniacs! By this point, we know entirely what to expect when fresh-faced city slickers venture into the dark recesses of Appalachia or the swampy rural wilds of the deep South.
Or do we? Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, a Canadian horror comedy by first-time director Eli Craig and co-writer Morgan Jurgenson, gleefully overturns the genre's stale-as-year-old-beef-jerky tropes with a premise that's so simple—but clever—that I'm surprised it hasn't been done before. Ready for it? What if the dirty, overalls-wearing, buck-toothed and slack-jawed hillbillies were actually just two polite and helpful—if undereducated—guys who are mistakenly assumed to be menacing, Deliverance-style squeal-like-a-piggy murderers? Not only does the film break all of the usual conventions, it does so while comically making a point about how appearances can be deceiving.
If you only saw the first ten minutes, you'd think Tucker & Dale was just another Texas Chain Saw Massacre clone, opening with the stereotypical SUV-load of frat boys and sorority girls driving into the West Virginian wilderness, supplied with marijuana a'plenty. On the highway, they're passed by a pair of ominously staring rednecks, and when they pull into the "Last Chance Gas" station—a run-down joint that features taxidermy alongside the usual convenience store fare—they likewise get uneasily ogled by the creepy half-wits inside.
But then we're introduced to the titular duo, Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), two well-meaning good old boys heading to their fixer- upper "vacation" cabin in the woods to do some fishin', beer-drinkin', and brush-clearin'. Dale is indeed gawking at the college kids, but only because he finds the blond beauty Allison (Katrina Bowden) particularly attractive and wishes he had the nerve to go up and talk to her. Tucker gives him a confidence boost and eggs him on—"You're a good lookin' man…more or less"—but when Dale walks over awkwardly, incidentally holding a comically enormous scythe, he makes a decidedly unfavorable first impression. The kids are further spooked when they arrive at their campsite and Chad (Jesse Moss)—a douche-y bro wearing a polo shirt with a popped collar—tells them all the story of the "Memorial Day Massacre," which supposedly occurred in those very woods twenty years ago to the day.
The stage is set, then, for misguided assumptions about the intentions of the two friendly rednecks. The horror/comedy action really kicks off when Dale rescues Allison and nurtures her back to heath after she hits her head in a skinny-dipping accident and nearly drowns. The other kids think she's been kidnapped, though—especially after Dale leaves them a scrawled-on-a-log message reading "WE GOT UR FRIEND"—and led by Chad and his creepy bloodlust they plan to siege the cabin where Allison is being kept.
From here, it's one hilarious mishap after another as the kids accidentally get themselves killed in ridiculous and exceedingly gruesome ways. There are multiple impalements, an inadvertent bullet to the brain, and one poor idiot who even dives headfirst into a wood chipper, causing a geyser of viscera to gush out the other side. Meanwhile, Tucker and Dale are completely bewildered, thinking they're being assaulted by mentally deranged twentysomethings carrying out some kind of loopy suicide pact. A local yokel cop gets involved, of course, and this leads to even more wacko miscommunications and subsequent blood loss. There are some great gore effects here, if that's what you're looking for, but there's more to Tucker & Dale vs. Evil than just the goopy red stuff.
One of the reasons the film works so well is precisely because of how thoroughly—and thoughtfully—it inverts all of the usual clichés, exploiting for comic effect our knowledge of how horror films typically work. When Tucker comes running around the corner of the cabin waving a chainsaw around like a spastic mad man, the campers have no idea that he just unintentionally sawed through a bees' nest. They just see a lunatic who wants to lop off their heads. Even our expectations about the college kids are flipped. The preppy male lead turns out to be a bloodthirsty nutcase, and the hot blond, instead of being dumb and dismissive, is a total sweetheart who develops a thing for Dale. And that's another plus. The film is something of a rarity—a horror/comedy with real heart.
But what really makes the film is the pairing of Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine. They've got a shaggy kind of chemistry and they play off of one another perfectly. Sci-fi fans will recognize Tudyk from Firefly and Serenity, and Labine—a sort of wolfish, less annoying Jack Black—was most recently seen in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but they were born to play these two courteous and confused hillbillies. I rarely say this about horror films—or any films, really—but I'd love to see a Tucker & Dale sequel. Hell, put them in some kind of buddy sit-com. I'd watch that.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil Blu-ray, Video Quality
Shot with the Red One HD video camera by cinematographer David Geddes, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil features a digital-to-digital 1080p/AVC- encoded transfer that's consistently impressive. I take that back. There's one moment that I thought looked murky and ugly and almost standard definition—an early aerial view of the mountains of West Virginia—but I actually learned in the included audio commentary track that this single shot was actually sourced from another movie. So, minor revision: Everything shot specifically for this film looks fantastic. I was actually quite surprised; you don't always expect low-budget horror movies to look this good. Clarity is exemplary in just about every scene. The individual hairs of Dale's good-old-boy beard are visible, the forest foliage is cleanly defined down to the smallest twig, and there are close-ups when you can even make out the tiny thread pattern of Tucker's dirty-ass t-shirt. Color is rich and vivid, with a great sense of contrast in both daylight and nighttime scenes, skin tones are warm and consistent, and black levels—even in the darkest scenes—are dense and nearly noiseless, with strong preservation of shadow detail. Edge enhancement and DNR are thankfully M.I.A., and I didn't spot any real compression artifacts or other problems. This is a near-perfect Blu-ray presentation.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The film's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track ain't bad either. Actually, it's quite good, especially when the action ramps up and the kids start inadvertently offing themselves. There are plenty of opportunities for beefy, dynamic sound design, and this mix takes full advantage of them. Tucker's chainsaw flailing sounds off with a throaty mini-diesel throttle, the wood chipper roars and grinds, bees swarm through the surround channels, and gunshots and nail-gun blasts tear holes through the rear speakers. When the accidental horror is at its height, the track is booming, clear, and duck- and-cover immersive. Even during quieter moments you'll hear frequent ambience in the form of insect sounds, water rippling, fire roaring, and other outdoorsy noises. All of this is backed by a decently rich-sounding score, and the dialogue cuts through clearly, with no balancing issues whatsoever. Set the volume to your normal listening level and you shouldn't have to touch your remote the whole way through. The disc includes optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil was actually completed in 2009, but for some reason it got held up and only got released in select theaters this year. Original and entertaining, it definitely deserves wider exposure, and I hope it finds an appreciative audience on home video. If you're into horror or, more specifically, horror comedies that poke fun at the usual fright film conventions, you should definitely check this one out. If it makes a purchase any easier, note that the film looks and sounds fantastic on Blu-ray. Recommended.
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Tucker & Dale vs. Evil Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Tucker & Dale vs. Evil Blu-ray (Updated) - October 19, 2011
This November, Magnet and Magnolia Home Entertainment will release Tucker & Dale vs. Evil on Blu-ray. Alan Tudyk (Firefly) and Tyler Labine (Zack and Miri Make a Porno) star in this horror-comedy as two good-natured hillbillies who unwittingly cause a massacre ...
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