It sounds like your standard teen tripe doesn’t it? The poster with its chainsaw wielding hillbillies and busty blondes cemented my suspicions. At best I expected that this film would be a decent-ish version of Scary Movie and readied myself for goofy gags and gore aplenty. There were gags and there was gore, but director Eli Craig has delivered a genuinely funny film which will entertain and repulse in fairly equal quantities.
Upon a closer examination of the poster I spy Alan Tudyk and my spirits are instantly raised. Tudyk secured himself as a firm comedy favourite with audiences when he played possibly THE best character in Dodgeball, Steve the Pirate. Paired with relative newcomer Labine (Reaper, Zack and Miri Make a Porno), I was keen to see how this comedy combo would play out.
A group of beer-swigging college kids take a rather predictable foray into the remote countryside of redneck central for a camping trip planned by the social director of their crew, who comes complete with monosyllabic “hot kid” name, Chad (Jesse Moss).
Meanwhile, holidaying in their dilapidated mountain shack in the same woods are best friends, Tucker (Tudyk) and Dale (Labine). These check-shirted, dungarees-clad hillbilly types are everything you expect from a murderous pair of redneck killers, except for the murderous/killer part.
When one of the students gets separated from her friends and the boys try to lend a hand, the preppy college kids are a little too familiar with horror cliches to see things as they are. As the misunderstanding grows, so does the body count and Tucker and Dale end up with shirts covered in “college kid blood” on more than one grisly occasion.
The hillbilly bezzies are central to the success of this film as they cling to each other for comfort while college kids drop like annoying, shrieky little flies around them. Labine is hilarious as the huge but helpless, Dale. His timid nature and tendency to burst into floods of big, hairy hillbilly tears provide plenty of comic ammo as the pair plunge deeper and deeper into the doo doo.
Tucker, the George to Dale’s loveable Lenny, is fully aware of just how serious the situation is for the blood-stained pair. But his reaction to the kids’ hapless deaths as a “suicide pact” comes straight out of his own ill-informed preconceptions about preppy frat kids.
The pair share some great comic scenes including my personal favourite where Tucker does his best to comfort a distraught Dale who is blinking back tears on discovering that a kid “ran right up and hucked himself into the wood chipper”. Their on-screen comic chemistry is wholly entertaining and more Tudyk/Labine double acts are sure to follow.
But this is not a film packed with suspense. The moment that Tucker innocuously fires up the wood-chipper or reaches for his chainsaw, you can practically hear the screams. The fun is waiting for the carnage to unfold, as well as watching the rapidly increasing body count thrust our hapless heroes further into the flames.
If you find this sort of clearly mapped out humour a little tiresome, then Tucker and Dale vs. Evil may not be for you. But the inventiveness behind each macabre tragedy provided enough surprises
for this viewer.
Director Eli Craig is clearly a horror fan. The jokes come thick and fast but they seem to spring from a love of the genre which allows the audience to be in on the fun. There is more than just a whiff of Sam Raimi’s video nasty, The Evil Dead, about the movie and fans of horror will enjoy spotting the references. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the other obvious connection and Tucker vs. Dale, of course, features its own chainsaw scene with a twist.
It may not have you on the edge of your seat but it will have you laughing. Light-hearted fun which fans of horror genre will enjoy as an act of homage to some of the greatest and most gruesome films of our time.