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Thursday, October 27, 2016

31 DAYS OF HORROR 2016-Day 27: TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL (2010)

Our heroes: Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine).

I can't speak for you, but I fucking love "hicksploitation" movies, flicks about ordinary suburbanites running afoul of homicidal rednecks, hillbillies, and other assorted white trash stereotypes. The textbook example of the form would be DELIVERANCE (1972), with TWO THOUSAND MANIACS! (1964), SHANTY TRAMP (1967), POOR PRETTY EDDIE (1975), SOUTHERN COMFORT (1981), and EDEN LAKE (2008) also serving as prime examples, and there are a ton more to delve into. That said, it was only a matter of time before somebody made a film that lampooned the sub-genre, so I'm glad to say that TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL is about as good of a parody of this department as one could hope for.

Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are a pair of hillbillies straight out of reruns of HEE-HAW, and they are about as lovable as humanly possible. The pair take a vacation at a remote fixer-upper cabin deep in the Appalachians, with the intent of restoring the place and enjoying hours of serene fishing, but their deep woods idyll is flushed straight down the shitter when they meet a group of college frat boys and their girlfriends at the local general store. Shy and awkward Dale is smitten by pretty blonde psychology major Allison (Katrina Bowden) but his tongue-tied attempt at talking with her is mis-interpreted as a creepy advance, so the frat gang gets it into their heads that our sweet rednecks are a couple of DELIVERANCE-style potential murderers/arse-rapists.

Frat boy douchebags and their willing females.

Unfortunately, the frat shitheads set up camp near Tucker and Dale's cabin and while out doing some nighttime skinny-dipping while T&D fish and swill Pabst Blue Ribbons nearby, Allison falls off of a rock, knocking herself out, and our heroes come to her rescue, putting her into their boat and rowing her back to their cabin. This is witnessed by the frat assholes, who instantly assume that the hillbillies have kidnapped Allison for all manner of nefarious degradations before her inevitable murder, so the frat bros and their girls, led by the ultra-assholish and clearly psychotic Chad (Jesse Moss), decide to wage a half-assed guerrilla war against the totally innocent and well-intentioned Tucker and Dale. 

The lovely Allison (Katrina Bowden).

While holed up and recuperating from her injuries in the cabin, Allison gets to know Dale and finds him to be a sweet and charming teddy bear of a man, and in no time the seeds of romance are planted.    Unfortunately, Allison's frat pals make all the wrong assumptions and attempt to take out Tucker and Dale in ways that violently and gorily backfire on them. In other words, it's like a misunderstanding-fueled French farce gene-spliced with Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol.

A poorly-timed tackle ends in nasty results.

TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL would have been fun if it had merely been a standard comedy, but its knowing ribbing of its genre and its willingness to be outrageously, hilariously gory elevates it above most humor/horror fusions. Horror comedy is a notoriously hard flavor to get just right, as is evidenced by how relatively few good ones there are — ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948), THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS (1967), YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974), GHOSTBUSTERS (1984), and DEADALIVE (1992), to name some must-see examples — and this film absolutely nails it.

The unintentional chainsaw chase that made me laugh out loud and was the deciding moment that made me love this movie. Seriously, I actually said out loud, "That's it. I fucking love this movie!!!"

Bottom line: Trust Yer Bunche and check this one out, especially if you're well-versed in the lore of hicksploitation. You will not be disappointed.

Poster from the theatrical release.

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