Wednesday, December 28, 2011

DVD Review: TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL (2010)


TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL (2010) DVD

LABEL: Magnet Releasing
REGION: 1 NTSC
RATING: R
DURATION: 88 mins
VIDEO: 16:9 Widescreen (2.35:1)
AUDIO: English 5.1 Dolby Digital
DIRECTOR: Eli Craig

CAST: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden
TAGLINE: Evil just messed with the wrong hillbillies!

SYNOPSIS: Tucker and Dale are two best friends on vacation at their dilapidated mountain house, who are mistaken for murderous backwoods hillbillies by a group of obnoxious, preppy college kids. When one of the students gets separated from her friends, the boys try to lend a hand, but as the misunderstanding grows, so does the body count.

TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL flips the switch on the backwoods horror cliches we've seen in films such as WRONG TURN, DISMAL and Adam Green's HATCHET films wherein scary hillbillies take a cleaver to the city folk who happen upon their swampland killing grounds, it's a cliche we've seen many times over since the Tobe Hooper's THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and its going strong with a few new entries every year since. First-time Director Eli Craig's TUCKER AND DALE turns the idea on it's head and it's the scary city folk who terrorize our friendly West Virginian duo of Tucker (Alan Tudyk, SERENITY) and Dale (Tyler Labine, TV's REAPER), two landscapers on their way to their newly acquired fixer-upper cabin in the woods for some rest, relaxation and unbeknownst to them - crazed preppy killers.

It's while stopping off at the local store for supplies that they first encounter a group of college preps on spring break, frat guys and frat-boy fuck dolls; the two most central to the story are the attractive but nice blonde Allison (Katrina Bowden) and Chad (Jesse Moss) who's right up there with cinema's geatest 80's assholes plus seven others. The uppity city kids assume the worst when they meet the "scary" looking hillbillies which leads to an awkward encounter when the usually shy Dale musters up enough courage to introduce himself to Aliison while unfortunately holding a scythe in hand and laughing manically, the preps speed off believing they've just barely escaped certain death at the hands of a rural psychopath.

As it turns out the college kids are heading to the very same part of the woods as Tucker and Dale. The group set-up camp near the lake, and while gathered around the campfire Chad tells the story of the Memorial Day Massacre which took place twenty years prior, a horrific event in which hillbillies slaughtered a group of city kids much like themselves. Their fear of rural people comes into play later that evening when Allison slips on a rock and falls unconscious into the lake just out of sight of her friends. Luckily, Tucker and Dale just happen to be fishing nearby and pull her from the water but when the preps see what's happening it appears to them that the hillbillies have kidnapped Allison and that the events that happened two decades earlier are happening all over again.

This misunderstanding sets off a string of comically, unfortunate events with the preps being egged on by the progressively nuttier and homicidal Chad to launch a violent assault on the cabin in an ill conceived rescue mission. During the attack the irrational preps die off through their own misguided and violent actions; my favorite involves one ending up launching himself head first in a wood chipper while another brutally impales himself on a tree branch thinking he's being chased by a chainsaw wielding Tucker who himself is only running from an angry hive of bees. They continue to mount additional attacks on the cabin all the while the befuddled Tucker and Dale believing Allison's friends have flipped their lids, not understanding why they're under attack.

It's not really a gore-fest but the kills are pretty great nonetheless, they're intense with some nice low-budget gore effects that should satisfy most horror enthusiasts, particularly the wood chipper torso. The film delivers with a winning sense of humor that feels natural and not too forced, it's well-written and delivered pitch perfectly by the duo of Labine and Tudyk who have such great chemistry together onscreen. I would definitely like to see these two paired up again, perhaps in a sequel. 

The disc features a nice selection of bonus features including a fun commentary with the director and stars, outtakes, storyboards, a making of mini doc, a fun featurette with clips from the film from the POV of the college students which puts a more traditional spin on the film, an HDNET featurette, a theatrical trailer plus a collection of Magnolia trailers.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Making of Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (12:34) 16:9
- Tucker and Dale ARE EVIL: The College Kids Point of View (16:48) 16:9
- Outtakes (7:53) 16:9
- Storyboards
- Commentary with Director Eli Craig, Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk
- HDNET: A  Look at Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (4:34) 16:9
- Theatrical Trailer (2:23) 16:9
- Magnolia Trailers (9:29) 16:9

VERDICT: Definitely a fun send-up of backwoods horror that puts the genre up on it's ear, seriously funny stuff. I'm here to tell you that you need not even be a fan of horror to enjoy the comedy elements, the wife was in stitches from start to finish, at least when she wasn't horrified by the carnage onscreen, she's definitely not a fan of horror by any stretch of the imagination but she really enjoyed this one. An inspired debut film and one of the best horror-comedies of 2011, do not miss this one. 4 outta 5

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