Tucker & Dale VS. Evil

2010, US/Canada, Directed by Eli Craig

Colour, Running Time: 85 minutes

Review Source: Blu-ray, Region B, Sony; Image: 1080i 50fps 2.39:1, Audio: DTS HD MA

(Visit me over at the new Grim Cellar)

Starting off in what appears to be familiar territory, a bunch of ‘college kids’ (a couple of them incredibly pleasurable to look at) head off into backwoods America for the usual weekend of copulation, ostentatiousness, exposing of flesh, etc. They stop off for supplies at an isolated store where they come into contact with the local hillbillies - cue menacing gestures, threatening looks, and everything else they (and we) have seen in modern horror movies. But, the two ‘hillbillies’ who are staying in the same vicinity as the teens to fix up a dilapidated cabin are actually a couple of really nice guys, it transpiring quickly that everything they do, from rescuing one of the drowning college girls right through to simply existing, is misinterpreted by the prejudgemental kids as the actions of violent backwoods throwback murderers. The kids try to re-acquire their friend and get revenge on the two guys - their mishaps causing death after death amongst themselves.

Tucker & Dale VS. Evil takes many modern horror conventions and deliberately turns them on their heads, creating in its wake some hilarious situations that gave me the biggest laughs I’ve had from a film for months. It’s written in a fashion that suggests good understanding of both horror and comedy genres. The stupid, prejudiced kids inadvertently knock themselves off one by one in increasingly gory ways as they try to kill the hillbillies, who are actually a pair of really decent people who simply don’t fit into the snobbish cultures that most of us have found ourselves a part of. Obviously movies this funny can rarely sustain themselves for ninety minutes and that’s the case here, where the last half hour doesn’t work as well, but in the run up to it you get a superb and perceptively funny gorefest that is worth the price of purchase. There’s even a serious message in there that most of us could take heed of, in that the actions of others can easily be assumed to be unsavoury in nature when we don’t know the full facts for ourselves. This is slightly subverted by the very nature of the revelations towards the end but its relevance is present nonetheless. Not a million miles from the lofty ranks of Evil Dead II, Return of the Living Dead, and Braindead (Dead Alive to the Americans), it’s not too often we get a horror comedy this successful nowadays (more surprising as it’s Eli Craig’s feature length directorial debut) so buy it and have a fantastic time.

The Blu-ray comes with a clean and natural looking image sourced directly or indirectly from digitally shot material. It doesn’t start off well with an ugly aerial shot of the West Virginia backwoods but quickly proves to be an attractive transfer beyond that - considering this was shot digitally, its appearance is very film-like. The audio track is strong and enveloping. UK disc extras are sparse in the form of a featurette plus a few trailers and stills - disappointing in light of the fact that Magnolia released the film in the US with an audio commentary from the director and two of the main actors, plus more featurettes. Clearly Sony have little respect for UK fans. Not really acceptable, but the fact that the film is brilliant, as well as looking and sounding excellent, makes this a good pick-up that should have been better - it’s about half the price of the import for UK fans so it depends what’s important to you: price or extras.

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