Every now and then, an absolute gem of a movie will appear out of nowhere that you absolutely fall in love with. That is definitely the case with today’s movie. A few years ago, I was bored and suffering from a bout of insomnia so I decided to do what I normally do when I find myself in that situation; read something or watch Netflix. This particular night, Netflix won and I was going through my choices when I came across this movie. My mistake was definitely in watching this thinking it might put me to sleep because I wound up laughing so hard, I ended up staying up the entire night. So let’s end this work week with some laughs as I watch today’s movie, Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil.
The plot: A news reporter and her cameraman are at a crime scene hoping to find something the police missed when they are attacked by a man with a badly damaged face. 3 days earlier, a group of college kids (Allison, Chad, Chloe, Chuck, Jason, Naomi, Mike, Mitch, and Todd) are going camping in the West Virginia mountains but are disturbed by a pair of hillbillies, Tucker and Dale, who pass them on the road. When the kids stop at a gas station to buy some beer, Dale becomes infatuated with Allison and Tucker tries to get him to go talk to them. Trying to take Tucker’s advise, Dale heads over to try and talk to Allison and the other women but ends up creeping them out before Chad warns him to stay away. As Tucker and Dale head up to the vacation home that Tucker bought and plan on renovating and when a cop pulls them over for a busted turn signal, he tells them that only death and suffering are up in that area. When they arrive at the cabin, Tucker and Dale head inside and are amazed at what they find, paying no attention to the newspaper clippings of a massacre that happened. Meanwhile, Allison and the others are sitting by their campfire when Chad starts telling them a story about the Memorial Day Massacre that took place in the area, where some hillbillies attack and kill some college kids, leaving only one survivor. When they discover a lake close by, they decide to go skinny dipping and Chad attempts to get close to Allison but she rebuffs his advances. Meanwhile, Tucker and Dale are doing some night fishing when they see Allison taking her clothes off on a rock. Dale covers his eyes and yells at Tucker for continuing to stare, which startles Allison and causes her to fall off the rock. When she doesn’t surface, Dale dives in to rescue her and Tucker helps him put her into the boat. Chloe and Chuck see them and, misunderstanding what is happening, think that Tucker and Dale are kidnapping Allison and go running back to their camp, despite Tucker yelling for them to come back. Tucker and Dale take Allison to their cabin and in the morning, Dale explains what happened and how her friends left her. Meanwhile, Chad is leading the search for Allison while Chuck goes to get the sheriff. When they find the cabin, they decide to send Mitch in to see if she is there. As Mitch approaches the cabin, Tucker is around back using a chainsaw to cut through a log when he cuts into a bees nest inside. Tucker goes running around, swinging the chainsaw wildly, and Mitch thinks he is psychotic and yells for the others to run as Tucker heads towards them. As Tucker goes running through the woods after Mitch, Mitch ends up impaling himself on a tree branch, while Tucker continues to run off. Back at the cabin, Dale and Allison have started talking and are playing trivial pursuit when Tucker returns, complaining about Dale not helping him. When Tucker says he saw one of Allison’s friends and she wants to go looking for them but Dale says she needs to rest and says that he and Tucker will go looking for them. Meanwhile, Chad and the others find Mitch’s body and Chad says that they left it there as a warning. When they hear Tucker and Dale approaching, they all quickly hide as they call out for the “college kids”. When they find no sign of them, and not noticing Mitch’s body behind them, they use Chad’s hatchet, which he left in the side of a tree, to carve a note for the college kids, saying that they have their friend. Returning to the cabin, Tucker is using a wood chipper to deal with some underbrush while Dale is working on digging a hole for the outhouse. Allison offers to help Dale and when Chad and the others see her, they think that Dale is making her dig her own grave and decide to attack Tucker and Dale to rescue Allison. As they move into position, Dale sees some of them and tells Allison her friends are here, then calls out to them. Allison sees Todd running at Dale with a handmade spear and yells out a warning, causing Dale to accidentally hit her with a shovel and knock her into the hole, with him falling into it as well and Todd ends up tripping and impaling himself on his spear in the hole next to Dale. Meanwhile, Mike attempts to attack Tucker but ends up falling into the wood chipper and Tucker tries to pull him out but Chloe and Naomi thinks that he is killing him. Dale takes Allison back into the cabin and he and Tucker tell what happens to each other and they think that the kids are involved in some sort of death/suicide cult and are trying to get Allison back to kill her. Meanwhile, Chad wants to kill Tucker and Dale but the others want to get help and see Chuck returning with the sheriff and go to them, leaving Chad in the woods. Tucker and Dale are trying to get Mike’s body out of the wood chipper when the sheriff arrives and they try to explain what has been going on. When he learns that Allison is inside, he follows them inside and checks on Allison but afterwards, accidentally knocks a beam loose and is impaled by some nails on the end of it. The sheriff stumbles back to his car and tries to call for help before he dies. Chuck gets out of the car and grabs the sheriff’s gun and tries to shoot them but when Dale tells him he has to take the safety off, Chuck ends up shooting himself. Chad was watching everything and runs out and grabs the gun and begins shooting at Tucker and Dale, who duck back inside the cabin. When Chad holds Dale’s dog hostage, Tucker hands Dale a nail gun to use as a distraction while he sneaks out the back door and goes to free Dale’s dog. Tucker ends up captured himself and Chad and the others tie him up, then Chad proceeds to cut off two of his fingers. Back at the cabin, Allison wakes up and Dale tries to explain what all has happened to her. Allison feels like this is a misunderstanding between everyone when a package is tossed at the cabin and Allison opens it to reveal Tucker’s severed fingers and a note from Chad and the others. Dale tells Allison to stay at the cabin while he goes to rescue Tucker, almost getting killed by a trap Chad and the others set. Meanwhile, Chad and Naomi enter the cabin to rescue Allison and Chad begins throwing gasoline on everywhere, planning on burning the cabin down. When Allison tries to get him to stop and explain it is a misunderstanding, Naomi thinks she is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, which enrages Chad and he accuses her of being in love with Dale. Just then, Dale and Tucker arrive and Allison convinces everyone to stop and try to talk things out. Chad explains that his parents were part of the Memorial Day Massacre and while his father died, his mother was the sole survivor but went insane over what happened. He was told the story by his grandmother, which resulted in his irrational hatred for hillbillies. Meanwhile, Jason and Chloe show up at the cabin, having seen no sign of Chad or Naomi in a while, and Jason barges in with a weed whacker and attempts to kill Tucker but Tucker ducks and Jason ends up attacking Naomi in the face. Chad attempts to attack Dale and when Tucker stops him, Chad throws a lantern at them, accidentally setting Jason on fire. Chloe attempts to put out the fire but accidentally uses moonshine, causing the blaze to spread and head towards the cans of gasoline. Tucker, Dale, and Allison manage to get out of the cabin before it explodes, killing Jason, Chloe, and Naomi. Chad survives, though part of his face is badly burned, and they quickly get in Tucker’s truck and try to get away but they end up crashing. When Dale comes too, he finds Allison missing and sees Tucker lying outside. Tucker tells Dale that Chad took Allison and convinces him to go after her so Dale takes his dog and goes after them. Tracking them to an abandoned saw mill, where Chad ties Allison to a log and proceeds to kiss and lick her. When Dale shows up, he goes to free Allison but Chad activats the buzz saw and then attacks Dale. Dale manages to throw an axe at the ropes and cut Allison free and she helps him fend off Chad before the run into an upstairs office. As they look for something to defend themselves with, Allison finds a newspaper about the massacre and they discover that Chad’s father was the hillbilly murderer, who had tortured and raped his mother. When Chad shows up and goes to kill them, they tell him that he is half hillbilly, causing him to slip further into madness. When he moves to kill them, Dale throws some chamomile tea at him, causing him to suffer an asthma attack and fall out the window, apparently falling to his death. Later, Tucker is recovering in a hospital and watching a news report on the events when Dales pays him a visit. After sneaking him in a beer and asking how he is doing, Tucker shows Dale that the doctors found his fingers and sewed them back on, though they don’t look like his. Tucker then asks if Dale asked out Allison and Dale says no at first before admitting that they are going bowling. At the bowling alley, Dale gives Allison a helmet as a gift, suggesting that she wear it as she keeps getting knocked out, and they end up sharing a kiss, choosing to ignore when one of Dale’s friends knocks out a woman and starts dragging her away.
Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Like the best horror/comedies, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil mines its central crazy joke for some incredible scares, laughs, and — believe it or not — heart.” In 2014, it was announced that a sequel was being worked on and both Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine confirmed that they were actively developing the project despite being busy with other commitments. The movie would only receive a limited release in theaters but almost broke even, earning $4.7 million off a $5 million budget
This is without a doubt one of the best horror/comedies to come out in a long time; possibly since Shaun Of The Dead. The acting was great, with Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine doing great jobs as Tucker and Dale respectively while Katrina Bowden (Allison) and Jesse Moss (Chad) were also good. The story was great, with the whole confusion mixed with freak accidents making for a ridiculously entertaining batch of deaths. The whole “Memorial Day Massacre” backstory didn’t really feel necessary as a means to explain Chad’s hatred for Tucker and Dale (and hillbillies in general) but it did set up for a nice bit of karmic irony at the end, as he ended up being the very thing he despised and most likely would have killed himself in a fit of self loathing had he succeeded in killing Dale and Allison. I also liked that they tried to instill a bit of a moral in the movie, with the whole don’t judge a book by it’s cover motive playing a big role in the events that took place. The effects involving the deaths were pretty good and I loved the pure random bad luck that played a part in them, as it was somewhat over the top but very effective. It can be a little gory at times, but this is definitely a movie worth watching.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5