“Oh hidy ho officer, we’ve had a doozy of a day. There we were minding our own business, just doing chores around the house, when kids started killing themselves all over my property.”
A carload of preppie college kids set off for a Memorial Day weekend of partying deep in the backwoods of West Virginia. They encounter a couple creepy looking hillbillies leering at them on the highway. Stopping to gas up they encounter the two rednecks again, but this time one of the two approaches the girls holding a scythe over his head and laughing like a madman. Feeling threatened, the kids get in the face of the rednecks warning them to back off. Later, deep in the woods, an urban legend is shared around the campfire about the Memorial Day Massacre, a series of unsolved hillbilly murders which took place in that same forest twenty years ago to the day. To shake off the scary story the kids decide to go skinny dipping. Unknown to them, the two backwoods hicks watch from offshore in a small fishing boat…
In any number of other movies, from the first killer redneck film 2000 Maniacs to the Wrong Turn series, we would know the kids are toast. Ironically, for the most part they are, but the threat doesn’t come from the hillbillies in Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. In fact, the titular rednecks Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are very kind and considerate if not too terribly book smart. The threat comes from a series of misunderstandings and a hefty amount of prejudice on the part of the college brats leading to the funniest comedy horror movie since Evil Dead II.
Tudyk and Labine imbue their characters with such warmth and share such chemistry you can’t help but love the bromance between them. Tyler Labine’s Dale totally steals the show. I found myself rooting for the seemingly impossible romance that develops between him and blond hottie Allison (Katrina Bowden). For such a down and dirty production, where they couldn’t afford to shoot more than a couple takes each scene, everyone in the cast knocks it out of the park, in particular preppie douchebag Chad (Jesse Moss) who chews up the scenery as the short-fused leader of the college kids. The makeup gags are also exceptional, and, yes, they don’t spare the gore.
Comedy and horror are common bedfellows these days; unfortunately most of these movies are neither funny nor horrific. One could thank the Scary Movie series for that. Arguably the last decent horror comedy was 2004’s Shaun of the Dead. Then along comes first time feature film director Eli Craig. One day, he and his co-writer buddy Morgan Jurgenson were kicking around ideas and the concept of turning the hillbilly horror genre on its head came up. What if the hillbillies were the good guys and the college kids the antagonists? They immediately cranked out the script to Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.
However, the road to finishing production proved to be full of obstacles; not the least being the studio sitting on the finished film and shelving it for three years. In spite of a number of times the whole production almost went down the crapper (detailed hysterically in the director’s commentary) the entire cast and crew persevered, and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil saw the light of day. Thank the movie gods for that.
Cinematographer David Geddes shot the entire movie with a Red One HD video camera and it features a digital-to-digital 1080p MPEG4/AVC- encoded transfer in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio from the original 2.39:1 running an average of 29Mbps. Other than a muddy and flat opening aerial shot of West Virginia sourced from another movie, 2004’s Without a Paddle, this is a nearly perfect HD presentation. Detail and clarity are exceptional. Blacks are rich and layered in even the darkest scenes. Colors are vivid and skin tone natural. There has been no DNR or edge enhancement, and the transfer doesn’t suffer from noise or digital glitches.
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is vibrant and fully immersive. Forest ambience fills the surround channels. Dialog is crisp and perfectly captured. The soundtrack and SFX make full use of LFE channels and are perfectly balanced with the dialog. The score is robust and effective.
- Audio Commentary: Director Eli Craig and actors Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk make for a hysterical and informative commentary. This is a must-listen.
- Making of Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil (12:23; HD): Your standard EPK. Still a fun feature as Labine and Tudyk charm the shit out of you.
- Tucker and Dale ARE Evil: The College Kids’ Point of View (16:47; HD): A special cut of the film telling the story from the perspective of the kids. A noble but failed experiment.
- Outtakes (7:51; HD): Yay!!! A gag reel!
- Storyboards (HD): A gallery of 97 storyboard drawings.
- HDNet: A Look at Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil (4:32; HD): A standard HDNet EPK, with clips and interviews. A slightly redundant, but shorter version of the making of.
- Theatrical Trailer (2:32; HD)
Normally when you hear that a release was delayed it spells trouble, but Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is brilliantly hysterical, and it only gets funnier on repeat viewings. I have no idea why the studio sat on this. Fair warning: just as the theme of the movie is not to judge a book by its cover, don’t judge this Blu-ray by the insipid and incredibly stupid cover Magnet slapped on the cover of the disc. I wonder how many people won’t rent this wonderful movie because the cover makes it look like a ripe piece of shite. This is a must own for me and I recommend the same to you. You will love showing this over and over to your friends. Now please give us a sequel!
“He’s heavy for half a guy.”