Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010) – 31 Days of Horror: Oct 23

by Jovial Jay

One of the best (and funniest) films about a cabin in the woods. Tucker & Dale vs Evil reshapes the horror genre in a parody without resorting to cheap jokes.

I ended up seeing Tucker & Dale vs Evil around the same time as Cabin the Woods which made a great double feature, as I’ll explain later.

Before Viewing

The trailer opens as if it was a slasher horror film: a number of college kids head off to a cabin in the woods and encounter to backwater rednecks. Through a series of misunderstandings Tucker and Dale are viewed by the kids as a threat, while they’re just trying to be friendly. Kids end up killing themselves around Tucker and Dale (like one throwing himself into the wood chipper), and it looks bad for the pair when the cops show up.

I already know this film is hilarious, and a great parody of the genre. Check out the trailer for yourself and then join me inside!

Presented below is the Trailer for the film.

Spoiler Warning - Halloween

After Viewing

Tucker & Dale vs Evil is a horror film while at the same time deconstructing the horror film, specifically the slasher genre. The film opens with a news crew being attacked in an old building by a man with half his face burned. Cut to: an SUV with 9 college students driving through West Virginia for a camping trip. They stop at the local gas station where they first encounter Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), two hillbilly-looking guys headed to their vacation cabin. The teens are put off by the pairs odd behavior and looks, assuming them to be psycho rednecks. Dale tries to speak to Allison (Katrina Bowden) but his awkwardness and looks scare the kids, who leave.

Once in the woods, Chad (Jesse Moss) tells the other kids the story of the Memorial Day Massacre, where a group of college students were killed, save one, by inbred hillbillies. This story puts all the kids on edge, but they decide to go skinny dipping anyway.

Meanwhile, Tyler and Dale are working to clean up their cabin, which is dangerous and scary looking. They decide to go fishing where they see Allison standing on a rock in the lake. Concerned for her safety, Dale shouts for her to be careful, which causes her to be startled, fall off the rock and hit her head. The two drag her into their boat shouting at the college kids that they have their friend! The kids see this as an aggressive act and stage a rescue.

Chuck takes off to get the sheriff, while Mitchell heads to the cabin to save Allison. Through a series of misunderstandings, in which the kids think Tucker is coming at them with a chainsaw (he really was running from a bees nest he cut open), Mitchell accidentally impales himself on a tree root. Todd and Mike decide to attack Tucker and Dale (at the urgings of Chad), but wind up killing themselves as well. Tucker & Dale believe the kids to be part of some suicide cult.

The sheriff returns with the remaining kids in the car, but he accidentally is killed by a loose board with nails, that Dale says they should have fixed. Then Chuck shoots himself with the sheriff’s gun (accidentally). Things continue like this as Chad escalates the fears of the teens, and Tucker & Dale find themselves hunted by “crazy kids.” Tucker is even kidnapped and two of his fingers are cut off, in an attempt to send a message to return Allison.

Naomi, Jason and Chloe are all burned and blown up when Chad tries to lead an attack on the cabin to rescue Allison. He does manage to escape the destruction, but is now crazed, and partially burned, with revenge on his mind. He grabs Allison, thinking she has fallen in love with Dale (which she has) and tries to kill her, since she’s been “infected” by the hillbilly. Dale saves her after realizing that Chad’s mom was the survivor of the Memorial Day Massacre, and he’s actually the son of one of the hillbilly killers. This information sends him over the edge, and in a fight, Chad is flung out the window and dies. Dale rescues Allison, and they go out bowling on a first date.

“Officer, do we look like a couple of psycho killers to you?” – Tucker

The trailer for the film shares some of the comedy and absurdity present in the film, but doesn’t let the viewer know how absurd it will eventually be. This film was a huge surprise to me when I originally saw it. Writer and director Eli Craig (who also directed Little Evil that I reviewed last year) takes the classic story of teens visiting a cabin in the woods and turns it on its ear, much like The Cabin In The Woods would do two years later. But with Tucker & Dale vs Evil, the story is taken to comedic ends where Cabin’s endgame is more foreboding.

Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine are excellent as two backwater hillbilly characters. Based on their looks, they both could be playing psycho killers in another film. But in this one, they are literally two guys that just want to fix up their cabin, and fish – while crazy college kids start attacking them and committing suicide on their property. A lot of the humor comes from them not understanding the motives of the kids. They see kids coming at them with spears and guns, when all they’ve said is “We got your friend!” They can’t see how creepy this appears to the kids. As an audience, we get to see the events from both sides, where they do appear creepy and crazed from the point of view of the kids, especially Chad.

The film manages to still be a horror film, even with the humor and parody it invokes. Tucker & Dale vs Evil isn’t just a spoof or a parody of the horror-slasher genre. It’s a horror film, except this time the kids are the ones attacking! It takes the standard tropes from films like the Friday the 13th series, where killers chase hapless youth through the woods with chainsaws, and turns it around. The “killer” is just a man who has cut through a bees nest with his chainsaw and is running from the bees. The youth just misinterprets the scene and runs in defense. The problem comes when the youth accidentally runs into a protruding root, killing themselves. And that is then misinterpreted by the group as a killing made by the man with the chainsaw. It’s quite refreshing to see the genre in this light.

Finally, then ending is a happy one, which is atypical for horror films. But this is an atypical horror film. Dale, who cleans up real nice, and Allison go out on a date and share a first kiss. But, don’t forget that the film opened with a news crew being attacked by a half burned man. That’s the real ending of the film. The director placed it first as an intro to avoid having the “killer returns” scene at the end.

I highly recommend Tucker & Dale vs Evil. It’s a really fun film that the audience can laugh at, as you see things from both sides, and how easily miscommunication in backwards West Virginia can get!

Assorted Musings

  • This film came out two years before The Cabin in The Woods, which would also turn the horror killer genre sideways with its changes to the standard storyline.
  • Besides Friday the 13th, there are also parodies/homages to Texas Chain Saw Massacre, any of the Evil Dead films and The Blair Witch Project.

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