**WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD**
I can’t figure out how I missed this gem. This movie takes the most cliched tropes of the horror film genre and turns them upside-down, with hysterical and– dare I say it?– heartwarming results. It’s both a celebration and a parody of genre conventions.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a 2010 film. A favorite actor of mine, Alan Tudyk, plays one of the title characters, Tucker. I may have overlooked this film when browsing the Amazon streaming videos, but Tudyk’s name caught my eye.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is set in Appalachia, West Virginia. Being from Pennsylvania, and more recently having spent the last 16 years in southwestern Pennsylvania, I’ve heard all the West Virginia jokes, and knew this would come into play somehow, most likely with the hillbilly killers terrorizing innocent non-hillbillies. What surprised me was that the typical horror stereotypes were solidly reversed in this movie. Another surprise in store for me was the humor.
This movie begins with a carful of college preppies heading into the woods of West Virginia for some camping. The stereotypes come fast and quick– they forgot the beer, the sorority girls are both blonde and wearing stripper shoes, the frat boys are handsome in their pastel polo shirts.
We meet Tucker and Dale, our two hillbillies in overalls who’ve bought a “vacation home” in the woods and happen to be at the gas station where the kids stop for beer. Dale immediately proclaims his admiration for Allison, one of the girls in the party, and after Tucker encourages him to talk with her– complete with scythe and maniacal laugh– the kids run from our hillbilly heroes.
We see the “vacation home,” which amounts to no more than a run-down cabin apparently used by a serial killer. My husband pointed out a resemblance to the cabin from the horror classic Evil Dead. One poorly timed coincidence after another and Allison ends up in the cabin with Tucker and Dale, after Dale saves her from a near drowning.
While Dale woos Allison with pancakes and Trivial Pursuit, the college kids forge a plan to save their “kidnapped” friend, and in doing so, seal their own demise at their own hands. Tucker and Dale are convinced the college kids came to the woods to carry our a suicide pact. Law enforcement gets involved, until structural issues with the cabin take care of the officer. Hysterical action follows, lots of gore– there’s a wood chipper death! — and Earl Grey tea. I know, right? I loved it.
I was not surprised by the amount of gore in the movie– it’s labeled a horror, after all– but I was surprised at the lack of profanity and nudity. If it weren’t for the copious bodily fluid splattering, I’d almost think I could show this to my kids. This is campy horror at it’s finest.