Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2011), Lookback/Review

From the Recesses of Netflix we pull Dale and Tucker vs. Evil, directed by Eli Craig and come out laughing until we cry . . .

Tucker & Dale vs Evil is by far the best film we have “discovered” on Netflix. Is it a horror movie? Not quite. Is it a comedy? Sorta. We would like to create a new genre for this classic. Let’s call it a “slapgore bromantic comedic satire.” From Canada.

This film is actually a fairly sophisticated comedy of errors. And it serves as a challenge to hixploitation (what a great word! Thank you tvtropes.org). Hixploitation is the genre of horror that relies on the stereotypes and fear of “rednecks” and “hillbillies.” Some examples of this film genre are Cabin Fever (2002), Jeepers Creepers (2001) and Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964). Tucker & Dale vs. Evil does a wonderful job of deconstructing this trope. 

Tucker  and Dale are just two regular guys trying to take a vacation in the summer cabin Tucker recently purchased. It’s a bit of a fixer upper, but it’s theirs. And they are really excited to visit. And they have the cutest redneck bromance ever. What could possibly go wrong? 

Tucker and Dale end up at the same clichéd and creepy gas station as a group of the world’s most stereotypical group of college students. They are also going camping. And clearly they’ve seen way too many hixploitation films because they are jumpy from the get go. All the problems begin when Tucker notices Dale checking out one of the cute college girls and encourages him to go up and talk to her.

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Tucker is trying to boost Dale’s low self-esteem and help him get over his insecurity around girls. Of course the advice he gives Dale backfires. Going up and talking to a girl and laughing is great. Going up to the girl and laughing manically and asking if they’re going camping is an entirely different thing indeed. The college kids are freaked out. By the way, what the hell is up with these college kids in horror movies? Clearly they aren’t Syracuse University graduate students…

Things go from bad to worse when they end up on the same camping grounds (of course). Tucker and Dale go fishing at night and witness one of the girls hit her head on a rock and Dale jumps in to save her. Of course it doesn’t look so good as he drags her limp body into the boat and screams “we have your friend.” The college students swim away in terror leaving Dale and Tucker really confused. So they nurse her back to health and she realizes that all those awful stereotypes she believed to be true were so wrong.

It is wonderful to see both the college students and the “hillbillies” being humanized. The girl’s name is Allison and she ends up falling in love with Dale. Because he has a heart of gold and he is incredibly courageous. While they are falling in love, Allison’s friends are doing their best to rescue her from “evil.” In their awful attempts to rescue her they begin dying. And to the college students it looks like Tucker and Dale are killing them. And to Tucker and Dale is looks like some horrifying mass suicide. And this is definitely the part of the film that made us laugh.

In fact, some of these scenes brought tears to the author of this article’s eyes. Especially the scene where poor Tucker accidentally takes a chainsaw to a bees nest and ends up running through the woods wildly wielding a chainsaw. Very “Leatherface” esque. This poor college student runs in terror right into a sharpened branch, impaling himself. Tucker wonders if the poor kid was running so fast because he was allergic to bees.

Things begin to escalate as the college students attempt to rescue Allison (who is safe and quite happy). There is a final showdown where Dale decides to dress the part of the “killer hillbilly.” And he once again proves his kindness and courage while he battles the last college student, Chad. Chad is mostly responsible for letting things get to the level that they have. But again, it’s about perception and assuming the absolute worst of people.

This is a wonderful, wonderful movie. We love movies that challenge and mock the tropes of horror, because we as horror fans are allowed to make fun of ourselves. On some level this goes to an even more sophisticated place than Cabin in the Woods (2012).

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Have a suggestion for the next From the Recesses of Netflix? Comment below and we may review it (and of course give you credit).

Den of Geek Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars





4.5 out of 5