Tucker & Dale vs. Evil: Celebrating the Cult Comedy Horror Thing

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
Indeed.

Launched in January of 2010, this low budget and entertaining romp wasn’t much of a hit. But it’s clever and fun, so demands some love.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

Righto, meet well-to-do rich college kids Allison, Chad, Chloe, Chuck, Jason, Naomi, Todd, Mitch, and Mike. Does it get any more American than that, yo?

They’re on holiday camping in West Virginia (as opposed to East Virginia) and need to stop at a gas station for supplies (e.g. beer).

Whilst looking for a station, they drive past two hillbillies who appear to leer at them in Deliverance fashion.

We include the trailer for the 1972 classic below. It’s important as Tucker and Dale vs. Evil lampoons it on numerous occasions.

In the 2010 flick, in traditional college kids fashion, they’d undeterred—eventually finding a station, they stop for gas.

Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) also arrive—they’re the two hillbillies from before.

Well-meaning but bumbling and humble, they’ve just bought a vacation home in the hills and intend to renovate it.

Unfortunately, the shy and anxious Dale (who’s suffering from an inferiority complex), manages to terrify the college kids.

He approaches the attractive Allison (Katrina Bowden) and freaks everyone out with his nerve-induced behaviour.

The arrogant Chad (Jesse Moss) threatens Dale and the college kids flee in a panic.

So, right from the off the film subverts horror movie stereotypes. There’s nothing new in that—spoof films are common. But Tucker and Dale vs. Evil manages it in endearingly gruesome fashion.

Whilst the college kids just want amorous antics, beer, and skinny-dipping, due to a bizarre set of misunderstandings it appears Tucker and Dale are out to get them.

As in, the youths have watched too many horror films and their paranoia is driving them to make dumb decisions.

So, whilst Tucker and Dale arrive at their decrepit cabin and start to renovate, they also can’t stop accidentally bumping into the college kids.

One night they go fishing on a lake to drink some beers and relax.

But the college kids (a term we’ve come to love from this film) choose the same lake to go swimming—Tucker and Dale then accidentally scare Allison, who falls into the water and hits her head.

The two friends rescue her, but this time Tucker freaks out her friends in another bout of confusion.

Under the belief the hillbillies have kidnapped her, the college kids then find the holiday home and try to get a good understanding of the situation.

Meanwhile, back at the holiday home, Allison wakes up and Dale brings her breakfast.

They start chatting and get on, with the two finding common ground to chat about.

The other college kids congregate outside, which coincides with Tucker starting a chainsaw to cut up previously felled trees. In doing so, he accidentally hacks into a bee’s nest.

As he runs off screaming, the college kids interpret his antics as further hostility.

Mitch (Adam Beauchesne) panics, shouting “Run for your lives!” as Tucker appears to chase after him like a crazed maniac.

There’s another moment of confusion when they race alongside each other, only for Mitch to recognise he isn’t being chased, before running straight into a protruding tree branch.

When the other college kids find his corpse, they’re horrified. And they plan an all-out assault on Tucker and Dale’s home.

By this point Dale has made friends with Allison and they’re getting on famously, whilst Tucker tries to recover from his bee stings.

He heads out to continue his tasks, now pushing trees into a wood chipper. Dale and Allison chip in by starting to dig an outhouse.

The college kids reconvene and are convinced she’s being forced to dig her own grave, so attack en masse.

Todd attempts to knock out Tucker, but ends up diving headfirst into the wood chipper—much to Tucker’s dismay.

Meanwhile, Mike charges at Dale with a sharpened stick, trips, and plunges into a pit and impales himself.

The other college kids see Tucker wrenching the dead body out of the wood chipper, further enhancing his psycho rating in their eyes.

Meanwhile, he’s convinced a cult of suicidal college kids has descended on their property to end it all.

And, of course, Tucker then has to try and explain the situation to a clueless police officer.

All good fun and played out with serious panache as a black comedy, but this is where the film peaks.

Too soon, in fact. It’s unable to maintain the momentum going forward.

Chad soon becomes the lead antagonist and we have a bit of a predictable battle for survival at the end.

And much of the slapstick humour stops in favour of the tedious genre tropes it had, in the first half, successfully lampooned.

But we like the way the film plays with the idea hillbillies are (putting it bluntly) inbred and a bit dangerous. That lingering reputation Deliverance created, along with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

It’s a film we’ve watched twice and really enjoyed on both occasions—it just suffers from delivering too many of its best ideas in a short space of time.

However, as a clever and enjoyable slice of dark humour it’s an endearing little film.

Great acting from everyone and a witty script. It’s the type of concept we need more of in modern cinema.

Production

We revisited Tucker and Dale vs. Evil recently and were stunned to find it’s a decade old. What the heck?!

Filming took place in 2009 in Calgary—Canada, not America. The director was Eli Craig, who’s since gone on to work on… only one other film since 2010. Hmmmmmm…

Anyway, on a tiny budget of $5 million it recouped $4.7 million worldwide, making it a minor failure—unfortunately.

Despite its obscure nature, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil has garnered a big cult following. The original trailer on YouTube has over a million views, for example.

Frankly, Mr. Shankly, it’s one of those films that sort of demands cult status. This thing was never going to make $100 million.

And that’s fine. It’s a big part of a film buff’s life, unearthing those obscure gems from yesteryear (or this year).

Anyway, the possibility of a sequel has been about since 2014.

But Alan Tudyk (that’s the actor who plays Tucker) said in 2017 that when the script was finished it was disappointing. So the production stalled there.

It’s a good idea, don’t just run with a sequel for the hell of it. Samurai Cop did that for the sake of it—an accidentally bad film from 1991 trying to be bad decades later.

As for this horror spoof, a decade on and it appears that’s pretty much it for the series.

And we can say that’s for the best. It’s not always a great idea to make a sequel, eh? Revel in a standalone title and the impact it’s left behind.

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