The Hillbillies Have Eyes, by Jack Fleischer
The easiest (or laziest) Tucker and Dale vs. Evil comparison is with Shaun of the Dead. Just as that was a zombie satire, this is a satire of teen slasher flicks with cues taken from the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, to I Know What You Did Last Summer, and beyond. While this is an extremely fun and funny movie and I would highly recommend it to both to comedy and horror fans, I don’t know that this movie and Shaun are quite in the same league. Although maybe that’s only because I’ve never enjoyed teen slash in the same way I love zombies. Regardless, this movie is worth both your time and folding money.
The plot is simple enough, and begins as most teen slasher flicks do. Beautiful youths travel to the back woods. The kids start behaving randy at the nearby lake, and that’s when something happens to the nubile young blonde of the group. Scary locals intercede and that’s when the blood bath begins. Although it’s only hinted at in the trailer, I think it’s safe for me to say here that Tucker and Dale, the local yokels in the story, are not the ones killing off the kids.
Before I go any further into this film I want to take a moment to bow down and worship the work of Alan Tudyk (Tucker) and Tyler Labine (Dale) in this film, and in general. Tudyk should be familiar to fans of “Firefly” or the original Death at a Funeral, and Labine became a junior Kevin Smith player in “Reaper” and Zach and Miri. I have always been impressed with both of them, and they really do seem to be the key element that makes this movie successful. They both have an intense likability, and great comic timing.
The meat of the story is slow to gain traction, but the leads keep it interesting. The conceit behind each of the graphically bloody deaths, could have been wildly repetitive and worn down by the end, but a few clever mini-twists and the believable sincerity of Tucker and Dale keep the whole thing together. Even though the ending runs the risk of being a tad arch, I don’t mind as much with Tudyk and Labine as my guides.
The supporting cast of kids is a tad weak though. They’re not horrible, and the leader “Chad” (Jesse Moss, Final Destination 3) and our hero “Allison” (Katrina Bowden of “30 Rock”) have shining moments, but a number of the other teens are wooden … but then again, this isn’t a story about the kids, this is all about the “killers.” The kids in these films are always disposable, this film is just aware of that fact.
It’s beginning to sound like I think these two actors saved a poor film, and that’s absolutely not the case. Co-writer/director Eli Craig turned in a very good feature directorial debut. I think the only shortcomings come from a conceit that has been already mocked to death with the Scary Movie franchise. By the way, I would watch this movie a thousand times before I’d dare see another of those flicks.
Another thing that sets Tucker and Dale vs. Evil apart from a Scary Movie is that it is intensely gory. This film literally and figuratively squeezes every bit of bloody juice from the trope of teen slaughter in the woods. I was cringing quite regularly throughout most of the movie because it was so graphic. But really, that’s the way a movie like this works … and this film works.
I will be watching this one again, and I really do hope it starts a franchise that strips the world of Scary Movies all together.