The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010)
When I saw that this movie was on Watch Instantly, I knew I had to have it. I'd been hearing a lot of great things, plus Magnet Releasing had already scored two winners with me in Rubber and Hobo with a Shotgun. This looked like a surefire hit, so let's see if it lived up to expectations.
Tucker and Dale vs Evil follows two friends from the mountains of West Virginia, Tucker and Dale, who, after years of saving, finally have a fixer-upper vacation house on the lake. On the way up to it, they bump into some college kids, and Dale tries to ask one of them out, failing miserably. The kids, in turn, think Tucker and Dale are some crazy hillbillies out to do them harm, and when the girl Dale asked out hits her head skinny dipping and almost drowns, and Tucker and Dale rescue her from the water, the kids think they've kidnapped her, which sets off a series of misunderstandings of hilarious and deadly proportions.
I really enjoyed this. The way they flip the horror genre on its ear, but do it so it comes off as funny and interesting, as opposed to trite and full of itself, was fantastic. The thing feels like a Laurel and Hardy flick or Three Stooges episode, the way our heroes are clueless and bad things keep happening to them, yet they're also funny and worth rooting for. My only gripe comes when Tucker is captured by the kids and one of them cuts off two of his fingers. Even though they recover it some with a funny joke about it at the end, it still was a left turn that betrayed a lot of what the film was going for and succeeded at. Overall though, this is well worth the watch.
On top of being a very funny movie, there's a great message here about judging people based on their appearance or background that really works too. I'd never really thought about it before that so many of these "kids in the woods terrorized by some sick locals" horror flicks are ingrained in me, and I take for granted that the locals are threatening. It probably originates from Deliverance, and this movie does play some on that too. It's just a great idea for a movie: what if the locals were nice and the kids misunderstood them?, and I'm just happy they pulled it off so well.
We've been talking about the horror comedy on here quite a bit recently, and while this is definitely a comedy, and a horror film too, it's not a horror comedy in the true sense. The best description is a macabre Laurel and Hardy flick, or as I said above, a deconstruction of the teen slasher flick. We've seen a lot of attempts at horror comedy go bad on here lately, and I think where this one works and those fail, is that it's actually funny. And not only that, but doesn't dwell on its jokes too long. No routine goes on for more than a few minutes. It has the rhythm of a classic Laurel and Hardy comedy, and a lot of new horror practitioners looking to make a modern horror comedy could do to go back to some great comedy movies of the past and see what works.
The cityfolk v countryfolk divide is something that is leaned on heavily in a lot of films and books. Stephen King was exceptional in harnessing the isolation a creepiness of being in the middle of nowhere in Maine on a dark night, with locals that keep to themselves and detest outsiders; while so many Romantic Comedies feature men or women from the city that are tamed and made better people by some good ol' country living. What I like here is that this movie doesn't pick a side. Yes, it works on switching up the Stephen King paradigm, but it doesn't let the "all those cityfolk need is some good ol' country livin'" side off the hook either. Nobody's perfect, and nobody's got it all figured out, but it's the unwillingness to see things from someone else's side that can lead to a misunderstanding involving multiple accidental deaths-- it's a lesson we all could learn.
This is the first film we've done that takes place in West Virginia (though not the first by a long shot that was shot in Vancouver-- I could go on a rant about the Canucks right now, being a Bruins fan, but I won't). Though I've never been, I've always wanted to go through that Appalachia region and hit some of the peaks. Now I know, after seeing this, not to judge the locals, and if it looks like the locals are judging me, I'll do my best to kill them with kindness. It's all just sunshine and rainbows here.
And why not with a movie this good. Right now it's on Watch Instantly, and there's no reason why, if you have Watch Instantly, that you don't see it. It's available on DVD and Blu-Ray too. Made in 2010, but released in 2011, it was one of the best to come out in the States last year.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1465522/