Travesty! That's the word that first comes to mind when I think about the missed opportunity represented by 'Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.' I first saw the movie at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. I was absolutely sure that we'd be seeing the movie in theaters that summer or at least by Halloween. I was also confident that the movie would have the same type of cult following as other horror spoofs like 'Shaun of the Dead.' Somehow, I was wrong.
It's taken this long for the movie to finally find its way to home video, only after a sad limited release here in the states, along with appearances on Video On Demand services. Simply put, 'Tucker and Dale' was horribly marketed and for some reason was left on the back burner for far too long. Why? I really have no answer to that. Given the proper backing 'Tucker and Dale' could've become a cult phenomenon. Who knows, maybe it still will on home video. It deserves it, because it's truly the best horror comedy since 'Shaun of the Dead.'
Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are two hillbillies with hearts of gold. Tucker has just bought a new vacation home that they're visiting for the weekend to start fixing it up. Like all backwoods movie rednecks, they swig beer, look like they haven't bathed in weeks, and wear clothes that look like they're in danger of disintegrating at any moment, but these guys are seriously nice.
That's not how a group of preppy college kids sees them though. To them Tucker and Dale might as well be inbred monsters from 'The Hills Have Eyes.' The kids are traveling up to the lake for some camping, drinking, and drugs. Like any clichéd horror movie the kids assume the worst about the people around them, and then proceed to do dumb things like go skinny dipping in a darkened lake. Even though Tucker and Dale mean no harm, the leader of the college kids, Chad (Jesse Moss), is sure they're up to no good. He regales his gullible friends with tales of killer hillbillies, "in these very woods." After a simple misunderstanding involving one of their friends at the lake, the kids become certain that Tucker and Dale are evil and that they're trying to kill them.
What follows is one of the most hilariously crafted horror comedies I've ever seen. Watching these moronic kids, which represent every clichéd horror victim ever created, trying to kill Tucker and Dale is simply hilarious. The reactions from Tucker and Dale are even funnier. "These kids just started killing themselves all over my property!"
Labine steals the show as the sweet-hearted Dale. He's instantly lovable. Like a big, dirty, beer-soaked teddy bear. Tudyk is his always charming self, and shows just how great of a character actor he really is. The two of them form a pair of the nicest hicks you'll ever meet.
It's a shame that more people didn't get a chance to see 'Tucker and Dale' in the theaters. I have a feeling that it really would've drawn a huge crowd once word of mouth got out. Sadly it sat around for almost three years before being released to the general public. However, now people can finally find out what they've been missing. A blood-soaked diamond in the rough.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This Magnet Blu-ray release comes on a 50-GB Blu-ray Disc and is packaged in a standard Blu-ray keepcase. The back of the packaging indicates a Region A-only release.
Magnet has done a great job presenting 'Tucker and Dale' in the way I remember it looking at Sundance. Not the flashiest of movies. It retains a more gritty look like standard horror movies do. There's still a lot here to be happy about.
Fine detail is nicely rendered. Tucker and Dale's unwashed faces sport all manner of dirt and grime. As the two of them progressively become soaked in college kid blood as the movie continues it's always visible and distinctly defined. Even when it soaks into their clothes, turning them a nasty dark reddish color. Blood, of which there is a lot, has a dark reddish hue that pops off the screen. Other colors, like the lush greens and brows of the surrounding forest, are also nicely presented.
Contrast looks as good as it should, although skintones look slightly orange on occasion. There may be some crushing here and there, but nothing overwhelmingly terrible. For the most part shadows are nicely defined. The entire movie has a rather filmic look even though it was filmed digitally.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound presentation isn't flashy either, but does the job it set out to do. What is noticeable here is the clever use of the surrounds as the college kids surround Tucker and Dale's cabin and then run in from all sides. Yells and screams can be heard throughout the soundfield and pass smoothly through the front of the sound stage as the kids charge from one side of the frame to the other. Gunshots, crickets, and a swarm of angry bees are also great surround effects. Mike Shields' intentionally clichéd eerie horror music gleefully fills up the soundtrack whenever the college kids see Tucker and Dale.
Dialogue is always intelligible, even with Tucker and Dale's thick hillbilly accents. LFE isn't a huge force here, but there are a few times where intense chase scenes call for a little low-end support. When called upon the sub delivers some much-needed low-end ambiance to the mix. This mix provides an altogether fun experience for the movie.
Again, it's just such a shame that 'Tucker and Dale' wasn't able to get out to a wider audience. It played tons of festivals, but never got the wide release it deserved. Don't miss it now that it's out on home video. This is one of the funniest horror comedies out there. The video and audio are perfect companions. The special features, besides the commentary, seem very EPK-ish but that's okay since you're getting a great movie. 'Tucker and Dale' is highly recommended.