Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

(Canada, USA, 2010)

There is a strange little genre called “horror comedy” that is clearly not for everybody. But when they are done well, I really love them. Probably the best one I’ve seen is Shaun of the Dead. This one is almost that good.

It’s an ingenious concept. One of the popular tropes in real horror movies is the degenerate redneck or hillbilly who preys on college kids having fun out in the woods. They pick the kids off one by one. Well, Tucker and Dale are hillbillies, but they are really sweet guys. A van full of nine kids who have seen far too many slasher flicks are instantly suspicious of these guys when they encounter them in a country store full of other odd-looking mountain men. All T&D want to do is get to their new “vacation home” on the lake, a tumbledown shack that looks like paradise to them. They encounter the college kids that night, when they are fishing and the kids are skinny-dipping. What follows is a series of hilarious misunderstandings. Everything T&D do seems ominous, even murderous, to the kids. And one by one, the stupid kids manage to kill themselves in a way that looks like T&D did it. Some of them are really ingenious. One kid tries to jump Tucker, and ends up flinging himself into the wood chipper. (Tucker, horrified, looks into it and asks “Are you okay?” Sure, except my head, arms, and upper torso just got sprayed all over the ground.)

It just keeps getting better and better, and funnier and funnier. Of course, you need a black sense of humor. The deaths are gory, no question, but I am easily able to see it all as just fake blood and guts. Here’s an example. If you can’t find this funny, this movie isn’t for you: One of the kids is a sadist. When he captures Tucker he cuts off two of his fingers. He wraps them in a cloth and throws it at the cabin where Dale and one of the kids are holed up. They open the rag and see the two fingers, and Dale shouts, “Oh, no! It’s his bowling fingers!” Just a perfect line, I thought.