Chicago Culture Vulture

devouring theatre, film, and food

Blood, Corpses, and Heart in “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil”


Tucker and Dave are two of the nicest hillbillies you’ll ever meet. They’re hairy and speak with not-quite-right grammar, but they have a knack for being kind, hospitable, and generally jovial men of the hills. Unfortunately, they also have a knack for coming across as deranged, blood-thirsty serial killers.

In freshman director Eli Craig’s smart satire, co-penned with film school bud Morgan Jurgenson, a group of booze-focused college kids drive out to the woods for Memorial Day where they cross paths with the titular pair.  Tucker and Dale are innocently fixing up their new “vacation home,” while the college kids mistake everything they do for the actions of evil-minded murders. “Just smile and laugh,” Tucker advises Dale as he approaches Allison, one of the attractive female co-des.  He does, quite creepily, all the while forgetting the enormous scythe in his hand.  Or when Tucker saws through a tree, he neglects the hive of bees living inside, sending him running through the forest wielding a chainsaw like any a cliched horror film villain.  These harmless misunderstandings give way to real harm: a series of unfortunate deaths that point a sawed-off finger right at Tucker and Dale. Their quiet weekend in the woods takes a back-seat in the pick-up to death after death of college undergrads. It’s remarkable how many stupid ways the college kids manage to get themselves killed.

What transforms Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, though, from a very funny one-note joke into a feature film is the unexpected emotion beneath the backwoods tale. Tucker and Dale’s friendship, and the budding romance between Dale and Alison, provide the film filled with squirting blood and decapitated corpses with an emotional heart.  Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine, perfectly cast as the twisted-lipped Tucker and chubby teddy bear Dale, bring a friendly chemistry to the screen, and Katrina Bowden as Allison is able to flex her acting chops beyond her sexy, ditzy assistant Cerie on 30 Rock (although she is still cast as sexy and ditzy). The threesome land jokes, while still playing the realism of their relationships, making Tucker and Dale vs. Evil a cutting satire of horror films and a strong film in its own right.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil played at the Music Box Theatre. More information at


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This entry was posted on October 11, 2011 by in Film Review.
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