Tucker & Dale vs. Evil – Toronto Underground Cinema

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil has a lot in common with hillbilly slasher flicks like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the Wrong Turn series. However, there a couple major differences: The hillbillies are the good guys and the film is hilarious! My sides and face are still aching this morning, that’s how funny it is!

I caught Tucker & Dale at the Toronto Underground Cinema (186 Spadina Avenue, just North of Queen). Fresh off my outing to see Little Terrors #2 at the Projection Booth, I was hankering for another horrific cinema experience with an audience that would appreciate it.

I was not disappointed.

When I arrived at the Underground, 30 minutes in advance, I was surprised to see a ticket lineup in a very long hallway that almost extended to the doors. I experienced some very mixed emotions:

People actually love horror movies in this city!

Uh oh, would I get in?

Upon speaking with the friendly ticket vendor I learned that the line had to extend out the doors and down to the Mcdonald’s before I had to worry.

After entering the theatre and taking our seats, the audience was welcomed by one of the guys from Rue Morgue (these guys are everywhere). He had a few announcements for us regarding the upcoming Festival of Fear (http://www.rue-morgue.com/rmp_fof.php), which sounds like a blast, and some trivia for the audience, complete with prizes. This was a great way to start off the night and get the audience involved. Although, as horror movie fans we were not a typical audience. The behaviour of the trivia winners as they claimed their prizes resembled that of racoons finding some food only to be startled back into the shadows of the night.

We’re a unique crowd.

After the exciting introduction provided by Rue Morgue we heard a word from a representative of the upcoming Toronto After Dark film festival (http://torontoafterdark.com/2011/) . I’m planning to attend it this year and would recommend it for any horror fans out there. They even have a Zombie Appreciation Night, where anyone resembling the undead receives a discount. Let’s hope everyone is actually wearing makeup.

There is a wonderful sense of community amongst horror film fans in Toronto. I’m thrilled to have found it and I can’t wait to become a more active member. On to the movie!

Tucker & Dale tears down one of the most consistent stereotypes in all of horror cinema, that of the hillbilly, redneck or woodsman as a deranged psycho killer. Tucker and Dale are some of the nicest guys you could hope to meet. Sure, they are a little rough around the edges and they may have a lower social IQ than any member of the Jersey Shore, but they couldn’t even hurt a fish, let alone a human being.

The story starts out with Tucker and Dale setting out for a fishing trip and to check out Tucker’s new vacation home, a bit of a fixer upper, when they run into a group of College kids that have similar plans. Dale tries to strike up a conversation with one of the attractive College girls, but unfortunately the encounter comes off as a bit creepy, as the kids perceive Tucker and Dale to be your typical backwoods villains. Through a series of egregious misunderstandings, Tucker and Dale begin to fit this mould.

The majority of the actors do a decent job in Tucker & Dale, although three in particular stood out for me. Tyler Labine as Dale, and Alan Tudyk as Tucker could not have been cast any better. These two carry the film and are completely believable as benevolent hillbillies. The gags throughout the film are fresh and most are not predictable. In particular, there is a scene with Tucker and a chainsaw that may go down as one of the funniest moments in horror comedy cinema. I swear some people had tears in their eyes at the end of this one, I know I did. Jesse Moss as Chad, the unofficial leader of the College kids, also did a fabulous job as an over-the-top jock, the type of character in horror movies that is usually responsible for convincing the others not to call the police. You have never seen a ‘victim’ leader quite like Chad. He thinks the world of himself and has about one hundred reasons why everyone else is a ‘pussy’.

I have not had such a good time with a comedy in ages. The laughs fly rapidly at the audience for the entire first half and you almost do not have enough time to recover for the next gag. Like all comedies, I’m sure Tucker & Dale will benefit greatly from a packed house and may not seem as side-splitting to someone who watches it at home. Although it should be said that the second-half of the film is not nearly as funny as the first, it does a good job advancing and resolving the story. The film as a whole is a great success and a refreshingly unique take on hillbilly horror.

It seems like Tucker & Dale vs. Evil will be getting a limited theatrical release on September 30th. Keep your eyes open and get to the theatre, even if you don’t love horror movies.

I guarantee you will enjoy Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.

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