Today I’m trying to fit in with the cool kids. I usually have to sit by myself at the Mystery table. But this week, I pull my booster seat up to the Horror table. I love a good homage movie that is also funny. Something that’s more pastiche, than lowbrow parody. The best example I can think of is Galaxy Quest. It pokes fun at the science fiction mores and tropes, largely established by the original Star Trek television series. And it does it by delving deeply into the cult fandom which that show inspired. It has a tremendous cast and is lovingly hilarious. It’s clever funny; The British Office. Not dumb funny; Dumb and Dumber (which I find utterly stupid and unwatchable).
In the mystery field, it’s Without a Clue, which turns the Holmes story on its head. Ben Kingsley is the genius, crime-solving Doctor Watson, who hires the unemployed, drunkard actor, Reginald Kincaid, to play Holmes for public consumption. Watson feeds Holmes clues, solutions, lines, the works; and Michael Caine is utterly fantastic as the front man, the great Sherlock Holmes. It’s brilliant and hilarious. One of my five favorite Holmes movies.
Some would point to Army of Darkness as this type of movie in the horror field. It’s Bruce Campbell’s Evil Dead Light. I get it (and The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. is my all time second-favorite TV show). For me, Tucker and Dale vs. EVIL is right there with Galaxy Quest, and Without a Clue.
This movie has all the pieces; a road encounter with hillbillies; college kids in the woods; chainsaws and wood chippers; skinny-dipping coeds; a massacre at the same place twenty years before; bodies piling up one at a time: it’s all there. But it’s all turned upside down!
SPOILER ALERT – This movie came out in 2010, and it’s free on Amazon Prime. You can go stream it and come back. Work with me here. END SPOILER ALERT.
Tucker is played by Alan Tudyk, who does voice-acting all over the place. Go look at his IMDB entry. Man! He was Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball, and had a tremendous one-episode guest appearance on Justified (my all-time favorite TV show). Tudyk is buddies with Nathan Fillion from their Firefly days, and they pop up together, such as the recent web series, Con Man (Tudyk’s character says his Justified gig was supposed to be five episodes, but they killed him in the first one. He moans that Hollywood loves killing him. It’s a fun series).
His buddy Dale is played by Tyler Labine, who is really the star of the movie. He’s a big guy, shy, with confidence issues. He and Tucker are off to their dream vacation house in the woods, which is exactly the creepy, abandoned cabin you would expect it to be. And they love it! I’ve not seen him in anything else, myself. He was in season two of the abysmal, festering pile of crap that was the recent Dirk Gently series (Superb book, total crap show. Max Landis should be banned from the industry).
The stunning Katrina Bowden (Cerie on 30 Rock) is Allie, who Dale immediately develops a crush on. He and Dale rescue her when she gets knocked out (skinny dipping, of course). The rest of the movie revolves around her friends thinking that the guys kidnapped her and their attempts to rescue her.
This was a Canadian production, with a lot of Canadian actors. Jesse Moss, leader of the college kids, is all over Hallmark movies. I recognize about a dozen of his Hallmark credits, and he’s a regular in Holly Robinson Peete’s Morning Show Mysteries. He isn’t quite so nice in this one.
Tucker and Dale are just out doing some night fishing – and drinking – when things get a bit haywire. They are flabbergasted at these crazy kids, who suffer one fatal mishap after another. Through no fault of their own, the boys find themselves in a constantly devolving, impossible situation:
Tucker: All right… I know what this is.
Tucker: This is a suicide pact.
Dale: It’s a what?
Tucker: These kids are coming out here, and killing themselves all over the woods.
Dale: My God, that makes so much sense.
It just keeps getting more preposterous for them, all the way to the finish. I laughed out loud at some parts. This movie mixes traditional horror, and humor.
This is definitely worth watching. I’m not a horror fan – I’m not even crazy about Robert E. Howard’s horror stuff, and he’s my second-favorite author. But I’ve seen enough genre films to appreciate how Tucker and Dale takes them on. It’s an excellent film. It is a little gory here and there, so be warned. Tudyk and Labine said that second script, from a different, unidentified screenwriter, was terrible. That seems to be as far as a sequel is likely to get.
Tucker and Dale vs. EVIL is worthy to join Galaxy Quest, and Without A Clue, in this category for me. Support Your Local Sheriff (which I love) might be one in the Western genre, but I’m not sure yet. Of course, there’s the amazing Blazing Saddles, but that’s so over the top, it’s in a league of its own.
Here’s the trailer (that pic is from the scene where it all goes haywire):
Bob Byrne’s ‘A (Black) Gat in the Hand’ made it’s Black Gate debut in the summer of 2018 and returned in 2019 and 2020. Come back next week for the 2021 installment.
His ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ column ran every Monday morning at Black Gate from March, 2014 through March, 2017. And he irregularly posts on Rex Stout’s gargantuan detective in ‘Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone.’
He organized Black Gate’s ‘Discovering Robert E. Howard’ and ‘Hither Came Conan’ series’. Both were nominated for awards from the Robert E. Foundation.
He is a member of the Praed Street Irregulars, founded www.SolarPons.com (the only website dedicated to the ‘Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street’) and blogs about Holmes and other mystery matters at Almost Holmes.
He has contributed stories to The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories – Parts III, IV, V, VI and XXI.
He has written introductions for Steeger Books, and appeared in several magazines, including Black Mask, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, The Strand Magazine, and Sherlock Magazine.