Thursday, October 11th
"Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil"
If you haven't seen the brilliant Comedy/Horror film "Tucker and Dale Vs Evil" yet, now is the perfect day to treat yourself to it. We just survived the terrifying "Hereditary", so today is the perfect day to switch gears, and just enjoy a goofy splatter Fest that puts its humor front and center.
Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are two good natured "rednecks" on their way to check out their new summer home. Their exact relationship and backstory isn't really fleshed out, so I just viewed them as hetero life mates like Jan and Silent Bob. Their idea of a "mansion" is also extremely skewed, as that is how they refer to their new place, which resembles the cabin in the woods from "Evil Dead" more than a summer mansion. They are a hilarious duo that has propelled this film into cult status on streaming platforms. The actors have also gone on to bigger mainstream projects from this as well.
On the road to the summer home, Tucker and Dale cross paths with a paranoid group of college kids. They are the "fish out of water" in this story, acting like everyone around them is from the cast of "Deliverance". Through a series of misunderstandings, the group becomes terrified of the lovable redneck duo, thinking that they kidnapped one of their friends when she was really saved from drowning. All of these mistakes lead to some bloody and hilarious deaths that come in some wonderful ways.
The real "evil" in this film can be seen as our prejudice that causes people to panic so much that they lose their minds, create situations that lead to their demise, and lash out at all the wrong people for things that could be explained with a simple conversation. I would say that this film was trying to reflect current times, but it was made in 2010. The actor who played Dale has continued acting in films that attempt conversations across different lines, most recently playing one of the Klan members in "BlackKklansman". In addition to being a welcome comedic relief after "Hereditary", this film still has some great societal messages hidden underneath a hilarious surface; perfect for the 2018 Halloween season.
Not everything worked perfectly for me in this. The story that the most insane of the college students sticks to just didn't work, or maybe it was just his performance being the weakest link amongst the players. Whatever it is, this is a new classic with a similar tone to "Tragedy Girls". I'm a huge fan of these. If you got a chance to see "Assassination Nation", that is another in this great sect of the Horror genre. I believe this is still streaming on Netflix, but it's on Shudder for sure.
"Masters of Horror: Pick Me Up"
Larry Cohen's contribution to the series is the perfect one to be included in a double feature with "Tucker and Dale". Cohen's brand of humorous horror is the old school inspiration for many of the horror comedies coming out now. He always had this tongue in cheek attitude in films like "The Stuff", "Q: The Winged Serpent", and "The It's Alive" series. I wish he had written this chapter as well, as he was also one of the creative minds behind the "Maniac Cop" series. I'm actually a bit surprised, since his signature style peeks its head out constantly in this piece.
The character I see the Cohen approach most in is the serial killer truck driver, Jim Wheeler (Michael Moriarty). Every line this character says is gold, delivered with the perfect blend of sadisim and terror by Moriarty. My favorite scene is in the picture above. The woman who is tied up tells him to beware a human monster that is in the woods, and Wheeler responds 'A monster like this?', and gives this hilarious growl to the woman. We know that he had already killed someone else, so Wheeler's danger is established early. He's the guy you really don't want to pick you up when you're in need, so it may be best to refuse any help he offers on the road.
For a bus not so full of people (pretty empty actually) that has broken down, the choice to refuse Wheeler's help isn't that simple. There is another madman on the road, a drifter named Walker. He's looking at those broken down, or picking up hitchhikers as potential victims. Everyone in this piece is stuck between a Walker and a Wheeler, a contest of dominance by both killers.
The only choice that might potentially work is made by Stacia (Fairuza Balk), a recently divorced woman who doesn't trust a god damn person, and feels comfortable armed with her switchblade knife. The other members of the bus might question her decision to walk 12 miles by herself in a hotel room instead of waiting around to be someone's victim, but she finds a way to be the last one to ultimately be trapped in the two killer's webs. You had to see that coming.
This was one of my favorite chapters of the series, and has a really great payoff. If you check this out, and find yourself wanting more Larry Cohen, I recommend "The Stuff" next.