Saturday, January 23, 2010


The title, TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL, makes me laugh with its emphasis on the twist of this romantic comedy horror genre that can be anticipated but not predicted and like a good joke, well-told with punchlines perfectly-timed, keeping the audience howling with surprise at the unexpected results. Andrew Kaiser, music composer, describing the film as SHAUN OF THE DEAD MEETS DELIVERANCE, piqued my interest as the film is not an official submission,nevertheless a Premiere in the Park City at Midnight segment, fast becoming my favorite screening time slot at Sundance Film Festival. Over eighty diehards stood on the waitlist line at the Library Center Theater, filling the venue to capacity and were not disappointed.

The opening short film, THE S FROM HELL directed by Rodney Archer, is a creatively convoluted collage revealing the seemingly innocuous 1960s update of the Screen Gems logo into a stylized "S" with annoying Moog notes, as a deliberate diabolical intrusion primarily on television viewers subjected to it at the show's close. Good warm up for what was to follow.

Director Eli Craig's introduction was a solid set up for a wild rife in the backwoods of West "Virginny". The good ol' boys, Tucker and Dale are on their vacation heading for their "fixer upper" cabin in the woods. At the last gas station stop, their paths cross with a car load of college kids going camping and Dale's innocent intentions towards pretty, blond Alison are taken as "creepy". Turns out they are all vacationing near the same lake where the college kids go skinnydipping and Tucker and Dale are fishing. A simple misunderstanding goes grotesquely wrong and the mayhem kicks into high gear not letting up until the inevitable final stand off between "Good" and "Evil".

Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgenson co wrote a whip smart script with set ups that don't give everything away and punchlines that hit their mark. Kaiser's music score captures the settings and ranges across blue grass, guitar and violin instrumentals intersecting good nature moments with menacing build up into a horror film finale. The gore is in equal parts with black humor and as Kaiser notes, he tested the gore level by showing it to his grandmother, who laughed all through the film.

Other screenings on Saturday, January 25, midnight, SLC; Wednesday, January 27, 5:30 p.m. Park City; Thursday, January 28, midnight, Egyptian Theatre, midnight Park City; Saturday, January 30, 9:00 p.m. Egyptian Theatre, Park City.

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