TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL
DVD Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
I can’t exactly say that horror comedies are anything new. They have certainly been around for a long time, but they seem to be all the rage now. I think a lot of this is due to the accessibility of the medium to smaller budgeted independent filmmakers. And while some of these stabs at the comedy end of the horror genre haven’t come close to hitting a vital organ, “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil” is pretty damn close to the mark.
The story sets itself up rather purposefully like a cliched horror film. A group of preppy college students head out on a camping trip in the woods where a crazy killer had once chopped up his victims. On the way, they think they’re being hunted by two crazy in-bred rednecks. Of course, the real truth is that these two rednecks are simply trying to spend a quiet weekend in the woods at their new cabin.
Using a lot of misunderstanding humor similar to “Three’s Company” without the sex jokes, and playing off of common horror standards, “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil” is a lot of fun and quite funny at times. It’s clearly made with a lot of love for the genre, evidence by the fact that so many of these horror film cliches are used as strong gags. Even this year, with theatrical films like “Creature” and “Shark Night,” these cliches were seen in a more serious, or at least in an attempted plot-driven, context.
The charm of this movie comes from its stars Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk, both of whom embody the loveable redneck perfectly. Particularly Labine, who becomes the unlikely leading man, gets a chance to shine in a very likeable role.
I doubt that anyone who isn’t well familiar with slasher movie tropes will completely understand all the jokes in “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil,” but they should at least get a couple laughs out of it. My only real complaint with the film is that for all the horror movie standards skewered in this piece, they could have thrown in a little more gratuitous nudity.
The DVD comes with a nice collection of special features, including a making-of featurette, outtakes, storyboards, commentary track, the theatrical trailer and an HDNet spot. Though the best feature on the whole disc is the abridged version of the film, dubbed “Tucker & Dale ARE Evil.” This edit of the film shows the movie completely from the college kids’ perspective to show how the misunderstandings actually happened.
Blu-ray Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
Even though most anthology movies miss their mark, I still love them and will give almost any one of them a chance. Few reach the greatness of the original “Creepshow” or “The Twilight Zone: The Movie,” but there’s something fun about them, especially if it’s near Halloween time (which, at the writing of this review, it is not). I look at a fun anthology film as the equivalent of a book of short stories. If one installment isn’t great, it’s only a short time before I can move to the next one. And with multiple directors on a project, there’s a fresh twist to each story.
OUR IDIOT BROTHER
“Chillerama” blends a love for the horror genre, raunchy comedy and great anthology movies into a neat little package. Plus, as someone who has spent many a night at horror movie marathons, there’s a great degree of nostalgia for the set-up.
“Chillerama” begins in the drive in where an all-night horror movie extravaganza is playing. With a wrap-around story of stock teenagers dealing with their own drama (and eventually turns into the clever plot of “Zom-B-Movie”), the additional installments are crass horror films meant to pay homage to a particular era of filmmaking.
“Wadzilla” is the first installment, directed by Adam Rifkin with some help from the Chiodo Brothers in the special effects department. An homage to 50s monster movies, it tells the story of a nerd who gets an experimental injection that causes his sperm to grow to monstrous proportions. As the giant sperm attacks the city, the nerd helps the military find a way to destroy it. This episode is hilarious simply because of how raw it gets. And considering the giant sperm is spotlighted on the cover and poster, it’s even more funny, especially for those who don’t know what it is.
“I Was a Teenage Werebear” comes up second, directed by Tim Sullivan. Somewhat self-explanatory by the title, “Werebear” knocks of the 60s beach movies with a teenage boy (played by real-life gay porn star Sean Paul Lockhart) who discovers special feelings for the gang of greasers in town who happen to be lycanthropic teenagers with assless chaps. This was my least favorite installment, mainly because I’ve never been wild about the genre it pays homage to. Still, it’s funny enough and has some great red-paint violence moments.
My clear favorite of the batch is the third film “The Diary of Anne Frankenstein,” directed by Adam Green. As offensive as this can be, the tongue is planted firmly in the film’s cheek. Knocking off 40s Universal horror films, Joel David Moore incredulously plays Adolf Hitler, who builds a monster from the dead bodies collected in the concentration camp. This installment is so over-the-top and ridiculous that it’s impossible to not laugh. Moore makes Hitler easily the biggest buffoon we’ve ever seen on film, finding the comedy in his fake German language balanced by the otherwise full cast of German-speaking actors.
A mini-installment near the end also made laugh out loud quite a bit. “Deathication” is a shortened film shown at the end of the film, paying homage to 70s exploitation and low-budget celebrity producers like William Castle. It’s full of shit, sure, but it’s so crassly spread out, I can’t help but laugh. Yeah, I’m a ten-year-old boy when it comes to most potty humor.
If you love horror films, or if you love movie marathons and the drive-in, take a chance on “Chillerama.” It’s not for the easily offended, but it’s funny as hell.
The Blu-ray comes with the directors doing a video commentary, plus deleted scenes for “Wadzilla,” “I Was A Teenage Werebear” and “Zom-B-Movie.” There’s also a great “Making of The Diary of Anne Frankenstein” which lets the viewer in on some of the jokes. Additional features include interviews with the directors and the theatrical trailer.
by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
I missed “Our Idiot Brother” when it came to theaters, mainly because it got lost in the shuffle of releases without a screening. And that’s a shame because it’s a better movie than the trailer and buzz let on.
The story follows Ned (Paul Rudd), who is a kind-hearted but often too honest and trusting middle-aged man. After serving time for selling pot to a uniformed officer, Ned moves in with his sisters Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) and Liz (Emily Mortimer). The sisters pass him around to ease the burden, and Ned ends up throwing all their lives into turmoil. However, the chaos he brings serves to have them reevaluate certain things in their lives.
The thing that really carries “Our Idiot Brother” is the cast. Rudd is perfectly at ease playing the smiling idiot, and the sisters are cast perfectly. Sure, the roles are very much stock characters for Banks, Deschanel and Mortimer, but that’s what makes them so likeable even when they’re all three assholes. Such is the case with families, and this helps bring the dysfunction to life without being caustic.
“Our Idiot Brother” isn’t a perfect movie. It falls into traps that many of these ensemble pieces do, as well as the loveable idiot stories we’ve seen quite a few times. As nice and sweet as Ned is, it makes sense that people have problems dealing with him. Additionally, his sisters are even more dysfunctional than he is, so that can get wearing at times.
But the movie has a good sense of flow. The sometimes mediocre and rote script never falls too far in quality because of the charm of the cast.
Not a whole lot of people saw “Our Idiot Brother” in the theaters, and that’s a shame. Hopefully it will have better legs on DVD and Blu-ray.
The DVD comes with a making-of featurette, a commentary by director Jesse Peretz as well as deleted and extended scenes.
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