reanimator

Re-Animator is about as close to the classic “Mad Scientist” movie as you can get. It’s hard to make an archetypal film, especially when the specific genre you are going for has many different ways to progress through it’s story, but Re-Animator touches all the bases that fans love. First and foremost, we have Herbert West, a clever take on the mad scientist role, played by the incomparable Jeffrey Combs. The story is (loosely) based on an H.P. Lovecraft story, so at it’s heart it is a deep discussion of man’s place in the cosmos, not just the goofy romp it seems like on the surface. While the dialogue itself is not overly technical, lay viewers still get the feeling that they are being audience to a little bit of behind the scenes medical knowledge, the kind of thing the average person isn’t supposed to know. Even with all of these deep undercurrents running through the movie, Stuart Gordon still puts on a show that is highly entertaining, funny, and downright disgusting all at the same time. Talk about packing a punch!

The acting in Re-Animator is classy, and that’s the best word I can use. Bruce Abbot gives every bit of life to Dan Cain as is allowable by the script. With a little more freedom here and there he may have been able to make Dan as memorable a character as West, but Abbot brings upon a great empathy to the character. The character of Cain is in a peculiar situation that we see a lot in genre films: That of the protagonist who is really not the main character. Re-Animator is about Herbert West, the brilliant, somewhat diabolical young doctor who has discovered the secret to returning life to dead tissue. Cain is the vessel through which West’s story is told. Jeffrey Combs, who plays West, gives one of the more memorable performances of the 80’s with his take on the young scientist. Both frightening and pitiful, mad and more grounded than anyone else, Combs plays a highly dynamic and thought provoking character. The main players certainly are the stars, but it would be belittling not to mention the other talents in the film. David Gale is awesome as the counter to Cain, the corruptible Dr. Carl Hill, who truly makes the transition from good to evil as he discovers the power that West has created. Robert Sampson and Barbara Crampton also do well as the supporting father-daughter duo who add an interesting element to the story, as well as some important plot devices (corrupted father, damsel in distress, etc.).

Stuart Gordon really makes a name for himself in his debut, but more importantly makes a cinematic statement that many have tried to emulate over the years. The pace of Re-Animator is great, seamlessly transitioning from slower, story building segments to fast paced action segments. Gordon allows the writers to develop each character in a methodical way, but keeps the story moving in the midst without ever worrying about losing audience members. The tale itself is presented masterfully, with minimal set and scene changes and a talented eye for showing us exactly what we need to see. With the exception of the decapitated monster “rape” scene, Gordon leaves a tremendous amount the imagination, which in my opinion is not only the mark of a great director but that of someone that truly knows the story he is telling. The cinematography is clean, and camera angles, lighting and sound are all used to convey the story, not as unnecessary show off elements.

I can’t say enough about the visual effects in this movie. It’s no “The Thing”, but the physical effects are nothing short of amazing. The make up effects on the dead bodies in the morgue look very real and believable, which enhances the realism of the whole movie. Those same effects turn into the key elements to the horror and cheese later in the movie. Blood splattering and dismemberment is just over the top enough to be entertaining to hardcore horror fans, but it will still get some squirms out of the less experienced in the audience. The last bit of visual dynamite is the re-animation serum. It’s a minor thing, but the fact that it is super neon green just makes me smile inside. As with most of the rest of the decisions made in the movie, would it not be completely stereotypical that the mad scientist’s concoction would be neon green?

Re-Animator is fun, has a good story and some solid acting, but it’s a bit more than that. It is one of those few movies that are especially important to the genre. First of all, it’s one of the first good “Lovecraft” stories, which signals the transition of one of horror’s most beloved storytellers into the realm of film. There were attempts before and after, but Re-Animator is probably one of the best and most well known. While I’m not saying it’s a faithful retelling, it is definitely an important step in ringing in the master of cosmic horror. It also brought life back to the “mad scientist” sub genre. It’s not a particularly big sub genre, nor is it one that comes to mind very often, but it is good to see that it is still relevant. “Frankenstein” is obviously the primary example, but I think modern folk will relate much closer to Herbert West than Dr. Frankenstein. Lastly, it’s a prime example of both classic 80’s horror and dark comedies. Even when taking all film genres into account, it’s hard to not list Re-Animator in your selection of great dark comedies. It has the wit, gags and lurking pure evil to stand with any of them.

In the end, Re-Animator is twisted, stylish, fun and interesting. It’s not the most original of stories (and maybe that’s just coming from the fact that it’s 2013), but it is still a great story. It was filmed in a great way, where everything you see furthers the plot and hardly anything is unnecessary. Among horror circles, Re-Animator is liked well enough, but I feel it is very under appreciated for what it is. Outside of horror, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that’s ever even heard of it. Anyway, with it’s recent release on Blu-Ray(get it here), hopefully it will see a bump in popularity as young blood experience it for the first time and old fans (like me) revisit it.

Story: 8

Visuals: 8

Fun Factor: 8

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returnkillertomatoes01

I’ll be completely honest here and tell you that I was originally intending on watching Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, but let’s face it: The sequel was on Watch Instantly. Fortunately for me, the entirety of the original was summarized in the first twenty minutes. I’ll have to check it out some day, but I don’t feel I was missing anything. And, according to the producers, I didn’t. That’s what I really enjoyed about Return: It didn’t take itself seriously at all. Someone even comments on screen towards the beginning: “Hey, I thought this was supposed to be a sequel. This is just a bunch of footage from the first movie!” With a level of wit and irreverence so totally 80’s, Return of the Killer Tomatoes is an great farce on the genre and a pretty darn enjoyable flick to boot!

Goofiness was certainly the name of the game. However, unlike a lot of movies of this era, it did it with a sense of class that warmed my heart. It was cheesy, yes, but not too much so to be stupid. DeBello, not to say he is an extraordinary director, does a good job in walking the fine line that many in the decade could not. “Return” had an almost “Airplane!”-like vibe to it, with well filmed gags and just enough breaking down of the fourth wall to keep it interesting. The film mocked itself, but not too much.

Captained by a very young George Clooney, the cast of “Return” really made the movie. They played their parts very well, and while most of the movie was slapstick and one-liners, brought character to the characters and helped the audience to enjoy the story. No one is winning an Academy Award, but any casting director with a bit of sense would give them another shot in the comedy realm. On the subject of characters, there was enough carry over to make fans of the original happy as well as giving us newcomers a whole new premise to dig on. And I really did dig on the hottie-that’s-really-a-tomato, Igor the aspiring newscaster/henchman, and the gang of old heroes that still think they can save the day.

Effects-wise, it was the 80’s. Enough said. They really put the “special” in Special Effects, but that was part of the charm. The only real gore we get is fields of stomped tomatoes, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy Karen Mistal’s gratuitous midriff shots throughout. Sound effects were pretty fun and helped the movie along, adding to the cheese but not overdoing it.

I’m sorry I don’t have too much to say on this matter, but “Return of the Killer Tomatoes” isn’t really one you think too hard on. It was a fun hour and a half, enjoyable by the whole family (I can’t see why it would have been rated anything higher than PG), and probably available for free at most major retailers. John DeBello should be proud of his franchise, and I’m sure he’s laughing all the way to the bank.

Story: 5

Visuals: 5

Fun Factor: 8

texas-chainsaw-3d-pic07I went into Texas Chainsaw not really knowing a lot, more just excited about the 10PM Thursday night screening. I’d seen several TV spots which really didn’t make it out to be all that interesting, but it’s a storied franchise and blah, blah, blah. I hadn’t seen a good horror movie in a while so I figured I’d check this one out. I like to give filmmakers the benefit of the doubt and come into the theater with an open mind, and that’s definitely what you have to do here. I was pleasantly surprised by the movie overall, which turned out to be a good little slasher flick with an interesting driver. Instead of just being a remake, or just being a “re-imagining” as seems to be the trend these days, Texas Chainsaw was actually a compelling extension of the original story. For fans of the 1974 original, like me, there were a good number of cameos and plot devices that were greatly appreciated, but it also held its own and retold enough of the story to engross newcomers to the story. Now that I’ve said a lot of overall positives about this thing to get us started, lets sit down and get to the gory details.

I have very mixed feelings about the visual feel of this one, and I think a lot of it stems from the 3D. I do believe this is being officially billed as “Texas Chainsaw 3D”, so you would think there would be a lot of emphasis on the 3D visuals. Now, horror, as a genre, has not really figured out how to use this new technology. I want to say we were the first to use it, with Friday the 13th 3D and Jaws 3D way back in the day, but that was a whole different thing. In the 80’s, there would be maybe 3 scenes where something was flying out of the screen at you, totally cheesy. Modern 3D technology is being used to give extra depth and clarity to the picture, increasing the visual appeal throughout every scene, not just the gimmicks. It seems to me like horror directors really want to embrace the modern role, but can’t resist falling back to the old tricks. For example, we get several chainsaws coming toward the audience, but they feel out of place in a scene where there is real, developed tension. It almost kills the mood in a way. Most movies made for 3D should be watched that way, but this is one where I don’t think the 2D version will fall short. Beyond that, I dug the lighting and set design, especially in Leatherface’s room. Lots of bloody bits, really lives up to the TCM name.

What really stuck out for me was the way they used the original story and built a whole new world around it. Fans of the original should really enjoy the opening and the few cameos by the original cast. The story driving the movie is interesting, but I hesitate to say it is original. I can’t put my finger on another movie with the same premise, but Halloween comes close. It just feels like I’ve seen this before. The other interesting note is how similar the overall plot movement is to the original. The storylines are completely different, but the whole “kids go to house, run away from crazy guy for an hour” thing is still there; I‘m not going to spoil anything so I won’t go into the details. The end, however, was definitely it’s own handiwork. I can’t say I liked it, but we’ll touch on that later.

When it comes to sound, you’ve really got two types of horror movies: Ones that use a well crafted score to build tension for the audience, and ones chock full of ambient sound that let the audience build tension themselves. Like any movie with “chainsaw” in the title, this one is part of the latter. The score doesn’t stand out, which isn’t necessarily bad, but what you really want to hear is that sputtery two stroke revving away in the background. And you do, a lot. Now I’ve got some beef with the sound quality at the screening I was at, but I am assuming that was just the theater. If the mid-section of the movie was mixed as poorly as I heard it, the sound guys should be ashamed of themselves. But as I said, it was probably the theater. The other point I have to mention is a particular song that comes on when they are just getting to Texas, fairly early on, that had me cracking up. I have no idea who it was by or what it was called (I know, I’m a bad critic and didn’t stay for all of the credits), but the chorus was something along the lines of “God will **** you up” sang in the most redneck drawl imaginable. And they say horror movies don’t have good soundtracks.

The acting in the movie was alright, with the veterans doing there part well and the newcomers holding there own. Alexandra Daddario plays a pretty decent lead, and Trey Songz surprised me with a fairly compelling performance. Dan Yeager was not your daddy’s Leatherface, but he did a really good job in the role. It’s good to see a little freshness in an old franchise. The characters themselves were a mixed bag. The kids were very bland in my opinion, mostly because they really didn’t fit the typical stereotypes. It felt, to me, like the writers were trying too hard to give them depth, and I just didn’t care about them. I was also very disappointed in how dynamic Heather’s character was. I understand that people change in response to overwhelming situations, but this was a little far-fetched for me. The characters I did like were the ones that carried over from the 70’s portion of the film, people like Sheriff Hooper (homage?) and Burt Hartman. I thought the dynamic of the town was well crafted, drawing the audience in and dividing them over the moral dilemmas at the center of the film.

While I can’t say I really liked Texas Chainsaw, I felt it was well worth seeing. Fans of the franchise can enjoy it if they go in with an open mind, and the rest of the world will be hit or miss, really depending on if they like gory slasher movies. The guys behind this movie put the audience in a very interesting place; I went to see Texas Chainsaw with a friend who had never seen the original, and by the end we had completely different views on what was going on. Who is good and who is bad is really brought front and center here, with the director seemingly nudging the audience in a direction that I completely disagree with. I felt like my past experience with the TCM franchise taught me one thing, and this new movie wanted to teach me another. Just a comment, not bad or good, but it did spark a pretty interesting conversation on the way home. You’ll have to see it yourself and decide which family you’ll side with.

Story: 6

Visuals: 7

Fun Factor: 6

Hatchet-Deon-Richmond-Tamara-Feldman-Foto-Dal-Film-01_mid

Its about that time in Virginia where the cool air finally sets in for good and you can start building your kindling pile right next to the fire pit. When evening rolls around, you know it’ll be sixty-five degrees, and you’ll sit out and watch the sunset, watching the shadows descend… Yes, it’s the beginning on autumn, and that means the beginning of Halloween season. In light of the weather, I was very excited to finally receive Adam Green’s “Hatchet” in the mail the other day, so I wasted no time in popping it into my DVD player. Once in, I did take the time to go crack open a beer, but don’t get me wrong, that was no waste. “Hatchet”, as I would soon find out, is not so much “Old School American Horror” enjoyed best in a dark study with a tumbler of whiskey, but more an homage to “Old School American Horror” enjoyed best with six or seven beers accompanying its 80 minute runtime.

After thoroughly enjoying “Holliston” and his segment in “Chillerama”, I was dying to see what director Adam Green could do on the big screen (or straight to DVD screen). In the same vein as the aforementioned short-format pieces, what Green really excels in is making a goofy film that actually has some class. In the same way that Alexandre Aja made a really enjoyable movie out of the mutant creature/teen scream genre with “Piranha 3D”, Green takes the classic template for a slasher flick and turns it into a respectable film. For the masses, we still get gratuitous nudity, tons of blood and interesting gore, and stereotypical character types that are easy to follow. Green, like Aja, takes it one step deeper by poking fun at the template even as he is working from it while at the same time developing a more interesting storyline and more dynamic characters than is the norm. The result is a well crafted piece that has mass appeal due to its inherently ‘slasher’ nature, as well as fan appeal from subtleties such as Tony Todd as a voodoo tour guide and the names of cast and crew on gravestones in the old New Orleans cemetery.

Contrary to the standard chum in slasher flicks (“Scream” being the exception), the cast of “Hatchet” is very solid, especially given its lowly origins. Joel Moore leads the ensemble, and after making a name for himself in comedies like “Grandma’s Boy” and “Dodgeball”, takes a darker and more dramatic role in “Hatchet”. He does the part justice, playing the bit slightly awkward but loveable at the same time. Tamara Feldman doesn’t give exactly the most brilliant of performances, but her role and character really help to cement us into the ‘slasher’ architecture. Genre fans will love cameos from Robert Englund, Tony Todd and Kane Hodder (who is actually a main player, not a cameo), but they each add to the movie in a tangible way as well. The actor that really made the movie for me, however, was Perry Shen, the little jerk tour guide that gets everyone into the mess to begin with. He really shows off his range by playing an Asian Louisiana native(?), a Chinese immigrant in Louisiana(?) and an Asian American from Detroit looking to make a few bucks(…?). The last one is actually quite believable, but the phases this guy goes through are quite entertaining. Also of note, Deon Richmond, of “Not Another Teen Movie” fame, has quite possibly the funniest expression ever to be caught on film as Ben (Moore) tries to initiate dialogue with Feldman’s character. He plays the “Black Guy” perfectly, and should be commended.

With slashers, it’s the visuals that make you the bucks, and the producers of “Hatchet” wanted the bucks. The movie starts with a montage of Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras, so within fifteen seconds we’ve seen twenty sets of boobs. Of course, if you’ve ever been to Mardi Gras, you know this is… unfortunately not true, but that is the magic of the movies, right? The oh-so-gratuitous nudity continues throughout the opening, with the gang meeting up with a fake ‘Girls Gone Wild’ type producer (another Piranha similarity? Oh man) with his team of “woo”-ing girls, ready to show off their Mardi Gras spirit at a moments notice. In the gore department, we get all sorts of fun stuff, focusing on axe wounds (duh!) and venturing out to things like lower jaws being ripped off and gator bites. Blood splatters everywhere, all the time.

“Hatchet” is a unique film in that it is both a slasher movie and a parody of slasher movies. “Scream” also does this very well, but does it in a serious tone. Green made a slasher movie, but took the time to make fun of it in the process. The guys who made “Scream” made a movie that made fun of slasher flicks, then took the time to turn it into a slasher flick. I don’t know if that point will make it across to anyone, but I hope it confuses you enough to get you intrigued. I would recommend “Hatchet” for anyone in the mood for “Old School American Horror”, but who has already made a dent in their six pack. Don’t take it seriously, just have fun with it. Adam Green officially has my back now, for what its worth.

Story: 6

Visuals: 6

Fun Factor: 7

the-innkeepers3

I may have gone into this one the wrong way, having been in the mood for a genuinely scary film. From the synopsis, “The Innkeepers” seemed like a promising little ghost story. A ghost story set in an aging hotel, what could go wrong? Well, Ti West had other plans. The story opens simply enough, with two bored young hotel employees doing just enough work to keep a few guests in the place on its final open weekend. They also happen to be amateur ghost hunters, attempting to capture evidence of the infamous Madeline O’Malley before they finally close shop. Unfortunately, the ghost story itself fails to grab interest, which ultimately derails the whole cinema experience. While the cinematography was engaging and the acting wasn’t bad, the lackluster story ends up spelling doom for the whole production.

What we should have been dealing with here is a tried and true formula for creepy, atmospheric horror movies: the haunted house. Take one creepy old house, add a compelling story of tragedy or loss, mix in a few unsuspecting but generally likeable characters, and, voila, instant horror. Of course, following formulas is bad practice for young writer/directors, so West goes the “new and different” route and plays the story out at a derelict hotel with wannabe ghost hunters as the main players. Admittedly, the main characters can be considered “likeable” if you are into the whole emo/hipster culture, but I wasn’t really a fan. Ingredient two, a compelling story of tragedy, is where West really faulted in my opinion. A girl kills herself at the hotel; boo hoo. Another knock is in the delivery of the ghosts story, which should be central (Note: It isn’t. The more central element is the dumb psuedo-love story between the two protagonists). We get hints at the fact there is a ghost early on, and then midway through the entire story is told by the female lead to a little kid. And that’s it. No extension later on, no new revelation or conclusion by the end of the film. Just that little retelling in the middle. The story doesn’t really correlate to the hauntings that happen later, and the magic just sort of fizzles.

The acting in the film was fairly good for what it was. From the few Ti West films I have seen, he does have a knack for casting the right people. While neither of the protagonists were particularly relatable to me, they were well drawn and had a few dimensions that made them interesting. The actors played these parts well, moving seamlessly from hipster to ambitious young adult to serious adult in grave danger. The other players were good as well, with particular nods going to Kelly McGillis for bringing a particularly odd part to life and to George Riddle for being so damn believable. The only actor that I felt could not hold her own was Lena Dunham who played the coffee store girl. Her whole scene seemed unnecessary, and I assume she was cast simply because someone wanted her on set.

What I think Ti West has proved in the past, especially in “House of the Devil”, is that he can cause an emotional response through a series of camera angles. As with “Devil”, “Innkeepers” has very little score, and is mostly tracked by ambient sounds. This does well to create a nostalgic atmosphere, necessary in both movies. “Innkeepers” also features more than a few quality shots which help to build tension. Where I saw an issue cinematically was in the climax of these tense scenes. Generally directors like to give brief glimpses of horror once they have their audience on the edge of their seats, and let their minds fill in the rest. Holding on these horrific images is a modern and very interesting way to film a movie, but only if your special effects are up to the task. “The Innkeepers” seems to think very highly of its cinematic style and not give enough thought to its special effects, which are weak. Had the ghost been scary enough to give you nightmares just by looking at it, by all means make the viewer look at that thing for a few seconds. Otherwise, as should have been done here, let the viewers mind fill in what their eyes missed. Even a non horror fan can come up with some creepy stuff if pointed in the right direction.

Overall, “The Innkeepers” fell short on too many levels to be considered a good movie. It would be a good first movie for a young director, but West has been around a little too long to be getting mulligans. While the concept, acting and directing are good, you just can’t make a successful movie without a good story. The movie probably went over well with the under 18 crowd and with people that don’t normally watch genre movies, but I doubt the hardcore horror fanatic was really impressed. Overall I won’t say I was disappointed, but I most likely won’t pick this one up again.

Afterward: I noticed on IMDB that composer Jeff Grace won the award for Best Musical Score for “The Innkeepers”. You can take my earlier comments any way you like, but as they say, the best score is the one you don’t notice.

Story: 5

Visuals: 7

Fun Factor: 5

Chillerama

Adam Green and Joe Lynch are having the best year in horror. Or ‘had’ may be more appropriate, but I digress. In 2011/2012, not only did the pair create and star in their own sitcom about aspiring horror writer/directors, they got the opportunity to make the quintessential embodiment of the horror film: The Anthology. Said anthology is the topic of this review, the delightfully inappropriate “Chillerama”. First of all, I am disappointed with myself that I had never even heard of this movie until I was reading a MoreHorror.com article about the best films of the year. At number two, I’d say they really got this one right. Second of all, I’m disappointed in the horror community at large for not making a bigger deal about this refreshing piece of schlock.

Overall, the movie is an endearing piece of classic horror cinema. From the black and white “Diary of Anne Frankenstein” to the pseudo-musical “I Was a Teenage Werebear”, “Chillerama” is a tour de force of all things goofball and all things horror. The whole concept revolves around the last showing at an old drive in theatre. A couple of horror movie aficionados head out to final show to catch a set of four classic drive in movies. There As “Chillerama” is an anthology of 4 (or five, depending on how you count it) films, I am going to break it down by segment for the rest of the review.

Adam Rifkin starts off our night by writing, directing and starring in the overly taboo “Wadzilla”. Easily my least favorite of the sequence, its semi porno-style storyline still manages to set the tone for what is to come. In the vein of the old 1950’s cautionary sci-fi flicks, a man having some trouble with his “little swimmers” decides to take an experimental drug to alleviate the problem. He is back up on his horse in no time, however the drug seems to work a little too well, as those things tend to do. Every time he becomes aroused, his future children grow to a massive size. Ray Wise has a great cameo as the prescribing doctor, and Adam Rifkin is hilarious in his role of clenching his crotch in agony every time he sees an attractive woman. The short concludes with a Godzilla style battle of the Army against a giant sperm that, among other things, attempts to make it’s way up the Statue of Liberty’s skirt. Thinly veiled innuendo is thrown around at will, and the 50’s style direction makes for a very entertaining bit of celluloid. As I said, definitely not my favorite, but after the first 25 minutes you know exactly what you are into with “Chillerama”. Take the time to pause, head to the snack bar, load up your Coke with whisky from your flask and get ready for the rest of the show.

The second segment is titled “I Was a Teenage Werebear”, and I can’t stress enough how appropriate that title is. Mocking the ‘60s and ‘70s musical flicks like “Grease” and “Beach Party”, “Werebear” is the story of the new boy in school trying to fit in wherever he can. The songs are cheesy and creative and the whole segment does a great job of emulating the style of the old high school movies, it just hits the wrong note in terms of content. Sure, gay high school guys that turn into big, gay, werewolf biker guys is funny on the surface, but I could have done without so much guy on guy action. Where I felt I should have been laughing about Werebears, I found my self cringing at overly graphic homosexuality. Tim Sullivan did a great job with the visual style of the piece, but I was too turned off by the story to actually appreciate it. But don’t turn it off here, no matter how offended you are. As these guys usually do, the producers have saved the best for last in the selection from Adam Green and the piece de resistance by Joe Lynch.

From its opening credits, “The Diary of Anne Frankenstein” promises to please. A black and white musical piece about Hitler finding the key to creating life in a Jewish girl’s diary, even it doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s campy atmosphere and outlandish use of the German language makes for a very entertaining piece of cinema. Adam Green comes across as the experienced story teller of the bunch, with every element in the segment working towards his ultimate goal. The fourth wall has been completely torn down, and occasionally other walls as well. Not only do film frames skip to the annoyance of the actors, but the players break through set walls and fall into previous scenes. It all comes across as goofy and low budget, which is exactly what a short monster movie with a Jewish Frankenstein monster should be. The actors aren’t quite as important as in the other segments, just because we already know the characters (Hitler, Anne Frank, Nazis and Frankenstein’s Monster). Overall this was a fun little bit from Adam Green. It’s not the greatest short in the world, but it’s fun and totally makes sense as the third segment of “Chillerama”.

The background story of “Chillerama” is set at the last showing at an aging drive in theatre. Between segments, we get little clips of this background action, Toby trying to ask out Mayna, Ryan trying to ask out the candy counter girl, etc. We also get glimpses of a zombie take over happening, all starting from a very disturbed graveyard encounter. After “Diary”, the fourth film on the plate for the moviegoers is “Deathication”, a lost print from an experimental director made to make you $h*t yourself. As an audience, we catch bits and pieces of this foreign piece of crap (pun intended) before the zombies start to overrun the theatre and all hell breaks loose. Since we’ve seen a bit more of these characters through the course of the movie, we really care about what is happening in this segment. The relationships between the two main guys and their respective love interests are kind of cute in a young love sort of way, and we really want the older brother to get his face ripped off. Cecil, the owner of the theatre, has been toying with offing himself throughout, and we really don’t want that to happen. In all, a great little story to bookend and fill in the gaps around the goofy little shorts. To make this segment even more appealing to us movie buffs (because who doesn’t like a movie about the movies), we get an ingenious reeling off of classic movie lines while zombie brains are sprayed across the screen. I can’t think of a better way to end a movie.

Story: 7

Visuals: 6

Fun Factor: 8

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I’m pretty sure I’m the last horror guy to watch “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil”, but in case I’m not, stay tuned. I had heard great things about this movie, but unlike so many other horror flicks these days, this one definitely delivered, although in a completely different way than I was expecting. To give everyone the same experience, all you need to know is this: Two friends go up to their newly acquired “vacation home” in the mountains to do some spring cleaning. At the same time, a group of college kids heads up to the mountains for a weekend of drinking and questionable decisions. Through a lot of misunderstanding and a series of very unfortunate events (for the college kids), the students come to the conclusion that our heroes, Tucker and Dale, are psychotic hillbilly serial killers out to get them. Hilarity ensues in what could be one of the more intelligent parodies on horror I have seen in a long time.

In reality, that is all that “Tucker and Dale” is; a parody. We see the classic ‘kids in the woods getting offed by a serial killer’ storyline, only told from the other side. The protagonists are a pair of lovable rednecks who have finally accomplished their dream and bought a vacation home. While to you and I the house they buy looks like a pyscho killer’s cabin, complete with antlers on the walls and jars for holding body parts, Tucker and Dale find it pleasant and quaint. Dale is fairly dumb and has very low self esteem, while Tucker is a bit smarter and ‘better with the ladies’. The whole misunderstanding starts when Tucker and Dale decide to go night fishing in the same lake the college kids decide to go skinny dipping in, unbeknownst to both parties. They startle Allison, the cute but sensible one of the college kids, and she falls into the water and is knocked unconscious. When Dale dives in to save her, the college kids finally notice the guys and think that they are dragging away Allison to rape and kill her. The rest of the movie follows as a comical sequence of gory slapstick in which the college kids and various other entrants are offed while the evidence against our main characters builds.

Writer/Director Eli Craig really hits the mark with his feature length debut. You know you’ve got a great film on your hands when all the artistic elements fit together to tell the story, and that is exactly what Craig has accomplished. The script itself is goofy and irreverent, but much of the satire of the film comes from slick direction, cheeky camera angles and a great score. The skilled set of actors certainly contribute, but the visual experience is really what drives the story.

Few films in recent years have been able to be both gory and funny at the same time. I’m not talking Piranha here, which was both gory and funny but at different times, I’m talking Dead Alive where you laughed as body parts went flying across the screen. I can’t remember ever giggling as a kid got impaled by a handmade spear before, but I did here. No, I’m not some sadist, it’s just that the situation is so amusing you can’t help but laugh. Same goes with a guy getting his head shot off. It shouldn’t be funny, but in “Tucker and Dale”, director Eli Craig made it humorous. On the more attractive side of “visual treats”, we get a lot of Katrina Bowden, which is about everything you need. There is a bit of gratuitous nudity in the skinny dipping scene, but seriously, we get Katrina Bowden in a tied up flannel shirt and cut off jeans so who cares.

Overall, “Tucker and Dale” is just a good, fun movie. You’ll laugh non-stop at the hilarious pratfalls, cringe at the over-the-top gore, and fall in love with the two wonderfully scripted leads. The movie is essentially a parody so the story isn’t beautiful or anything, but it keeps you involved and is very intelligent. Seeing the classic hillbilly killer movie from a redneck’s point of view is incredibly clever, and makes for a great movie. While it’s not going to get an Oscar nod, “Tucker and Dale” is the much needed horror comedy we have all been waiting for. Some of you were smart and saw it when it came out; I like to think I was savoring it by waiting this long. Really I was just depriving my self of one of the most entertaining horror movies of the 2000’s.

Story: 7

Visuals: 8

Fun Factor: 10