It’s an extreme rarity to find a horror film that fuses blood, guts and comedy with the seeming ease and precion you’ll find in Eli Craig’s staggeringly fantastic, surprise gem, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. It’s even more mind boggling when you discover that the masterminds behind the picture are every bit as down-to-earth and likeable as the characters they portray on film. But, such is the case with Alan Tudyk, Tyler Labine and Eli Craig, or as you may know them, Tucker, Dale, and the genius director who assembled this bold comedy horror hybrid.
*Read HorrorBid's full review of TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL by following this link: viewtopic.php?f=255&t=16604&p=82429#p82429
Getting the chance to speak with the T&DVE crew made for quite the unique experience for me, despite having conducted well over 250 interviews in my time. You see, given the scheduling slots of this specific trio of interviews, I would have typically passed on investigative duties. The window of opportunity was a Saturday, fairly early morning, and I was in Lake Tahoe, in a moderately (to be generous) zed timeshare with about 15 other 30-somethings, celebrating a weekend long (well, I packed up early… I’m getting old!) bachelor party for a good friend of mine who’s on the cusp of relinquishing his freedom (marriage isn’t really that bad, in fact it can be great - I just like to cast doubts in the minds of young love birds). In other words, I spent half the weekend smack-dab in the middle of the exact kind of environment in which the word work is an acknowledged taboo.
But sometimes you get an opportunity that calls to you, and no matter how inconvenient it may be, you answer that call. In my case, this obviously wasn’t the prime weekend to interview the crew from Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, but I loved this flick so fucking much, there wasn’t a chance in Hell I was going to pass on this offer; the movie, and the performances themselves are just too damn awesome for such disregard.
So, juggling a hint of lingering drunkenness, with the pains of an oncoming hangover, I happily waited for my telephone call. And when it came, I gathered my senses (to the greatest extent posble) took hold of my phone, and hit the record button.
Note: I opted to conduct this interview in what is certainly atypical fashion (at least for me personally); rather than crafting a series of different questions for each man, I posed the exact same set of questions to each of the three, as I honestly found myself extremely curious to hear three differing opinions on the same topics, because i find the personalities of each individual very enthralling. Perhaps that’s an indicator of just how much I enjoyed this flick: Rather than eying a broader scope, I really wanted to know what each man thought in regards to the exact same particular elements of this kick ass flick. The year’s most ambitious genre offering and I’ve got tunnel vion: go figure.
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Horrorbid/Matt Molgaard: Let’s pretend you live in a bubble and you’ve somehow never heard of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil; how would you describe the movie?
Tyler Labine: There’re so many approaches here. I would say it’s a comedy before it’s a horror first of all. Which I don’t want to disappoint any of the horror fans, there’s plenty of gore there, but it’s a funny fucking movie, that’s how I’d describe it. It’s surpringly funny. It’ll grab you by the boo boo.
Alan Tudyk: I can’t describe it. It’s a coming of age film about a young boy who is in love with his older ster’s best friend. His body is going through all sorts of changes, and so is his heart. That’s how I’d describe it.
Eli Craig: It is the hillbilly, horror comedy veron of the Paul Haggis film, Crash.
It is a film that sticks up for the humanity of rural redneck folks, and pits collar popping, college fraternity boys against them in a battle of life and death. It’s a film that works very well on a level of surprise. I actually encourage people to just blindly see it. If you don’t know anything about it all the better, just jump on in and go see it, because the most fun I ever have with people is
when they have no friggin idea what the movie is about and are surprised every step of the way.
HB: I want to talk about the supporting cast, who’ve kind of fallen into the background a bit. Obviously, Tucker and Dale are the kind of characters that steal the show, but there’s some good support, especially from Jesse Moss and Katrina Bowden. How did you think the rest of the cast performed, and what was it like working with them?
TL: I thought they performed really well. All of them were super good; they did exactly what they were supposed to do. They were supposed to be these cliché college kids that you kind of hate, and that’s exactly what they do. And working with them was… infrequent.
Alan and I were bacally shooting a different movie. We didn’t actually have a lot of interaction with the college kids until the end, where we’re all meeting up at the cabin. I think we only shot with them four or five days the whole shoot. It was like they actually were a bunch of college kids in Calgary. They were all hanging out and drinking at night, doing their thing and Alan and I were off shooting every night. We didn’t see each other that much, which is a bummer because I know most of those actors from Vancouver, because I’m a Vancouver boy myself. We definitely had different experiences making this movie.
AT: They did a great job. I think they’re the perfect college kid actors. Jesse is so brilliant at moronic righteousness. He has those lines like, ‘you bitches don’t know what you’re talking about. Ya’ll are just a bunch of assholes’… he’s such a jackass, and he’s completely committed to that person, to that moronic college kid archetype. And, Chelan, she’s hysterical in the movie.
I’m trying to figure out a way to talk about that scene where they’re in the police cruiser and they’re locked in the back, and they’re watching the whole thing unfold between us and the cop. Bacally the voice of… what the audience is usually is saying when you’re watching these horror movies, ‘get him! Do it! What are you doing? You can’t let him get away!’ And you can completely see their point of view, and they do such a good job of heightening the tenon. When you see the police officer stagger out of the house with an extreme headache, and then they’re screaming; Chelan especially, with that scream that she has. I think that they do a great job. But you’re right they kind of all become one, but they all do a really good job.
EC: I think they performed excellently. The fun part about this shoot was that everybody was kind of… game for whatever. All the cast were just so excited to be there. They believed in the project and they all had a milar interpretation of the script. We weren’t really going for a Scary Movie type thing; we were kind of keeping the characters grounded. But the college kids had to play the stereotypes. And it was important that they all know about the genre, so I had them watch films like, Wrong Turn and Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Cabin Fever and then some really awful films as well, you know House of Wax and things like that, where there’s just a ton of college kids. So I had them kind of study the behavior, and they all really brought it and brought out the hilarity of the stereotypes. Jesse Moss I think did a great job of playing that villain. Jesse Moss bacally thinks he’s like Batman, you know, he thinks he’s Burt Reynolds in Deliverance; only he’s just on the wrong de of the perception of what’s right.
HB: The onscreen chemistry in this flick is unique in the sense that it’s almost abnormally realistic, between Tucker and Dale. What was it like on set? Was shooting this picture as easy, or maybe I should say natural as it seems.
TL: Alan showed up really late in the game. We actually had another actor locked into that part of Tucker, until about a week before production. Alan kind of came in and saved the day. I met him two days before we started shooting. I don’t know man, it’s one of those things, I don’t know if its luck, or serendipity or whatever you want to call it, but we met each other and just hit it off right away.
The crazy thing about those characters is, the movie really hinged on that. It was like ‘I better get along with this guy’, you know? Alan’s just such a fantastic guy, but on top of that he’s an amazing actor, and I think I found myself really wanting to show off for him . I was a fan of his going into it. He didn’t know who I was, but that’s another story. I went into it sort of being like, I’m gonna act the shit out of this movie to just show off for Alan Tudyk. And it became very obvious to me that I didn’t have to. I didn’t have to work really hard with this guy because it was all sort of just there. Once we met each other I feel like I really found the character of Dale. We’re still good friends to this day: it’s a real testament to the fact that the onscreen chemistry that you see was sort of actually happening at the time.
Alan and I were just getting to know each other and kind of like, learning about each other on camera, which I think makes it fun to watch.
AT: We had a great time. I remember when we were shooting it I kept saying to people back home and to Tyler, ‘you know this is really easy working with you, we have such a good chemistry’. We were aware of it when we were working.
We approved the bloopers real that they’re going to put on the DVD, and you get to see how we were playing and reacting with one another. Even on the first and second days of working together, we were laughing around and joking back and forth. It was really fun to watch.
immediately got done watching it and looked at Eli and Tyler and said, ‘we’ve got to do this again.’ We had a really good time while the cameras were rolling and when they stopped.
EC: They spent a lot of time in the wardrobe tent together, so I don’t know what they were doing to make themselves seem so close. But seriously, it was not an easy shoot by any means. I think one of the things that might have brought the camaraderie was the difficulties. We were down in the woods, there was mosquito’s down there; we were tting in the mud. About a mile away we had the trailers where people would come and do hair and make-up and everything. By the time that Alan and Tyler would get to set, there wasn’t any time in the day to go back up to the trailer. So, everybody would just kind of t down in the mud, you know we were lucky if we could afford a chair for them, and we’d all kind of be together in a way, while we were shooting the film. So there wasn’t that separation of the cast to the director, or the cast members amongst themselves: Maybe that kind of shows up as a sort of camaraderie in the film.
HB: A lot of successful filmmakers and actors have told me they knew that they had something special while they were shooting certain films. Did you get that kind of feeling while you were shooting this movie?
I wish I could say ‘Ah man, Alan and I would ride home and night and be like, we’re really doin it aren’t we buddy?’ But it was not that at all. It was a lot of confuon, it was pretty run-and-gun, get it in one take. Get in and get out. And Alan and I would regularly, be driving home at the end of a 14, 15 hour day going over it in the van ride home. Like, okay, what did we miss, did we get that? We were just constantly worried like, what did we just shoot? What are we getting here?
At the end of the movie, we were like, well that’s never gonna see the light of day. That’s not going anywhere. Nice to meet you, made a good friendship out of it. You know what I mean? But then we saw the cut, a really, really rough cut, and we were like ‘oh, holy shit. Eli, we owe you an apology, you really knew what you were doing.’
And there were a lot of things that we argued with him about on set, that he was really adamant about. And we were kind of like, well, fuck whatever, it’s his movie, let him do it. And those things stayed in the movie, and they were the things that really, really make the movie work.
It was a battle making the movie, and finishing it. But the end result was just, very obviously worth it in every way shape and form.
AT: No. I enjoyed the rapport that I had with Eli and with Tyler. I really thought the script was special, but the speed with which we shot it… at the end of the day, Tyler and I would share a van back to the hotel and we’d go through what we had shot during the day, and we couldn’t recall because we had done so much. We’d be like ‘What did we do? We did that one scene in the woods. Did that work? I don’t know.’ We ended the whole thing with ‘I don’t know’. I remember calling back home to my girlfriend and just being like ‘I don’t know what we’re doing. I think it’s good.’ Some days I’m like ’This is really funny’; some days I’m just confused, and then when we saw it all put together we got really excited.
But while we were shooting it, our experience was almost mirrored by Tucker and Dale’s experience. As the movie goes on they get degraded over time; they’re bloodier and more worn down, I lose my fingers. We sort of went through that same kind of progreson.
The accumulative effect was confuon and fatigue. It worked for the movie, but during it, we had no idea.EC: Well I had it all the time. I had it three years before, I had it during and I had it after, but I had to keep myself in check because I think that feeling might be deluonal as well. I never really wanted to admit it could be a cult hit. I kept feeling that way. There were a few moments in shooting, where I literally had a tingle right up my spine, and I thought to myself, people are gonna say this film is fucking awesome! Then I’d go home and I’d say that to my wife and she’d say ‘oh shut up and just do your work’. And that’s the important thing really, just shut up and do the work, because whatever it is, is what it is. It’s really just trying to stay in the moment and keep working and not get caught up in what you think something’s going to be.
HB: At this point, it really doesn’t seem like there’s any reason you need to try and sell this movie: it’s kind of doing that on it’s own.
But for the sake of my personal curioty, what would you tell someone who asks you why they should see Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil?
TL: The only thing I can think of when people ask me that question is: do you like watching good movies? Then go watch this movie. There’s no real pitch for this movie that makes any sense when you try and spell it out. It’s just, if you like watching good movies that are entertaining and funny, just watch this movie.