In the horror comedy Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, a pair of fellas looking to spend a fun weekend fixin’ up their cabin end up in a pickle when a group of college kids assumes they’re killers—a clever inversion of the tired backwater-slasher genre. In San Diego last month at Comic-Con, we sat down with writer-director Eli Craig and stars Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine to discuss the film, available on demand beginning Friday 26 and slated to open theatrically in Chicago October 7.
The film premiered at Sundance in 2010 and is being released only now. Can you talk a little bit about having it held up that long?
Eli Craig It sucks. I just want it out there. Who knew that if you make an indie film, that you should either make it really indie or really, really commercial? We ended up in this weird in-between. Paramount, at one point, wanted to buy it, but then they said, “It’s too commercial to do a platform release, but it’s a little too indie to do a huge, wide commercial release. So, we don’t want your movie.” I thought, Wait a minute, my movie’s too commercial for you?
Tyler Labine Honestly, now that it’s been picked up [by Magnolia], it makes that elongated anticipation seem a lot shorter. It feels like, of course, 18 months, that’s reasonable [for finding distribution]. It feels normal. The film needed to percolate a little bit. It got better. It’s aged.
Tyler, what was it like to go from supporting roles to a romantic lead in this film?
TL The thing I was worried about the whole time was: Am I just gonna look like a perv? I’m this way older, hairy, fat guy, and then there’s Katrina Bowden, who’s this 23-year-old angelic blond with the perfect body. Am I just gonna look gross kissing her?
Alan Tudyk You didn’t look gross kissing her. She looked gross kissing you, though. That was the surprise for me.
TL [Laughs] Much to my surprise, even though she looked horrible, audiences have cheered at that moment. So all right, maybe I’m not disgusting.
The characters are referred to as “hillbillies.” How did you avoid those stereotypes while still keeping the humor?
EC I really wanted them to be real people. We make a lot of fun of the term hillbilly, but our characters are just good old boys. They couldn’t be happier to go fishing for the weekend and drinking beer and hanging out, and I feel like I relate to those guys. That’s all I want to do on the weekend, too. Why is it that all these horror films have these serial-killer-rapist-sodomizers in the backwoods? I just wanted to set the record straight: All hillbillies are not evil. The woods are safe—it’s the frat parties you gotta worry about, boys and girls.
AT I’m from Texas. So I know people who would fit into the college kids’ definition of Tucker and Dale. It was just about playing them as the good old boys they are, who see the simple things in life.
TL Dale is simple. It was more like [playing] a wounded animal. “Why is this happening to us? We just wanted to have a good time. Why?” It hurt my feelings more than anything. It was fun to play someone that stupid.