Gavin Grades The Movies

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

This movie has a title that would make almost anybody roll their eyes.  It has a poster that would make everyone walk right past it in a video store...if video stores still existed.  It's a horror movie about a group of college kids that go for a vacation in the West Virginia wilderness (like no college kids ever do) and have a bloody run-in with two hillbillies that are in a creepy old cabin in the middle of nowhere.  The only difference is that the two hillbillies are just trying to mind their own business and be helpful but the college kids think they're psycho killers so they try to kill them.  It's a clever little twist that makes Tucker and Dale vs. Evil a shockingly fun movie. Although most of the cast if padded with talentless, barely attractive wannabes, the three main characters are recognizable faces.  The damsel "in distress" is played by Katrina Bowden who's the goddess from NBC's 30 Rock and Sex Drive.  The real stars are Alan Tudyk (Death at a Funeral, Knocked Up) and Tyler Labine (CW's Reaper, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) who are really talented, really funny character actors that have yet to disappoint in a performance.  It's a good thing they're so good because they carry the movie on their shoulders alone. I gotta give credit where it's due though and that's to first-time director/writer Eli Craig.  I really appreciate movies that are horror films in the true sense of the word but flip the genre on its head to be funny and do it without making fun of it.  Other films that have pulled that off are Behind the Mask and more famously, Shaun of the Dead.  Tucker and Dale vs. Evil pokes fun at the slasher genre a little more than the other two but it still delivers on the gore.  Impressive for a movie that was made with a crazy, small budget. This isn't a laugh-a-minute movie that keeps you entertained the whole (pathetic) 88 minutes.  It does drag at parts and it's sadly not above a dick joke here and there.  But overall it's a decent horror comedy that takes a tired concept and twists it just a bit.  It's almost like Halloween if instead, Michael Myers was just a nice guy trying to help teenagers to help him take the mask off, which they see as a threat so they try to kill him.  That's the plot and it works.  Sure it's one long joke and yes it does get stretched thin, but it's nice to see someone at least taking a risk and creating something original in the horror genre for once. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil  (Rated R) Gavin Grade: B
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Fright Night

I went to see this screening with my buddy Dave.  As we were driving there we were talking about how the original Fright Night from 1985 used to scare us when we would walk by it on the shelves at the video store.  This was when we were kids...and when there were video stores.  When I finally got around to watching the movie that had a poster that scared me so much, I was relieved and disappointed to find out that it was more of a comedy than a horror movie.  As I got older I grew to appreciate that they did both genres so well, but that made me nervous that a remake was going to be attempted.  If the comedy wasn't there or the horror wasn't there, then I wouldn't want to be there either.  Luckily for me, Fright Night from 2011 is something worth sinking your teeth into. See, in the '80s and '90s vampire movies were still made that were fun.  The Lost Boys, The Monster Squad, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Love Bites, From Dusk Till Dawn, Blade...these were all movies about vampires that were a lot of fun to watch.  Now they're all brooding and in love.  They all have tortured, sad stories and lack the visceral violence that made us flock to the cinemas for the blood that we craved.  I mean, how pathetic is it now that the most popular and highest grossing vampire saga of all time features vampires with no fangs and no blood?!!?  Fright Night reclaims it all though and thank God it does! The new version follows the exact same plot of the first one, where a teenager thwarts the attempts of his vampire next door neighbor who tries to kill his whole block.  The teenager is played by Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, The Beaver) and the vampire is Colin Farrell (In Bruges, Horrible Bosses).  They're also joined by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad, Kickass) and a scene-stealing comedic juggernaut in David Tennant (Harry Potter 4, How to Train Your Dragon). Coling Farrell is rapidly becoming like Brad Pitt to me.  At first I hated them because I thought they were nothing but pretty faces in movies that have nothing to say because they lacked the talent to deliver good lines.  But as the years go on, both actors have really impressed me with bold movie choices and stellar performances.  Fright Night continues that tradition for Farrell, who seems like he really enjoyed playing the vampire Jerry...yes, Jerry.  (Fans of the original will also be tickled to see a cameo from Chris Sarandon (The Princess Bride, Nightmare Before Christmas) who was the original Jerry.) Another surprisingly great performance is from Mintz-Plasse, also forever known as McLovin, who is doomed to play a high school student for the rest of his life.  He starts the film exactly as you'd expect but really impressed me with how he ended it. What made the whole experience fun was the tone that was set by director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, Mr. Woodcock).  He incorporated some straight-up 3D gimmicks that you'd expect to see in a theme park attraction but made it work in the context of it all.  It was gory, scary, fun and hilarious.  Fright Night starts off a little slow but builds to a wonderfully satisfying orgy of blood and comedy by the end.  It also does something I'm sure it didn't set out to do; it sends out a message to the vampire movies we're saturated with today: A little more biting and a little less sucking! Fright Night  (Rated R) Gavin Grade: B+
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