Now, listen you damn fool kids. You might laugh at me because I'm a grizzled old guy sitting on my porch rocking chair whilst you head off to watch films with your beer and your drugs and your barely-covered bodies. Well, I'm hear to tell you there's a lot of so-called cult horror-comedies out there and not all of them are good. I'm here to warn you where not to go poking your noses, in case you come to a bad end. You listening to me? This is important.
I had high hopes for John Dies At The End (Don Coscarelli, 2012), because its director made the wonderfully offbeat Bubba Ho-Tep, which remains a cult favourite of mine. Sadly, it seems as if a soul-sucking Egyptian mummy has got it hands on Coscarelli, because this shows none of the wit or charm that made Bubba Ho-Tep so great. Based on the book by David Wong , it begins with a slacker David (Chase Williamson) killing a zombie, before sitting down to tell a skeptical reporter about how he and his friend John (John Cheese) acquired psychic powers which enabled them to see creatures from alternate dimensions, prompting all sorts of zany adventures. The muddled tale unfolds in flashback in ways that are presumably intended to catapult the film to cultdom, but which are neither funny nor scary, a bit of an oversight for a film purporting to be a horror-comedy. The great pity is that it does waste a good premise, not to mention the combined talents of Paul Giamatti and The Kurgan himself, cult favourite Clancy Brown. Never mind John, the film dies on its arse well before the end.
So you'd be much better off with Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (Eli Craig, 2010), a low-budget Canadian horror-(screwball)comedy-bromance which has a great time poking fun at the slasher genre. Tucker & Dale (endearingly played by Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk) are two slovenly, good-natured country boys heading off to their dilapidated cabin in the woods for a fishing vacation. Unfortunately for them, a group of college kids on a camping trip in the woods mistake them for a couple of psycho hillbilly stalkers out for blood. A few misunderstandings later, and Tucker & Dale have become increasingly bewildered by the antics of the apparently insane kids, which more often that not ends up in inadvertent, not to mention very funny, bloodshed. It's laugh-out loud throughout, smartly subverting the genre cliches, even if it does falter towards the end by resorting to some formulaic slasher beats in the finale. Sadly, its low profile means it has been rather unfairly overshadowed by the bigger-budget, similarly themed The Cabin in the Woods, which came along a couple of years later. However, if Tucker & Dale vs Evil teaches us anything, it's not to jump to assumptions based on looks. It may not be as slick or polished as The Cabin in the Woods, but it's much funnier and actually surprisingly sweet in the end-up. Happily, Tucker & Dale are set to return in a sequel - let's hope next time they get the recognition they deserve.
Now, let's hope that's pointed you in the right direction. Hey! Stop sniggering and rolling your eyes. I bin around a long time, you know, and I've seen a lot of bad things, more than you'll ever know. And I'm telling you which way to go right now. Hey! Come back! Don't make the same mistakes I did!! Damn fools.