Why doesn't Tucker and Dale vs. Evil have a distribution deal? Surprisingly smart and really funny, the film played on Saturday night at the Dallas International Film Festival like gangbusters to a nearly full house. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine star as sweet hillbillies who get mistaken for psycho killers by a group of college kids. Class differences and assumptions bred by years of watching horror movies fuel the bloody carnage, which whizzes by so fast the laughs rarely stop. Rather than a "horror comedy," it's a character-based comedy. Non-horror fans will get the jokes and the physical humor, which is no more damaging than classic Warner Brothers cartoons. Good performances by Tudyk (Firefly), Labine (Reaper), and Katrina Bowden (30 Rock) add to the fun.
Tucker and Dale premiered at Sundance, where our own Kevin Kelly gave it an enthusiastic review, and seemed like a sure bet to be picked up. (Weinberg loved it as well!) T&DvE then played at SXSW last month, where it won the audience award for the Midnighters section, and still no deal. During the Q&A session after the Dallas fest screening, director Eli Craig said he's determined that it not fall through the cracks. All the major studios and independents declined to fund the low-budget flick based on the script, which is somewhat understandable because Craig was unproven as a feature director and dark comedies depend on finding the right tone. The finished product clearly scores with audiences, though, and you'd think someone would have snapped it up by now.
Sadly, it's not unusual for very good pictures to languish in a distribution limbo, even after building buzz on the festival circuit. What films have you seen at festivals or other special engagements that have subsequently slipped beneath the radar?