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Good vs Bad: Spoof Horror

I kind of hesitated to call this “good vs. bad”, because I don't think today's “bad” example is really awful. I don't even really think that negatively of it. That said, however, there are some real problems that I have with it, and I think its far better handled in the “good” example. Today we're going to talk about deconstructing horror movies with Tucker and Dale vs Evil and Cabin in the Woods.

The Bad: Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods is a Joss Whedon film exploring why the stereotypical monster movie tropes exist in the universe of the movie. It turns out that an ancient evil is asleep in the Earth, and only the sacrifice of four to five people can keep it dormant. But there are some specific rules to the sacrifice: those being killed have to make the choices that lead to their deaths on their own, and those doing the sacrificing can only have minimal intervention in the process, or so we're told. The sacrifice must include a whore, an athlete, a scholar and a fool. The virgin of the group is an optional sacrifice. Underneath the cabin is a huge military complex monitoring the situation and storing the monsters that they will unleash on the unwitting teens, and we find out that these places exist all over the world to ensure the success of the sacrifice.
So yeah, it kind of works. It explains why there is always those particular archetypes of characters, and why there's so much demonic stuff in the woods. They also explain that the characters are really that dumb, the military operation has been secretly drugging them to act less logically and heighten the chance of them getting killed.
This is where I have my first problem with this movie: the drugging. They keep spraying chemicals that effect the kids' behavior, like phermones to make them hornier, or some really specific chemical that somehow makes Thor (I know he has a name, but to me, he will ALWAYS be Thor) go from making everyone stick together to telling them to split up.
The whole chemical thing really seems like a cop-out by the writers, and to me, it broke my suspension of disbelief. Also, why does the monster care about those specific archetypes of characters? They freely admit that the kids don't always fit, and they manipulate them to “work with what they've got” so how does the creature know the difference? This is especially apparent with “the scholar”, a guy so bland that I barely remember what he looked like, and at no point did anything to indicate that he was this “scholarly” individual. It's just weak.
Finally, if they need five sacrifices, this seems like an INCREDIBLY convoluted way to go about it. Why not just use prison inmates? Are you telling me you can't find a jock, a whore, an idiot and a guy you can pass off as scholarly in American prisons? Also, they say the monsters have to kill the people, but in the end they say just shooting the stoner will do just as well, so why bother with the monsters at all?
Like I said, this isn't really a BAD movie, it just could have been told better, and with far fewer plot holes.

The Good: Tucker and Dale vs Evil

This is a movie about a pair of guys named Dale and Tucker. Tucker has just purchased a summer home in hillbilly country, and he and Dale are going to fix it up. Meanwhile, however, a group of college kids are camping in the same woods as the cabin, and mistake Dale and Tucker for killer hillbillies that they see in movies. When on of the kids gets hurt and the two take her in to take care of her wounds, the other kids assume Dale and Tucker have kidnapped and killed her, leading to a series of misunderstandings and accidents that end up getting most of them killed. Dale and Tucker, meanwhile, are just as confused as the college kids, and think that they are some kind of suicide cult that came out in to the woods to end their lives and the lives of anyone they come across.
This is a great movie for exactly the same reasons that Cabin in the Woods isn't. It doesn't resort to “chemicals” or other far-fetched scientific things to make the story believable. The college kids simply HAVE seen the kinds of horror movies that deal with this situation, and are making it a huge misunderstanding. Dale and Tucker aren't actually evil, and they actually do try to straighten things out, but to no avail.
Finally, the main college kid (Chad) hits on what is a real problem with the horror movie stereotypes, that I think needs to be addressed more. Chad believes that they can take care of those killer hillbillies themselves, and that they don't need the police to save their friend. In any other movie, Chad would be the hero, but here the other characters recognize how crazy he is, and that just drives him even more mad. By the end, HE'S become the psychotic killer, and the hillbillies are the heroes who have to stop him.
And finally, for a movie that pokes fun at horror movies, this one is better in that its actually trying to be funny, which is the genre I think that these movies need to go for. Cabin in the Woods kind of tries to go for the serious angle, while keeping those tongue-and-cheek nods to the audience, and I really think it needed to go one way or the other.
So in the end, I have to say that Tucker and Dale vs Evil is the superior horror movie spoof.