Encapsulated Cinema: Dahmer vs. Gacy, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, and Ninjas vs. Vampires

I love movies that incorporate the word “versus” into the title, even if it is abbreviated. I grew up watching stuff like “King Kong vs. Godzilla” and “Dracula vs. Frankenstein”, so it shouldn’t be that surprising that I would instinctively gravitate towards modern-day motion pictures that attempt to pit one creature against another. And while “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” doesn’t technically fall into this category, the film is so utterly badass that I simply couldn’t ignore its genius. Since I enjoy saving the best for last, we’ll start things off with the worst of the bunch. Guess which one it is. Go on — guess.

Truthfully, you really shouldn’t be that surprised.

Dahmer vs. Gacy (2010)
I’m a pretty tasteless guy when it comes to comedy, so I don’t mind at all when a motion picture brazenly decides to tip its gnarled toes in controversial waters. Unfortunately, director Ford Austin’s mildly-humorous slasher outing “Dahmer vs. Gacy” isn’t nearly as clever or as irreverent as it thinks it is, though this doesn’t stop the filmmakers from piling on the depravity in hopes that something will eventually make you laugh. Unless you happen to feel that corpse rape and mime jokes are the pinnacle of cinematic comedy, chances are you won’t chuckle once during the entire feature. To make matters worse, the titular duo rarely appear together on-screen, and by the time they finally decide to face off, it’s essentially too little too late. “Dahmer vs. Gacy” is one of the biggest disappointments I’ve had thus far this year. Shame on me for taking a chance on it.

Ninjas vs. Vampires (2010)
It’s easy to knock writer/director Justin Timpane’s 2010 action/horror hybrid “Ninjas vs. Vampires” for being a little too ambitious given its obvious budgetary limitations. The film — an overlong yarn about a reluctant band of ninjas and the vampires they’re forced to contend with — certainly has its problems, all of which can be traced back to Timpane’s penchant for extravagant action set pieces. Still, the sequel to his like-minded endeavor “Ninjas vs. Zombies” has its merits, and should please fans of the original installment. However, a word of warning: If you haven’t seen “Zombies”, then “Vampires” might seem a little confusing, as a lot of stuff went down during the characters’ first adventure. Watching both of them back-to-back on a lazy Sunday afternoon actually sounds like a blast, especially if you have a soft spot for movie quotes and white boy kung fu.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)
There just aren’t enough good things to say about director Eli Craig’s utterly delightful horror/comedy “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil”. The picture’s ingenious plot — two lovable rednecks are mistaken for serial killers by a moronic band of empty-headed college kids — is powered by a pair of witty, razor-sharp performances from Alan Tudyk (Tucker) and Tyler Labine (Dale). The fact that these guys are so damned likeable is what helps keep the story from becoming a ridiculous collection of increasingly gory coincidences. And while the finale does take a few steps in the wrong direction, it’s not enough to sour the overall experience in the slightest. “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” is easily one of the most heartfelt and genuinely entertaining horror/comedies of the past few years. Even if you’re not a horror fan, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. Highly recommended.