''Tucker & Dale vs. Evil'' is his debut, but the director has a lifetime of showbiz experience thanks to his biggest fan: his mom, Sally Field

By Clark Collis
Updated September 23, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT

After director Eli Craig assembled an early edit of his first movie, the horror comedy Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, he sent a copy to Sally Field. Not because the two-time Oscar-winning actress is a secret fan of such Tucker & Dale-inspiring movies as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Evil Dead 2. But because she is Craig’s mother. ”Nobody was thinking [the movie] was funny,” says the director, 39. ”So I sent a rough cut to her and said, ‘Can you tell me if I’ll ever work again?”’ Craig had reason to worry, given the conventions-lampooning plot of Tucker & Dale, which stars Tyler Labine (Reaper) and Alan Tudyk (Firefly) as pals who get mistaken for homicidal hillbillies. (Craig says the original conceit was ”What if Leatherface was really just a good guy with an unwieldy chain saw?”) Fortunately, the movie earned fans in 2010 at Sundance and was later bought by indie distributor Magnet — thus confirming the initial opinion of Craig’s mom. ”She was the first one who said, ‘ This is really funny,”’ he recalls. ”The encouraging thing was, I don’t think she’s ever seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”