Armed with his laptop and an unending supply of Coronas, Judge David Johnson gives us this rare on-location review from the Club Dread vacation hideaway.
Our review of Club Dread: Unrated Edition, published October 22nd, 2004, is also available.
"Is it too much to as ask for you to have sex with the guests?"—Coconut Pete
Broken Lizard spits forth this horror/comedy as its sophomoric effort, following the cult-hit Super Troopers. The comedy troupe, writers, actors, and directors of their movies (member Jay Chandreskhar has fielded both features) brings a real raunchy zest to their cinematic undertakings, unafraid to revel in scatological humor, sex, breasts, butts, maple syrup chugging, and overall degenerate behavior. Their lewd, no-holds-barred approach to comedy hearken back to the debauched days of '80s comedy, and for some the Broken Lizard boys have been deified as underground champions of frat boy comedy.
With Club Dread, the team has skewed from straight comedy and sought to blend genres into a spoof/thriller/gore-soaked/party movie. But is the result Club Dreadful?
Facts of the Case
Like every slasher movie ever made, Club Dread opens with some nubile, chesty young women embarking on a sexual escapade and end up shredded by an unknown killer.
Then we find out we're on Coconut Pete's Pleasure Paradise, an island resort totally separated from the mainland, drenched in booze and hormones. Here, legions of horny co-eds land for a week of zaniness, hosted by former musician Coconut Pete (a scrubbed-out Bill Paxton).
Pete is aided by a crack staff:
Putman (Chandreskhar): An uptight tennis instructor, engulfed by mammoth dreadlocks who can't get a date.
Juan (Steve Lemme): A suave Latino with a knack for wooing women (and some livestock).
Lars (Kevin Hefferman): The masseur with the magic touch.
Dave (Paul Soter): The slow-witted DJ and drug distributor, related to Coconut Pete, who may have a real future at Pleasure Island.
Sam (Eric Stolhanske): "The Fun Police," in charge of ensuring good times all around.
The party becomes less festive as other staff members show up dead, slashed to pieces. Pete is desperate to avoid pandemonium among the guests, even as he watches his employees dwindle in numbers.
Suddenly, the boats disappear and the phone and radio are destroyed, leaving the hapless crew to fend for themselves, while one by one they become intimately acquainted with the money end of a machete.
The paranoia surges, the body count rises, and a few jokes slide into the hullabaloo, as Broken Lizard steams forward in a by-the-numbers slasher, sprinkled with the troupe's characteristic comedy.
I liked Super Troopers. I didn't love it. I found it uneven, as the boys would land some laugh-out loud funny bits, but immediately follow them up with ho-hum drivel. It was certainly better than most comedies out there, but I failed to see anything worthy of labeling Broken Lizard as "Divine Gifts to Laughter."
Club Dread is a much different movie. Don't go in expecting Super Troopers. This ain't a straight-on farce as its predecessor; in mixing horror comedy, the troupe opted to split their focus—to the detriment of the final product.
Let me preface this by saying the movie is a surprisingly effective horror flick. These guys are obviously fans of the old-school slasher movie, and aren't afraid to pepper their, er, stab at the genre with beaucoup jump scenes, topless women, spewing blood, and gruesome killings.
To this effect, the movie succeeds. It's a thousand times jumpier and gorier than the seemingly endless array of generic teen thriller movies (you know the ones, movies with lame titles like "Terror Time" or "Dark Terror" or "Time for Some Dark Terror," featuring a gaggle of unknown young actors standing in a group on the cover looking all serious and sexy, of which I have seen far too many to be comfortable with my self-image.)
Broken Lizard also opted to weave in comedy, and this is hit and miss, with many more notches grooved into the "miss" column. There are a few laugh-out loud funny bits, like Juan's confession of sexual experimentation, followed by a sidesplitting pun, the gang's attempt at deciphering the killer's methods through an old Coconut Pete song, and most every scene Putman is in.
The majority of the comedy, however, falls flat. Unfortunate, as I have no doubt a focused troupe could produce a potent horror spoof. Bill Paxton's skuzzy drunken schtick gets tiresome, scenes with some of the stupider guests are just, well, stupid, and the subplot of Penelope (Jordan Ladd) is a head-scratcher.
If you like Super Troopers, this isn't as funny. But if you go into expecting a decent horror movie, with a few solid jokes thrown in, you probably won't be disappointed.
Fox includes both widescreen and full screen versions, though, as expected, the widescreen is superior. The transfer is crisp, and as the movie takes place on a paradise island, there are tons of bright colors that show well. The 5.1 mix is aggressive as well, and the mix especially shines in the plethora of jump scenes that await the hapless viewer.
Two commentary tracks featuring the members of Broken Lizard comprise the only special features, but they're pretty good. The guys are definitely funny, and have a good time with the commentaries. (I especially enjoyed one complicated scene description that ended in, "Aw, f*** it!")
For Broken Lizard's sophomore effort, Club Dread is an interesting hybrid. It's an above-average horror movie and a below-average comedy, making it, well, average.
The accused is shuttled off to a desert island to count rocks for thirty days. Court adjourned.
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Scales of Justice
• Audio Commentary by Broken Lizard
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