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CLUB DREAD

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Brittany Daniel, Bill Paxton
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1, Full Screen 1.33:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 104 Minutes
Release Date: May 25, 2004

“Aren’t you bringing any weapons?”

“I have all the weapons I need.”

“Piss on that, I’m bringing a ma-she-tay!”

Film ***

The horror movie spoof has been done before, most notably in the form of Scary Movie, but never in the form of such sheer lunacy as in Club Dread, the latest comedy from the offbeat comedy troupe, Broken Lizard. You may recall the troupe’s first theatrical endeavor Super Troopers from a couple of years back. I was a bit mixed on that film. I found its structure, even for a lowbrow comedy, a bit curious but found many individual scenes to be insanely funny.

Club Dread is definitely an improvement by comparison, consisting of many endless laughs, most of the time in bad taste, and never hesitating to display as much bloody gore as an average horror flick. Never before has the line between laughter and horror seemed so stretched out. But then again, most horror movies consist of unintentional laughs (I Know What You Did Last Summer, anyone?), so it’s clear what elements Broken Lizard is spoofing, even if they’ve left in the bloody parts to mix in with the laughter.

The zaniness takes place on an island getaway named Coconut Pete’s Pleasure Island, where a who’s who of horny party goers/potential victims have come to enjoy a week’s worth of endless partying fun. The film’s hero is the island’s newly hired masseur, Lars (Kevin Heffernan), who is greeted by his fellow employees. They include sexy aerobics instructor Jenny (Brittany Daniel), tennis instructor Putman (Jay Chandrasekhar), watersports guru Juan (Steve Lemme), club DJ/ecstasy supplier Dave (Paul Soter) and Sam (Erik Stolhanske), head of the “Fun Police”.

The host of the festivities is none other than Coconut Pete, played by a hilarious, show stealing Bill Paxton. Pete is a rock n’ roll burnout who has hopes of igniting a future concert tour alongside Billy Squire and Eddie Money. His music style is in the vein of Jimmy Buffet. There’s even a riotous stab at the song “Margaritaville”, when Pete tries to point out that a song of his, the similarly themed “Pina Colada-burg”, was in fact written seven years prior. He blames Buffet’s song for destroying his brief, one hit wonder career.

Once the island crew realizes that a maniac slasher wielding a machete is offing many of the vacationers and employees…well, there still a bit clueless. The only message that the killer leaves is instructions for the staff to keep doing their job, and not to tell anyone what’s going on. Therefore, Coconut Pete maintains his scheduled week of fun partying for his guests, but of course, the body count keeps piling up.

The victims are wiped out in the most over the top ways, which supply even more low taste laughs. The funniest one comes during a human version of Pac Man being played in a garden maze, with alcohol substituting as the power dots and several people dressed in fruit costumes. Here, the killer dons a pineapple costume and slashes a man dressed as a pear. Other killings consist of victims pretty much getting themselves killed thanks to incredibly stupid escape attempts. What’s more, it is soon discovered that the killer is murdering according to specific lyrics to one of Coconut Pete’s songs, an acid trip anthem even he can’t remember recording.

In short, Club Dread is a triumph of bad taste, which in this case I was more than welcome to. The low brow humor, mixed in with the over the top violence, as well as the hilarious hijinks courtesy of the Broken Lizard team, not to mention that of Mr. Paxton, whose stab at Jimmy Buffet is his most outstanding piece of comedic work since True Lies.

In the end, the result is a level of humor that you will either like or reject. Luckily for me, I got into the bizarre spirit of it all, and laughed many a time. Take it from me; Club Dread is a horrific comedy trip worth taking.

Video ****

Fox’s anamorphic presentation is as gloriously superior as always, proving once again that Fox delivers the visual goods no matter what kind of movie is at hand. The tropical setting provides in some truly good image detail, and the night time sequences, which there are plenty of, turn out extremely good as well. Colors are strong and vibrant, and there isn’t a hint of an image flaw in sight. The disc is a two sided one, with the full screen on the main side and the widescreen on the reverse, so in other words, flip the disc before you watch it.

Audio ***1/2

The 5.1 mix supplied here gets the job done in top-drawing fashion. Even for a horror movie spoof, the sound still manages to induce moments of fury, such as in the loud music cues which precede a killing, etc. In addition, such set pieces as Coconut Pete’s opening concert greeting and several rave club sequences offer high points as well. Dialogue is clean and clear as always, and the overall range is much better than I anticipated.

Features **

Included are two separate commentary tracks by members of the Broken Lizard troupe. The first includes star and director Jay Chandrasekhar and co-star Erik Stolhanske. The second includes fellow cast mates Kevin Heffernan, Paul Soter and Steve Lemme. Lastly, there is a soundtrack spot.

NOTE: The commentary tracks can only be accessed on the widescreen edition.

Summary:

Club Dread is just what it promises, a stab (no pun intended) at the horror genre with lots of lowbrow and cheerfully unapologetic gags, as only Broken Lizard can provide. What more is there to say? Enjoy the party!