Saturday, May 17, 2014

Review: "Club Dread" is an Awkward Mix of Horror and Comedy (Happy B'day, Bill Paxton)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 93 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Broken Lizard’s Club Dread (2004)
Running time:  104 minutes (1 hour, 44 minutes)
MPAA – R for violence/gore, sexual content, language and drug use
DIRECTOR:  Jay Chandrasekhar
WRITERS:  Broken Lizard (Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, and Jay Chandrasekhar)
PRODUCER:  Richard Perello
EDITOR:  Ryan Folsey
COMPOSER:  Nathan Barr


Starring:  Bill Paxton, Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Brittany Daniel, Jordan Ladd, M.C. Gainey, Samm Levine, Lindsay Price, and Michael Yurchak

The subject of this movie review is Club Dread, a 2004 comic horror-thriller directed by Jay Chandrasekhar.  The film stars and is written by the comedy troupe, Broken Lizard, of which Chandrasekhar is a member.  Club Dread focuses on the staff members of an island resort, as they try to stop a serial killer’s rampage ... or at least hide bodies.

Broken Lizard, the comedy troupe who gave us the hilarious Super Troopers, returns with a new film decidedly different from Super Troopers, and it is entitled Club DreadCoconut Pete’s Coconut Beach Resort is an island retreat off the coast of Costa Rica for swinging singles i.e. people who want to have lots of recreational sex.  The owner is Coconut Pete (Bill Paxton), a burnt out rock singer/songwriter who is a low rent version of Jimmy Buffet.

As the movie begins, a machete-wielding maniac starts killing Pete’s employees.  After destroying the only two boats on the island, the killer threatens Coconut Pete and his staff:  keep it business as usual; do not tell the tourists about his murderous escapades or he will kill them all.  Of course, he keeps on killing; hilarity and paranoia ensue.

On the surface, Club Dread is a strange film, and it would be incorrect to call it a horror comedy.  It’s more a comic slasher flick, and it pulls off a rare trick – the horror film that is genuinely funny, not ironic and self-referential funny like the Scream franchise.  Amazingly, the film has all the elements that are absolutely required to make a slasher flick.  What makes it funny?  The answer would be the actions of the characters.  Although the players are virtually to a man nothing but wispy caricatures, the things they do and say are outrageous, silly, ridiculous, and sometimes hilarious.

The main reason this film doesn’t become a disaster is director Jay Chandrasekhar, a member of Broken Lizard.  He has a deft comic touch, and, for the most part, it works.  He manages to take his troupe’s peculiar brand of comedy and make it at least palatable to a broader audience.  Club Dread isn’t by any means a really good film.  It’s a decent horror flick with lots of laughs.  But taken as a whole Chandrasekhar had made a film that will be a good video rental for horror fans.  And in an odd way, there is something about Club Dread that makes it hard to stop watching.

5 of 10

Updated:  Saturday, May 17, 2014

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