I'm not going to go into a long speech about horror-comedies, nce most of you probably already know all about them. From the Abbott & Costello days to resurgence of the sub-genre in the 21st Century with such titles as Tucker & Dale vs. Evil and Shaun of the Dead. One title that gets shamefully overlooked and unappreciated is 2004's Broken Lizard comedy/horror Club Dread. While most films of the sub-genre have horror tuations and head straight for the comedy, this one's a little bit different.
Club Dread 2004 Review
Coconut Pete's Pleasure Island is an island resort created so hard-working people can escape civilization and enjoy having sex, drinking booze, and partying. The staff includes the owner and Jimmy Buffet-wannabe Coconut Pete (Bill Paxton), the new masseur, Lars (Kevin Heffernan), sexy aerobics instructor Jenny (Brittany Daniel), Costa Rican dive instructor Juan (Steve Lemme), tennis instructor Putman (Jay Chandrasekhar), pill-popping DJ Dave (Paul Soter), fun police Sam (Eric Stolhanske), and island security Hank (M.C. Gainey), as well as Yu (Lindsay Price), Carlos (Julio Bekhor), Cliff (Richard Perello), Stacy (Elena Lyons), Kellie (Tanja Reichert), and Rolo (Dan Montgomery, Jr.). Pretty soon, a killer wearing a poncho starts picking them off one by one with a machete. Has Pete's stress caused him to go psycho? Is Putman angry that Jenny won't love him? Does Dave want revenge on Pete for his parents' death at one of his concerts? Or has Machete Phil from the island's campfire story returned? As the body count rises, so do the characters' suspicions and their pasts begin to take the forefront.
Club Dread was made by the Broken Lizard team, who are the men behind films like Super Troopers Beerfest. The team wrote the film, and all of them starred in it, including director Jay Chandrasekhar. Condering this, they did quite an impresve job. All the characters are colorful and interesting, and I loved how each actor or actress fit the part perfectly, especially Bill Paxton as Coconut Pete. Paxton brings forth a drunken charm to his role and it's so hilarious how inept he is in some scenes. Actually, the main reason I find this movie so enjoyable is how entertaining and colorful the characters are. I saw this for the first time a few months ago, and as I sat down to re-watch it, I could recall every ngle character's name (with the exception of a few very minor characters). Now, take a film I've recently watched like Slumber Party Massacre III, and I'm still struggling to remember the characters' names. Putman has this really over-the-top British accent (that I loved), Juan was awesome, Dave was hilarious ("Wiki-wiki-wiki, wiki-wiki-wiki-wiki!"), Lars was likable, Jenny was sexy, Penelope (Peen-uh-lope, as Juan pronounces it) was sexy as well, Sam was a fun character, and Pete was, well, Pete.
The horror elements of the movie are top-notch, this is a rare film where it's just as interested in scares as it is in humor. You can tell the Broken Lizard team are huge fans of '80s slashers, as they load the film with in-jokes and tons of red herrings. Now, in an interview, they said how much they love the early slashers, like Happy Birthday to Me andMy Bloody Valentine. This shows they really do enjoy the sub-genre, as most people trying to fake it would say Halloween and Friday the 13th, so this proves they're legit. The kills featured in the film are actually pretty gory and even brutal at times. There's a couple decapitations, stabbing, slicing, chopping, etc. A man even gets cut in half! But don't worry; it's all in good fun. There are also some original songs actually performed by Bill Paxton here which are Jimmy Buffet knock-offs, but they're actually quite good. When Buffet actually saw this, he loved the movie and loved the songs, and he played them on a few of his tours, like the clasc "Pina Coladaburg."
I would even say it's more of a parody than Scream. While Scream brought forth the bac rules, Club Dread brings forth the cliches and annoyances found in slashers (and even giallos!) and parodies them. For example, one annoyance I always have with multiple gialli is that whenever we get a killer POV and the killer is interacting with someone they know, the other person always addresses the killer as "you." They parody this twice: one of the characters' names is actually Yu, and there's one scene where two characters are hiding while another faces the killer. The person facing the killer keeps referring to him as "you," which pisses off the two that are hiding. They also touch up on the killer seemingly never dying, the killer having a ridiculous motive, shower scenes (in the unrated cut), the "cat jumping out of the closet" (here, it's a monkey popping out of random places, always followed with one character saying, "Goddamn monkeys!"). It's also pretty amung how every character gives a suspicious look in the beginning. You can tell these guys have done their homework. Mix that in with the staple Broken Lizard crude (hilarious) humor, and you've got one hell of a funny flick here. There are also a few subtle touches of comedy that I found funny as well. And let's not forget the tale of Machete Phil around the bonfire ("Where's my penis? Where's my penis?")!
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Let me just say that if I could go anywhere in the world, it would be Coconut Pete's Pleasure Island. I mean, that place has everything! Sex, alcohol, awesome activities (Pac-Man!), a pool, and not to mention a beautiful view of the ocean. Anyway, Club Dread is one of my all-time favorite movies. It's a highly unappreciated horror-comedy with great horror, great comedy, and a great mix of both in all of the scenes. There's great character acting going on here, witty and very quotable dialogue, gory bits, and when the killer is revealed, I love how insane he/she is. Now, there are two DVD verons floating around: the R-rated and unrated cuts. The director has stated that the R-rated cut is his favorite, but I don't know why. The unrated cut runs about two hours, while the R-rated is about an hour and forty-five minutes. The extra footage in the unrated is just some more amung dialogue between the awesome characters, which I love. The unrated DVD also comes with 22 deleted scenes (which include the scenes edited back into the movie, which I felt was pretty stupid). Both discs feature commentaries by the Broken Lizard team that are very entertaining and informative. There were so many scenes I wanted to talk about in this movie, but I feel it would be best just to let you be surprised on your own. Hell, even Roger Ebert gives it the seal of approval!
The Verdict: I can ealy say Club Dread is the best horror-comedy out there, as it works as a horror movie, it works as a comedy, and it works as a horror-comedy filled with scares, suspense, in-jokes, and hilariously crude humor. Highly, highly highly recommended.
Don't trust my judgment? Here's four other opinions:
Oh The Horror
Arrow in the Head
The Onion A.V. Club