BROKEN LIZARD’S CLUB DREAD
***1/2 (out of 5)
February 27, 2004
Bill Paxton as COCONUT PETE
Kevin Heffernan as LARS
Brittany Daniel as JENNY
Paul Soter as DAVE
Steve Lemme as JUAN
Jordan Ladd as PENELOPE
Jay Chandrasekhar as PUTNAM
Erik Stolhanske as SAM
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar
BY KEVIN CARR
It’s hard to really classify “Club Dread,” although the obvious choice would be comedy. But while the film is funny – bust-a-gut funny at some points – it could also be considered an honest take on a slasher film. Sure, it has plenty of spoof potential, but it’s not the traditional spoof in the style of “Blazing Saddles” or “Airplane.”
The only real problem is that the film feels a bit schizophrenic at times. Is it a comedy? Or are they really trying to make a go at a horror film? Funny enough, it actually works as both.
The Wes Craven film “Scream” was actually a send-up of teenage slashers, but it still ranks as one of the most popular horror films of recent years. “Club Dread” is similar to this is the fact that it is basically a really funny horror movie.
The entire film takes place on Pleasure Island, a swingers resort with plenty of sex and booze to go around. However, this tropical paradise begins to disintegrate when a masked killer with a machete starts hacking up the staff. Given a warning that the guests will be killed if they tell anyone, the crew of Pleasure Island continue to drop like flies as they try to discover the identity of the mystery killer.
There are hysterical scenes that take solid jabs at traditional slasher flicks, namely the opening sequence in which a couple runs into the woods for a quickie but are diced up like celery. Broken Lizard manages to poke fun at the genre without falling into the trap of recycling old Scooby-Doo jokes.
Fans of “Super Troopers” should have a blast at this film. The guys in Broken Lizard actually swapped roles rather nicely to prove they could at least be diverse within their own world. For example, Kevin Heffernan who played the nemesis Farva in “Super Troopers” is painted as one of the good guys in “Club Dread.”
In a lot of ways, “Club Dread” legitimizes Broken Lizard because it shows they didn’t just have one type of movie in them. Steve Lemme, who was a hick state trooper in “Super Troopers” plays the Latino hunk Juan, and director Jay Chandrasekhar, who was also a hick state trooper in “Super Troopers” (heck, everyone was a hick state trooper in that movie), plays the uptight British rastafarian Putnam.
For those expecting a jiggle factor in this film, Broken Lizard delivers this more than it did in “Super Troopers.” The cast of young hotties at the Pleasure Island resort flash plenty of skin for the cameras, including a jaw-dropping scene with Jordan Ladd that will leave you with much fonder memories than her teeth-baring scene in “Cabin Fever.”
Bill Paxton turns in a hysterical performance as Jimmy Buffet knock-off Coconut Pete. Paxton, who first became famous for his role as the wisecracking Hudson in “Aliens,” is hysterical as this aging hipster. It’s nice to see that while Paxton has tried his hand in serious work – both successfully (as in “A Simple Plan”) and unsuccessfully (as in “Vertical Limit”) – he still isn’t lost from his talent for comedy. Coconut Pete should become a memorable character in Paxton’s repertoire to join the ranks with Hudson from “Aliens” and Simon from “True Lies.”
Will “Club Dread” go down in history as the frat house favorite that “Super Troopers” did? I couldn’t tell you. I happened to see “Super Troopers” sober, so it probably wasn’t as funny to me as it could have been. I enjoyed “Club Dread” better, mainly because it was a goofy slasher flick as much as it was a jiggle-fest screwball comedy.