Friday, April 22, 2016

Bloody Coconuts and Reggae Horror Shows: Club Dread (2004)

Club Dread (2004)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Jay Chandrasekhar, Bill Paxton, Kevin Heffernan

I should start off by saying I am not familiar with the comedy group Broken Lizard outside of this "slasher spoof" and I'm not sure I get their definition of  a "spoof", being the kind of guy who grew up watching and loving spoofs like Airplane!, The Naked Gun series, the Hot Shots duo and the first three Scary Movie movies. Still, if they can do a decent slasher comedy like this with their brand of funnies then, hell, they can shit in a box and call it comedy for all I care.

Somewhere in Costa Rica is Coconut Pete's Pleasure Island, a place for swinging partiers and drunk vacationers to spend a week under the sun, having fun, and getting some. That is until someone in a rainslicker and carrying a mean kukri, who may or may not be the island's urban legend figure "Machete Phil", begins to drop the guest and staff count down one kill at a time. The further the days go and the more victims pile up, the harder the staff tries to convince everyone that everything's under control and that nobody else is gonna bite it during their stay. Of course, this is a load of bull as the killer eventually makes a scene and all hell breaks loose.

As mentioned, I never heard of the Broken Lizard group before seeing this and never really bothered to see their other movies after, hence I am not sure how much of their comedy was applied here, but one thing is certain and that is Club Dread's barely the usual spoof one would expect. (At least not in today's Epic Movie and Disaster Movie infested celluloid) In fact, this is hardly a spoof as it is more of a real slasher movie with a few comedic moments, as the jokes here are hardly quippier than your usual sex and drugs mishaps commonly found in 80s and 90s college/sex comedies, sets of old hat jokey dialogues and camp-grade situations that try to be offensive or interesting but barely denting out any comedy gold from the attempts. Granted I did smirked and chuckled at some jokes but I've seen many of these supposedly hilarious stunts done before from gag shows and other (more) decent comedy flicks, making a whole gaggle of these quips a hit-or-miss.

In the end, I believe Club Dread did better with its slasher elements, with the killer played straight, the murders being gruesome, and there is actually a sense of dread and mystery underneath the cheeky tone and colorful characters. Club Dread may not have twisted the flow enough to make it a unique spoof, but it follows the rules and cliches with so much respect and understanding, all the while delivering some interesting set-pieces for the murders both straight and comical, I actually learned to overthrow the point that this film was intended to poke fun at the very tropes it is ironically playing quite well. (The Pac Man maze, for instance. Who knew watching a guy dressed up as a yellow blob trying to run away from a killer dressed up as a pineapple would be so thrilling yet so random at the same time.)

The plotting is also a treat from this movie, taking cues from Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indian as the killer appears to base their murder spree from the lyrics of a stoner song. And with nearly everyone having some backstory and suspicious quirks, Club Dread does away the whodunit treatment with some flair before we have our killer revealed at the hour mark and swerving into a campy survivalist-type bodycounter.

Being a film funded and released by a big company like 20th Century Fox, you can expect the best (if not just great) production quality from this movie. The picture looks slick, the audio is great, and it boasts some of the more entertaining set of victims, suspects, and red herrings-to-be. (Including Bill Paxton as the stoner, singer and island owner Coconut Pete) Gore effects are minimal as the killer prefers traditional slaying like hackings and slashings, but the build-up to these killings are great, plus we did have a funky head rolling on an electronic turntable and villain's own great demise to satisfy a little of our gore lust.

Overall, though I am unimpressed by the comedy elements played with here, I love the rest of Club Dread as a fairly decent hack as an early 2000s slasher. A cult classic among more open slasher fans and die-hard Broken Lizard groupies, I for one am one of the former and proud to say that this is one of the better slasher comedies I've seen around this bloody and interesting hobby of mine. If you're yet to see it, expect some laughs, expect some blood and expect a fair bodycounter. That's all you have to know!

1 male slashed through with a kukri
1 female falls off a cliff
1 female decapitated with a kukri
1 male stabbed to death with a kitchen knife
1 male slashed on the gut with a kukri
1 male had his throat cut with a kukri
1 female hacked armless with a kukri
2 males immolated in explosion
1 male electrocuted in a pool with a live TV
1 male found hanged
1 male decapitated with a kukri
1 male gets a thrown kukri to his chest
1 male found with his gut hacked open
1 male crushed and bisected with ropes, drowns
Total: 15

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