There’s a problem inherent in making a spoof of a crappy horror comedy flick: in order to get to the spoof comedy, the audience still has to wade through the crappy horror flick. Club Dread looks like something a band of stoned ex-Comedy Central staffers would come up with after one too many film nights and stand-up comedy routines. The film wants to have it both ways: to laugh at all the bloody gore and T&A on display, but to still leave plenty of bloody gore and T&A on display. Not unlike their last film, Super Troopers, the comedy team Broken Lizard (seemingly trying to brand themselves as the new National Lampoon) puts themselves in all the starring roles here and brings on one real actor to anchor the thing. The last time around, it was Brian Cox. This time it’s Bill Paxton, playing washed-up, Jimmy Buffett-esque rocker Coconut Pete, who runs an island resort with a suitably nubile, randy and none-too-bright staff. There’s trouble on Coconut Pete’s Pleasure Island, though, and before the opening credits, a trio of staffers—who tempt the horror fates by drinking, getting stoned and having a threesome in a mausoleum—get butchered by a masked, machete-wielding maniac. The movie proper starts off pretty cleverly with a flashback to an hour before the killing, when a fresh boatload of tourists arrive, and as the major characters are introduced, just about every one of them gets the classic slow-mo/ominous music zoom-in to establish them as a possible killer or red herring. After that, the movie starts marking time, employing and checking off as many major horror flick tropes as it can, and the results are pretty sketchy. There are some high points, such as when a woman tries to escape from the killer in a golf cart which moves so slowly that the killer (walking in that lumbering, determined manner familiar to Michael Myers and his ilk) is able to just stroll up and easily dispatch her, or when a tennis pro defends himself from the killer by hitting him/her with tennis balls. But most of the movie fades from memory before you’ve even left the theater. While at first it’s a relief that Broken Lizard doesn’t try to spoof specific horror films, a la the Scary Movie franchise, that might ultimately have been a better road for it to have taken—at least then it might have been possible to remember more of the film.
Save for the occasional flecks of dirt noticeable during the opening title sequence, Broken Lizard's Club Dread receives a top-notch transfer here. In fact, this may be one of Fox Home Entertainment's best transfers to date. Though the film isn't exactly well directed or composed, the colors are gorgeous, blacks are deep, skin tones are remarkable, and there's no evidence of shimmering, compression artifacts, or edge enhancement throughout. That said, the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track is a little disappointing. Club Dread is a very talky film, and though dialogue is perfectly discernable, it sounds a little boxed in. It's as if everything was kept on the same center channel, in essence negating the very definition of surround. Even the Coconut Pete songs and the killer's wielding blade can't bring much dynamism to the track.
Broken Lizard fans rejoice. The no-bullshit features included on this DVD edition of Club Dread include a soundtrack spot and two commentary tracks: one with director Jay Chandrasekhar and Erik Stolhanske and a second with Paul Soter, Steve Lemme, and Kevin Hefferman. The second one is more fun (don't miss the trio's rendition of the Fox Searchlight theme music), but the first one goes heavier on the anecdotes. In fact, they're pretty non-stop: Danny Boyle apparently shot the opening title sequence; digital wizards had to remove Erik's "stack" during the campfire sequence; and since the film's extras were cast in Mexico, you can tell that the supposedly white resort in the film isn't, well, so white after all during some long shots.
No prissy making-of features. Instead: two solid commentary tracks from the boys of Broken Lizard. Fans will rejoice, even if they didn't think the film was that funny.