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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Jay Chandrasekhar
Cast:
Bill Paxton, Jay Chandrasekhar, Elena Lyons, Dan Montgomery Jr., Tanja Reichert, Nat Faxon, Michael Weaver, Kevin Heffernan, Michael Yurchak, Jordan Ladd, Brittany Daniel
Writing Credits:
Broken Lizard (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske)

Tagline:
A vacation to die for.

Synopsis:
Broken Lizard is back ... and this time the crazy comedy troupe that brought you Super Troopers is taking you on a trip so outrageously fun ... it's murder.

Welcome to Coconut Pete's Pleasure Island, a tropical, tequila-soaked vacation resort where high-spirited fun soon takes a deadly turn-leaving the island's hilariously inept staff to battle a machete-wielding maniac. Broken Lizard's Club Dread is a comedy to die for!

Box Office:
Budget
$9 million.
Opening Weekend
$3.035 million on 1807 screens.
Domestic Gross
$4.992 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 104 min.
Price: $27.98
Release Date: 5/25/2004

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Actor/Director Jay Chandrasekhar and Actor Erik Stolhanske
• Audio Commentary with Actors Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, and Paul Soter
• Soundtrack Spot


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EQUIPMENT
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Club Dread (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 22, 2004)

Via 2001’s Super Troopers, the comedy group Broken Lizard made a minor name for themselves. With a budget of only $3 million, the movie took in a pretty good $18 million and gave the Lizards some name recognition.

They followed up Troopers in 2004 with a horror spoof called Club Dread. It proved less successful. The budget tripled, which left it a still-modest $9 million, but the flick couldn’t even make back that small sum. Dread snagged less than $5 million at the box office.

It didn’t deserve even that minor total. Set on Pleasure Island, Costa Rica, the flick opens with a vicious attack on Rolo (Dan Montgomery Jr.), Stacy (Elena Lyons) and Kellie (Tanja Reichert). The movie then hops back one hour to set up matters. We see the setting of the resort owner by faded pop star Coconut Pete (Bill Paxton) and meet a roster of characters who include aerobics instructor Jenny (Brittany Daniel), watersports chief Juan (Steve Lemme), tennis pro Putman (Jay Chandrasekhar), DJ/drugs meister Dave (Paul Soter), and “Fun Police: Sam (Erik Stolhanske). New masseur Lars Brunckhorst (Kevin Heffernan) enters this situation and gets to know the crew. We also get to know some of the guests such as Penelope (Jordan Ladd), who claims to be a student at Oral Roberts University.

Not much real story follows. We watch a masked maniac off various members of the staff. The killer sends riddles to keep them puzzled, and those add to the tension. Pete eventually brings in his tour head of security Hank (MC Gainey) to find the killer. The rest of the movie follows their efforts to track the murderer as the body count rises.

At one point in time, a spoof of slasher flicks and teen sex comedies might have seemed fresh and clever. Unfortunately, Club Dread comes about 20 years too late. How do you parody a genre that now so often parodies itself? Sure, Dread tosses in the sex elements with a dollop of Agatha Christie, but these bits fail to seem provocative or involving either.

One problem comes from the way the movie telegraphs so many of its gags. It mocks the slasher flick tendency to use cheap scares with red herrings and false alarms, but it does this relentlessly. The film comes packed with these comedic attempts to jab the lame frights, and these get old really quickly.

Clearly the filmmakers don’t trust the audience to get the gags on their own, as they spell out many of them to a ridiculous degree. At first, Coconut Pete seems like a fairly clever knock on Jimmy Buffett, but the Broken Lizard boys can’t leave well enough alone. Not only do they give Pete a song called “Pina Coladaburg”, but eventually they have a character request “Margaritaville”, which prompts a profane tirade from Pete about how much he hates Buffett. The movie doesn’t need to spell things out so heavily; either you’ll get the gag or you won’t, but beating us over the head with the concept makes it less and less funny.

Does anything good happen during Dread? Jordan Ladd looks exceptionally good topless, and I did like the spoof of The Shining in which guests play real-life Pac-Man in a giant hedge maze. If Club Dread offered more moments of cleverness and inspiration like that, it might have turned into something entertaining. Unfortunately, it just comes across as stale and tired, with little new to give an audience.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C+/ Bonus B-

Club Dread appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Don’t expect too many problems from this strong presentation.

Sharpness usually seemed solid. A few wide shots showed some light softness, but those failed to occur too frequently. Most of the image was nicely defined and distinctive. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no issues, and only a little light edge enhancement appeared at times. As for print flaws, I noticed almost no concerns, as the movie showed only one or two small bits of grit.

Colors seemed very positive. As one might expect of a movie set on a tropical island, it featured bright and vibrant colors that almost always came across as dynamic and vivid. Black levels were dense and warm, while shadows seemed well developed. Even nightclub interiors demonstrated good definition and articulation. I found the image of Dread to consistently seem very positive.

On the other hand, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Club Dread seemed fairly mediocre. The soundfield was unexceptional but it worked fine for his sort of flick. It presented a decent sense of atmosphere but not too much more than that. Some scenes in the jungle opened up the spectrum fairly well, and these offered a few of the movie’s examples of active surround usage. For example, some birds flew across the back speakers at one point. Otherwise, the movie tended toward general ambience and didn’t bring out much.

Audio quality was decent but a bit flawed. Speech created some of the problems. Much of the time, the lines were reasonably natural, but they occasionally demonstrated some flatness and also showed more than a few examples of edginess. The score offered good breadth and range, but the non-score songs were strangely bland and boxy. Effects played a generally small role, but they were acceptably accurate and distinctive. Bass response periodically kicked in with some moderate depth and that was about it. Ultimately, the audio of Club Dread seemed acceptably but somewhat erratic.

Not too many extras show up on Club Dread. In addition to a 30-second soundtrack spot, we find two separate audio commentaries. The first presents remarks from actor/director Jay Chandrasekhar and actor Erik Stolhanske, both of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion. The pair seem generally chatty, as the track suffers from only a few dead spots, but unfortunately, they don’t really tell us a ton about the making of the movie.

Particularly during its early moments, the commentary suffers from Farrelly Syndrome, whereby the guys mainly just name participants in the flick. They also get into subjects like various film references, elements of the shoot, and gags that they like. Probably the most interesting part of the chat comes when they tell us of Jimmy Buffett’s reaction to the Coconut Pete character, though those remarks come across as somewhat self-congratulatory since they let us know how much Buffett loved the spoof. The commentary remains fairly pleasant and occasionally amusing, but it lacks much real information.

For the second commentary, we hear from actors Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, and Paul Soter, all of whom offer their own running, screen-specific discussion. Expect a piece that seems fairly similar to the prior one. The guys go through a mix of topics related to the film, with an emphasis on their experiences during the shoot as well as some changes from the original script. A moderate amount of repetition occurs between the two tracks; for example, we hear the same story about the genesis of Juan’s pronunciation of “Penelope” both places. Occasional gaps occur, but not many, and the participants mostly seem chatty and lively. As with the first commentary, this one fails to present a great deal of informative pieces, but it comes across as moderately entertaining and useful.

Note that only the soundtrack spot appears on both sides of the DVD. The two commentaries solely accompany the widescreen presentation of the film.

A movie that came out about 20 years too late, Club Dread offers a toothless and tired spoof. We’ve seen too many flicks that covered similar territory, and this one lacks anything new or creative to add. The DVD presents very good picture with fairly mediocre sound and a couple of generally enjoyable audio commentaries. I think the disc brings Dread to DVD reasonably well, but it’s simply not a very good film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.1363 Stars Number of Votes: 22
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