With Super Troopers 2 now (or, “meow”) in theaters, I thought it appropriate to honor Broken Lizard’s Club Dread for this month’s Drinking With The Dread. Dread Central, Club Dread, Drinking With The Dread, Putman’s dreadlocks, dreadful tones – HOW MUCH MORE DREAD DO YOU NEED?!! [In a very Al Snow voice] WHAT DOES EVERYBODY WANT?! DREAD!!!!
Club Dread satirizes “classic” tropes of horrors past like drunken buddies might while circling a campfire. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done – over, and over, and over – but as a Super Troopers/Beerfest enthusiast, I respect how Broken Lizard carves their genre buffoonery with precision “stupidity.” Bro-centric horndog jokes, nudity, and sex-first humor define Club Dread, yet frameworks remain sufficiently cognizant of the slasher puzzle reassembling at play. Acts I and II are torn from vacation comedies of yesteryear – but Act III slices with intent to kill. Jokes on you, doubters.
At the center of everything is burnout musician Coconut Pete – basically Jimmy Buffett but totally not, played by Bill Paxton. After a life of bongs, groupies and tour dates, Pete opens a Costa Rican resort destination he dubs “Pleasure Island.” Newbie masseuse Lars (Kevin Heffernan) reports for his first assignment, but the fun and games quickly end once a killer starts offing staff members according to lyrics found in one of Pete’s old sea shanties (“Naughty Cal”). Cue Lars and a collection of Pleasure Island workers doing their best to stay calm while keeping visitors safe – which, as you can expect, goes horribly awry.
For Broken Lizard boosters, half the film’s fun comes from watching rostered comedians test different character arcs and personas. Heffernan, for example, sheds his Officer Farva obnoxiousness to play fingers-of-gold maestro Lars (liter-cola zero to “suave” hero). Jay Chandrasekhar tries his hand at abrasiveness as pervy and awkward tennis instructor Putman, Steve Lemme plays the hairless Latin gigolo Juan, Paul Soter is the island’s bleary-eyed DJ and drug dealer – it’s a notable evolution to track from Puddle Cruiser to Super Troopers and then Club Dread, if only because Erik Stolhanske breaks from his “Rabbit” shell to play Sam, the “Fun Police” employee with a water gun full of tequila and energy to match.
As stated, Acts I and II are staged on the lotion-slathered backs of unaware Pleasure Island guests. Regular supporting talents Nat Faxon and Michael Weaver spend their entire stay overcompensating masculine qualities by talking about which female “targets” will “get it” – aggressive brotendencies undone by an accidental hug – along with Samm Levine and his self-proclaimed gigantic…well, you know. Dialogue can get a bit dodgy and uncouth, much like any fraternal comedy of the early 2000s. Aerobics instructor Annie (Brittany Daniel) spends scene after scene fighting off the advances of Putman and other clueless sorts, but it’s never detrimental or cringy. Broken Lizard start their genre commentary not on horror, but American Pie comedies of the same sticky qualities.
Then it’s to Act III where the atmosphere tightens. Everyone believes urban legend Machete Phil has come to seek his revenge on Paradise Island, and while I won’t say if this is true, I will confirm the slasher homages are far wittier than costumed Pac-Man pretzels and watermelons boinking. Once the killer is outed, humor simmers on the backburner – it’s all about jungle survival. And maybe an orgasm joke. BUT STILL MOSTLY SURVIVAL.
[Redacted] owns his-or-her role as the film’s machete-wielding stalker, complete with one of my favorite “killer gets up and smiles a lunatic’s grin” awakenings. Then severed body parts start popping and…ugh. It’s hard because Club Dread most certainly hasn’t been viewed by all so I’m staying spoiler free. Just trust that all the best surprises are direct responses to horror generics that still plague genre offerings to this day. So wonderfully lite-and-airy thanks to Broken Lizard’s booze-drenched charm.
Highlight moments include but are not limited to:
- Not one, but *two* Buffalo Bill tucks?
- So many red herrings you’ll be smelling fishy for days.
- Bill Paxton as the stringy-hair product of 70s psychedelics abuse.
- “Yu,” the name that keeps on giving.
- Why is everyone talking about “shit” so much?
- So many practical corpses.
- Real life Pac-Man.
- Steve Lemme’s accent.
- Jordan Ladd.
Time to hop aboard the Pleasure Island express! Here are the Drinking With The Dread rules for Broken Lizard’s Club Dread:
- Drink every time the signature “ominous music” kicks in.
- Drink every time there’s a sexual reference, sexual innuendo or sexual joke (physical or verbal).
- Drink every time you hear the word “machete” or see a machete.
- Drink every time a character dies.
- Drink TWICE when you see a monkey or hear a monkey noise (gorillas included).
- Drink TWICE whenever you hear a Coconut Pete song.
- Take a shot when Coconut Pete makes his final entrance through the window.
My test run for this month was carried out in bed on a Sunday morning, with water, as an unexpected hangover cure. Who knew a night of barroom swillage could be treated by preparing a drinking game and sipping H2O from a leftover can? As I learned – because this is what I do for y’all – you should have about 3-4 beers handy. The “sex joke” rule is a killer – Broken Lizard has no filter when it comes to “Oral Roberts” and gymnast puns. Get ready to chug *a lot* on behalf of intercourse-crazed resort patrons.
Can I get one last cheers for Club Dread? It’s easy to write off vacation horror that starts with a blowjob gag (lol), b00bz and “Spring Break” deaths – but there’s so much more to Broken Lizard’s sanguine swipe at slasher cinema. It’s everything you’ve seen before because *that’s exactly what they’re making fun of.* Psycho motives, characters who make illogical choices, more misunderstandings than you can shake a calamari tentacle at. This a horror lover’s movie that pokes fun by emulation, and for that we should be thankful. You’ll laugh, you’ll laugh some more, and continue laughing as the bodies pile up. I’d say that’s how a horror comedy should work.