Club Dread is the sort of movie that is quite comfortable showing several sets of firm breasts, a torso that lives on after being severed from its lower half, and the sight of a man dressed as a pretzel having sex with a woman dressed as a slice of watermelon, all comfortably tucked within a slasher movie plot, featuring Bill Paxton as a man named Coconut Pete. It’s all in good fun, of course, only I can’t imagine the sort of person who would derive anything other than an obscene level of pain from one of the most pointless exercises I’ve seen in quite some time. It’s the sort of film where the following exchange takes place:
She: “I attend Oral Roberts; I am here on spring break.”
He: “Is that anything like Anal Johnson? Or is that a Dirty Sanchez?”
And it’s the sort of film that features an island legend about a psychopath named “Machete Phil,” a disturbed young lad who was tricked into having sex with a corpse and in his quest for revenge, slaughtered the entire staff of the resort where the story now takes place. And did I mention that Ol’ Phil sliced off his own penis? A tale for the ages, my friend.
The scene is Coconut Pete’s Pleasure Island, a tiny resort near Costa Rica; a place where the only activities seem to be drinking, fucking, and exercising, which makes one wonder why anyone would travel thousands of miles to do what they do at home. Coconut Pete is styled after Jimmy Buffett, right down to a signature song called “Pina Coladaburg.” Yes, hilarious. While trying to find the killer that has surfaced a mere five minutes after a staff member brings up Machete Phil, it is discovered that Pete’s lyrics are providing much-needed clues; in ways, of course, that are too dull to repeat here. Still, several people are stabbed, a few others sliced, a head or two is removed, and cryptic messages are carved into the chests of victims. Worst of all, I had to watch Neal from Freaks and Geeks get electrocuted in a pool while trying to seduce a chick twice his age. It’s all so terribly embarrassing.
It turns out that the killer is a disgruntled employee who is pissed that Pete is turning over the resort to a hated rival rather than himself. Until this Agatha Christiesque mystery is uncovered, however, we are marched through the standard — and endless — red herrings, complete with sinister close-ups and haunting music. We hear blades being sharpened that turn out to be false alarms, and what we think are shots of the killer that turn out to be other characters in disguise, for no other reason than we must believe that they are about to slice the throat of some poor sap. So while it appears that Club Dread is a parody, or at least a silly comedy, there are stretches where it appears to take itself seriously, which is either refreshing given that there is far too much self-consciousness in cinema today, or the most depressing fact imaginable, as some dipshit thought he was making something competent. It’s not at all scary, nor suspenseful, and the tit shots were too brief to provide any real excitement. There are a few PG-13 sex scenes, but nothing approaching genuine eroticism or even a cheap thrill.
In one of the few bits of news to give me pause in my quest to see humanity exterminated, a little internet research revealed that Club Dread made under $5 million at the box office. Mind you, this trash was released in February, the one month that signifies a studio’s lack of confidence more than any other, but one would think that enough teenagers would be excited by the prospect of blood-soaked boobs to at least make it a modest hit. But the normally easy-to-distract young ones stayed away, and just this once, I’ll throw a slight grin in their direction. Club Dread may indeed become a cult favorite on home video, but there’s nothing so far to prove that it didn’t get lost in the shuffle. So if you must see it, the experience won’t be fatal, but you will be pushed to the brink. And Pete’s album “Sea Shanties & Wet Panties” just might be the thing to topple you over for good.