The terribly underrated Bill Paxton plays Coconut Pete, a Jimmy Buffet style musician who runs a private resort island paradise called Pleasure Island. The waitresses are hot and willing, the drinks are strong and very often spiked with certain 'treats' and there's plenty of music, partying and fun to be had by all who chose to spend their vacation time in such a place.
When the latest batch of sexy vacationers show up from the mainland, things turn a little ugly for Pete and his crew of faithful (or not so faithful as it may be) employees when someone starts killing off the guests and staff in increasingly sinister ways.
That's the plot in a nutshell, and if it sounds like a run of the mill slasher that's okay because essentially that's what the movie is and that's how it's best viewed. There are a lot of great comedic elements thrown in by the Broken Lizard troupe but nothing that even comes close to the infamous (and pee your pants its so funny) bear copulating scene from their sophomore effort, Super Troopers. The laughs here are a little more subtle and a lot less over the top in both their scope and in their physical comedy.
Club Dread more or less follows the standard 'tried, tested and true' slasher film formula made so profitable by stalk and kill films like the Friday The 13th and Sleepaway Camp films. Those looking for gratuitous female flesh and some decent gore shouldn't be too disappointed, and for a movie that is almost as much a comedy as it is a horror film, it has a surprisingly high bloodshed factor going for it.
Some of the clichés that it hits on have been poked and prodded at before by the likes of the Scary Movie films but the fact that Club Dread plays things slightly straighter than those Wayan's Bros. wankfests means that this is the more effective variation of the modern horror movie send up. Despite some goofy acting (I think Jay Chandrasekhar is hilarious but some of his dialogue delivery in this film is pushing it) and a couple of moments in the script where you kind of scratch your head and wonder, Club Dread isn't a half bad horror comedy.
With that out of the way, what's in this new Unrated Version that isn't in the R-rated version released by Fox not all that long ago? In a nutshell, not really all that much. The film clocks in at fourteen minutes longer than its theatrically screened counterpart and after watching this unrated cut, one has to wonder what exactly would have been chopped from this version to keep it out of the dreaded NC-17 category? There's only slightly more gore, a couple of black and white shots that accent some of the action, a bit more subplot/characterization, and a new storyline worked in that involves a pair of police visiting from off of the island. The sex and violence ante isn't upped much at all in this version, despite the blurb on the back that states this version is 'sexier' and 'scarier.' It just seems like most of this material was cut by the filmmakers to keep the running time down, rather than to avoid any problems with the censors.
The anamorphic widescreen 2.35.1 transfer does show some mild grain and a little bit of shimmering here and there but is quite pleasant to look at for the most part. Edge enhancement is minor and not too much of a problem and while the shimmering is a little distracting, there aren't any problems with print damage or clarity on the image. There's a nice level of detail present throughout and color separation is quite strong. Flesh tones look lifelike and natural and black levels stay pretty solid.
Most of what the rear channels are used for in this Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track is background music, but there are some jungle noises and club noises in a few scenes that come at you from some interesting angles. Dialogue is never a problem to understand and the channel separation is pretty distinct and clean sounding. When those jump scares happen during the movie this mix makes sure that you know it by properly boosting the volume just a tiny bit to make the moment a little more effective. Optional subtitles are available in English and Spanish, and there is an English closed captioning selection as well.
Director/co-writer/star Jay Chandrasekhar and co-writer/co-star Erik Stolhanske are on tap for the first of two commentary tracks. Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, and Paul Soter are lined up for the second track. A lot of the same ground is covered in the two commentaries but they're still worth sitting through once if you enjoy Broken Lizard's wacky antics. They manage to provide some interesting facts about the production into the mix along with a whole lot of humor to boot, which makes for a pretty entertaining romp. Now, if you listened to the tracks on the R-rated DVD release, these commentaries are going to sound familiar and that's because they're almost the same. Note that I said 'almost' and not 'completely' because they have been padded out to an extent so that there is discussion of the newly reinstated footage that wasn't on the previous edition. So you've essentially got the two old commentary tracks, each now with roughly fourteen minutes of new 'talk' worked into them.
Next up in the supplements section is a selection of twenty-two scenes that were either cut or trimmed. There's good news and bad news about this feature. The bad news is that a lot of this material is reinstated into this unrated version of the film, so you've already seen them if you watch the movie before moving on to the supplements. The good news is that there are a few clips that aren't in either the unrated version or the R-rated version of the film, and even better yet these have all got optional commentary available from Jay Chandrasekhar and Erik Stolhanske that proves to be rather amusing.
Rounding out the extra features are a trailer for Club Dread as well as one for the upcoming release of Barry Blaustein's The Ringer starring Johnny Knoxville of Jackass fame.
Club Dread sends up the slasher genre with ease while simultaneously functioning as on in its own right, providing a couple of good scary moments in addition to some great laughs. While the film isn't as uproariously funny as Super Troopers was, it's still worth seeing and the Fox release of this Unrated Version comes recommended, especially if you don't already own the theatrical cut on DVD.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.