Wednesday, 10 August 2011



Unsurprising confession: I like slasher movies. I recognise they're not great art, they're not Bergman or Antonioni or Fellini but at their best they're terrific fun. Even when they're strictly average there's some gruesome entertainment to be had: the higher the bodycount and the grislier the gore, the better. There's little joy to be had in a 15-rated timewaster with only three discreet deaths in it, but a zippy 80-minuter with a couple of gruesome impalings or dismemberments every reel is a cheerfully shameful pleasure. The best entries in the Friday The 13th saga and the subsequent wave of campus slasher ripoffs, such as The Prowler, or even something as terrible as Pieces: disreputable and gratuitous they may be but they are enjoyable.

Club Dread is a slasher movie set in an island holiday resort in Costa Rica: as stoners, nubile nymphomaniacs and drunken cretins gather to party non-stop at Coconut Pete's island paradise, a masked maniac is macheteing his way through the entire staff, each of whom is even more sex-obsessed than the customers. Does the island really have its own bogeyman forever prowling the island hacking down everyone he encounters? Might it have something to do with the ancient Mayan cemetery in the middle of the jungle? Or is the more prosaic truth that the murderer is simply one of the staff?

Fine. The tropical locations look nice, Bill Paxton's obviously having fun, there's a substantial number of victims piling up towards the end and there's a fair amount of blood spurting about the place. Where Club Dread falls down is that, nominally at least, it's a comedy: a spoof of slasher movies which isn't actually funny as a comedy and is no more amusing than many a straight slasher movie. Even the Friday The 13ths have funny moments in them, and the laugh ratio isn't noticeably higher here. It's made by the Broken Lizard outfit: the team who gave us the mediocre Super Troopers, led by Jay Chandrasekhar, who would go on to the stratospheric heights of directing the movie version of The Dukes Of Hazzard.

At close on two hours it's a ridiculously overlong film and could have done with anything up to half an hour being trimmed out. As a slasher movie it's no better or worse than a hundred others - despite the relatively high production values it's strictly average - but as a comedy it's seriously lacking, the one big joke being that absolutely everyone has a remarkably convoluted backstory that potentially marks them out as a supremely unlikely killer (in the event, the actual maniac is the one with the feeblest of motivations). There are just enough moments to prevent it from being totally worthless, but there really did need to be many more.


Judge Dread:

No comments: