B R I E F   S Y N O P S I S
From the Broken Lizard comedy troupe and writer/director Jay Chandrasekhar (Super Troopers) comes a comic romp about a hedonistic swinging-singles island resort. When a machete-wielding serial killer appears on the premises, disturbing the tropical bacchanal of limber, wanton women, the frenzied staff must do their best to prevent bloodshed or face losing their business. Co-stars Brittany Daniel, M.C. Gainey (Happy, Texas), and Bill Paxton as "Coconut Pete."
  Club Dread

In setting out to make Club Dread, our plan was to make a late '70s/early '80s horror film, with a high and bloody body count, while simultaneously keeping it smart, cutting edge and hilarious. It wouldn't be a spoof, but more a film that could slot in, at least plot wise, along with such films as Friday the 13th or Halloween or Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.

The basic idea of the film was this: Bill Paxton was to play the aging island rock star, Coconut Pete Wabash. Coco Pete was a Jimmy Buffet-style rocker who bought an island and created a resort devoted to his lifestyle of drinking margaritas, smoking grass and getting laid. (The resort is called Pleasure Island.) The guys from Broken Lizard and a few other funny, talented actors and actresses were to play the staff of this hedonist resort. (pause) And then one by one, we'd all get horribly murdered. It was to be a whodunnit, a slasher film and a hilarious comedy, all rolled into one. The film was to be called Club Dread.

Horror and laughter are two sides of the same coin. When you are scared, you scream, and when you realize it's okay, you laugh. Right? Don't ya think? Well that's what we told Fox Searchlight when we asked them to pay for us to take over a gorgeous resort on the west coast of Mexico, and splatter it in blood.

In doing research for the film, we watched horror films and island comedies.

Not to slag off other people's films, but there really haven't been many (read any) good island comedies. Although the actors in the films looked like they were having a good time, the films themselves were really not very funny. My theory on why this was the case was crucial, I think, to the future execution of Club Dread.

The theory:

Beach resorts are all about relaxing. You drink margaritas, slather on suntan lotion and flirt with strangers in hopes of falling in love, at least for a night. The greatest resorts are places where you have nothing to worry about.

Film sets are all about tension. Producers lean on you to work faster, studio execs implore you to do it cheaper, and the weather can either be your greatest ally or your worst enemy. You can literally hear the money rolling through the camera. The greatest films are made in high pressure situations.

Beach resorts and film shoots do not mix well.

If we were to succeed in Mexico, we had to follow one important rule: "No matter what happens, don't relax. You're going to be at a five star resort on the Pacific Ocean, there are going to be lots of hot girls in bikinis, there will be fruity drinks and cigarettes made of local grasses, but keep tense. Remember you're here to make a film, not to get a tan (I already have one anyway). Don't let the good feeling you get from having a good time in Mexico fool you into thinking that you are making a good film. You're in the big leagues now. Don't blow it for a good time."

So there we are, at sunset, along with much of the cast and crew, having just finished the fifteenth day of shooting, floating in the Pacific Ocean, as was our daily custom. We'd had a hilarious day shooting the rather gory death of one of our cast members. "More blood please." How do I say that in Spanish again? Sadly, shooting his death scene meant this actor would be leaving us to go back to America. We joked about how maybe we could do a last second rewrite, where the suntanned ghost of his now dead character came back to haunt the island or maybe we could write him into the sequel. Club Dread 2, The Revenge of...The Revenge of...well The Revenge of whatever. We just wanted everyone to stay down there, forever and keep shooting film. Were we having too good a time? That night, I watched Jaws to punish myself. Focus, man.

We work the next week. We're behind schedule. The studio is complaining via long distance telephone. Tension has come back to the set. I'm not having such a good time anymore. Is this how it's supposed to be?

Mexican Independence Day comes and we all have the next two days off. Six of us from the cast and crew decided to venture into the town of Manzanillo to celebrate. I have some shot listing work to do the next day, so I plan to take it easy on the booze. We spend the night in our Mexican friend Bago's surf bar, eating pork tacos, drinking tequila and watching Monday Night Football.

There's supposed to be a fireworks show later, just after "the beauty parade." Bago, who speaks halting English, keeps telling us that the real attraction is going to be the firecracker bull. He tells me that they attach bottle rockets to a bull and then set it on fire, while everyone runs through the street. I looked at him, confused. "They set the bull on fire?" He makes horns with his fingers and bulges his eyes: "KABOOM!" He smiles. "Last year, a tourist got burned on her face." He arches his brow, looking to see if I am scared. I'm still not sure what he was talking about, so I just shrug, do my best Mexican sneer and have another tequila.

We hear some honking outside. It's the beauty parade. A line of convertibles filled with pretty girls dressed in white dresses and crowns drives by. The girls smile and throw candy at us. We shout, "Viva la Mexico!"

We venture down to the square where it seems the whole town is assembled. A man has a booth set up with a bucket of snowball sized rocks and three rows of empty Pacifico beer bottles. We pay him fifty pesos for the chance to throw three rocks at the bottles. If we break one, he gives us a can of beer. If we miss, the rock clangs loudly against the tin wall behind the bottles. It's just about the most fun I've had all year. Ingredients: Tin wall, empty beer bottles and rocks. Viva la Mexico!

Word starts to spread that the firework bull is about to come out. Is this like the running of the bulls, but with fireworks? Did Pamplona need topping? Are flip-flops the right shoes for this? Everyone else is wearing them.

So the bull comes out. Ah, I see. It's a wire framed bull, not a real one at all. The bull has wooden handles sticking out of its mid section. Children (aged ten to fourteen) are carrying it to the center of the square. Oh yeah, there are about two hundred and fifty bottle rockets tied into it, with one long fuse. As I'm piecing together the fact that there are about a thousand people crowded around this bull, a kid lights the fuse... SCREEEEEEAAAAAM, KABOOOOOOOOM! Bottle rockets start shooting everywhere. Three kids are holding the bull by these
handles, running through the crowd, as rockets shoot in indiscriminate directions, hitting sides of buildings and cars and people and definitely the three kids who couldn't be having more fun. SCREEEEEECH! KABOOOOM! There we were, running alongside the great firecracker bull of independent Mexico, screaming "Viva! Viva!" and ducking and running and laughing.

Shooting the movie was different after that. I wasn't really tense anymore. In fact, I was relaxed. I realized that to shoot a truly good movie in Mexico, you had to embrace Mexico for all she was worth. She was wild, unpredictable, unbelievably hilarious Mexico. We made a good film too. Yeah we used Fox's money, but it's our movie. It's the film we set out to make. It's a funny horror movie. And it's called Club Dread.


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