R.I.P. Harold Ramis, Director of “Club Paradise”

February 24, 2014


Harold Ramis, actor/writer/director for blockbusters like Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day, died this morning at age 69 โ€” don’t worry, Ramis probably would have found it ironic, too. Known for his raunchy, “gross-out” comedies (see: Animal House) Ramis also brought his distinct sense of humor to the Caribbean with the cult classic Club Paradiseย (1986).

Not to be confused with the Drake song of the same name (though we’d like to think that was inspired it), Club Paradise features Jimmy Cliff โ€”in his second acting role, 10-plus years after The Harder They Comeโ€”as a reggae musician named Ernest Reed who works alongside Yankee Robin Williams to start a Club Med-style resort. “Reed” performs throughout the movie, with a backing band that includes reggae legend Earl “Chinna” Smith โ€” The Harder They Come co-star Carl Bradshaw even makes a cameo as an enterprising taxi driver (check it out below).

The film is set on the fictional St. Nicholas island,ย but was actually filmed on-location in Port Antonio, Jamaica. Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, Peter O’Toole and Twiggy complete the island’s motley crew, creating a Gilligan’s Island vibe (but with cruder humor).

Though the campy film received little praise at the time and racks up a cringe-worthy 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s grown on us over the yearsโ€”credit ’80s nostalgia and the soundtrack credits, and gratuitous weed scenes. Most of the songs come from Jimmy Cliff, who’s joined by artists like calypso king Mighty Sparrowย and Elvis Costello (they even do a song together!) Though lost on many, there’s also an anti-imperialist critique of colonialism woven into the film’s story, which celebrates the triumph of the little guy.

If you can’t get enough Harold Ramis, we also recommend his work on SCTV โ€” the sketch comedy show featured an epic appearance from Third World in 1982.

No, Club Paradise isn’t streaming on Netflix right now, but catch some of our favorite scenes belowโ€”it’ll be running on cable soon enough.