Sunday, 24 January 2010
Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)
Reviewing this movie has clearly been long overdue for me, considering my strange affection for all things clown related; especially if a movie happens to involve evil, murderous clowns! Killer Klowns From Outer Space was written and directed by the Chiodo Bros. (Charles, Edward and Stephen) and unleashed upon the earth back in May of 1988. It’s not one of the best films ever made, yet it’s not one of the worst films either and that’s considering it’s far fetched plot and horrifically bad acting. Killer Klowns is pretty much the cream of the crop when it comes to watching a great bad movie. A movie you know sucks from the outset, but becomes highly entertaining and unique with its characters, sets and story etc…If you a hardened bad movie survivalist then you will probably be very familiar with this film – if not then you’re in for a real sweet treat!
Only in the 1980s could there be a film entitled: Killer Klowns From Outer Space…. But saying that, you could quite easily find a bucket load of ludicrously named movies in your local rental store’s bargain bin I bet. More times than not, they’ll be straight-to-DVD releases. But if it wasn’t for home video craze over 20yrs ago and the unrelenting slew of shamelessly cheesy B-movies, then no one these days would be inspired to use similar stupid titles and tag-lines would they? Add to that, the fact that Killer Klowns was made on a relatively miniscule budget ($2 million) compared to all the big Hollywood blockbusters of the day and that’s it’s become an undisputed cult classic; it’s not hard to see why many young, budding directors and producers churn out unoriginal turd after unoriginal turd – If they’re lucky, they’ll probably get backing from the likes of Asylum pictures and Charles Band’s Full Moon company, and those guys just wish they could’ve cranked out a bad movie behemoth in the form of Killer Klowns From Outer Space. You know right away from the name that this is not going to be a serious or highly sophisticated piece of artistic cinema. It becomes a case of damage limitation – how bad is this going to be? You tell yourself. You say to someone “Oh, I watched Killer Klowns From Outer Space last night” and wait for the huge grin to spread across their face or the rolling of their eyes due to the absurdity of what you’ve just said. Then, if that’s not humorous enough, there’s also the tagline of: “In Space No One Can Eat Ice Cream!” which is obviously a play on the Alien (1979) tag-line:, “In Space No-one Can Hear You Scream” even though it makes absolutely no logical sense whatsoever, but who in their right mind expects logic from a film about killer alien clowns from space?
The film begins with “teenagers” Mike Tobacco (I kid you not) and Debbie Stone, played by Grant Cramer and Suzanne Snyder respectively, enjoying a romantic evening at “make out point” in the small town of Crescent Cove. They happen to see what they believe to be a shooting star, crashing into the woods beyond and decide to investigate that rather than lying on a rubber dingy in the back of a car drinking wine!? As the two lead numbskulls make their way towards the star, a local farmer (played by Royal Dano) goes to investigate the large circus tent which has landed near his home. He grabs his shotgun and takes along his dog, Poo…Wondering why the circus would be way out in the woods, he is set upon by grotesque harlequin inhabitants. It appears that the circus tent is actually a spaceship and that the clowns are aliens from another part of the universe. Mike and Debbie arrive and soon find this out first hand, being attacked by the clowns inside the spaceship, which looks like a set from Pee-Wee’s playhouse. They manage to escape, surviving having popcorn shot at them (!?) and head into town to inform the police of the strange creatures.
The police in this movie consist of just two officers…..for the whole damn town! One is a young cop named Dave (played by John Allen Nelson), who used to date Debbie and the other is Sgt. Mooney (played by John Vernon). Sgt. Mooney doesn’t believe them and thinks they are making mischief like all the other snot nosed punks in his beloved town. Seriously, if John Wayne had ever butt-fucked Clint Eastwood, Sgt. Mooney would have been the result. He’s a complete son of a bitch who doesn’t take any shit and little does he know that his initial scepticism will prove to be his downfall. Dave meanwhile is willing to hear Mike and Debbie’s story out and after sending Debbie home, accompanies Mike back up to woodland sex spot to investigate their claims. Of course, the giant circus tent spaceship is now gone and Dave gets pissed at Mike, accusing him of lying. As all this has been going on, the klowns have made their way into town and are killing off the locals one by one in all manner of bizarre ways.
So, on the way back to the station Dave and Mike happen to witness one of the klowns devouring a group of people through the art of shadow puppetry and then dopey Dave is finally convinced (nothing like a bit of street theatre to rile a cop, eh?). Back at the station Mooney is visited by a klown and thinks it’s some punk ass kid yanking his chain, so he tries to lock the thing up. The klown doesn’t take to kindly to being bashed with a flashlight and attacks Mooney. Later, when Mike and Dave return to the station, they find Mooney dead and Dave faces off with the offending klown, discovering a way to destroy them. When the two go to see Debbie, she goes and gets herself kidnapped in a giant balloon and taken to the klowns spaceship, now located at the funfair. They reluctantly take along the Terenzi brothers, two bumbling, greasy face, sex obsessed teens (or two 30yr old guys being passed off as teens) who drive an ice cream truck. Once inside the klowns craft, they uncover the fate of all the townsfolk. It seems the klowns have turned everyone into cotton candy, so that they can consume their blood easily (through curly straws of course!) - So that makes sense, right? After making their way through the funhouse styled hallways and freeing Debbie, they are all chased into a large room where the klowns eventually back off – only to make way for a giant klown, who must be the leader. It ends up being Dave who is left to battle “klownzilla” and the film reaches its silly climax. I won’t give it away, but it’s so stupid – in a harmless, pleasant way I might add…
There’s a deleted scene in the movie where Mike and Debbie are in the tent shaped spaceship and they talk about how cool the tent is, then Debbie tells Mike about a time when she was 5yrs old and clowns lifted her up out of her seat (at the circus) and how everyone was laughing at her. The exact same thing happened to yours truly. My parents took me to see a Ringling Bros. show when I was very young. I remember on the way in there was a clown who was walking an invisible dog (as one does in the movie), he didn’t scare me and I can’t fully recall what that clown even looked like. At one point a clown came into the audience for a volunteer, so what do my parents do? Offer up their 4-5yr old child to be made a fool of! The clown to me into the centre of the ring and I can vividly remember the way the sand felt underfoot and the bright hot lights on me as I heard the whole crowd laughing. All the clown did was plonk a stupid hat on my head and spin a giant ball on my finger, but I hated every single second of it. He ignored my crying and pleas to sit back with my parents and the whole incident felt like an eternity. It was one of my earliest childhood memories and extremely traumatic for me though, not in the sense that I became afraid of clowns, but of being the centre of attention and not being comfortable in social situations. It’s funny isn’t it how you let small incidents at an early age still affect you in later life and dictate your behavior in different circumstances?
Overall, when it comes to Killer Klowns From Outer Space, you can’t beat it in terms of originality and fun (plenty of clown/circus related gags). A lot of people say it moves along to slow, and the pacing is an issue to be honest, seeing as the plot isn’t so strong either. But, I find the production work put in to be amazing for a film that only cost around $2M as well. But then, that does beg the question as to why if you have $2M would you make a film like this? Thanks fuck the Chiodo Bros. had such a cooky vision! Plus, there’s the totally bitchin’ theme song performed by The Dickies! - Yes, the film does have many flaws and at times is a tad slow in terms of pacing, but it’s one everybody should check out. It’s not a scary film by any means, it’s not supposed to be really and the vast amounts of humor thrown in show it. I guess if you are unfortunate enough to suffer from coulrophobia, then this film will scare the crap out of you and isn’t going to be high on your list of viewing priorities. If you do make this your next purchase, make sure you grab the Region 1 version if possible, as it is loaded with a whole wealth of extras compared to the European Region 2 counterpart. At the end of the day, never judge a movie by its title, but in the case of Killer Klowns From Outer Space….err…..do?
© Flash Metal Circus
Published by Circus Circus