Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)
Cast: Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, Royal Dano, John Vernon
Director: Stephen Chiodo
Nutshell: What appears like a shooting star turns out to be something far more diabolical…a Big Top Circus tent containing Killer Clowns who proceed to ravage the town of Crescent Cove causing murderous mayhem of the most amazing kind.
Created by the Chiodo brothers in 1988, Killer Klowns From Outer Space has gone on to garner an avid cult following over the years with eager and devoted fans awaiting a sequel that has yet to materialize. The film is set in the small town of Crescent Cove where the usual youthful weekend activities are turned on their head with the arrival of a shooting star which upon investigation by an amorous couple turn out to be something beyond the wildest fantasy. Instead of a shooting star or a meteorite, a Big Top Circus tent appears to have crash landed from the sky and contains a factory of candy floss pods and a bunch of clowns with a very sinister agenda. The young couple played by Grant Cramer and Suzanne Snyder have to run for cover as their exploratory trip into the tent turns from amusement to panic and horror and they flee for their lives from the Killer Klowns with their ray guns zapping people into Candy Floss pods. The couple barely make it out alive and arrive at the police station to warn the cops about the clowns but obviously nobody takes their tales seriously.
Meanwhile the town is besieged by a number of Killer Klowns and are soon on a spree zapping large swathes of the local population into candy floss pods and worse. All sorts of havoc results in the police being inundated with calls for help and it seems as the entire town has gone bonkers but the fact is, a plague of deadly clowns has them reeling without a clue as to what exactly has hit them. The body count starts mounting alarmingly and finally a bunch of locals start to band together to try to vanquish the deadly alien threat steamrolling the entire town into candy floss and deadly popcorn!
The film may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it is without doubt a unique production in cinema history. It doesn’t take itself too seriously yet there are moments that are unnerving and the clowns are funny but also decidedly malevolent and though some of their antics are overtly funny they are also equally devilish and bordering on scary. The tempo of the film never slows right from the outset and though the subject matter tends to veer towards outright farcical comedy the film never loses its horror film roots and though the laughs are scattered liberally throughout the movie, there are also some dark and sinister moments and the comedy never supersedes the darker tone of a movie which remains a horror film at its core.
The Chiodo brothers, best known for their clay animation and special effects work with The Simpsons and the movie Elf, express themselves quite brilliantly by creating a film that holds a special place among horror films that have ever been shot. The clowns are expertly depicted, funny yet evil, laughable yet deadly and Stephen Chiodo maintains this balance throughout the movie; never allowing the film to completely commit to comedy despite the extraordinarily ridiculous story line.
The film may not satisfy those looking for outright horror but its originality cannot be doubted and its intentions are solid. The film entertains from start to end and doesn’t flag for a moment. The characters are likeable and well-acted while the Clowns themselves hold centre stage and do not disappoint. There are numerous memorable sequences and along with the rather excellent theme song the film is a complete riot. A laugh riot it might be but it also maintains a dark and rather mean spirit all the same.
Ridiculous yet ingenious and unrelentingly entertaining, this film manages to blend horror and comedy like few others have managed before or after it, standing along with Sam Raimi’s epic The Army of Darkness as one of those rare gems where horror and comedy are interwoven brilliantly and seamlessly. The Chiodo brothers painstaking effort and their obvious love of their craft shines brightly through every frame of the film and perhaps it is this that elevates this otherwise inane film into something that is endearing and memorable and really just a little bit special. Again, the film will not appeal to many but it is full of joy and made with such passion that it deserves to win its audience over. Killer Klowns From Outer Space is truly a devilish slice of cinematic madness; entrancing, ridiculous, hugely entertaining and a one of a kind experience.