With recent box office assaults by various face painted villains of various backgrounds, the phenomenon of murderous and freaky clowns has never been more popular. Popping up here, there and everywhere the white faced, red lipped giggling bastards have always been a primal fear among many; that laughing face hiding a harmful intent as unwitting parents shove their giant glassy eyed children toward them in the misguided belief that “clowns are funny”.
What some of you may not know is that back in the 80’s, the notion of a “Killer Clown” wasn’t as prevalent as it is now, but before Tim Curry or Bill Skarsgärd put the IT into scared shITless and even before Jack Nicholson was the first in a steady procession of clown princes of crime to bother the Batman, there was a different breed of clown out there. A hideously malevolent species that wanted to play their lethal tricks on us for their perverted amusement and they arrived, from all places, beyond the stars…
Do-gooding teenagers Mike and Debbie witness a shooting star land on the outskirts of their picturesque little town and decide to investigate because this is a movie and that’s apparently what kids do, however, in place of a smoldering crater or a glowing moon rock they find a massive, bright yellow, metal circus tent. Venturing inside they are both confused and horrified to find the ship populated with an alien species that resemble towering, monstrous “Klowns” who zap people with their brightly coloured laser guns in order to turn them into giant cocoons of cotton candy that they use for sustenance by sucking out the blood through giant curly straws. In no time at all the Klowns have descended on the town and started harvesting the unsuspecting folk in a myriad of bizarre ways and only Mike, Debbie and Dave, a young police deputy who used to date Debbie, have any idea as to what is going on. Can they hope to possibly survive against the Klowns popcorn guns and acidic cream pies and thwart a full blown, gruesomely hilarious alien invasion?
I feel I shouldn’t have to say this but obviously this movie isn’t supposed to be taken seriously (Jesus Christ, didn’t you read the title?), but Killer Klowns From Outer Space actually is a gleefully silly spoof of alien invasion movies from the 50’s and 60’s complete with an luckless old fart finding the initial landing site just like The Blob and countless others.
Written, produced, directed and with special effects by the Chiodo Brothers (the clan responsible for bringing The Critters to life) this is quite possibly the cult-iest cult movie you’re ever likely to see with the film essentially taking on the form of various “skits” of the Klowns humously killing their way through the population while the main characters try to figure out how to stop them, which places it neatly between Gremlins and Mars Attacks! in that respect.
The main “human” cast is, by design, a group of whiny, screamy non-entities with all the razor-honed edge of a deflated football, but this movie isn’t about them. No, the real stars of the show are unsurprisingly the Klowns and the sheer amount of thought put into not only their creation, but all their fairground-themed technology is frankly quite astounding as that what makes the film the wonderful little gem that it is. Take when they’re trying to track someone down for example; they simply pull out some balloons and make a little balloon dog which sniffs their prey out – or when needing to attract a crowd in order to harvest them, watch a Klown put on a shadow puppet show with his fingers andhen the crowd is enthralled enough, he makes a shadow T-Rex which gobbles them all whole. It’s this level of imagination that makes Killer Klowns more than just a stupid little B-movie.
From the utterly fucking genius theme song by The Dickies to John Vernon’s (famous for portraying “The Man” in various blaxploitation movies) role as the grumpy and heavily paranoid Deputy Mooney – who has an unfortunate run in with a Klown who likes a spot of ventriloquism – the film holds your attention with just how unbelievably well it utilises it’s concept.
The Klowns themselves (there’s about 12 or so different designs) are legitimately wonderous to behold, expertly treading the fine line between completely silly and full blown coulroaphobia with giant fucking clown shoes on. In fact, a couple of scenes hidden amongst the madcap humor score pretty high at actually being fairly creepy (scene where a Klown beckons to a little girl while holding a mallet behind his back: I’m looking at you).
It doesn’t cure cancer and it sure won’t end world hunger, but with films like Killer Klowns From Outer Space around you get the feeling that the world’s a slightly better place for it. If you haven’t yet stumbled across this delightful pile of concentrated weirdness then you really ought to owe it to yourself to rectify this as soon as possible and prepare to embrace this particular attack of the clowns.