Saturday, October 8, 2016

31 Days, 31 Horror Movies: Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Killer Klowns From Outer Space

"Because they're clowns, that's why!"

I was pleasantly surprised by Killer Klowns when I first saw the movie. I wasn't expecting much, and the initial opening scenes didn't inspire confidence. The minute the first Klown appears, though, the whole thing starts to be significantly more entertaining. I've watched it a few times since it was released and I'm always struck by how bad and how good it is at the same time.

The Medium
Streaming on Hulu at the moment. There's actually a Blu-ray release of this movie. I don't really need to see it in HD, but I'd kinda like to hear the commentary.

The Movie
There's not much to say about the plot, really. It's a riff on The Blob, with a threat from outer space that the local teenagers see, but then they can't get the authorities to believe them. It's pretty by-the-number, the actors are a bit too camp in their performances, and the writing is generally just okay. It's a late-eighties B-movie with the talent and budget that generally implies.

It's like a bunch of clowns made this film!

Where Klowns excels, however, is in its monsters (and in its set design as well). The Killer Klowns themselves are fantastic creations - brightly hued, fleshy monstrosities with the ability to appear both goofy and menacing. The Klowns and their vehicles (everything from their big top spacecraft to the Klown Kar) are all fantastic - and the interiors are a black-light nightmare circus. It's the monsters and their shtick that makes the film, and to the Chiodo brother's credit, they know to keep them on the screen as much as possible.

Much attention is paid to various Klown 'kills' - including a deadly shadow puppet show, a biker gang boxing match and acid pies. At one point the Klowns are shown walking down a street with some sort of 'people sweeper,' using their ray guns to wrap people in something like cotton candy and then sucking them up for later. (There's a scene with a Klown and an impossibly large straw that shows exactly why they're interested in abducting people. Gah.)

It's fair to say that you are not going to like this pizza.

I imagine that for people who have coulrophobia this movie is probably excruciating. There's always a little something creepy about clowns, and this movie exaggerates everything strange about them. Despite their monstrous appearance, they're still capable of appearing entertaining, even endeering - but that can turn on a dime. And watch out for that giant hammer held behind the back.

There's even one genuinely horrifying scene - where the hardass cop, Mooney (John Vernon) is used as a 'live' ventriloquest dummy. When the Klown withdraws its hand and flings viscera away it's just a little darker than the rest of the film has been.

WHERE is his hand? This is what bothers me the most.

The Bottom Line
Killer Klowns From Outer Space is just fun, and punches way above its weight class when it comes to the monsters. It's not great cinema, but it is totally worth a view. If you're not afraid of clowns, that is.

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