Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
Director: Stephen Chiodo
John Allen Nelson/Dave
A flying circus tent lands on earth and alien Killer Klowns are unleashed upon a small town. The Klowns proceed in their quest of turning humans into soft drinks by wrapping them in cotton candy and it's up to a bunch of teens (30 year old actors) to stop them. No, I’m not drunk, this is really the plot of the film…YAY!
If you think that the cheeky title promises a campy all around B-movie fun, freaking time, then you’re absolutely on the money. This flick is the KING of 80’s B-movies and it delivers the tacky goods by the truckloads. The movie is fairly simple. Klowns land on earth, Klowns kill humans in ways a Klown should: creatively and with a dash of humor. I loved the film’s simplicity, giggled at its wild imagination and appreciated the high energy level that drove it all.
I mean, how can you go wrong with creepy looking monster Klowns (the Klown makeup is astounding) that shoot mutated popcorn at people through popcorn guns? That put on deadly puppet shows? That use balloon dogs to track their victims (funny stuff)? That wrap humans in cotton candy cocoons (a nudge to Body Snatchers)? Or that redefine the term “realistic shadow puppets” (one of the film’s highlights)? You can’t. Add to that a beginning that’s a straight up homage to “The Blob”, actors that ham it up hilariously (on purpose, I assume), a wonderful sense of humor (the Klowns get into all kinds of kooky situations), wonderful set designs (the spaceship interior is the shit) and even an appearance by a giant Klown (Klownzilla baby!) and you get a movie that oozes of campiness and at the same time is damn proud of it.
Personally, the flick did fail me in one respect and that’s the inclusion of the moronic Terenzi Brothers (Michael Siegel/Peter Licassi). These two ice cream truck driving mooks are just way too childish to be funny and too dumb to be interesting. Every time they showed up, their bantering made me groan. The Chiodos should have written those guys out. Another minor complaint would have to be the lack of scares in the film (although I’ve heard some people say that the film is scary but I think that has more to do with their fear of Klowns and not the actual fear in the movie). Apart from one somewhat chilling scene involving a little girl and a Klown with a mallet, the film is very short on fear. On the flip side, the film doesn’t really try to be frightening, it's too busy being deliciously cheesy so it's easy to forgive.
Overall, Killer Klowns is a wild romp that puts its money where it counts (in the effects, they look great!) and then relies on imagination and crazy ideas to make it all work. Every “Circus/Clown” theme is slapped in here and turned into some kind of murderous gag. Clocking in at an hour and twenty-six minutes, the film never gets boring or redundant and always entertains. The Chiodo brothers clearly had a blast making this film and you feel that positive energy comes through the screen. Whip out the party favors!! The Klowns are here!
The film is not overly gory. Although we do get a messy “human” puppet and some dude getting his head punched off his body. The film is more about situations and creativity than gore. I will say that the Klown makeup kicked my ass all over the place. It’s so gnarly!
Grant Cramer (Mike) is all wide-eyed and yelling. That alone cracked me up but I will give props to his awful haircut and ugly sweater too. Funny. Suzanne Snyder (Debbie) rivals Cramer in the wild hair department. That perm she’s sporting is nuts! She also likes to pad up her performance. Michael Siegel (Rich) and Peter Licassi (Paul) just didn’t make me laugh. In my opinion, they brought the film down to a semi-childish level and almost ruined some good scenes. John Vernon (Mooney) is the mega-shite in this film. His deadpan delivery, his aggressive demeanor and his lines (he has the best ones) made him a very funny character. John Allen Nelson (Dave) goes overboard on the intensity and it’s a riot. Again, his haircut is also pretty funny (it never moves, what’s in there, buddy?) and I can think of one specific scene that he shares with Cramer which had me in stitches. What do you get when you put two over-actors together? A very funny scene.
T & A
Suzanne Snyder (Debbie) has a shower scene and comes close to showing us her two pies but alas, no dice. The ladies also get let down: the Klowns keep their clothes on.
Chiodo delivers a tightly paced film with enough hints of style to satisfy visual hounds (like me). But the directing definitely takes a back seat to the sets, the Klowns and the effects. They are the stars of this show.
The film has a groovy theme song by The Dickies and a score that kicks serious booty. I loved that heavy guitar chord when the Klowns are walking into town. DOPE!
MGM Midnite Collection
The Chiodo Brothers & the Making of the Film
Behind-the-Scenes & On-the-Set
Komposing the Score
Visual Effects with Gene Warren Jr.
Chiodo Brothers Earliest films
We also get: 2 deleted scenes with director commentary, Bloopers, Storyboard Gallery, Photo Gallery, Original Theatrical Trailer and some kool “Easter Eggs” (the actors auditioning for the Klown parts).
How’s that for a DVD!
"Killer Klowns From Outer Space" lives up to its title. It’s unique and all its elements (the look, the sets, the makeup, the music, the bad acting) come together wonderfully to offer us one of the best “so cheesy, it's awesome” horror dessert. I say rent this puppy, tag it with "Gremlins" and have a double dose of kool monsters causing havoc. Now that’s a Friday night!
The Chiodo Brothers are also responsible for the creature effects in “Critters”.
There’s a scene with Debbie (Snyder) explaining where her fear of Klowns came from. The scene was deleted from the regular cut but it sometimes appears in the TV version of the film.
The film was written by Charles, Edward and Stephen Chiodo.
The budget of the film was about $2 million clams.