The Scoop: 1988 PG-13, directed by Stephen Chiodo and starring Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, and John Vernon
Tagline: In Space No One Can Eat Ice Cream!
Summary Capsule: Shoot, you need my help to figure this out? Killer Klowns — from outer space — land to terrorize and traumatize a small town and their pets.
Justin’s Rating: A three-ring circus of sheer boredom
Justin’s Review: Few things annoy me more than mainstream entertainment publications that boldly go outside of their normal fluffy celeb gossip to trespass on the sacred ground of Geekitude. These are the kinds of magazines and TV shows that will fully devote their time to mocking fanboys who fawn over Star Wars (“Next on Entertainment Tonight: He named his baby boy Wedge Antilles!”), but hypocritically turn around and shamelessly praise these movies if the wind of popular acclaim is blowing in a particular direction. Anyone can enjoy geek literature, TV and film, fine. Just don’t be the kind of jerk who regularly sneers at D&D players, and then becomes a life-long fan of Lord of the Rings overnight due to the success of the films. Acknowledge your lack of depth in the field and enjoy it without a presumptive arrogance — that’s all I ask.
This general pet peeve of mine is also why I freely spit on mainstream publications that feel as though they have the right, once every three years or so, to talk about cult film — usually in the form of “BEST CULT MOVIES OF ALL TIME” lists, and usually so far off the mark as if to boggle the mind into a drooling stupor. These are people who clearly have never cared about cult film, such as Entertainment Weekly, who (for example) slammed the film Office Space upon its release, but then lavished it with praise in the “Cult” edition of the magazine that they wrote a few years later. I read through lists like these, with these unknown humans telling me what I should and should not consider the “best cult movies of all time”, and wonder how exactly they got these lists. Certainly not from talking to any actual geeks (there’s a highly contagious plague that can be caught from such contact), and certainly not from any actual observation of cult trends.
Other than sinfully leaving out many widely-acknowledged and beloved cult titles from these, my main problem with these lists is that they often include movie titles that are definitely odd or unique enough to be considered a cult nominee, if it wasn’t for the fact that nobody actually watches these films. A cult film, as far as I can tell, needs a dedicated and loyal fan base of viewers to actually make it cult. You can’t force it.
I hate my meandering openings to reviews. I mean, here I am, four chunky paragraphs into this thing, and still haven’t made the connection between a venom-spewing rant and the actual film in question. Obviously, I must be put to sleep.
Killer Klowns From Outer Space makes a number of “Best Cult” lists, but most assuredly for the oddity factor and not the fan base. Because there is none, as far as I can tell. Has anyone ever willingly rented this film? And then watched it all the way through? I give the premise a slight smattering of applause — killer klowns from outer space going on a goofy and circus-themed rampage certainly is not something you see every week in the cineplexes, and the forced alliterative title works in its favor.
However, the key weakness, the exhaust port to its Death Star, if you will, is that the film isn’t actually that entertaining. Knowing that I should review this for the site, I’ve rented it twice now, and never actually made it to the end credits. Surely enough, I’ve plowed through bold chunks of the film, forcing my lungs to laugh under the pretense that I was enjoying crude clown horror-things wrapping dead people up in cotton candy, but that was just for appearances. Inside, I was a dead soul. I had no purpose, other than to get it out of the way.
The bad acting (except for one actor, more on him in a sec), the tacky special effects, and the general misuse of the circus motif contributed to form a movie that isn’t very scary, isn’t very funny, and isn’t as cute as the filmmakers would like you to believe. Think Gremlins, with deadly popcorn and bloated clown costumes waddling about.
The single shining highlight of Killer Klowns is John Vernor as Sheriff Mooney. Mooney’s one of those guys who went from age three to forty-seven in the space of a day, and as a result, he loathes any youngster that dares cross his field of vision. The sheriff thing for him is more of a side-job that allows him to get around to his passion: roughing up punks. I adore crabby people in movies; the more crotchety, the better. Although he isn’t in this film for any great length of time, Mooney gave me a brief smile and an insider nod to how rotten everything is around him.
Who knows? Maybe there are legions of Killer Klown fans out there, hanging on to their brief, misguided hope that some day the Klowns will return for a brilliant sequel and then THAT’LL show the critics who’s boss! But I’m not betting on it.
- The movie originally ended with the Terenzi brothers as the survivors of the exploding spaceship while Dave perished after killing the giant Klown.
- The giant “King Klown” from the ending sequence, affectively called “Klownzilla” by the Chiodo brothers, was actually played by one of them (Charles).
- Director Stephen Chiodo had hoped the shower scene would rival Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Psycho, substituting a toilet bowl swirl for the shower drain.
- The $2 million budget went primarily on production costs. The clowns and visual effects were created almost entirely by the filmmakers at very little cost.
- The awesome (maybe not) theme song — so 80’s!
- Generic beer cans
- The make-out kids drinking champagne (?)
- Fat girls can be bribed with ice cream
- Mr. Adventure?
- Pooh Bear the Dog?
- What college kids drink wine, anyway?
- The cotton candy IS suspicious
- “Cocoons” is a fun word to say
- Mooney’s the only guy here who can act
- Mullet albino kid
- It’s okay to admit feelings for your ex-girlfriend while her new boyfriend is in the car
- Evil shadow puppets
Security Guard: What’re ya gonna do with those *pies*, boys?
Mike: It was a space ship. And there was these things, these killer clowns, and they shot popcorn at us! We barely got away!
Mooney: Killer clowns, from outer space. Holy s**t!
Farmer Gene Green: What in tarnation is going on here!
If you liked this movie, try these:
- Attack of the Killer Tomatoes