Fear of clowns seems to be one of the more common phobias. Because of this, evil clowns have wormed their way into pop culture in several forms, from Batman’s irrational nemesis The Joker to Pennywise in Stephen King’s It. Lon Chaney Sr. even famously quipped “there’s nothing scarier than a clown after midnight.” It seems the whole world doesn’t love clowns, they’re actually terrified of them. The Chiodo Brothers took this truism and ran with it, which is how we ended up with cult fave “Killer Klowns from Outer Space.”
The basic concept of the movie lampoons monster movies of the 50’s and 60’s. Sadistic monsters invade a sleepy American town and plan on eating the people who live there. Teenagers encounter the monsters first and try to warn the authorities. The local hard-assed cop (veteran character actor John Vernon) of course doesn’t believe them, and our heroes are left to fight off the monsters themselves.
You’ve seen this movie before. Again, it’s the plot of many a b-movie, only this time the monsters look like super-deformed clowns on steroids – and therein lies the difference. The movie itself is kind of crude but amusing. The filmmakers understand one basic thing… clowns are creepy. This is used to great effect in a couple of scenes, producing actual chills in an otherwise spoofy film.
Of course because of the nature of the film, many classic monster movie tropes are spoofed – for example, to kill a Klown, you must shoot them in their big red nose, echoing the “head shot” device from Romero’s zombie movies. Other things such as balloon animals and cotton candy are given horrific makeovers. Worst (or best I suppose) is this films version of a hand puppet, which probably takes the cake.
However, the same ingenuity and sense of fun can’t be said of the cast. With the exception of Vernon (as Sgt. Mooney) most of the acting is hacky and wooden. The movie is filled mostly with young actors, who probably didn’t think getting chased by cannibalistic clowns was a good way to start a career. Which is a pity, because a more game cast could show off some comedy chops really well in this flick.
This is a movie that’s saved by its eccentric sense of self. The Chiodo Brothers aren’t great filmmakers, but they’re clearly having a ball making a horror spoof, and that good will transfers itself on you as a viewer. The kicky theme song by the Dickies doesn’t hurt either.
All in all, this is a good popcorn flick – with emphasis on the POP! Rent this, order a pizza, plop down on your couch, and have a good time being scared by clowns.