Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Format: DVD/Blu-ray + exclusive BR Steelbook

Release date: 15 September 2014

Distributor: Arrow Video

Director: Stephen Chiodo

Writers: Charles Chiodo, Edward Chiodo, Stephen Chiodo

Cast: Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, John Vernon

USA 1988

86 mins

For a trashy horror/sci-fi/comedy (thanks IMDB), Killer Klowns is inspired. It takes the simple (albeit done to death) idea of clowns being evil, but exploits that premise for all it’s worth. Victims are turned into candyfloss, inflatable balloon animals hunt people down while the Klowns fire popcorn guns where each grain turns into a carnivorous jack-in-the-box. This film is inventive, stylish and a joy to watch, just to see what crazy spin the directors are going to come up with next.

It’s the kind of movie you want to be mates with and it looks like it was just as much of a laugh to make as it is to watch. You can see that the Chiodo brothers put their hearts and souls into every detail, and the actors look like they’re having a great time playing their stock horror movie characters.

I say actors, but to be honest it looks like the brothers roped in a bunch of mates, whose only experience of acting seems to come from watching Saved by the Bell (especially the ice-cream double act, who really had to be the first to die). These performances could have polished a turd in a so-bad-it’s-hilarious kind of way, but here the hamming takes the shine off a genuinely funny script, which includes such deadpan lines as when Police Chief Mooney leans forward and growls, ‘Killer Klowns? From outer space?’ in true Police Squad fashion.

If only Lost would do this type of thing.

Bonus features on this new Arrow release include an audio commentary with the Chiodo Brothers, alongside behind-the-scenes footage and a making of feature, and interviews with stars Grant Cramer and Suzanne Snyder, composer John Massari and creature fabricator Dwight Roberts.

But all the popcorn guns and hilarious dialogue can’t hide the fact that the film is fundamentally flawed. It’s just not scary. Despite the Spitting Image-style animatronic Klown-heads and their fantastically diverse methods of destruction, they are ultimately soulless, superficial and dare I say it, boring. The wonderful gadgets gloss over the fact that these bad guys have the personality of an envelope. There is no feeling of triumph when the people start to fight back, and the climax feels like just another sexy set-piece rather than anything momentous. Hell, I even got the feeling that if only our heroes would just ignore them they’d probably go away on their own.

Which is a real shame.

It’s still a great romp though. And after a few beers and pizza, it’ll make a fantastic climax to any house party. It’ll give Anchorman a breather at any rate.

High-five for candyfloss.

This review was first published for Optimum’s DVD release of Killer Klowns in 2008.

Oli Smith