Jarv’s Schlock Vault: Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Killer clowns, from outer space. Holy shit!  

 Jarv’s Rating: 3 Changs out of 4. Honestly, it’s very funny

Sometimes schlocky films make me despair, and other times the makers manage to completely mislay their medication and produce something gleefully insane, unexpectedly amusing and totally enjoyable. Killer Klowns is one of the latter, and I’m glad it arrived this week as I’ve got 2 reviews of Murph worthy dogshit to do that I can’t face.

 I’d like to know the story behind this film. I reckon that the Chiodo brothers were watching TV one afternoon, maybe smoking a few spliffs, maybe chewing on some mushrooms, and one of them said “you know, Clowns really scare me” to which another replied “nah, you’re nuts. Aliens are scary” to be followed by the third with “Well what about alien clowns?”. My reasoning is that this film seems to be the obvious result of massive narcotic consumption, and I would love to hear how they managed to persuade some blithering numpty to stump up $2m for it.

Killer Klowns is a gleefully anarchic mess of a film. It has a bit of gore, but I can’t honestly believe it was played as a horror film. If it is a horror film, then it’s a staggeringly unsuccessful one. However, having said that, the film has its tongue wedged deeply in its cheek, so I think it must have been played for laughs, and it is funny. There are several hugely successful sight gags, the odd great line, and it has a pleasingly cheesy B-movie feel to it. Really, this is a great little film.

Killer Klowns takes place in a small town. 2 horny teenagers (Dave and Debbie) see a meteorite hit the Earth and so go to investigate. They find a circus tent with the internal dimensions of the Tardis and some homicidal clowns that shoot popcorn at them. The two teenagers manage to make it back to civilisation, and run straight to the cops, one of whom- Mike – was Debbie’s ex, to tell their story. One thing leads to another, homicidal Klowns attack the town, wrap all the population in Candyfloss, before the intrepid band manage to kill all the extra-terrestrial circus performers.

The acting is fine- with Snyder being amusing in a screamy-type role as Debbie. However, the reason I’m reviewing this is that the Klowns invading the local town scenes are absolutely hilarious. They are unrepentantly crass and gleefully fun. The various attacks include: Midget Klown punching a biker’s head off, Klown popping out of a pizza delivery box, group of Klowns standing under a window holding a circus-style net for catching jumpers, pie throwing, balloon dogs that actually work as sniffer dogs, a hilarious Punch and Judy show and so forth. I could actually go on and on about these scenes for a while, but they’re all funny and there’s a huge variety to the various clown-y murder techniques.

The Crimewatch reconstruction of what Droid did last weekend

 The sets and other design are cheap and cheerful. Given that they waxed the whole budget extremely fast, the Chiodo brothers worked a minor miracle. All the sets, especially those on the spaceship/ Circus Tent, are all bright, kitschy, colourful and fun. Even if they do resemble 1980’s Dr. Who a touch. The other effects, particularly the Klown shadow puppet, are also well realised (even if deliberately unconvincing) and much more effective than they have any right to be.

There are other great sight gags- but I want to give a quick shout out to “Klownzilla”, one of the most stupendously stupid ideas that I’ve seen in a long time. A giant, indestructible angry Klown that Mike kills by stabbing it in its big red nose, after local idiots the Terenzi brothers crash an ice-cream truck into it. This is a storming idea, and fits into the anything is possible ethos that the film has.

I briefly touched on it above, but some of the dialogue is knowingly funny. The exchanges when Debbie is trying to convince Mike that the Klowns are real contain a huge amount of winks at the camera with lines such as “They’re clowns, they fire popcorn, what else did you expect” mixing in with earnest attempts to rationalise the insane. Or grumpy Officer Moony who believes that the whole town is playing some kind of joke on him, because they’re all assholes. Let me give you a clue, Moony, if you think everyone else is an asshole, you’re wrong. There’s only one, and he’s much closer to home. The Klowns themselves are silent, but manage to convey a limited range of expression from under the heavy masks through gestures and so forth. Not the easiest job in the world, but they did manage to give the main Klowns distinctive personalities.

Nevertheless, as much fun as it is, this is a flawed film. Not to whinge, but it does seem to run out of steam in the last third (before Klownzilla), a few of the characters are a bit annoying and there’s a severe absence of gore and nudity. Neither of these things should be completely essential, but for some inexplicable reason there’s a scene with Debbie being terrorised in the shower. If you must include a shower scene (and it’s a completely gratuitous sequence) in a schlock film, then you must include some skin. Otherwise it is pointless as well as gratuitous.

Klownzilla!

Overall, would I recommend Killer Klowns? Absolutely. If anything, this is potentially one of the most epic drunk/ stoned films that I’ve seen in a long time. The reason it’s got a relatively low score is that I was completely sober when I saw it and therefore totally aware of flaws and suchlike. If I’d been a bit intoxicated then I am nearly certain I’d have enjoyed it even more.

I haven’t said this in a while, but get some beer, put this on and laugh at the clownish antics. Killer Klowns is loads of fun, a light-hearted, superficial gigglefest of a film, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Oh, and don’t fuck the sequel up, guys. This film is light fun, I do not want to see the inner-angst of Klownzilla. I don’t want to see him crying because his father never laughed at his pie in pants based antics. Keep them originless and insane.

Until next time,

Jarv

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

34 responses to “Jarv’s Schlock Vault: Killer Klowns From Outer Space”

  1. Jarv says :

    Not happy with this one. Don’t think it scans very well at all.

  2. DocPazuzu says :

    I fucking love this movie. The reason the comedy works is because it’s played utterly straight. And the clowns actually are creepy at times. Special mention must go to the awesome John Vernon, king of straight-faced lunacy.

    • Jarv says :

      It’s a top film. Bando kept mentioning it, and I knew it was on the lovefilm list somewhere but Fist of the Vampire and Prey of the Beast were so bad that I jumped it up. Glad I did.

      The Klowns play it completely straight, but I’m certain that the two male actors were winking at the screen a bit.

      The original ending had the Terenzi Brothers and Debbie surviving with the capable male characters dying.

      • Tom_Bando says :

        Yeah yeah blame it on me…..I’ll take credit for ‘Yor’, plus ‘Donny Brasco’ and ‘Lonestar’ should those ever be cranked out here. I think Lonestar will make whomever reviews it pretty happy, it’s an involving and intelligent movie.

        And it has Elizabeth Pena, too!

    • kloipy says :

      I’ll second that Doc P

  3. ThereWolf says :

    I was absolutely wankered when I saw this, consequently I’m having trouble with the recall apart from midget Klown (I’ve got a midget clown coming up in Xtro…) I do remember laughing – a lot.

    Scans okay, Jarv.

    Can’t hang around, I’m at work. I hate work.

  4. Droid says :

    Never heard of this. Sounds alright.

    • Jarv says :

      It’s good fun. Never going to win an oscar, but good fun.

      Frank would love this one.

    • koutchboom says :

      You’ve never heard of this movie!!! Fucking love this movie. Please let them not make a reboot/sequel whatever.

      • Droid says :

        Well, to be quite honest, it’s not exactly my kind of film. I don’t go out of my way to seek out these types of movies.

      • Jarv says :

        They’ve been trying to make it for 7 years now. I don’t think it will happen.

      • koutchboom says :

        Droid this movie probably isn’t what you are expecting at all. Sure its schlocky but over all its well done. Especially for only a budget of 2 million. This is much better then the usual schlock stuff Jarv enjoys.

      • koutchboom says :

        Wow they’ve been trying for 7 years? Hrmmm I wonder who has been the spearhead of that movement? I just heard about it yesterday.

      • Droid says :

        Yeah, I’m sure it’s not terrible. It’s more that I hardly ever watch these types of movies, and never go out of my way to find them. So I’ve never heard of it.

      • Jarv says :

        The Brothers themselves, apparently.

      • koutchboom says :

        Well going through their IMDB credits looks like all they do is puppet work. Guess there isn’t a big use for them any more. Looks like they were all part of Team America. Well maybe if its the original creators themselves I MAY be willing to give the second movie a chance. I bet no one wants to do it because they want to be all practical effects about it and no one wants that any more.

      • Jarv says :

        It is notable that the only really bad effects in Killer Klowns are CGI. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the reason.

  5. Droid says :

    Also, after Maddy, I’m done with blondes.

    Brunettes FTW!!!

  6. just pillow talk says :

    I remember this would be on late night tv every once in a while. I don’t remember much of it, though I thought the clowns looked creepy enough, and I do remember the midget clown.

  7. Echo the Bunnyman says :

    Ok, Jarv, I’m actually calling for a re-tally of the Changs on this one.

    Submitted for your approval: 3 changs for killer bong and 2.5 for Killer Klowns?

    Having seen both, Klowns wins hands down. It’s much smarter about what it’s about, and it’s also funnier/more imaginative.

    I think it earns the extra half a star for the shadow puppet scene alone.

  8. M. Blitz says :

    What!? You initially rated this 2.5? I love this movie soooo much and I’d give it 4 Changs for sure.

    Now I will read your review, just had to get that out of the way.

  9. Tom_Bando says :

    It also has Royal Dano. Dano makes (most) things he’s in that much better.

  10. ThereWolf says :

    Yeh, the midget klown I don’t think was technically a midget but may have been a youngling klown. Brilliant when he punches the biker’s head off. I think he’s the one jumping out of the pizza as well.

    The klowns themselves look suitably malevolent. I also like the snarling snappy things that hatch out of the popcorn.

    Echo’s right about the shadow puppet scene as well – it’s a stand-out.

  11. Tom_Bando says :

    Any idea if Mr Marmoset was one of these Klowns?

  12. spud mcspud says :

    KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE! And absolute must-see. And definitely required renting when our local video shop started doing 5-movies-for-£5-for-7-nights through the school summer holidays. ah, those halcyon days when a movie took MONTHS to go to sell-thru retail, and the only way to watch it repeatedly was to rent it repeatedly.

    Bloody kids don’t know how good they’ve got it these days, grumble grumble. KILLER KLOWNS is absolutely awesome though, and I’d LOVE to see a sequel – only with the Chiodo bros though. Hell, if I won the lottery, I’d bankroll this fucker for a few mil!

    Great stuff Jarv, keep ’em coming. At some point, the peerless stone-cold Brian Yuzna classic SOCIETY has got to be worth a review…

    • Jarv says :

      Cheers spud.

      I’ve got 2 absolute pieces of shit coming up next. Then after that I really want to get society, frankenhooker and others.

      Still enjoying new who?

      • spud mcspud says :

        Hmm… Hard to say. I like the old-school WHO tone, the Midwich Cuckoos type feeling as we keep ending up in little English villages curiously bereft of life, and I think Matt Smith is the greatest thing since Tom Baker – he literally is damn near perfect as The Doctor – but Karen Gillan (usually a great actress) is being under-used, and more a piece of eye-candy than a character. Rory is more annoying-Hugh-Grant than Hugh Grant is, and the disjointed toe of it all is fucking bewildering. I have no clue what the fuck I’m watching, mostly. It HAS been more good than bad, but only an outstanding finale can make up for the weeks of “Meh” we’ve had this season. I think ELEVENTH HOUR and AMY’S CHOICE have been the only real standouts, with the Weeping Angels getting kudos only for ripping off ALIENS.

        Still, the gay agenda thing is getting aired again over on AICN, which is always fun 😀

  13. spud mcspud says :

    And I think the Stuart Gordon ouevre deserves a section of its own. Starting with FROM BEYOND…

    • Jarv says :

      That is a great idea.

      As soon as my account goes back into credit I’m on that.

      • spud mcspud says :

        Stuart Gordon is a god among B-moviemakers. And Brian Yuzna is a very close second. You should hunt down some copies of a SOCIETY sequel comic series done by some indie small-press comic… it has Bill Whitney still running round the US hunting down the Shunters from SOCIETY, and eventually tracking Ted (who strangely lives despite being turned inside-out!) to the US Congress!!

        Even weirder than the movie (if that were possible) and well worth a read…

    • ThereWolf says :

      I love From Beyond. It’s sheer lunacy.

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