Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Posted by Josh Samford On October - 25 - 2013

Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)
Director: Stephen Chiodo
Writers: Charles Chiodo and Stephen Chiodo
Starring: Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, and Royal Dano



The Plot: Killer Klowns From Outer Space focuses on the events that transpire when a flying object can be seen crash landing in the woods surrounding Crescent Cove, California. When Mike Tobacco (Grant Cramer) and his girlfriend Debbie Stone (Suzanne Snyder) see this, they assume that it is a comet and they head into the woods to get a closer look. What they find is something very familiar and yet completely foreign. In the midst of the woods they find a circus tent, and being adventurous young adults, they decide to go inside and check out this strange find. Inside they make a discovery, this is no regular circus tent, but instead it is an alien spaceship. The aliens look like deformed clowns and they apparently want to harvest the blood of humans by surrounding them in cocoons of cotton candy. Now it is up to Mike, Debbie, and Debbie’s former boyfriend, Sheriff Dave Hanson (John Allen Nelson), to find a way to defeat these homicidal alien creatures!


The Review
If I can be so indulgent, this review may turn out to mostly reference my feelings for this film rather than pointing out any technical sophistication that might make it “great” or anything like that. I have to be up front and honest and say that Killer Klowns From Outer Space was a big part of my childhood. So, nostalgia definitely plays a key role in much of the positivity that I have for the film. Yet, although the movie was continually referenced by both myself and my childhood friends, this was not a movie that we watched on a regular basis. For some reason, most of the video stores near me did not carry it. The only way that I ever saw the film was with friends when it was on cable. Yet, after we saw a strange sequence where a clown (forgive me, Klown) punched a street punk’s head off, it became an immediate favorite in my small circle. As an adult, we all occasionally go back and take time to look at the films that molded our childhood, and we sometimes find that they aren’t nearly as great as we once held them to be. However, I did not find this to be the case with Killer Klowns. Even as a kid, I knew that this movie was fairly dumb. So, to revisit it years later and discover that it was a very dumb but incredibly fun piece of genre filmmaking, it was actually a very delightful experience.

The movie stands out for its slightly predictable, but still entirely satisfying, formula. While the movie focuses on our protagonists searching out the titular Killer Klowns, we take momentary breaks to see the Klowns attacking random civilians around this small California town. The movie seems like it is set up as a series of consistent skits that the filmmakers thought would be entertaining – and sure enough, they are. From puppet shows and shadow puppets to humorous pizza delivery segments and faux-boxing, the Klowns are absolutely ridiculous and the movie doesn’t break from the humor or psychosis. The elaborate clown jokes made in the movie seem as if they were crafted during a 3am brainstorming sessions between the Chiodo brothers, but that “let’s be creative, who cares about logic or consistency?” attitude is what gives the movie its magic. From its offbeat title to all of its offbeat content, there is nothing about Killer Klowns From Outer Space that is supposed to be normal. Those who can enjoy its rampant stupidity usually feel as if they are involved in something niche and fun, and that is precisely the atmosphere that the movie was intended to deliver.

Killer Klowns is, without a doubt, a movie that is completely devoid of all logic. This turns out to be precisely why it has caught on with fans throughout the years. Does it truly make any sense why a clown from outer space would make a balloon dog in order to search for humans? How would they know what a dog is or use it, in particular, as a way to track humans? I mean, if dogs perhaps originate from the Klown planet, then perhaps the Klowns should just use dogs instead? Such ideas make zero sense, but does the movie care? Not in the least. If you can’t get along with the joke, then audiences are likely to give up before the movie even starts. Honestly, how would a killer clown from outer space actually know anything about Washington’s crossing of the Delaware in order to make a shadow puppet of the scene on a wall. The filmmakers included this reference to American history as if these clowns were aware of what was happening on earth, but if this were to be a massive invasion with tons of calculated planning, why was only one ship sent? If someone wanted to, they could fill up an entire review with the weird ideas spread throughout this movie, but ultimately, that is a grand part of its quirky charm.

While so much of the entertainment factor within Killer Klowns is based off of its inherent silliness, there is also a bit of craftsmanship involved here. The creature FX are pretty spectacular, as the clowns look quite disgusting. They are obviously latex beasts, but it doesn’t detract from the overall effect. The set design is also on-point. Although this was done with very obviously budgetary restraints, the inside of the alien spaceship/tent looks great. A combination of Roger Corman-inspired sci-fi set design and garish colors that resemble a drug induced nightmare, the time spent within the spaceship makes for the most visually impressive sequences in the film.


The Conclusion
While at the start of this review I thought that it would mostly focus on nostalgia, I’ve found that there are other reasons to explain my fondness for this film. Granted, nostalgia paints every aspect of my enjoyment for the movie, but in all honesty this is a movie that overindulges in silliness and if the audience can get along with that, they will find a new favorite movie. Overall, I give the movie a four out of five. This is one that ranges between a three and a four, but I can’t help but side with the higher number. I’m down with the Klown, what can I say?




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