REVIEW: Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

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1988, Trans World Entertainment

Director:
Stephen Chiodo
Producers:
Charles Chiodo
Edward Chiodo
Stephen Chiodo
Writers:
Charles Chiodo
Stephen Chiodo
Cinematography:
Alfred Taylor
Editing:
Chris Roth

Cast:
Grant Cramer (Mike Tobacco)
Suzanne Snyder (Debbie Stone)
John Allen Nelson (Dave Hanson)
John Vernon (Curtis Mooney)
Michael Siegel (Rich Terenzi)
Peter Licassi (Paul Terenzi)
Royal Dano (Farmer Gene Green)
Christopher Titus (Bob McReed)

In what can be considered an homage to the classic 1950’s monster films comes one of the most campy 80’s cult classics this side of the world.

One night in a small town, something that looks like a shooting star appears and lands in the backyard of a local farmer. A big circus tent appears and a group of alien-like clowns appear and shoot the farmer with a beam. Meanwhile, couple Mike and Debbie look for the shooting star and find themselves at the circus tent as well. They soon learn that this is no ordinary big top. They narrowly escape the clowns and try to warn local cop Dave, Debbie’s ex-boyfriend, and foul-mouthed arrogant Officer Mooney. No one believes them but soon it becomes too late.

The clowns begin to appear all over the town and begin to trap hapless townsfolk in cotton candy cocoons and take them back to their big top. While Mooney still doesn’t believe anyone, Dave begins to believe Mike and Debbie. When Debbie is eventually kidnapped by the clowns, Mike and Dave must find a way to stop the clowns and end their terror once and for all.

From the Chiodo Brothers comes this very campy film that begins with the catchy Dickies title track, where the first line goes, “P.T. Barnum said it so long ago. There’s one born every minute, don’t you know.” That, along with the methods the clowns use to trap their victims, it is all out fun that is definitely not to be taken seriously.

What stands out are the various looks of the clowns. The Chiodos didn’t stick to just one look. They infused many variations with a common aspect, the black under the eyes and fangs. Perhaps the black eyes may have proven to be an interest in the recent blockbuster The Dark Knight, in the form of lead villain Joker. They have the smiles, but they are without a doubt evil and smirking at times. In other cases, the evil laughs are well played out all in the name of good wholesome fun (Who are we kidding?).

While Suzanne Snyder’s Debbie throughout the movie played the atypical “damsel in distress”, there were more than two 50’s hero types here. There’s Grant Cramer as Mike, Debbie’s current boyfriend and college prankster who’s had his share of trouble. Then there’s John Allen Nelson as Dave, the policeman who used to date Debbie and still has some feelings for her yet at the same time, respects Debbie’s decision to be with Mike. In a scene involving both guys, they do talk about Debbie and even with Mike apologizing in a sense of feeling responsible for “stealing” Debbie, Dave admits that it wasn’t her fault or Mike’s. It was Dave himself for making Debbie feel pressured to have security.

John Vernon, the late great character actor, brings his famous act of the guy you just want to smack around to the mix as Officer Mooney. From the beginning, it is clear he is the most hated character in the film, even more hateful than the clowns and that says something. When the townsfolk call in to complain about the clowns, he becomes unconvinced throughout the film, until finally, he does see the clowns. Then, those who cannot stand Mooney gets their wish.

Definitely an all-time cult classic, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, is definitely for fans of the cheesy brand of humorous monster films. It is all-out fun!

WFG RATING: B

DVD/BLU-RAY

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