There has always been something about clowns that rubbed me the wrong way. From their exaggerated features to their awkward clumsiness, I didn’t understand why other children got so excited when I wanted to run and hide. Movies like IT and the one I’ll be revisiting this week didn’t help me either. This film filled my mind with the greatest of fears and let to countless nightmares. The film to which I refer is the 1988 cult classic horror comedy film, KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE.
It’s the tale of an alien race that lands on earth, hell bent on using the supply of human beings as a source of sustenance. Sure, this is a formula that’s been used before in several b-movies throughout time, but it’s how they implement the clown gimmick with gags and other displays of black humor that allows for the movie to sit above the rest. Its dark comedy at its finest, as icons that are typically enjoyed for their abundance of innocent fun are twisted into something much more sinister becoming hilarious yet violent villains that manage to illicit both fear and an awkward laughter at almost every turn.
On top of all this are the costumes and the visual effects. The clowns are extremely grotesque caricatures of your typical hamburger wielding fare, complete with ridiculous hairstyles, disfigured faces and a set of chompers that’ll make Austin Powers jealous. Add to this the absurd outfits that the pranksters are donning and you’ve got some top tier enemies to terrorize the town. The Chiodo Brothers have proven over time that they are capable of doing some amazing things in the visual effects realm and being one of their first films, KILLER KLOWNS is a testament that they’ve had it all along.
Ultimately, the best - yet arguably the worst – aspect of the film is the acting. Everything is played over the top and lends towards the overall comedic horror feeling that the movie is going for. On one end of the divide, you have the victims. The error of their ways are plentiful as they attempt to save themselves by fleeing from the mayhem going down in their town. On the other side of things, you have the overly animated clowns who marvel in the way they never go directly in for their kills, but rather taunt their prey, more often than not, in the most hilarious of ways. It’s the interactions between these two parties, the ways by which the absent minded prey play directly into the circus themed traps of the mocking predators, that gives the film the touch that is lauded by it’s many fans.
When you break down all the cheesy dark humor of this film, what you’ve got is an awesome movie that takes no shame in being as ridiculous as it is. It’s intended to both scary and funny and surprisingly succeeds at both. If you can handle slapstick dark humor with a circus/clown theme, KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE is le meilleur cinéma. With the new Blu-ray release already out on store shelves, it’s not going to be that difficult to come across. Do yourself a favor and watch it. Whether it’s your first time or you’re revisiting, it’s a movie that’s sure to please. Enjoy.
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