Movie News

Hurts So Good - KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE

Published at: Sept. 25, 2012, 11:15 a.m. CST

 

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.

 

-Jon Doe

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Readers Talkback

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  • Sept. 25, 2012, 11:17 a.m. CST

    Great Dickies soundtrack too.

    by DarthBlart

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 11:22 a.m. CST

    What are you gonna do with those pies, boys?

    by monkey_tamer

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 11:23 a.m. CST

    This one freaked me out..

    by Bodacious_Crumb

    Seriously

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 11:32 a.m. CST

    cocooning people in cotton candy

    by Raskolnikov_was_framed

    then drinking their liquified remains through the cotton candy shell with a crazy straw...takes a special kind of genius to think that shit up

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 11:33 a.m. CST

    Ah!

    by Superponte

    This one was a classic!

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 11:34 a.m. CST

    Great movie; brings back memories.

    by the dolphins are in the jacuzzi

    KKFOS together with Night of the Comet was my regular "Fright Night" B-movie double-feature back in high school. Thanks for reminding me about it. Think I might revisit those soon.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 11:51 a.m. CST

    Oh look, childhood emotional trauma is on bluray!

    by Ben_Richards_Bomb_Collar

    Seriously. Fuck this movie.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 12:01 p.m. CST

    I loved this movie when I was a kid. Holds up well enough with tempered expectations.

    by Detective_Fingerling

    Always loved the character clown designs and the cheesy acting of the teens (or were they 30 somethings)?

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 12:11 p.m. CST

    It surprisingly still holds up

    by Cobb05

    I saw this as a kid. But I saw it OnDemand a few months ago and for an 80's campy horror movie, it still kinda holds up. I would actually love to see this movie remade by someone like James Gunn. I think that remaking it would be cool because eventhough the clowns look really good, they don't have much expression. I never understood people being afraid of clowns,but supposedly a lot of people all. It's funny that a lot of black people are freaked out by clowns. Not sure what's up with that, but a highlight of my life was seeing this big black guy who was a football player saw a clown and acted like a little girl. One of the funniest things I've ever seen.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 12:25 p.m. CST

    Just saw online, they want to do a sequel

    by Cobb05

    Sounds good to me.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 12:32 p.m. CST

    Excellent film. Camp classic. Not a dull moment in it.

    by knowthyself

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 12:34 p.m. CST

    Awesome flick.

    by Nice Marmot

    Kind of on a tier slightly higher than so-bad-its-good. Always wonder if John Vernon was pissed off to be in it or was actually giving his all as a crabby as hell a-hole.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 12:34 p.m. CST

    liked it in its day, could not sit through it again.

    by nametaken

    i tried.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 12:43 p.m. CST

    My kids want to be Killer Klowns From Outer Space for Halloween.

    by fustfick

    They absolutely love this movie. I'm fond of it, too. I sure hope the Chiodos get to make a sequel - before Platinum Dunes gets their greasy mitts all over a shitty remake.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 12:56 p.m. CST

    Whatta ya gonna do? Knock my block off?

    by cookepuss

    Absolutely one of my favorite B-horror flicks. I love it. It's right up there with CHUD & Ghoulies.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 1:06 p.m. CST

    You Neglected to Mention it Starred 'Hunk' Himself!

    by Sluggolicious

    Oh John Allen Nelson . . what's become of you?

  • They have a script and ideas, original cast wants to come back.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 1:24 p.m. CST

    I actually like that cover art

    by Elwood Blues

    Much better over the cheap art they did on the Midnight Movies edition on DVD I have.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 1:29 p.m. CST

    But is it better than Starship Troopers???

    by D.Vader

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 1:41 p.m. CST

    Hail John Vernon

    by JIMBOCOP

    You little pricks.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 1:46 p.m. CST

    In space in one can eat ice cream....

    by shane daley

    best tag line ever.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 2 p.m. CST

    the epitome of a charming idiosyncratic B-Movie

    by Samuel Fulmer

    The type of thing that cost ten bucks to make, stays in your head for years, and if Hollywood did it they'd blow 250 million and it would be forgotten ten minutes after viewing it.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 2:04 p.m. CST

    I love this movie but I will not be buying it on blu-ray...

    by Mystery Roach

    until they re-release it with an appropriate cover. Ugh I hate modern looking art on 80's movies with a passion! The Midnite Movies art was leagues better.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 2:20 p.m. CST

    The midnight movies art was leagues better?

    by Elwood Blues

    You mean that cover that was a 90's bad photoshop job? If you want to go retro, use the original poster art with the clown arm globe trotting the basketball.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 2:21 p.m. CST

    and John Vernon as "Officer Curtis Mooney"

    by la_sith

    THIS IS MOONEY CALLING IN....

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 3:08 p.m. CST

    Stupid AICN question

    by Phategod2

    How do I reach the Index of these articles?

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 3:13 p.m. CST

    Love John Vernon

    by Cassius_Crackhead

    Vernon was the ultimate authoritarian hardass. Did you ever see him in "Savage Steets" as Linda Blair's principal? Good shit.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 3:16 p.m. CST

    Saw this on USA Up All Night...

    by Tom Fremgen

    with Gilbert Gottfried, back when I was in college. Man, I miss shows like that :)

  • Um... well yeah. It's Killer... Klowns... from... Outer... Space... how is that not comical?

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 4:49 p.m. CST

    Like a stalk of jacaranda!!!

    by Darth Macchio

    Love the Dickies theme song for this...remember the video too. And yes - turning people into giant cotton-candy 'cocoons' and then drinking their essence (?) out with huge ass crazy straws IS genius.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 5:15 p.m. CST

    Theme song is a Halloween staple.

    by adeceasedfan

    The Dickies also wrote my favorite July 4th song. Spirit of '76 from the movie The Spirit of '76. Leonard Graves Phillips has one of the most distinct vocal deliveries ever Killer Klowns the movie kicks ass also.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 5:38 p.m. CST

    this site gets worse every day

    by rexholmes

    seriously? "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." This whole review reads like a fourth-grade "find the intentional mistakes" exercise. This site consistently serves up the worst writing ON THE INTERNET. (and i'm counting myspace)

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 5:48 p.m. CST

    What part of this movie is supposed to "hurt" exactly?

    by Mitch

    This movie is awesome. Just because it's intentionally campy doesn't make it "bad".

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 5:51 p.m. CST

    PT Barnum said it so long ago...

    by boliver

    There's one born every minute, that you know Some make us laugh, some make us cry These clowns only gonna make you die Everybody's running when the circus comes into their towns Everyone is running from the likes of the killer klowns from outer space killer klowns from outer space Chucko! Ringmaster shouts let the show begin Send in the klowns, then they'll let you in See a rubber nose on a painted face Bringing genocide to the human race It's time to take a ride on the nightmare merry-go-round You'll be dead on arrival from the likes of the killer klowns from outer space killer klowns from outer space There's cotton candy in their hands Says a polka-dotted man with a stalk of jackaranda They're all diabolical bozos Pogo! Oh look around what do you see? tell me what's become of humanity? from california shores to new york times square Barnum and Bailey everywhere if you've ever wondered why the population's going down blame it on the plunder from the likes of the killer klowns from outer space killer klowns from outer space

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 5:59 p.m. CST

    I'm not saying the Midnite Movies art was great

    by Mystery Roach

    But at least it was in the spirit of the movie. Yes the original poster art is always preferable, but I'll take the bad photoshop for the DVD with the original font and classic sci-fi feel over this bullshit modern horror take on it any day of the fucking week.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 6:27 p.m. CST

    Hmm, not much of a write-up.

    by Cyrus Clops

    Was hoping this would this would be a fairly extensive recap/commentary--Lord knows there's plenty of material to mine in this movie--but this is a pretty sparse review. Was this a copy provided for review, necessitating a quickie article? (Not snark/a conspiracy theory--I'm genuinely wondering).

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 6:32 p.m. CST

    Nobody's gonna put ME in a balloon again!

    by Kevin Spellman

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 6:32 p.m. CST

    Another door!

    by Kevin Spellman

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 7:43 p.m. CST

    Cassius...Savage Streets...

    by Red Ned Lynch

    ...is a beautiful movie and John Vernon is beautiful in it. Features a young Linnea Quigley as Linda Blair's deaf sister. I had the poster for this movie, the one with Blair in the leather outfit holding the crossbow with the street scene playing behind her, for years. Finally gave it to a friend who loved the movie even more than me. If anyone ever asks what movie featured the best performance by eyebrows, point them to Savage Streets. There is a scene in this movie, with Linda Blair delivering a soliloquy to a dead friend's grave, where she alternates lifting first one eyebrow and then the other with almost every single syllable.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 7:50 p.m. CST

    Wheres my Pooh Bear!?!?

    by KongMonkey

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 7:52 p.m. CST

    Killer Klowns is one of the 80s best low budget horrors...

    by Red Ned Lynch

    ...and doesn't belong on a list of movies that are so bad they're good at all. The art design, the scare set pieces, the soundtrack, the inclusion or Rory Calhoun (It Takes All Kinds of Critters to Make Farmer Vincents Fritters...you know, from Motel Hell) and John Vernon in the cast... ...mark this as a schlock gem. Really, John Doe, there is a difference and people who love schlock, the bad, the horrible and the surprisingly good, they know that difference. And by the way, what the hell is awkward clumsiness? Are they awkward at being clumsy and therefore graceful? Come on, man, it's in your lede. Don't you know anyone who will proof these for you? Anyway, the shadow puppet scene is another of my favorites. The people at the bus stop are so happy, and then...

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 8:56 p.m. CST

    This is a fantastic movie. --Knock my block off!--

    by Nintendarth

    It's true to the spirit of what it's trying to do, is scary as hell, is hilarious without being a comedy and the production of the monsters is top-notch. What's not to truly love? Plus it has a terrific soundtrack. Sincerely, Nintendarth NOW YOU'RE PLAYING WITH THE POWER OF THE DARK SIDE!

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 8:57 p.m. CST

    Killer Klowns

    by Jay

    I found the 'cocooning candy floss' the most disturbing twisted thing as well when I viewed this a long time ago as well. Writers are whacked ;)

  • Sept. 26, 2012, 12:28 a.m. CST

    This movie fucking sucks.

    by losder

    The only good part about is the cop who refuses to do anything but sit in the police station and drink. Eventually he gets sucked into the movie, but for 45 minutes, he manages to fucking ignore it all.

  • Sept. 26, 2012, 12:42 a.m. CST

    Arcadian, is that true?

    by Glenn

    If so, the Chiodos need to own what they made and wear it, it's not the audiences' fault they misperceive its tone/genre. What crybabies.

  • Sept. 26, 2012, 4:39 a.m. CST

    Hey, Jon Doe...

    by phit_demon

    ...the word is "elicit", not "illicit".

  • Sept. 26, 2012, 5:16 a.m. CST

    WEAK WRITE-UP, THIS FILM ROCKS AND DESERVES A DETAILED BREAKDOWN

    by Mullah Omar

    Unfortunately I am not the one to do so, as I am just a pleb Talkbacker, not a paid contributor, and I'm not going to steal jobs away during a recession... KILLER KLOWNS is one of my all-time favorite B-movies. It sounds like a joke and it's tough to argue that it's not, but anyone who actually watches this will be floored at how creepy and enduring some of the images are. Of course it helps that a lot of people are innately creeped out by clowns. The visuals and effects are outstanding. Some films make you wonder where their big budget went, but here you see every dime on the screen - the Chiodo Brothers got insane visual value for their cash. The script and acting are pretty weak, but it doesn't even matter, they trip you out with images. With a good script by someone who can give them some ammo, the Chiodo Brothers could probably deliver a masterpiece of the surreal. For example, I would love to see some kind of Jodorowsky-Chiodo collaboration. (Chiodorowsky?!?) As for a sequel, I have been reading about it for perhaps the last decade. I'll believe it when I see it go into real production. If the Bros are having trouble getting financing, this seems like a natural fit for something like Kickstarter or some other source of populist moviemaking. The KILLER KLOWNS name is legendary to a lot of us, and I have to believe a substantial number of people would kick in to let the Chiodos make another KLOWN film.

  • Sept. 26, 2012, 6:25 a.m. CST

    Love Vernon's sarky delivery...

    by DocPazuzu

    ...of the line: "Killer Klowns from Outer Space.... Holeeee shit!" No matter how outrageous the premise of a movie was, John motherfucking Vernon brought his A-game every time. Funniest damn straight-face in movie history. As for KKFOS, I love it. Of course it's intentionally funny, but the Chiodos had enough respect for audience intelligence, not to mention faith in their idea, that they played the entire movie without a hint of irony on display. You don't see those kinds of balls in genre movies these days. It's precisely because they HAD those balls that they were able to make a movie both funny and creepy, not to mention utterly unforgettable.

  • Sept. 26, 2012, 6:49 a.m. CST

    I heard the sequel was to take place back on the clown's planet.

    by grampageezer

    While I enjoyed this little comedic B-movie and it's circus gags, my young sons were freaked out when they first watched it on VHS back in the late 80s and hated clowns for a long time after.

  • Sept. 26, 2012, 7 a.m. CST

    Kudos to the Chiodo Bros, but this film sucks.

    by SigourneyWeavers3Dbeaver

    Has all the makings of a killer midnight movie and a classic 'B', but it is just dull. Not enough gore to rescue it either.

  • Sept. 26, 2012, 8:16 a.m. CST

    Like others, I came across this on USA's Up All Night...

    by 2for2true

    ...after channel surfing for boobs, and caught it about 20-30 minutes in progress. My take: love it or hate it, you simply can't walk away from it. I say glued to my chair, watching this incredibly fucked up piece of cinema that had me laughing and creeped out simultaneously. I then caught the whole film about a month later. Grading it as a classic horror film, it might not make everyone's top ten list. However, it's very original, and done with exactly the right tone of horror and comic relief. For that reason, I would hate to see someone muck it up with a sequel.

  • Sept. 26, 2012, 9:18 a.m. CST

    Jon Doe (or anyone else here), ever see a movie called "Clownhouse?"

    by Cletus Van Damme

    Not sure if it's one word or two. I remember seeing it roughly the same time I saw KKFOS and remember Clownhouse being better. I may have to look into finding it on DVD.

  • Sept. 26, 2012, 9:29 a.m. CST

    Seriously, a remake? If you like the movie why would you want a remake?

    by Randall Luttenberg

    Enough with the remakes, reboots, rehashes, recycles, and re-pre-sequels already. We don't need another Killer Klowns, we have this one. Love it or hate it or be bored to fucking tears by it, at least this was an original concept just loaded with original riffs on the theme. In the best B-movie tradition, the Chiodos didn't let a tiny budget get in the way of making as much movie as they could possibly cram into 88 insane minutes. The result is just what you could want from a B movie.. an insane 88-minute funhouse ride with no redeeming value whatsoever. Just shake your head, smile, and decide whether or not to change the channel. If they ever make the planned 3-D sequel, it will inevitably suck. The original worked because they had to scramble and bottom-feed their way to tack together a movie out of tissue paper and chutzpah. They obviously tried extra hard, and if you're willing to go along for the ride you're automatically giving them a little extra credit for effort. I know this is a minority opinion among fandom, but I say NO MORE REMAKES! NO MORE REBOOTS! NO MORE OVEREXTENDED FRANCHISES! If you Hollywood motherfuckers want us to fork over some of our hard-earned cheese, then work for it!

  • Sept. 26, 2012, 10:01 a.m. CST

    What are you gonna do? Knock my block off?

    by GravyAkira

    80's classic!

  • Sept. 27, 2012, 1:06 p.m. CST

    Cletus oh yes Clownhouse

    by gwarwilleatyou

    That movie is creepy already, but add to the fact that Silva the director (same director as Powder) molested one of the child actors in that film just makes it worse.