Hurts So Good - KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE
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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Sept. 25, 2012, 11:17 a.m. CST
Sept. 25, 2012, 11:18 a.m. CST
Sept. 25, 2012, 11:21 a.m. CST
Sept. 25, 2012, 11:22 a.m. CST
Sept. 25, 2012, 11:23 a.m. CST
Sept. 25, 2012, 11:32 a.m. CST
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
This one was a classic!
Sept. 25, 2012, 11:34 a.m. CST
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
Seriously. Fuck this movie.
Sept. 25, 2012, 12:01 p.m. CST
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
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, 12:18 p.m. CST
The hell is that box art supposed to be? Why do studios so frequently use generic/straight-to-dvd looking art for films that already have existing poster art which is awesome and iconic?
Sept. 25, 2012, 12:25 p.m. CST
Sounds good to me.
Sept. 25, 2012, 12:30 p.m. CST
The scene where the clown "drives an invisible car" or whatever is honestly one of the most lasting, scariest scenes in my cinema-watching experience. Something about the nonchalant way the Klowns display virtually limitless power is terrifying!
Sept. 25, 2012, 12:32 p.m. CST
Sept. 25, 2012, 12:34 p.m. CST
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
Sept. 25, 2012, 12:43 p.m. CST
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
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
Oh John Allen Nelson . . what's become of you?
Sept. 25, 2012, 1:11 p.m. CST
They have a script and ideas, original cast wants to come back.
Sept. 25, 2012, 1:24 p.m. CST
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
Sept. 25, 2012, 1:41 p.m. CST
You little pricks.
Sept. 25, 2012, 1:46 p.m. CST
by shane daley
best tag line ever.
Sept. 25, 2012, 2 p.m. CST
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
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
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
THIS IS MOONEY CALLING IN....
Sept. 25, 2012, 3:08 p.m. CST
How do I reach the Index of these articles?
Sept. 25, 2012, 3:13 p.m. CST
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
by Tom Fremgen
with Gilbert Gottfried, back when I was in college. Man, I miss shows like that :)
Sept. 25, 2012, 3:47 p.m. CST
Um... well yeah. It's Killer... Klowns... from... Outer... Space... how is that not comical?
Sept. 25, 2012, 4:49 p.m. CST
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
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
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
This movie is awesome. Just because it's intentionally campy doesn't make it "bad".
Sept. 25, 2012, 5:51 p.m. CST
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
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
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
by Kevin Spellman
Sept. 25, 2012, 6:32 p.m. CST
by Kevin Spellman
Sept. 25, 2012, 7:43 p.m. CST
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
Sept. 25, 2012, 7:52 p.m. CST
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 p.m. CST
FACT: the writers and directors insist that this wasn't a funny movie, but a straight up scary one, and have stormed out of interviews when asked about their 'dark comedy clown movie'
Sept. 25, 2012, 8:56 p.m. CST
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
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
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
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
...the word is "elicit", not "illicit".
Sept. 26, 2012, 5:16 a.m. CST
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
...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
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
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
...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
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
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
Sept. 27, 2012, 1:06 p.m. CST
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.
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