Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Killer Klown from Outer Space (1988)

“Hey you guys, this is weird!”

They say that variety is the spice of life. In a continuing attempt to embrace that variety here with One Movie Each Day, I’ve decided to dedicate each Wednesday review to the stranger side of cinema, the type of movies that I’d never normally watch, but that I’m kind of secretly glad exist. In celebration or in condemnation of the eccentric, the odd, the freaky, the kinky, the ghastly, the freaky, the fearful, the flaky, and the freaky, I now present the seventeenth edition of Wednesday Weirdness.

Make no mistake; Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a bad movie. However, it’s a movie devoid of pretense about what it is. However, to its credit, this movie fully embraces its own stupidity. It aims to be so bad its good, and, for the most part, it succeeds. It isn’t really so much weird as it is delightfully absurd. Absurdity can be a rich source of comedy, and this is absolutely what Killer Klowns is going for.

Written, produced, and directed by cult-favorite effects artists the Chiodo brothers, the film’s is has a premise that is exactly what the title promises. A group of space aliens who look and vaguely behave like clowns invade a small town, and start killing everyone.

Of course, there’s a group of plucky young people who serve as our protagonists. They are the first to discover the problem, and the ones who have to find a way to stop the clowns. The lead trio of actors are all B-movie regulars, none of who strikes me as particularly memorable. This isn’t to say that there aren’t any memorable characters in the film.

My favorite part of the movie, by far, is the veteran police officer Curtis Mooney. Played by the only actor in the cast that I recognized, the impeccable John Vernon, Mooney is a curmudgeonly old grump, so suspiciously cynical, that he refuses to believe that the reports of clowns terrorizing the town are true. Instead he prefers to believe that an ever expanding-group first a couple college students, then adding his fellow officer, then a shopkeeper friend of his, then half the town, are all conspiring to play a prank on him. Suffice to say things don’t end for Officer Mooney.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are the Terenzi brothers, a pair of loud-mouthed losers operating an ice cream truck (at night) because they think it’ll help them meet girls, the characters are so horribly acted that they fail to be anywhere near as funny as they’re clearly intended to be. Instead, they’re just annoying.

The film’s visual effects, generally centered around the alien clowns, and their array of monstrous clown props are far better than I was expecting. They take conventional circus clown appearances and give them a not-so-subtle turn towards a more horrific form, allowing them to be funny when they need to be, but also to seem genuinely alien, and genuinely scary when called for.

While I really enjoyed this movie, I’m having a hard time deciding if I can honestly recommend it. As I said, this really is a bad movie. However, it is so bad that its good. This is a highly subjective determination, but there’s more that’s good in this movie than there had any right to be, and while there’s plenty of bad stuff, its mostly done with a fun sense of self-awareness. So, I’m going to go ahead and say its worth seeing, in its own bizarre and twisted, stupid and absurd kind of way.

[Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) – Directed by  Stephen Chiodo – Rated PG-13]

OM|ED Rating: Worth SeeingWW