Killer Klowns from Outer Space (UK - DVD R2)
Reviewer Marcus Doidge cracks out the candy floss for Killer Klowns on DVD...
We all want to see good movies, right? We want to avoid the bad movies, right? Well what about that other rare breed of movie? That breed that transcends bad to such a degree, that it’s actually good? The good bad movie if you will. I’m a solid believer that once in a while you need a good bad movie in your viewing schedule and thanks to Optimum releasing Killer Klowns from Outer Space, I got to re-visit one of the greatest good bad movies of my youth to see if it's as good a bad movie as I remembered.
On an ordinary night in a small American town called Crescent Cove, some of the residents are startled by a streak of yellow light landing in the nearby woods. Deciding to postpone their make-out session, two of the town’s teenagers, Mike Tobacco (Grant Cramer) and Debbie Stone (Suzanne Snyder), decide to investigate.
Rather than the expected meteor, the couple discover a massive glowing circus tent. They decide to investigate further, because frankly who doesn’t love the circus, and they soon discover that this isn’t the fun and laughter they’d expected but an alien spacecraft full of Killer Klowns—with the all important K rather than a C and Killer because their ship is full of bodies wrapped in candy floss cocoons. After escaping the circus tent ship with only a slight peppering from one of the Klown’s popcorn guns, Mike and Debbie make their way to the local police station to get some help.
Their warning is met with laughter by Sgt. Mooney (John Vernon), who is sick of the pranks the young people of the town keep pulling and the only officer who decides to check it out is Dave Hanson (John Allen Nelson), who only helps because he used to date Debbie. Well, as you can imagine, police guy Dave initially doesn’t find anything to back up the story, but when he does, he soon discovers to his horror that the town has indeed been invaded by Killer Klowns from Outer Space and their seemingly innocent party tricks will soon have the town wrapped up in candy floss.
I mean, come on, does it get any more kooky than that? What other horror movies have scenes like this:
It’s not even played for scares for the most part, what with the inclusion of party ribbon, confetti and giggles. Slightly odd prosthetic aliens invading a small town is the thing of B movie legend, but these are clowns, sorry, Klowns. These goofy lovable weird looking things just sort of wander around until they happen upon someone and then do a trick to entertain their victim (puppet show, magic trick or the classic shadow trick) and then they pull out their goofy ray guns and candy floss them, or alternatively put their victim in a giant balloon—if you’re the main chick in the movie and you might need someone to save you later.
But what of the human cast? Well they just make it an even better good bad movie. The two teenagers, who I’m guessing aren’t actually teenagers, are fantastic eighties clichés. Debbie screaming at all the wrong moments and acting naïve to the power of ten. Her boyfriend Mike is pretty much the nerdiest horror jock ever. Using terms like ‘neat’ to describe a circus tent does very little to help his shocking dialogue delivery and his woollen jumper really doesn’t earn him much credit either. The third in this love triangle of lead characters is Officer Dave Hanson, the blonde haired pretty boy policeman. This actor really thinks there might be an Oscar nod with this performance. He’s throwing around dialogue like he’s in A Few Good Men for the most part and not meaning to ruin the ending for you but when he doesn’t die the raw emotion he tries to show off in his hugs with both Debbie and Mike, are good bad movie magic.
Alongside all of this and in a supporting role, is the always great John Vernon as Officer Mooney. Seriously, this role is classic. Mooney is the ultimate pissed-off cop. He hates pretty much everything and his lines are all pure B movie gold. In fact he gets the killer opening line of the movie, in which he sees an innocent kid walking past his police car and calls him a ‘son of a bitch’ for absolutely no reason. It’s just grumpy brilliance and what’s more, he gets the best death in the movie as well. He’s too good to be taken out with a candy floss ray, he gets his mouth sliced and a Klown’s hand inserted into his back and then he gets used as a ventriloquist's dummy to freak the other cop out. Seriously, if you’re gonna go out in a good bad movie, this is the way to do it!
Whatever way you cut it, Killer Klowns is a mental premise with an even more mental execution. The sheer fact that you go through the movie just accepting this is happening and then they throw the bugnut crazy theory that clowns on earth may have copied the style of these outer space Klowns for thousands of years, is a credit to the filmmakers, even if it's just having respect for their sheer balls to actually commit this to film.
I don’t know what I was expecting with this one, mainly due to the fact that the last time I watched Killer Klowns From Outer Space, I was twelve, but all in all I guess it’s what you’d imagine a low budget goofy horror from 1988 would look like. The image is soft and the colours are muted. There are no obvious marks or dirt, which is a good thing, and the grain level isn’t too bad. All things considered but the detail is pretty bad with anything in the backgrounds just looking hazy as well as the handful of special effects shots looking almost exactly as I remember them on video.
Surprise, surprise, the audio isn’t up to much either. Dolby Digital 2.0 is probably about as much as Killer Klowns needs in all honesty, but it just feels hollow. The dialogue is clear for the most part but any sort of increase in volume can get pretty irritating as it has that electronic buzz to it in places. Saying that, the score is still a great one and The Dickies performing the film's theme, ‘Killer Klowns’, as well as the freaky twists on carnival music throughout the film, sort of made me let the audio off a little as it’s so much fun and sounded exactly as I remember it as a kid.
Once again, a R2 release doesn’t get the same treatment as the R1 release, and this is an extreme case. The R1 got commentaries and featurettes amongst other things (see Chris's R1 review for more details). What we get with this release is the trailer (1:49) and… well, there is no and. We just get the trailer. Gutted.
I remember watching Killer Klowns a lot in a small space of time when I was a little un’ and watching it again so many years later was great fun. It’s more bizarre than I remember and of course watching it with a critical eye, I have to say that it hasn't exactly aged well (not that it was a masterpiece back then).
Yet despite all that, I was grinning like a school kid watching those Klowns do all the stupid stuff I remembered from my youth. I still laughed when the little Klown knocks that biker guy’s block off and I still found the Klowns iconically cool, despite their absurdity.
This edition is a total waste of time considering what else is on offer, but if you’re meeting up with friends one night and you can’t quite decide what movie to pick up for a rental and you know you want to have a bit of a laugh, I can’t recommend Killer Klowns From Outer Space highly enough. It’s kooky as all hell, it’s as crazy and as out there as they come and frankly it’s a classic good bad movie that you need to experience.
Oh, and once there are enough us of on board, I say we get a remake petition going. Who’s with me? Anyone?... Anyone?
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 22nd September 2008
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround English
Easter Egg: No
Director: Stephen Chiodo
Cast: Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, John Vernon
Genre: Horror and Sci-Fi
Length: 82 minutes
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