FREAKSHOW Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Join us every Monday, as we look at a cult movie. Our film of the week this time is not recommended viewing  if you suffer from coulrophobia…

Director: Stephen Chiodo
Cast: Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, John Vernon
Available on region one and region two DVD
Watch the trailer here

We could bore you with the usual predictable claptrap about how terribly creepy clowns are, but really: are they? Come off it. If over-sized shoes and a red nose give you goosebumps, you need to get a grip, you big Jessie.

You’d have to be a real Walter the Softie to be chilled to the bone by Killer Klowns – or the sort of person who has to change pants after a visit to the funhouse. It nestles comfortably alongside Night Of The Creeps and Strange Invaders in the pantheon of ‘80s horror comedy, as another knowingly dumb homage to the high period of the B-movie.

The main template is The Blob. After kids discover a circus-tent-shaped spaceship in the woods, full of popcorn-gun-packing alien clowns, they try to raise the alarm. Of course, the delinquent-hating police sergeant doesn’t believe a word of it.

It’s a one-gag movie, but while some of the iterations of that gag are about as hilarious as a squirt in the face from a plastic flower, a few are genuinely rib-tickling: a clown makes a balloon-animal dog… then lets it loose to hunt down a pair of escaping teens; later, a hapless victim is turned into a hissing pile of melted flesh and bone by a barrage of corrosive custard pies.

The designs are likeably lurid (particularly the surreal interior of the clown spaceship), and the animatronics are impressive, considering the budget. Killer Klowns was clearly a labour of love for the three brothers responsible (Stephen, Charles and Edward Chiodo). They never made a feature again (although they did have a successful career in animation and effects. Amongst other things, they made the animatronic cat for Sabrina The Teenage Witch!) but they can be justly proud of their one big achievement.

Ian Berriman, reviews editor of SFX and cult movie nut, has watched Rat Pfink A Boo Boo four or five times, but never seen On The Waterfront. The nutter.

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