Wednesday, 9 December 2015



You certainly can't accuse this movie of dishonesty and false advertising on the grounds that it doesn't contain killer clowns (or klowns) or that they're not from space: it does, and they are. In that sense it's as does-what-it-says-on-the-tin brilliant a title as Cannibal Woman In The Avocado Jungle Of Death or Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus, or indeed anything from the more outre end of Troma Films: the deliberately absurd comedy horror demands a ridiculous title and Killer Klowns From Outer Space is certainly a good one.

It's also, surprisingly, not a bad film. Certainly I enjoyed it more on BluRay the other night than back in the early 1990s when I rented the VHS release, because there's a phenomenal level of silliness to the movie that makes it pretty well impossible to take seriously and very difficult to hate. Alien circus clowns land a spaceship in the middle of the woods near a small town with the sole purpose of abducting the entire population, and either cocooning them in candy floss or trapping them in giant balloons. The ship is discovered by a pair of amorous teenagers, but the local police won't be convinced (led as they are by a spectacularly hardass John Vernon), even as the Klowns rampage through the town picking off and the locals in amusing circus-related ways....

It's an incredibly daft idea, though at least there is a quick line of dialogue putting forth a possible justification for it (that these aliens have been visiting Earth throughout history, and it's from them that we've created the concept of clowns). But at least they do take the idea as far as they possibly can: from balloon animals to custard pies, from the impossibly crowded clown car to shadow puppetry and ventriloquism, from the famous Entry Of The Gladiators circus music to the hilarious squirting flower prank.

The film is written and produced by the three Chiodo brothers (Charles, Edward, and Stephen, who also directed), probably known better as a prosthetic creature effects team in films like Critters. And again it has to be said that the sometimes hokey practical and optical work looks far better than any amount of shiny, charmless CGI, because they exist as actual physical entities rather than data files on a hard drive somewhere. That is not to say that computer effects have no place: when properly designed and well integrated into the rest of the film they can make for genuinely jawdropping spectacle (Gravity, Godzilla, Jurassic Park). But in a silly, cheesy horror comedy I'll happily take rubber and gloop any time. Killer Klowns From Outer Space may be a minor cult oddity with a nostalgic charm about it (whether the same will apply to the supposedly upcoming 3D sequel is anyone's guess), but over twenty years later it's still worth a look.


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