Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Alien bozos with an appetite for close encounters.
Year of Release: 1988
Running Time: 86 minutes (1:26)
Director: Stephen Chiodo
Grant Cramer ... Mike Tobacco
Suzanne Snyder ... Debbie Stone
John Allen Nelson ... Dave Hanson
John Vernon ... Curtis Mooney
Michael S. Siegel ... Rich Terenzi
Peter Licassi ... Paul Terenzi
Royal Dano ... Farmer Gene Green
Christopher Titus ... Bob McReed
Steve Rockhold ... Klown Performer
Michael Harrington Burris ... Klown Performer
Geno Ponza ... Klown Performer
Scott Beatty ... Klown Performer
Paul Haley ... Klown Performer
Dennis C. Walsh ... Klown Performer
Genie Houdini ... Klown Performer
Harrod Blank ... Klown Performer
Karl Shaeffer ... Klown Performer
Paul Parsons ... Klown Performer
Jimmy Locust ... Klown Performer
Mitch Bryan ... Klown Performer
Greg Sykes ... Klown Performer
Charles Chiodo ... 'Klownzilla' the King Klown
Brett Leonard ... Klown Performer
Late one night, young lovers Debbie and Mike discover that the Earth is being invaded by alien jokesters with a distinct appetite for cotton-candy-wrapped human tidbits! The town police think it's all a joke, until the entire village populace is turned into klown-cuisine! Now, it's up to Mike and his buddies to get past the bizarre array of popcorn ray guns, lethal cream pie projectiles and the behemoth "Master Klown" to save the planet from a fate that's no laughing matter!
Killer Klowns from Outer Space, remindin' us that it's all fun an games until someone's hit by flesh disintegrating pies. Bambi Pankins used to make pies like that around Thanksgiving back in the day. Things'd get so bad that we'd hafta convert the master bathroom into an E.R. an call Tetnis over to put us out of our misery. But speakin' of things that've been reduced to a disgustin' heap, Cleave Furguson's Bronco finally got released from automotive traction this past week, which was a minor miracle in itself given how that busload of environmentalists pounded it into a Borg cube at the Gas, Grass, or Cash 24-hour Fuel, Lawn Care and ATM Station last huntin' season. It don't really help that Bondo's Auto Repair and Salvage Yard happens to employ the only mechanics in Chickawalka County capable of "losing" a vehicle in their parkin' lot. The dumb bastards'd apparently been usin' it for spare parts an hadda go through some pretty shady underground auto channels to get it put back together again, but at least Cleave got a free hydraulic lift kit outta the deal. Better still, last year's blackmailing of the city council members to keep Skunky Hernadez' Sage Maze open seems to be holdin', so Cleave an I actually got out to Timber Falls around 5:30 on openin' day to see about fillin' the freezer for winter. I didn't draw a buck tag this year, but Cleave an I got an agreement sayin' I get half the vittles if I pay for gas an Trail Mix, which sounds like a better deal than it is, cause Cleave goes through about 6lbs of the stuff every day, huntin' or not. But anyway, we sat up in the stand where the Chex crunchin'd be a little less deafening, until a good sized 2x3 came into range an... well, I thought it was kinda dirty to shoot the guy while he was pinchin' off a batch of pellets, but I guess sometimes you've gotta compromise your personal code of conduct to avoid eatin' nothin' but Ramen noodles an bitterly ironic cans of Stagg chili all winter.
Didn't actually gut 'im on the spot this year cause Cleave read on the internet that keepin' the guts inside for 12 hours after the kill gives the meat a little added kick. I said fine, but stipulated that if the venison tasted anything like that spit roasted possum he cooked with the innards inside at elk camp that time a few years back that I was takin' my $39.95 in Trail Mix futures back. We still cut the neck down by the shoulders, cause apparently the blood makes everything soggier'n a bowl of week old corn flakes if you don't get it outta there. But anyway, we strapped it to the roof of the Bronco (Cleave's one of those guys who does it just to show off) an start headin' down the steep stretch just after the 5% grade sign with all the .22 holes in it that're formed into an exact diagram of the '85 Bears' Zone Blitz (the really big hole in the nose tackle position is The Fridge), when all the sudden the carcass shifts forward an sends a flood of blood an all the guts that'd fit outta the openin' onto the windshield. Couldn't see a damn thing, it was worse than that scene in Mac & Me where the little herpes creature gets splattered into a pile of silly putty on that station wagon. So Cleave stomps the brake pedal, only to find his "slightly used" brake pads had about 2% tread left on 'em, an we ended up wrappin' the front end around a big ole Tamarack an hadda beg Sadie Bonebreak to come pick us up. I think the worst thing about it is that now we'll never know what leavin' the guts inside the body cavity for those 12 hours does to the taste, since most of 'em ruptured an dribbled outta when we hit the tree. I guess these kinda scientific setbacks happen to the best of us. Oh, an Bondo, if you're readin' this, you might wanna leave town for a coupla years, cause Cleave's pretty P.O.'d about the state of his rig.
In any event, the movie this week is one of the greatest cinematic achievements in the storied careers of those sibling special effects specialists; the Chiodo Brothers. I speak of course, of the immortal Killer Klowns from Outer Space, probably the finest movie ever made to feature John Vernon bein' turned into a ventriloquist dummy. Don't ask me how, but these drunks discovered the perfect ratio of chicanery an menace, an made what is without question the greatest horror/comedy of all time. Some movies lean too heavily towards horror, others toward comedy, but Killer Klowns is the cinematic bubble level by which all horror/comedies are judged, an on top of all that, it's pretty dang educational too. So let's take a moment to review just a few of the pivotal lessons that've been given unto us by the modern day masters of the clownery. First, offering all-you-can-eat ice cream to your date is not an effective short term strategy for attaining sex. You've really gotta be in it for the long haul under these conditions, cause if you're pitiful enough to try this, they ain't gonna so much as touch you until they're too fat to get anyone better. Second, there's a little known clause in the police oath that says they don't hafta protect or serve jack if your story is far-fetched. So if you're ever involved in a bizarre situation that requires police assistance, always lie to the dispatcher. An third, if you need a rubber raft just to make out, somebody's got a potentially life threatenin' secretion problem. Now, in general, I think the writing for this flick is about as solid as you can possibly expect without the aid of a high school diploma, but there's one thing that gets left outta the proceedins in all this, an that's clarification on just what/who went down in that scene where the two geeks fall into the ball pit an meet up with the lady clowns. What happens between that moment an the point at which they rejoin the rest of the cast? Are the Chiodo Brothers ashamed to depict Klown on human inter-species sex? Did that part get cut out to preserve their precious PG-13 rating? Everybody loves a clown, so why's it so hard to accept somebody takin' that love a step further? We need closure, cause while it might not seem too important at first glance, that missing footage could change critical character dynamics. I mean, if these two dinks scored some intergalactic gaunch an just left the clown chicks to raise their hybrid mime-children alone on a single parent salary, we might not be so quick to root for these jerks, you see what I'm sayin'? This's way worse than the horny soldiers in 'Nam partakin' in Vietnamese slut shacks, cause at least there the kid ain't gonna grow up to be a societal outcast. Bottom line; we need more transparency in this script. So if the Chiodos're readin' this, an you guys ever get that sequel off the ground, we as an audience demand to know what happened in that funhouse, an whether or not it was hilarious. Other'n that, the screenplay's right up there with your other alien classics like E.T., an Forbidden World.
The movie begins pretty much like The Blob, only while the horny teenagers're out fornicatin' on Booty Call Butte these two dweebs (Rich an Paul) show up drivin' Cheech & Chong's ice cream truck from Nice Dreams an try sellin' ice cream, even though each car's already fully equipped with at least one Push Pop. Fortunately, Rich, Paul, an their attempted cockblockery are forced to retreat in the face of overwhelming Keystone shelling, an once they take off Mike an Debbie start starin' up at the sky like they're part of the ISIS early warning missile defense system where they spot a shootin' star that lands in Royal Dano's backyard. So Royal, figurin' this is his chance to strike it rich enough to acquire a nice sofa for his front porch, immediately halts progress on his pornographic whittlin' an takes Pooh (his blood hound) out to find the meteor. Instead, they find a gigantic circus tent, an while Royal's tryin' to find a way to sneak in an declare his undyin' love for the fat lady, somethin' shoots a Portal gun at the side of the tent an scoops up Pooh in a salmon net. As you can imagine, when Royal finds Pooh's bandana layin' on the ground he's P.O.'d. But when he tries tearin' the tent down by its support cables he realizes a little too late that they've got a high voltage joy buzzer hooked up to 'em, an next thing you know Knuckles the Clown comes outta the bushes an zaps 'im with a space laser. Meanwhile, in town, Officer John Vernon, the stone sphincter of all hard ass cops is roughin' up some weirdos at the cop shop until Officer Dave can get 'im under control before Punk Lives Matter gets wind of it. Back on the mountain, Debbie's convinced Mike to go lookin' for the shootin' star in lieu of firin' off his booster rocket. But first he hasta hop up on the hood of his Jimmy an talk like Tonto from The Lone Ranger until all the Indians in the audience get offended, at which point they wander into the circus tent an find this room that looks like a nuclear missile silo designed by Dr. Seuss. Then they take the elevator down to the cotton candy testing grounds in the basement an realize that all the hangin' sacks of cotton contain people, an next thing you know they heroically beat cheeks outta there to draw the attention of the Insane Posse an buy Bilbo Baggins enough time to free his dwarven companions. This ain't as easy as it sounds, cause one of the clowns has an Orville Redenbacher bazooka loaded up with a popcorn DARPA shell that follows 'em all the way through the tent an out the front door, an despite havin' barely managed to escape a grisly air popped death, they still ain't safe cause now the clowns've twisted up a balloon into a blood hound that leads 'em to the kids' car.
At this point Mike's got no choice but to commit vehicular mimeslaughter, but even though that buys 'em enough time to get outta there, Officer Dave is just a little bit skeptical about the whole "outer space clowns with a cotton candy catacomb and AR Jiffy Pop assault rifles" story. Which is unfortunate, cause that gives the clowns free rein to roam around the city turnin' folks into Jester's fried chicken an knockin' over the toiletries aisle in Jack Kevorkian's drug store. Eventually, after some pretty intense nagging, Debbie an Mike finally get Dave to quit claimin' he ain't there so he an Mike can drive out to the circus tent, cept when they get out there it looks like the clowns' land use permit ran out cause all that's left is a hole the size of the Arecibo receiver dish, resultin' in Mike bein' arrested for fraudulent clown slander. But while that's goin' on, one of the clowns rides up to some Hell's Angels on his big wheel to inquire about the membership dues, when some big Neanderthug crumples his ride into an unsightly heap like a seagull trapped in a trash compactor. This does nothing positive for Earth's pending application into the United Federation of Planets, nor for the demeanor of the goodwill ambassador of Clowndromeda, as he demonstrates upon bein' left with no choice but to unleash Little Mac's Uppercut of Doom an send the biker's head tumblin' through the air like Simone Biles on the vault. Meanwhile, back in the woods, Dave decides to stop his cruiser out at Mountin' Mountain to make sure nobody's mappin' out any "based on a true story" after school special plots, only all the kids've gone missin' an their rigs've been taken over by cocoons spun by a buncha spiders who're clearly aware of breast cancer. Course, none of this changes the fact that the clowns're still rampagin' through town sprinklin' popcorn critters into dumpsters to ambush fast food employees, an puttin' on shadow puppet shows to entertain bus route patrons, which becomes a bit of a plausible deniability issue for Dave when he an Mike arrive just in time to see the Shadowsaurus Rex devour the audience. It's pretty clear from the look on Dave's face that this situation wasn't covered in the police procedural, an to make matters worse, when he radios John at the station he ain't buyin' a word of it cause he's just binge watched the entire series of Punk'd on Netflix an refuses to risk makin' an ass of himself. But right about that time one of the clowns walks into the station an totally hoses John an his stogie with a squirtin' flower bouquet, an John gets this look on his face like he just found out somebody cut paper dolls out of his sports section.
John's P.O.'d, so he locks the clown up in the punk tank with his previous busts an starts clubbin' an tauntin' the clown until the good humor man finally gets pushed too far an ends up goin' all Harlequintin Tarantino an slams John's face into the bars with an expanding noisemaker that grabs 'im by the throat. In the meantime, Mike's hitched a ride with Rich an Paul over to Debbie's place while Dave heads for the station to call for help, cept when he arrives the clown's waitin' for 'im with John sittin' on his lap bein' operated like a ventriloquist dummy. The clown explains (through John) that they've just come for some takeout an to help us work on our collective sense of humor, but Dave ain't interested in another four years at Klown College or bein' turned into a cotton candy slurpie, an he shoots the clown right in his Rudolphian proboscis. Elsewhere, Debbie's gettin' outta the shower, when 'er hamper starts rockin' like a porta-pottie at an Insane Clown Posse concert (some popcorn got stuck on her shirt earlier) an recyclin' sound effects from Critters, an when she opens it up to chuck 'er towel inside she gets attacked by these two Lovecraftian jack-in-the-boxes that rear up outta there an try chewin' off 'er yams. Debbie's in a pretty bad spot, so she asks herself; "what would Bon Jovi do?" Then, as if placed within reach by the hair metal gods themselves, the solution becomes clear, an we got all out hairspray fu as Debbie maces the lot of 'em back to a time when people still wanted their MTV. She also has to sacrifice her first real boyfriend when a clown head pops outta the toilet an the only handy way to fend it off is to drown it by stuffin' the shower head into its mouth, but unfortunately it's all for naught, cause by the time she makes 'er way to safety she's got Fool and the Gang in 'er livin' room teleportin' 'er inside a giant balloon like she's no better'n John Travolta, an haulin' 'er butt off to the amusement park. Then the clowns get hassled by Big Top Security an hafta unleash a volley of napalm pies at the guy until he ends up meltin' into a Klowndike Bar, before headin' into the funhouse. Fortunately, Mike, Dave, an the two geeks arrive in their ice cream truck an make their way into the clowns' people pantry before they can turn the hostage into Debbie back ribs, only they end up gettin' spotted in the process an pretty quick they've got the entire clown cavalry bearin' down on 'em. Gonna cut it off here, even though I'm pretty sure that anybody with a soul has already seen it an knows how it turns out.
Is this a great movie or what? There's not a single aspect of the clowning arts that the Chiodo Brothers didn't throw into this flick. You've got the balloon animals, the space ship that looks like a circus tent (or a top once you see the whole thing), the cotton candy crypt, the squirting flower, the napalm pies, shadow puppets, they really went above and beyond for this thing. But I think the best part is the fact that it somehow manages to be completely stupid and often cornball in its demeanor, while still maintaining this bizarre atmosphere that simultaneously comes across as menacing. The way the clowns laugh is a big part of it, but as deliberately goofy as this movie is, you show this thing to a 6-year-old and there's gonna be a full reverse in that child's potty training. Anyway, it's one of those movies that doesn't intend to be scary, that'll totally traumatize a child, like E.T. or Mac & Me. So if you're wantin' to scare the crap outta your kids this Halloween season, forget Nightmare on Elm Street, or Halloween, cause this one'll get the job done. What I wanna know is who in the heck was willing to take a chance on a movie concept like this, with the Chiodo Brothers in charge? Don't get me wrong, I love the Chiodo Brothers, but they'd never written, produced, directed, or otherwise been in any kinda position that denotes authority in their careers, and somebody actually gave them a coupla million bucks to get this thing made. The Chiodo Brothers, up to that point and pretty much since, were special effects guys. That's usually a bad sign when a special effects guy hops into the director's chair (although Tom Savini did an excellent job on the Night of the Living Dead remake, and Chris Walas did pretty well with The Fly II), but these goofballs really pulled off something special here. The thing I find a little strange is that although it did make its budget back six times over in the U.S., it apparently made over ten times that in the rest of the world in the same time period. This movie's a goll durn classic, and it really took the video rental market to make us all stand up and be proud of our gross domestic product. I'm a little ashamed to even hafta point that out to people. Fortunately, it's become one of the most beloved cult movies of all time since then, and I can't think of a better flick to recommend to folks as part of their Halloween line ups, or even just a pizza and beer party. As far as the long awaited sequel goes, it looked like it was finally gonna happen a coupla years ago, until some cretin who probably sunk all the would-be funding into Paranormal Activity Part 26 decided the movie wasn't "well known" enough. To put that profoundly asinine reasoning into perspective, Killer Klowns has 6,000 more ratings on the IMDB than Leprechaun, and Leprechaun spawned FIVE sequels. Currently, it sounds like the Chiodo Brothers are still working on doing something, but the IMDB lists the new project with a release date of 2018, and as most of you prolly already realize, these things tend to peter out if it's not a title that's likely to make something in the high 8 figures, but, here's hoping.
Alrighty, time to melt this thing into a pile of disgusting goo and find out whether it goes down sweet, or sour. The plot is actually really simular to The Blob for about the first 15 minutes, but diverges into its own story after that time. It's pretty simple, and obviously a spoof of all the cheesy science fiction flicks of the 1950s, but it does such a good job of playfully poking at all the hackneyed cliches of the era that you can't help but love it. This is the kinda movie plot you'd expect somebody to come up with while sitting on their butt in front of the TV set at 3am with a beer in one hand and a cold pizza on the coffee table directly in front of them, and it's charming as all get out. The acting is pretty decent as well, even though you can't help but notice that soap opera-esque demeanor radiating from Grant Cramer and John Allen Nelson from time to time. Not real surprising since that's what they would have been best known for at the time. The real stars of the movie, in my opinion, are Royal Dano as the over-the-top backwoods mountain man who throws out every cliched scrap of hick terminology you've ever heard, and a few you haven't, and John Vernon, the hardass cop who goes around livin' his life like all hope for humanity ended the moment John Lithgow finally caved in to the pressure of dance-fever in Footloose. One other guy that's really good, who I only mention because he's got such a little part that I don't think he gets as much credit as he deserves, is Melvin Thompson, who plays the black biker. He gets all the best lines in this movie, like; "big bad Jo-Jo, comin' into town!" and "shoulda let the man ride his bike" after the cro-magnon with the jean biker jacket destroys the midget clown's tricycle. Loved that guy.
Anyway, here's who matters and why: Grant Cramer (Satan Claws, New Years Evil, Raptor, Addicted to Murder 2 & 3, Night of the Living Dead 30th Anniversary Edition, Creaturealm: From the Dead, Auntie Lee's Meat Pies), Suzanne Snyder (Return of the Living Dead 2, Weird Science, Retribution, Night of the Creeps, The Last Starfighter), John Allen Nelson (Feast III, Deathstalker III), John Vernon (Blue Monkey, Curtains, Heavy Metal, The Uncanny, The Six Million Dollar Man: The Solid Gold Kidnapping, and 1984, the 1956 version), Royal Dano (The Dark Half, Ghoulies II, House II, Messiah of Evil, Moon of the Wolf), Michael Halton (Village of the Damned 1995, Jeff Yesko (Vicious Lips, I Madman, Haunting Fear, Vampire of Midnight, Death House, School Spirit, Time Walker), Scott Beatty (The Dead Pit), Harrod Blank (The Lost Boys), Brett Leonard (Man-Thing, The Dead Pit), Johnny Martin (Dead and Breakfast, The Prophecy III), Jesse Grey Walken (Happy Hell Night). Got some mainstream credits to mention here too, starting with Grant Cramer and his aforementioned soap opera leanings, where he played Shawn Garrett on The Young and the Restless, and John Allen Nelson who suffered the same affliction while playing Warren Lockridge on Santa Barbara. The best actor in the cast was, of course John Vernon, who had previously played Fletcher in The Outlaw Josey Wales, Dean Wormer in Animal House, and a ton of other memorable bit parts in various B movies. John kinda specialized in hard-nosed jerk roles, and there weren't many guys who did it better.
The special effects would probably be considered the weak point if the movie wasn't so ridiculous to begin with. Seldom does a movie come along that's so self aware and successful in spite of its special effects that I'll overlook its flaws, but this is one of them. Even so, most of the special effects are pretty good. The clowns are obviously the centerpiece, and they all look fantastic as well as unique. It's not like in Troll 2 where you've got three types of masks that're spread out among 15 actors. Each clown is recognizably different from all the others, and I find that to be a major positive. They could've made them all blend together and probably gotten away with it, and it's these little things that often make a good movie into a great one. Beyond the clowns we've got the composite shot with the stop motion shadow puppet eating the spectators (really good for what it is), the shooting star and the space ship taking off (hokey, but not out of tune with the general tone of the movie), the melted pile of goo with the dissolved human arm (pretty lame plastic skeleton), the alligator creature at the end of the pole in the funhouse (nicely done), the clown heads that attack Suzanne Snyder from the hamper and the toilet (really good, sometimes puppets, sometimes a composite shot sewn together with stop motion creatures) and the goofy ray gun blasts (cheesy, but deliberately and delightfully so). The shooting locations are excellent as well, particularly the interiors of the space ship, and the funhouse that the space ship has parked itself in the midst of. Numerous brightly colored hallways, carpeting, and various other props that fit the clown theme to a tee. In addition to the ship, you've got the wooded area where the ship first lands, the police station, a 1980s fast food joint, and the interior of one residence. These are all excellent as well, and despite not playing as integral a part as the clown-centric areas, they're authentic enough to help ground the movie in reality a little bit so the flick doesn't get completely carried away into the comedic zone. The soundtrack is one of a kind. I dunno how the composer did it, but all the music in this flick is not only catchy, but simultaneously menacing and ridiculous. It shouldn't even be possible to make music that's suspenseful enough to line up with the dangers being encountered by the characters, when those dangers are killer klowns from outer space, but John Massari did it. Not surprisingly, he's gone on to have a very successful career as a composer, no doubt after the success of this movie. That last part's probably not true, but the man deserved an Academy award for best musical score. Who gives a damn about The Last Emperor anyway? But the thing that really brings not just the score, but the entire movie together is the theme song by The Dickies. That track is possibly the best thing in the history of the world, lyrically, musically, and of course the music video for it is nothing short of genius. The soundtrack got snubbed by the MTV Video Music Awards too, because of course it did. Overall, Killer Klowns is simply the greatest horror/comedy of all time, and the standard by which all horror/comedies should be judged. If you haven't seen it, you're either too young, or what's wrong with society. Either way, get that situation remedied immediately.