Monday, June 4, 2012

Crappy Movie Review: Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Right off the bat I have a confession.  I love really terrible movies with a passion almost unparalleled by all but my love of weird food.  Naturally a movie about blood drinking monster space clowns (klowns?  I guess the spelling might matter in a universe specific sense) was a first choice.  I adore Killer Klowns from Outer Space in a very special way.  The titular Killer Klowns are a race of extraterrestrials who at first glance just so happen to resemble the Whiteface clown we are all familiar with.  As with all terrible low budget B-movies disbelief needs to be suspended.

The plot synopsis is actually pretty simple.  Predatory aliens land in a small town, harvest the locals, and are dispatched by a motley crew of teenagers and a cop.  The clowns wreak as much havoc as you would expect with a few ridiculous clown powers they use to capture/kill people.  As far as sci-fi horror movies go, this one doesn't stand out for its top notch characters, expert level acting, and complex plot.

What shines, you may ask?  It's by the Chiodo Brothers (Elf, Critters, and Team America are all under their belt), and they are unmatched in puppetry.  The clowns themselves are upsetting to look at.  They are a monster version of a clown with makeup more befitting skin patterns than grease paint.

"I've also got a pretty serious drinking problem..."
See that picture up there?  Sexy, right?  For such a low budget movie, though, the clowns are pretty damn good.  An interesting tidbit: a couple of the clown heads were re-purposed in Earnest Scared Stupid.  As an adult the clowns still bother me a little bit.  They look so menacing, so much like a person but just not.  They hit that special part of the uncanny valley where they look like corpses and monsters at the same time.

The characters are pretty special, too.  They are all one dimensional archetypes.  You've got a jaded elder police officer and his younger, roguish superior officer, a helpless '80s blonde, a typical every-man roped into it all, and a couple of high school dropouts cum ice cream truck drivers.  They're all acted just shy of passably but that adds to their charm.  The clowns all have their own special personalities too.  My favorite has to be the ugly bastard above.  He's the midget.  They are all acted surprisingly well.

They've also got British teeth.

There is a menace to these guys as the movie progresses too.  What we see first is a space ship they may have just had to land out of emergency.  The clowns stumble out of their ship and into the town.  They nab an old man and his dog and terrorize the main characters on their way out, but they don't yet really convey any signs of genuine malice.  As the film progresses we see a clown luring a child out of a diner.  He is the first sign that these clowns know what they are doing.  He doesn't just try and sneak up on her, but goes to the length of playing pee a boo with her through a window.

The main character eventually theorizes that these clowns come to earth every so often and harvest us as food.  In the KKfOS universe it is apparently important to note that our modern clowns were originally based on these space horrors.  At least enough so to make the leading male say exactly that.

The movie itself is a gem.  I can't give it praise based on genuine cinematic worth, but it doesn't need that.  This is a movie that was made to be just terrible.  It's funny, the characters are amusing, the clowns are terrifying and the plot is easy to follow.  If you like cheesy movies or just need something to feel up your date to you've got a perfect one right here.  The bonus is the few parts of this film, components if you will, that are genuinely upsetting.

Like this thing.