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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)



Kids are hanging out necking in the woods when they see a shooting star. Mike and Debbie decide to interrupt their fun and investigate since it looked like it crashed nearby. They aren’t the only ones as Farmer Gene gets there first with his dog Pooh Bear and trust me that doesn’t end well. The kids show up afterwards and end up thinking it is some strange circus since a big top has been setup in the middle of the woods. Only it isn’t a circus but is in fact a space ship filled with Killer Klowns! The title is beginning to make sense now, right?

The pair get back to town where they try to get the police to believe them, but of course that isn’t going to happen. I mean adults… am I right? Only when officer Dave sees the Klowns in action that he sets Mike free to warn the town while he goes to the station to summon help. But will that be in time? The Klowns are running all over town killing and kidnapping the locals for food. I suppose a Klown does have to eat… The movie ends in a big showdown between our heroes and the alien menace who luckily does have a weakness they can exploit.

I love this movie. The premise is absurd but works well for the overall tone of Killer Klowns from Outer Space. This is a parody of the old fifties monster movies that I’ve covered quite extensively here at Crappy Movie Reviews. You have “kids” (actors well into their twenties portraying characters much younger than that) finding out about an alien invasion and trying to warn the adults. They don’t listen to the teens, or in this case college students, and accuse them of playing pranks. This is taken to the extreme when Officer Mooney, played brilliantly by the great John Vernon, refuses to acknowledge the phones ringing off the hook. His response to all the calls for help? Kick back at his desk and ignore them!

There are other examples and references to the classic fifties sci-fi tropes such as the out spot when it all starts, a farmer being the first victim, something crashing from the sky, and eventually the younger generation saving the day. These are all lifted from the Blob but were used repeatedly in movies like Invasion of the Saucer Men and The Giant Gila Monster. This connection to old movies only makes me love Killer Klowns more.

The Klown makeup is great and varies from one to the other giving all the alien baddies a unique and individual look. The Chiodo brothers, who made this movie, got their start off as special effects guys so this attention to detail shouldn’t come as a surprise. This is all practical effects work with actors in actual rubber suits and masks as it should be! The Chiodo brothers were also responsible for another favorite creature feature of mine, Critters, so I’m a huge fan. The kills aren’t terribly bloody, but we do get a head knocked off which is fun. The rest of the kills are Klown themed and include cotton candy guns, shadow puppets, and little popcorn monsters. God, I love this movie!

This is a personal favorite of mine. I had the chance to see it on its initial release and have never forgotten how much fun it was to see in the theater. Since then I’ve watched it every year around Halloween and even managed to catch a screening in the theater this past year (check out this link). Regardless of how many times I’ve watched Killer Klowns from Outer Space is has never disappointed. You can’t ask for much more than that. I’m recommending this one if you haven’t figured it out yet.


© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

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