Starring Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, John Vernon, Michael S. Siegel, Peter Licassi, Royal Dano. Directed by Stephen Chiodo. (1988/88min).
Watching this cult classic for the first time in at-least 20 years, a few things crossed my mind...
- With the possible exception of John Vernon, none of the cast have done much else anyone remembers. How do they feel today, knowing this film has more-or-less become their legacy?
- Speaking of Vernon...since his character is similar to his role as Dean Wormer in Animal House, it's fun to imagine they're actually the same character and this is where Wormer ended up after losing his position at Faber.
- Despite the ridiculous premise, almost everyone I've ever met who's seen the movie has laughed with it, not at it. The few who actually did the latter were idiots anyway.
- Relatively speaking, Killer Klowns from Outer Spacehas aged remarkably well for a 30-year-old film.
I should probably qualify that last takeaway by saying Killer Klowns was already an 80's artifact before the decade was even over, from the big hair & acid-washed jeans down to the The Dickies' corny title tune. But for a horror film from that era, it remains aesthetically & conceptually amusing. Visually, it's still more impressive than 90% of the cheap-ass horror filler on Netflix (of course, long-time fans would likely agree Killer Klowns was never really a "horror" film).
Sure, the dialogue is eye-rollingly clunky and—again, with the possible exception of Vernon—the performances range from perfunctory to amateurish. But I think the Chiodo Brothers already knew screenwriting was never their strength, that much of the humor would be found in their monstrous-but-amusing titular characters, colorful production design and the exploitation of every trope we've ever associated with clowns.
Killer Klowns' appeal - not-to-mention most of its laughs—has always come from its creative visuals and individual set-pieces featuring the alien clowns, their "weapons" and methods of hunting bagging human prey. 30 years after the film's inauspicious premiere, those scenes still hold up and—most importantly—are still funny. And unlike the Sharknados of today, which rub our faces in smug self-awareness, Killer Klowns never insults the audience's intelligence with a nudge-and-a-wink, nor does it ever descend into pure camp. There's a sincerity about its ridiculousness that's endearing. The movie makes us laugh—a lot—but never at its own expense.
In addition to being a giddy nostalgia trip for anyone who fondly remembers it, Killer Klowns from Outer Space still belies its budget with visuals and gags that should even amuse newcomers. Arrow Video has nicely restored the picture to its colorful glory and thrown in a slew of entertaining & informative bonus features (both old and new), making this disc a must-own for fans.