Retro-Review: New on BluRay from Arrow Films; help me out and pick it up on DVD/BluRay here on Amazon!

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988)

aka KILLER KLOWNS, SPACE INVADERS
Directed by Stephen Chiodo
Written by Charles Chiodo, Stephen Chiodo
Starring Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, John Vernon, Michael S. Siegel, Peter Licassi, Royal Dano, Christopher Titus, Irene Michaels, Karla Sue Krull, Adele Proom, Howard Malpas, Michael Halton, Lucinda Burgess

Clowns often strike terror in the hearts of those who see them. I often wonder what it is that initially made this fear occur. Is there something about the painted smiles and gaudy clothing? Or was there a film like IT (broadcasted for free on TV for all the kids to see) or KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (a film featured prominently on USA’s UP ALL NIGHT) that seared that fear into the collective psyche? The thing is, both IT and unfortunately KKFOS are not very good films when the shades of nostalgia are removed. Bad acting, pacing, story, and direction. IT and KKFOS are riddled with it. Still, there’s something about both of them that gives people a chill every time the films are mentioned.


A small town is overrun with clowns, but behind those comically painted goofballs are really alien monsters out to snatch the town’s populace for sustenance until there are no bodies left to turn into cotton candy cocoons and they blast off back to the stars from whence they came. Only a handful of bad haircuts and 80’s styles have what it takes to stop them.

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE is one of those films that looks good on paper and delivers quite a bit of dark fun, but I can’t help but feel that it never really reaches its true potential. The film possesses a few scenes I’ll categorize as damn near genius, but the low fi factors underscore every deft beat. The acting is almost as atrocious as the script, which basically is a collection of one note skits piled on top of one another until the credits run. Sure a lot of these skits entertaining and a few of them will even instill chills, but it’s all held together with a threadbare plot and poor performances.


Still, I can’t help but mention some of the best bits you’ll see. Like the scene where a clown puts on a shadow show only to have the shadows chow down on the entertained crowd. Or the ventriloquist scene where one of the clowns makes a literal dummy out of the police sergeant, working his mouth by grabbing his spinal cord. Or the most effective scene of the movie where a clown attempts to entice a little girl from a restaurant, intent on bashing her skull in with a giant mallet. All of these scenes maintain a pinky toe in both the whimsical and the macabre. The film kind of walks that line the entire time and had there been some stronger actors and maybe a few more passes on the script, this could have been a hell of a subversive little masterpiece.

As is, KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE was fun. It’s breezy, easy to digest, and easy to forget, which is probably why it is revered so much. That and that catchy song from the Dickies. I hear a sequel or reimagining is in the works from the original filmmakers. Here’s hoping a stronger script and cast is put together for that one.


Arrow Films, always the tip top in BluRay special edition distribution, once again delivers one hell of a product. Special features include; a brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original camera negative, achive audio commentary with the Chiodo Brothers, “Let the Show Begin! Anatomy of a Killer Theme Song” – an all-new interview with the original members of the punk band, The Dickies, “The Chiodos Walk Among Us: Adventures in Super 8 Filmmaking” – all-new documentary highlighting the making of the Chiodo Brothers childhood films, from the giant monster epics made in their basement to their experiments in college, new HD transfers of the complete collection of the Chiodo Brothers 8mm and Super 8 films, including Land of Terror, Free Inside, Beast from the Egg, and more, “Tales of Tobacco” – an interview with star Grant Cramer, “Debbie’s Big Night” – an interview with star Suzanne Snyder, “Bringing Life to These Things” – a tour of Chiodo Bros. Productions, “The Making of Killer Klowns” – archive production featurette, “Visual Effects with Gene Warren Jr.” – archive interview with co-writer/producer Charles Chiodo and visual effects supervisor Gene Warren Jr., “Kreating Klowns” – archive interview with Charles Chiodo and creature fabricator Dwight Roberts, “Komposing Klowns” – archive interview with composer John Massari, Klown Auditions, deleted scenes with filmmaker’s audio commentary, bloopers, image galleries, & original theatrical trailer!




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