Halloween 2K18: A Review of “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” (1988)

Somehow in my 27 years on this earth and nearly 400 horror movies seen, I managed to avoid Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Even with all the garbage I have willingly and enthusiastically watched and reviewed for my followers on this blog, I was always put off by the title. I thought to myself, “There is no way a movie like that can be worth watching.” However, by the end of it, I was thinking nearly the opposite: “How can anyone not like this movie?”

While most horror movies require a suspension of disbelief (ranging from minimal to fantastical), in order to enjoy Killer Klowns, you have to remove yourself from any type of reality you’re clinging too. You cannot sit there with a stick up your ass groaning and hollering at every unbelievable thing that occurs. Instead, you have to do something which is normally very difficult for me, and that is let it go. Let it go and enjoy yourself.

Killer Klowns managed to create its own universe. There is a typical small town from the late 1980’s. Teenagers are doing what teenagers do late at night. The opening scenes feature a lover’s lane where couple escape to. It is at this time that a comet of some kind crash-lands on earth. It ends up being a flying saucer…in the shape of a circus tent. The aliens on board are not little green men, though, but instead gigantic clowns. They have guns that zap you and put you in a cotton candy cocoon. This cotton candy is pink from the blood it drains from you. Others are zapped and kept alive in colorful balloons. They throw pies in your face, but the pies are full of acid which dissolves you. There are also popcorn guns, but the popcorn is anything but ordinary. Instead, the kernels are actually eggs from which more tiny little aliens hatch.

The clowns are everywhere, killing everyone in their wake with a smile. The star couple of the movie (Grant Cramer and Suzanne Snyder) stumbles upon this and reports it to the police. The officers are led by a crotchety and grouchy old copper played by John Vernon, perhaps the biggest name in the cast next to Royal Dano who plays a bit part as an old farmer. The police (also including John Allen Nelson), of course, do not believe the couple. But when they go exploring and phones start ringing off the hook with accounts of killer clowns roaming the streets, they need to call in help via the state police.

The death scenes that occur in the rest of the movie range are both bizarre and humorous—most will make you laugh. The violence is at a borderline cartoonish level. The clowns are more on the evil side but are not too scary. They are actually quite funny in their noises and mannerisms. The makeup and costuming job done on them was outstanding. Despite obvious masks, the eyes blink and the mouths open to reveal realistic-looking tongues and teeth. I managed to watch this in HD on Hulu and between the costumes and sets, the colors pop quite brilliantly. It is a feast for the eyes—I rarely say that for a horror movie.

The budget for Killer Klowns was somewhere around $2 million. This is higher than most films done in this vein, but still pretty small for what was achieved. This does not have your typical low-budget schlock feel. Instead, you are watching an actual production which never takes itself too seriously. This is horror-comedy at its finest, with enough nods to 50’s and 60’s sci-fi flicks that it could count as an homage or parody. When I started watching this movie, I never thought I would give it a favorable score, but here I am about to award Killer Klowns from Outer Space a 7 out of 10 stars. This campy, cult-classic fun should be a must-watch on everyone’s Halloween movie list. This is not a good bad movie. It’s just a good movie!

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