On Saturdays, we pick the best (or worst) films to watch for that night. We do not go for some classic thoughtful film, oh no, no no, we go for the B-movie! So far we have come across The Blob, an Italian cannibal film and Rubber a sentient tyre that blows things up. So what better film to talk about next than Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Perrrffection!
A small town is invaded by aliens who arrive by a circus tent shaped spaceship and look similar to disfigured clowns. The public has to make the local law enforcement believe their wild statements before it is too late.
The tagline on the poster for Killer Klowns from Outer Space is “It’s Craazzy!” And guys and girls it is not wrong. The fact that this film even got made is utterly mystifying to me (and probably a lot of other people). But, what it lacks in logic and thoughtfulness it has in entertainment. This is a film that should not be as great a watch as it is!
Effectively taking the plot from the 50s version of The Blob, we have two teenagers (though they are very much adults no matter how hard to try to persuade us otherwise. Or at least I sincerely hope that is the case because who the hell inflates a dingy inside a car to use it as a bed to make out on) who are trying to hook up in the local spot when they witness an alien craft crash into a nearby wooded area. An old farmer also sees it and goes to approach it first, to disastrous results for him. When the teens approach the authorities they are sent on their way due to the insanity of their claims. It is not until the police see it for themselves that they have to step in and try and save as many people as possible. The originality of the plot is lacking, but Killer Klowns from Outer Space definitely makes up for this with everything else.
Look at this crew! As highlighted a lot of the plot is stolen, but when the set, props and costume effects come into play it enhances the film tenfold. There was the expectation that the effects and designs would look cheap as chips and in some cases it does, but the character design is a pleasant surprise. This could have been a conscious effort to try and make the Killer Klowns stand out. They could have been wearing a little makeup or a mask instead of the full costume and have animatronic operated facials for close-ups is a plus. Added in the fact that each Klown has its own specific design allows these characters to stand out, their differences allow them to have their own personalities and it is effective.
The spaceship/circus tent, of course, has some dodgy moments, blatant plastic ball pit balls are used as knobs for levers etc. But one of the funniest is that in the finale when our three heroes are on the ship and in the main room, they have to run away on what first glance is a black floor with painted signs on it. These signs are not painted at all and are in fact colourful paper cutouts. How do we know this? Well, Debbie accidentally kicks it as she tries to stop. Usually, this type of moment would take you out of the film, but with everything that has been going on before that, it actually makes it have a fun charm. The Klown sets are always colourful and as mentioned that colour and fun approach seeps into the audience viewing experience, fun was had to make up these effects and sets. This isn’t Alien, we are not expecting set designers to make things look real. This team knew how outlandish everything had to be and had a ball with it.
The acting is almost next level cheese with only Debbie (Suzanne Snyder) and Dave (John Allen Nelson) standing out as if they are trying to make this appear as if it is happening, almost everyone else acting like someone picked them off the street to be in the movie. This is especially so with one of our leads Mike Tobacco (Grant Cramer), before almost every line before he speaks he leaves a beat. As if he is making sure the other character got their line out right before he can speak, it is terrible. Yet, again it is just so charming, while a lot of the acting is bad in the film, it is fun and harmless and helps the entire feature.
Let’s be honest though, we are not really here to critique the acting of the cast, we are here for the Klowns and their shenanigans throughout the film deliver. A balloon dog is used by the Klowns to sniff out Mike and Debbie, popcorn that evolves into Klown snakes, shadow puppeteering eats a crowd and more. There is literally too many to mentioned, but each one is Gremlins level funny and really, just a treat to watch. To try and show the level of seriousness of seeing someone one being liquified into a giant cotton candy Mike had to say this line to Dave… “It was a spaceship, and there was these things – these Killer Klowns! They shot popcorn at us! We barely got away!” If you do not fall in love with a film after something like that being said then I don’t know what to tell you.
The most glaring thing noticed about Killer Klowns from Outer Space is that there has a sequel to it. This is a film that somehow made over $43 million worldwide. There was an audience for this type of film, yet it was never fully developed. We have seen so many Friday the 13th and Halloween films yet as a society we have let this classic slip throw the cracks. For shame.
As Debbie says “Nobody stores cotton candy like this!”