August 6, 2018  (Web Review)

Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Arrow, 86 min., PG-13, Blu-ray: $39.95

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

Obviously inspired by the success of 1978’s Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (VL Online-1/04), brothers Stephen and Charles Chiodo’s 1988 horror comedy has also achieved some measure of cult status. Killer Klowns from Outer Space mimics exploitation flicks from the 1950s, such as The Blob, in which teenagers raise the alarm regarding alien invaders, but adds the motif of scary clowns, which Stephen King had popularized two years earlier in It. A spaceship lands near the small town of Crescent Cove, depositing a circus tent that disgorges an army of vicious, murderous clowns who kill with deadly cotton candy, popcorn, and balloons. Mike Tobacco (Grant Cramer), who is out spooning with girlfriend Debbie Stone (Suzanne Snyder), investigates and reports the threat to the police. But while young deputy Dave Hanson (John Allen Nelson), Debbie’s former boyfriend, is willing to listen, his cynical partner Mooney (John Vernon) suspects a prank. Mooney is eventually killed while scores of others wind up in cotton candy cocoons in the Klowns’ tent, where Mike and Dave join forces to save Debbie from the Klowns’ evil clutches. By any objective standard, this is a terrible movie, featuring atrocious dialogue, awful performances, and chintzy special effects. Connoisseurs of le bad cinema, however, will appreciate this newly-restored edition, which boasts a cornucopia of extras, including audio commentary by the directors, a “making of” featurette, audition footage, interviews with Cramer, Snyder, Charles Chiodo, visual effects supervisor Gene Warren Jr., creature fabricator Dwight Roberts, composer John Massari, and the punk band The Dickies (who wrote the theme song), as well as a collection of Chiodo Brothers 8mm and Super 8 films, deleted scenes and bloopers, and image galleries. Sure to appeal to devotees of camp, this is a strong optional purchase. (F. Swietek)