Dir. Stephen Chiodo, US, 1987, 82 mins
Cast: Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, John Vernon
Review by Richard Hawes
Alien killers have descended on small town America on numerous occasions. Most recently in the maligned Alien vs. Predator: Requiem. But no alien invasion movie is more memorable than Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
Everything you need to know about this cult 80s curiosity is in the title. The concept is pure lunacy. A twisted homage to 1950s B-movies, this dark comedy, full of cotton candy carnage, emerged in the late 1980s, following the likes of Gremlins and Critters. But more closely resembles Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks.
What’s great about the film is that while very tongue-in-cheek, it’s not a comedy in the traditionally broad sense. There are no nudges and winks to the audience. Anchored by John Vernon’s supporting role, it’s so deadpan it’s like filmmakers the Chiodo brothers are daring you to take it seriously.
The humour rises naturally from the bizarre scenario, the faithfully followed 1950s alien invasion plotting and the murderous set pieces. The thin plot essentially links a series of imaginative death scenes, just as a Friday the 13th or Elm Street movie does. These comical scenes, based on fun fair clichés, contribute nothing to the thin storyline but are what make the film experience so special.
Made during an era where the line between mainstream genre cinema and B-movies was largely indistinct, Klowns is an overlooked classic of its kind. Much like 1992’s pitch-black, medically themed Halloween spoof Dr Giggles.