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Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Film.

US film (1988). Chiodo Bros. Directed by Stephen Chiodo. Written by Charles Chiodo and Stephen Chiodo. Cast includes Grant Cramer, Peter Licassi, John Allen Nelson, Michael S Siegel, Suzanne Snyder and John Vernon. 88 minutes. Colour.

Canoodling teenagers Mike Tobacco (Cramer) and Debbie Stone (Snyder) see a light fall from the sky; investigating, they find a circus tent (actually a Spaceship) in the middle of the forest. Entering, the pair observe strange, brightly coloured Technology and pink, pear shaped cocoons. Mike tears off a piece from one of the latter, revealing a local farmer's face – disproving his theory this is a cotton candy factory. Discovered by an Alien clown, they flee and tell their story at the local police station, manned by rookie Dave Hanson (Nelson) and the older, thuggish Curtis Mooney (Vernon). Though disbelieving, Dave goes with Mike to the forest – inevitably the tent has vanished, but on the journey back they pass the local teen make-out area: the cars are empty but coated with candy.

The Klowns attack the town's populace: those they do not whimsically murder they transform into cocoons as a food supply, their blood drained using crazy straws (see Vampires) – some, including Debbie, are kept alive in balloons. Returning to the station Dave finds a Klown using Curtis's corpse as a ventriloquist's dummy; Dave's gunshots have no effect, until one hits the Klown's red nose – whereupon, after spinning, it explodes. Realizing the most likely site for the Klown spaceship is the amusement park, Dave commandeers the ice cream van used by Mike's goofy friends Rich (Siegel) and Paul Terenzi (Licassi) to pick up girls (unsuccessfully). The four enter the spaceship and free Debbie, but are then chased by the Klowns. A giant Klown appears (called Jojo the Klownzilla, in a nod to Godzilla – see Gojira): it picks up and hurls the ice cream van, with Rich and Paul inside, which explodes. The spaceship now lifts off – Dave had persuaded Mike and Debbie to leave, but stays to fight Jojo: caught, he manages to stab the giant Klown's nose with the pin of his police badge ... Watching below, Mike and Debbie see the ship explode. A clown car and the ice cream truck crash near them: Dave clambers out of the first, Rich and Paul from the second (they had been hiding in the fridge when it exploded). Staring up, relieved that it is all over, they are hit by cream pies and the film finishes (as we have previously seen a security guard melted by acid cream pies, this might not be a happy ending ...).

This is a reasonably inventive film. The nature of the aliens' homicidal mayhem is suitably clown-based: the small clown car arrives and many Klowns climb out; balloon animals and shadow puppets are used, and become real. The final scenes inside the spaceship are surrealism on a budget, but are effective nonetheless (see Absurdist SF). The potency of the Horror elements probably depends on the viewer's level of coulrophobia, however, the Klowns' faces are suitably unpleasant and there are some modest scares. Though there is little tension, Killer Klowns from Outer Space is an amusing Parody of 1950s B-movies. [SP]


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