Every year for horror month since I’ve been reviewing movies for the site, I always like to showcase at least one older film that people either love or hate. This year I landed on Killer Klowns from Outer Space. My other options were Return of the Living Dead and Alone in the Dark, which happens to be my favorite horror movie but sadly I don’t own. And no, not the damn Uwe Boll shitfest he made.
I don’t own Alone in the Dark, however I did just pick up a copy of Killer Klowns on dvd and Return of the Living Dead on bluray for like $5 each. Seeing as Return isn’t my favorite in the franchise (that still being part 3), I decided on the film that frightened me the most as a child. A film about clowns from space that zap you into cotton candy so they can drink your blood.
If you read over my list of horror films I’ll be watching this month, you might have noticed I had Return of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space on there. I read on a website I frequent to see what horror films are hitting on demand, that a sequel for Killer Klowns was going to be available this month, so I added it to the list. I also saw that Tales from the Hood 2 was also listed.
Tales from the Hood 2 eventually did come out, however Return of the Killer Klowns did not. I know the month isn’t over yet, but if it was coming out, I feel there would be some news about it or at least a trailer.
It’s one of those projects that the original people behind it would love to do a sequel of, yet it will never happen. They can announce whatever they want about any upcoming Killer Klown projects, a tv series or a sequel film, I don’t see it happening. Especially if the creators haven’t done anything else in over 30 years.
Maybe you’re asking yourself, wait, they never made a sequel to Killer Klowns from Outer Space? Nope. Sure there has been several killer clown related films over the years, but none of them have been official sequels to this 1988 classic. Yes classic, with a small caveat.
Killer Klowns is one of the first horror films I ever saw. I say one of since my official first horror film was House 3, aka The Horror Show. For the longest time I thought it was Shocker, but no. Wrong movie with the same plot.
I remember clearly the first time I saw Killer Klowns, it was during the day, in the dead of winter. I remember it being winter because I sat down to watch this with my bowl of snow ice cream. Something my mom would make once in a blue moon. Made from the finest yellow snow around!
I remember being both horrified and somewhat charmed by this quirky film. It scared the living shit out of me, yet I found myself truly loving it. There lies that caveat I mentioned. If you haven’t grown up seeing this film at a young age, I very much doubt you’d like this movie. It’s one of those films that needed to germ its way into your psyche at a young age to enjoy. Much like the The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. If you didn’t grow up with it, you’ll most likely hate it. Being the definition of what a cult classic is.
But you can say that about much of the things I watched as a kid. Mac and Me anyone?
Rewatching Killer Klowns after all these years, my opinion of the film has slightly changed somewhat. Of course I’ve seen the movie since I was a kid, but now I’m rewatching it with film critic goggles on, not nostalgic ones. I still appreciate the film for what it is, but in no way is it perfect, I dare say or even good. There’s still plenty to admire about this movie. But one thing that became pretty clear was how much this suffers from major tonal issues, bad acting, bad writing, and let’s not forget that damn PG-13 rating.
It wants to be a horror film so badly, and it absolutely is. Yet it’s also made for kids. Which is how I first saw it, as a kid. This might be a bit too much for younger kids to handle. I can’t remember exactly how old I was when HBO first started showcasing it. But I’d say around 6.
I’m all for kids watching horror, hell, if you grew up in the 80’s chances are you were watching horror or R rated films at a young age anyways. Who didn’t own a RoboCop action figure?
From what I hear, kids left the theater in tears because of the new Jack Black film The House with a Clock in Its Walls, so the tradition still continues.
Really the only downside you’ll get from this form of bad parenting is your kid wants to grow up making movies, or the special effects seen in them.
And that segues me into one thing that I think still holds up about this film and what I truly love about it, and that’s the special effects, or more importantly, the clown makeup. When I was a kid, the killer klowns scared the living hell out of me. They looked so unnatural, but unnatural in a good way.
They were tall and intimidating, yet sometimes goofy and unsuspecting. Which is why the Tim Curry Pennywise is still the superior one.
The clown fabrications are topnotch in this, especially considering the small budget they must have had to work with.
Enough stalling, let’s get down to the plot.
We start off getting introduced to our two leads Mike and Debbie, as they make out in a raft in the back of Mike’s truck. The make out session comes to an end when they spot a falling star.
Also noticing this object falling is an old farmer and his hound dog. They all set off to try and find this fallen object, stumbling across a circus tent out in the middle of the forest. Not exactly something one suspects to find, especially if you’re out hunting for a fallen object from the space.
The old farmer and his dog get snatched by these bizarre looking creatures that seem to be mutant clowns.
Mike and Debbie have better luck as they actually make it inside the circus tent. But once inside they notices pretty quickly that things aren’t right. It also hits them pretty hard that something is wrong when they find their way into a storage room full of cocooned people in cotton candy.
That’s when one of the killer klowns shows up with his popcorn gun. You heard me right, I said popcorn gun. It’s literally a gun that just shoots popcorn. But this isn’t any kind of popcorn, as you’ll find out later.
The klowns chase after our two leads where they go to the police station since Debbie has a friend that works there, her ex-boyfriend Dave. So here is something I really enjoyed, you think okay, instant rival between Mike and Dave, right? But really, it was just these two guys becoming best friends. It didn’t even really matter which one Debbie chose to be with in the end, as long as Mike and Dave still got to be best buds.
Mike and Debbie try their best to convince Dave and the senior deputy cop on duty Mooney that clowns from space have started killing people. Not convinced, Dave drops Debbie off at home, while he and Mike go back to where they found the circus tent. But as they get there, the tent is nowhere to be found. All that’s left is a giant crater, which should be suspicious all on its own.
Not finding what they were looking for, Mike and Dave stop by at the spot where the kids come to make out. Oh boy, is this where Mike will finally make his move on Dave? Fingers crossed!
Unfortunately, no making out ensues between them as everyone at the make out spot is dead, zapped by the evil klown’s cotton candy raygun. Major mood killer.
Now slightly more convinced that Mike and Debbie are telling the truth, they radio in for Mooney to call in the state police. But Mooney, aside from being a pure asshole, is also getting a bunch of calls claiming clowns are attacking people in town. But being the asshole that he is, he brushes it off as prank calls.
He can’t ignore the problem for much longer as one of the killer klowns shows up at the police precinct. Mooney tries arresting him, only to have it slip out of his cuffs by removing his own hands.
Still not deterred, Mooney tosses the klown into a cell along with a couple of punks Mooney bagged earlier that night.
The klown uses another strange device to kill Mooney, cotton candying the two punks as well.
When Dave returns he finds the precinct a mess and Mooney sitting awkwardly next to one of the klowns. He’s being puppeted like a dummy with his hand right up the… I mean, it’s PG-13, so we never see where the hand is, still this was one of the scenes that really got me as a kid.
Another thing that always got me was whenever someone pulled away some of the cotton candy to see the person cocooned inside, it always looked so painful. Not exactly how you’d imagine getting wrapped in cotton candy would be like.
When I was younger I didn’t notice the hot babe making out on a raft, mostly I just focused on the yellow raft itself, thinking how cool it would be to own a raft.
Another scene that always spooked me was when one of the klowns shows up at a fastfood restaurant, beckoning a kid to go outside and come over to him, hiding a giant mallet behind his back. It was little things like that that would always get me.
Dave discovers a way to kill these monsters, shooting them in the red clown nose. Obviously, everyone knows a clown’s weakness is his nose.
The popcorn gun, wasn’t just a gun that shoots popcorn, as it also somehow creates these snake klown monsters that infect Debbie’s bathroom as she tries to take a bath.
They’re easy enough to get rid of but the killer klowns are outside her place, waiting for her.
Dream team Mike and Dave follow the Klowns back to their tent, along with our two comic relief characters the Terenzi brothers. Who I found so annoying, I wish they’d die already. Even though I’ve seen this film a million times and know they make it out okay by the end. All they did was annoy me and break up the dynamic pair that was Mike and Dave.
Our gang of four makes it to the circus tent, finding a security guard who has been melted by pies getting thrown at him. Debbie is nowhere to be found, so the four head off into the tent, only to get separated. The brothers fall into a ball pit, where they meet two… sexy? Klown ladies.
They quickly search for the yellow ball balloon Mike saw Debbie getting carried away in, shooting the ball open with Dave’s pistol.
The sound draws the attention of one of the klowns, setting off all the alarms.
Now Mike, Dave and Debbie have to book it out of there, getting chased by a hoard of freakish clowns, all armed with bizarre weapons.
Eventually the three get cornered by the klowns and as it looks like this is the end, the damn Terenzi brothers show back up in their ice cream truck with a fake clown on the roof as their mascot.
Seeing the giant clown gets the klowns to pause, giving Mike, Dave and Debbie enough time to escape.
But that’s when the giant mega klown shows up and kills the Terenzi brothers by blowing up their stupid ice cream truck. But the test audiences thought it ended a bit too dark, so they were brought back in reshoots, damn it.
But I’m glad they did, as that also meant bringing back Mike’s true bro Dave after he gets manhandled by the giant mega klown. I believe Dave is the only one to actually kill any of these killer klowns. He figures out damaging their nose kills them and since that discovery, has been blasting klown noses off with this shotgun left and right.
The tent explodes and everyone makes it out okay, where Mike, Dave and Debbie share a three way hug. Damn Debbie getting in the way of Mike and Dave again.
So that was Killer Klowns from Outer Space. It wasn’t as great as I remember it, but was able to find new things to keep me interested. I joke about Mike and Dave’s bromance, but really it became a highlight of the film. It was cool to see these two quickly become buddies.
I really wish there was an alternate cut of this somewhere where they really embraced the horror elements this had. Or at least the potential it had. A PG-13 in the 80’s is still kind of a soft R in today’s standards, so maybe I’ll give them a pass with not going crazy with the gore.
Everything about the klowns was so silly, yet creative as hell. A popcorn gun? A giant vacuum that sucks up all the cocooned cotton candied people… the list goes on and on with all the strange and fun things the klowns could do.
Which is why I’m shocked a sequel was never made.
If it has been a while since you’ve seen this one, do yourself a favor and rediscover it. Either way it’s a creative as hell movie that you might just get a kick out of.
This gets a SEE IT rating.
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