Dave & Dennis Review: KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE!

Posted: September 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

My frequent collaborator C. Dennis Moore and I are doing weekly … or at least something approaching that… reviews of whatever one challenges the other to review that week. I’m the author of the novels Gray Lake and Death Sight, the first novel in my Will Castleton series. Dennis is the author of the novels Revelations and the Amazon #1 horror bestseller The Third Floor. His new novelThe Ghosts of Mertland just came out. Dennis has written more than 1,000 reviews, many of which are available in a series of books . I used to write reviews for the entertainment section of a large newspaper. Together Dennis and I have co-written a short novel called Band of Gypsies and the priced-to-sell $.99 full-length (70,000-word) story collection Terror Is Our Trade. Right now we’re working on a new Will Castleton novel called Return to Angel Hill, which combines my and Dennis’ series. Each week (or whatever) Dennis and I will post both our own and each other’s reviews of the subject at hand to our respective blogs – you can find Mr. Moore’s blog over here. This week I decided on Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Buy or rent Killer Klowns from Outer Space on Amazon

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Killer Klowns From Outer Space: A Kult Klassic Inspires My Love Song to Schlock Cinema

Five out of five stars

My entire review of Killer Klowns from Outer Space is exactly 50 words long:

I enjoyed the hell out of it. If you’re the sort of person who would dare to watch something called Killer Klowns from Outer Space, then this movie won’t disappoint you. It does everything right – and everything wrong – that it needs to. It is a perfect film of its type.

The end.

I really, honestly, so totally don’t need to say another word about the movie. Killer Klowns is kompletely about its audience. It knows exactly what they want, exactly which disbeliefs they’re willing to suspend and which they aren’t.

I could go on about The Chiodo Brothers and their so-so directing and bizarre costumes and strange special effects and set designs for this movie and the entropic but entertaining plot and such, but what’s closer to my heart today is why I chose to review Killer Klowns from Outer Space in the first place:

I mentioned it to Dennis in an email as a possibility for this week along with the cult time travel film Primer, as I hadn’t seen either.

His reply:

I’ve got Primer in my [Netflix] queue, but . . . you haven’t seen Killer Klowns?

I don’t even know you anymore.

Yeah, screw him.

But, see, I trust Dennis’s opinion.

He’s a lot more brave than I am when it comes to assessing cheap movies.

The way I look at it, I have a limited time on this planet, dig?

And there are so many films (and shows and albums, etc.) out there I do not want to waste that time with.

You’ve seen these movies lurking in the bargain bin – the one about the killer snowman or the killer ice cream man or the killer toy, the killer pacifier, the killer diaper: pick your symbol of childhood comfort gone ax-murderingly wrong.

But I do so love horror and camp and B-movies … and yet there’s a limit to how far I want to go to find that diamond in the rough, especially when I know there exists more awe-inspiring five-star mainstream media out there than I’d ever be able to take in should I never sleep from here on, doing nothing but watching, reading and experiencing said stellar entertainment between now and when I die of being the world’s oldest man ever.

So why do I seek out genre material in the first place?

Because, well, it’s heightened.

Genre books and movies are today’s true mythology, closer to the subconscious and spiritual than anything you’ll find in more firmly-grounded fare – and I’d put forth that B-list movies are allowed to go deeper in those directions than most work aimed for the multiplex.

So, wait? you’re saying.

You’re calling Killer Klowns from Outer Space a spiritual experience?

Well, no, of course not.

But yes.

The movie’s a big, silly, slimy, goopy, ridiculous, oozy mess. The plot holes are bigger than the klowns’ feet.

But there’s no question the existence of this piece of schlock adds copiously to my interior landscape. Having seen this movie, be it flim-flammy, shim-shammy, whim-whammy or not, I can now imagine more.

B-movies like Killer Klowns , half-baked and shallow, surface-wise, as they are, allow my imagination to roam, allow my imagination to be exuberant.

Sure, sometimes we get a big-budget pic that reaches a staggeringly humongous audience, something like, say, Life of Pi or The Avengers or, furcrys sakes, Star Wars, that leaves you with exactly the same feeling – such joy in creation, such joy in presentation, played out right there in front of you, in every single goddam frame – that you want to pump your fist every single time you even think of it.

And that’s because we’ve grown to trust Ang Lee and Joss Whedon and, yeah, okay, even George freaking Lucas.

But here’s the problem, the crux of the matter. So much dung has been churned out amidst the gems that I’ve come to develop deep, deep trust issues concerning anything … you know. The Killer This! The Killer That! Some cheap CGI – or, worse, no CGI – some fake, splattery blood, and I’m supposed to rabidly cheer or something.

Go home. I’m smarter than that.

Try.

That’s all I’m asking.

Try!

Screw your budget!

Make my imagination bigger! Make my world larger! Be brash about it! Let the strings show!

For example, there’s a shadow-show scene in Killer Klowns which, really … well, it’s pretty piss-poor animation if you’re watching for that, but I chuckled nonetheless.  Very much out loud. And not one of the klown costumes actually works – and yet they do. They work perfectly.

Although there are no wires to see, you see the wires through the whole movie.

Doesn’t frakking matter.

I’m in love with the sheer ballsiness and bravado. This glorious mess got made, man!

Look, in reality, were I not in a manic mood, this is probably a four-out-of-five-star movie, if you’re being generous; it’s just … Killer Klowns thoroughly understands that, whatever age I might be, I’m still a cheesy, pepperoni-pizza- chomping, beer-sneaking, barely adolescent geek at heart, yearning for daily play with my Marvel model monsters and Mattel action figures, continually pining for wild-ass, half-nonsensical confabulatory realities to further fill my endlessly expanding psychic bigtop.

So let’s quit by calling a clown and clown and a Klown a Klown. There’s so much drivel, so much pure unabashed bullshit out there that’s barely trying, so much poorly produced poo that thinks I’m some gawky, blood-loving, inbred swill-sucking nimrod, it makes me want to go out on the deck and scream for killer klowns to come down from outer space and end us all.

At least it would be fun for a few minutes before I got cocooned in kotton kandy…

It makes me sooo frowny-faced! Sooo many movies have been sooo bad for sooo long that I avoided this admittedly bumpy but utterly gleeful carnival ride for literally decades.

And that’s a shame.

See here, B-movie-makers: My mind needs something to chew on – constantly. It doesn’t have to be prime rib. I’m more than happy with carnival fare. Laffy Taffy. Or popcorn, let’s say, covered with cheese.

Just quit serving me mud pies created too close to the pig sty.

Buy or rent Killer Klowns from Outer Space on Amazon

Watch Killer Klowns from Outer Space on Netflix

Killer Klowns from Outer Space

by C. Dennis Moore

4 out of 5 stars

For Debbie Stone (Suzanne Snyder), things are about the get real komplicated. Having recently broken up with her boyfriend, kop Dave (John Allen Nelson), she’s now on a date with Mike (Grant Cramer), at a lokal parking spot kalled Top of the World. They’re relaxing in the back of Mike’s Bronko, laid out in an inflatable raft, staring up at the stars. No funny business, though; Mike’s still wearing his wool sweater.

They see a flash of light streak akross the sky and decide to go seek out the meteorite that must have landed klose by. What they find instead is a tall, strangely out of place cirkus tent. Mike wants to take a look inside, but when they find two lokals enkased in what appear to be kotton kandy kokoons, they’re no longer so kurious about what’s inside the tent.

Before they kan sneak out, they see a tall, grotesque klown who fires a popkorn gun at them. Mike and Debbie make their eskape, then speed into town and stop at the police station where Debbie tries to konvince her ex, Dave, about what they saw.

Dave takes Debbie home, but takes Mike out to the woods to show him what they’re talking about. Problem is, once they get there, the cirkus tent is gone. But it was right here, Mike insists, and people were trapped in kotton kandy kokoons.

So Dave decides to take Mike back to town, no hard feelings; obviously stability isn’t important to Debbie. On the way, they kome akross an abandoned kar kovered in what looks like kotton kandy.

It’s the klowns! Mike insists. I think you’re right, Dave agrees. They spy another klown back in town, making shadow puppets for a group of people waiting on a bus. But these are no ordinary shadow puppets. He makes a dinosaur they komes down and eats the people. Mike slams on the kop kar’s gas–even though Dave is driving–and yanks the wheel, trying to hit the klown, but the kreature flies away and they hit a wall. They decide to split up, always a good move in horror movies. Mike will go get Debbie while Dave will return to the police station and get reinforcements.

But when Mike gets to Debbie’s apartment, she’s been taken by the klowns.

And thus is revealed Debbie’s dilemma. Both guys dig her a lot, and both guys do anything and everything it takes to get her back and make sure she’s safe. Neither guy gives more than the other, neither guy shows less heart than the other. They both want to be with her and they both do whatever it takes to prove their devotion to her.

So what’s a girl to do? See, they don’t kome right out and SAY it, but I believe this is the theme at the heart of 1988’s Chiodo brothers masterpiece KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE.

Sure, it’s got all the trappings of your klassic 80s cheesefest like NIGHT OF THE COMET or NIGHT OF THE CREEPS or CHOPPING MALL, but this story’s got something those others don’t: a love triangle. And love triangles make for good drama.

Sure, you’ve also got the klowns tearing through town, turning the residents into kotton kandy kokoons and taking them back to their cirkus tent ship for later konsumption. Sure, you’ve got just about every klown kliche you kan think of turned into something deadly. There’s killer pies that turn you into a pile of melting ice kream, there are balloon animal dogs that sniff out the prey, there are the aforementioned karnivorous shadow puppets.

But the real drama here lies not in the killer klowns from outer space; it’s in the love triangle between pretty Debbie, kop and ex-boyfriend Dave, and kurrent date and all-around seemingly decent guy Mike. When all is said and done, provided they all make it through this terrible ordeal, who will Debbie pick?

You kan’t even pick a favorite, either, because throughout the kourse of the night, Mike and Dave seem to bekome pretty good friends.

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE is a long-time favorite of mine. When it first hit HBO decades ago, my mother and I watched this movie dozens of times, along with NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, another goofy 80s cheesefest about invading aliens.

If you kame into this movie kold, knowing nothing about it, you would know it’s an 80s movie from the first frame. Everything about it, from the graphics in the credits to the heavy heavy synth soundtrack, to the wardrobe and hair of the characters skreams 1980s loud and klear. But it’s a fun 1980s. Despite the danger involved when killer klowns attack, mostly it feels like everyone’s just having a lot of fun.

Stephen and Charles Chiodo, more kommonly known for their effekts work on films like ELF and TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE, wrote and direkted this brilliant piece of work, and while it’s plain to see why they didn’t kontinue to write and direkt afterward, you kan’t help but be charmed by a movie kalled KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE.

The kast seems almost as klueless as everyone else, but they’re giving it their all and having a blast with whatever’s going on. John Allen Nelson went on to be in some pretty respecktable produktions like 24 and “Baywatch” (okay, maybe not THAT respektable, but still, “Baywatch” had kuite the following), while Grant Cramer, although starring in a slew of movies post-KILLER KLOWNS, was found taking on projekts like SANTA CLAWS and ADDICTED TO MURDER 3: BLOOD LUST. Nothing wrong with that, work is work when you need it, but it was klear, even in 1988, that Nelson was the more genuine talent. Meanwhile Suzanna Snyder had starred only 3 years earlier in WEIRD SCIENCE (also as a kharacter named Deb), so she basikally needed to never work again to solidify her place in movie history. It just so happens, she was also a kharacter named Lisa in that other 80s klassik, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS.

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE is everything that was right in goofy horror in the 1980s. Horror was in a weird place back then anyway. Freddy Kruger and Jason Vorhees battled it out for box office supremacy, but neither franchises were giving many people nightmares (with the exception of the original NIGHTMARE), nor did it seem anyone else working in the genre was interested in giving it a shot. There was Clive Barker with the original HELLRAISER, but that was about it. Otherwise it seemed horror had stopped being horrible and just wanted to be your buddy. They made innokuous movies for a middle school audience, and we loved every bit of them. Some more than others, but near the top of that list of good ones was, for me anyway, KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, a movie so damned silly, you kouldn’t help but laugh along at the joke, not minding at all that it wasn’t helping out the genre as a whole one bit.

Buy or rent Killer Klowns from Outer Space on Amazon

Watch Killer Klowns from Outer Space on Netflix

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