Tuesday, April 13

Movie Review - Killer Clowns from Outer Space

    Doesn't this movie's title just sound awesome? I mean, Killer Clowns From Outer Space. It just screams of instant classic. How could a movie possibly live up to it's title? Don't worry, this one definitely does. Originally released in 1988, Killer Clowns is one of the best horror movies of all time. It stars clowns, already one of the creepiest entities on earth, and turns them into horror villains from space. If that's not absolute genius, then I have no idea what is. At the same time, the movie perfectly captures the nature of the clown, and makes them genuinely funny. One must wonder why their rock-remix of the famous circus music didn't get any Oscars.

    The movie takes place in a small town called Crescent Cove. We start off with a group of teenagers hanging out in the forest with their cars. Two of them, Mike and Debbie, are talking in the back of one of the cars. These two are dating, and are the first two main characters we are introduced to. An ice-cream truck shows up with it's two hilariously obnoxious dudes driving it. "I'm Jo-Jo the ice cream clown, we'll give you a stick, you'll give it a lick. And it'll tickle you all the way down. Ice cream, ice cream, we brought our goodies here to you! A tasty treat for while you screw! Let's take a break! Cool off those hot lips with our frozen fruity bars! Icy-wicy, fudgy-wudgy bars. And everyone's frozen delight, the lick a stick!" Mike tells Debbie that the ice cream dudes are his best friends. The ice-cream truck leaves shortly. As Mike and Debbie look into the sky, they see a bright yellow light fly across. A drunk hillbilly sitting on his porch with his dog, Pooh, sees it also. "Did you see that little ole sky doggie zip down there Pooh?" The hillbilly brings his shovel along as he heads to the yellow light. The two main teenagers decide to follow it too.

    The hillbilly arrives at a brightly-lit circus tent. "What in the blue blazes is the circus doing here in these parts?" It's tied down with some rather technologically advanced ropes. "I don't know Pooh, you know there's something kinda peculiar around here." As he wanders around, a strange shadow follows him. His dog is captured by a net. He starts shouting stereotypical phrases and repeats "What in tarnation is going on here!" over and over. He punches the tent, only to hurt his hand. "Well I'll be hornswaggled!" He then tries to tear the advanced rope, only to get shocked. "Well I'll be greased and fried!" A creepy alien clown shows up and shoots him with...I'm not sure, but it killed him. Yup, that's why this movie is so incredible, you get such engaging dialogue like that.

    We then cut to two cops at the local station, one is a younger cop named Dave, the other's a middle-aged jerk named Curtis. It's important that one of the cops is a total jerk, because every horror movie needs a cop that doesn't listen to anyone. Curtis throws in two teenagers for walking downtown and accuses them of resisting arrest when they did nothing. Yup, he's just like any normal cop.

    Meanwhile, Mike and Debbie reach the tent circus tent. Debbie argues that they should just leave, but Mike convinces her to go inside with him. The inside of the tent is featured with bizarrely colored walls, pipes, and tubes. Mike and Debbie stumble into a giant power core room. He guesses it's a nuclear power plant, because we all know that nuclear power plants look like circus tents and have floating blue electricity balls inside. An unknown figure is heard walking down the hall, so Mike and Debbie run into a strange room filled with large cotton candy balls and argue about whether to leave or not. Debbie - "I've never seen anything like this before, have you?" Mike - "No." Debbie - "Well that's because nobody has. I don't believe in UFOs, but if they do exist, than we are trapped in one right now." Mike - "There's gotta be a logical explanation about this." Eventually a clown alien spots them and chases them out with a popcorn gun. He even shoots at them with it. The popcorn follows them out of the tent and sticks to their clothes. Wow, I always knew there was a reason I didn't like popcorn; it's made by evil clown aliens. As the teenagers run away from the tent, one clown makes a dog out of long balloons. The dog balloon barks and chases the teens through the forest. Mike and Debbie escape in their car, run over one of the clowns, and head straight for the police station. The clown stands right back up, and then they prepare to invade the town.

    At the police station, Debbie starts telling Dave about the tent. Apparently, Debbie knows Dave somehow. Debbie - "We were up at "the top of the world" and we saw this shooting star and we decided to go look for it. But instead of finding the shooting star we saw this... this circus tent. And that's when we went inside, and that is when we saw those people in those... those pink, cotton candy cocoons. Dave, it was not a circus tent. It was something else." Dave - "What? What?" Mike -  "It was a space ship. And there was these things, these killer clowns, and they shot popcorn at us! We barely got away!" At this, Curtis steps in. "Killer clowns, from outer space. Holy $#!t!" Curtis then laughs at the teenagers and accuses them of teaming up with the ice-cream truck dudes to prank the cops.

    We then cut to a college-age man watching a puppet show in the park. Why is this college kid entertained by this? Maybe this movie's more artsy than I thought. Anyway, one of the puppets zaps the other with some beam weapon, making it disappear. The puppeteer then reveals himself as one of the clowns, and blasts the college kid into a cotton candy cocoon. OK, so that's what those big cotton candy balls are, prisoners. We see another other clown vandalizing a variety store as the owner watches in fear. He zaps two more people off-screen.

    As Dave is driving around Mike and Debbie, we learn that the Dave and Debbie used to date each other. As you could imagine, this starts some rather intense tension between Mike and Dave. The drama in this film is almost too much. Dave drives Debbie home and then takes Mike toward the tent's location to investigate. When they arrive however, the tent is gone. Dave then handcuffs Mike and stuffs him into the backseat. Of course, shortly afterward they arrive at all the parked cars from the beginning, where Dave finds a car covered inside and out with webs of cotton candy. Inside the car rests a pair of glasses. With this, Dave now knows Mike is telling the truth, and uncuffs him. Suddenly, all the tension between them is gone. Way to keep the suspense up movie, have the main character under arrest for a total of two minutes.

    While that's going on, the clowns are wandering through town, zapping all sorts of people with the cotton candy gun. They visit houses door to door and prank people in various ways. Even though they look like, um...nothing I've ever seen before, they are always greeted with warm smiles and laughter. Ok, this movie isn't brilliant, or even that good - it's terrible. I can't even pretend that it's good anymore, it's just...terrible. Who can possibly take this crap seriously. While clowns do happen to frighten certain people, and can be made scary, these clowns are just ridiculous. I do have to say though, it's friggin hilarious in it's badness.

    While all this is going on, Curtis is sitting at his desk, receiving all sorts of crazy calls. "They took your wife away in a balloon? Well you don't need the police, pal, you need a psychiatrist!" He eventually decides to ignore all calls made to the station. "Is the whole town in on this?  I made it through Korea I can make it through this bull$#!t!" OK, this cop isn't just a dick, he's beyond dickish. He's the prime example of an over the top villain, except he's not even the villain. He's just a jerk character, and one basic rule with Horror movies is that the jerk always dies. How is this guy meant to be taken seriously in any way?

    A young clown rides a kids bike to a biker bar. A bunch of bikers stand around, making fun of him, and even trash the bicycle. At first the clown cries, but than he jumps straight into the air and disappears. What? Can someone explain to me what just happened? Anyway, the clown returns with boxing gloves and challenges the biker to a fight. "What you gonna do, knock my block off?" The clown then punches the biker's head right off.

    We then get a genuinely creepy moment where one of the clowns starts playing peekaboo with a kid through a restaurant's window. The clown urges the kid forward as he holds a hammer behind his back. Luckily, her mother pulls her back in and orders her to finish her food. Yup, one moment of genuine creepiness that looks intentional. I guess I'll have to give the movie makers a hand for that one.

    We then see the clowns killing people in increasingly ridiculous ways, like floating in the air, acting like their driving cars, and even swallowing a large group with shadows. Dave and Mike see the last one and try to run the clown over, which only results in the clown disappearing into the sky again. Dave and Mike then split up; Dave heads toward the police station while Mike heads toward Debbie's house. Shortly afterward, we then see the ice cream dudes arguing. Apparently they only started with the ice cream truck to get girls...what? How can you pick up chicks with an ice-cream truck? Anyway, Mike catches up with them, and warns them about the clowns. They naturally accuse him of being crazy. Mike still convinces them to drive him to Debbie's house.

    We now go back to Curtis ignoring calls, because he's HARDCORE like that. One of the clowns wanders into the station and squirts the cop in the face. This apparently does nothing. Hm, apparently the clown's just making fun of him at this point. Curtis arrests the clown and throws him into the cell with the two teenagers from earlier. "Before the night's over, you're going to be begging for mercy" The clown responds by killing the cop with an, um...blow out hand? After that, one of the teens casually asks the clown, "So, what you in for?" What? You just saw the clown kill the cop with a weapon unlike anything you've ever seen before and you casually ask him that? Shouldn't you be panicking at the moment? I mean come on, at least congratulate the clown for killing the man who wrongfully jailed you?

    Anyway, Dave shows up later, and sees the clown using the Curtis as a puppet. OK fine, another creepy moment in the movie. Dave shoots the clown several times in the body, doing nothing. He then shoots the clown in the nose, which somehow causes the clown to violently spin around and explode. OK, so on the one hand we now know how to kill alien clowns. On the other hand, if it was so easy to kill these clowns, how did they survive to adulthood? That's like saying if I accidentally cut my finger my whole arm will fall off. I have to wonder if the movie makers played too many video-games, because this kind of weakness only happens in video-games.

    We then learn that the alien popcorn actually grows into mini-clown monsters, attacking restaurant workers from dumpsters and even Debbie in her shower. she narrowly escapes the monsters, only to be attacked by an army of full grown clowns. They encase her in a giant balloon, um...somehow. The three guys in the ice cream truck show up just in-time to chase the clowns. Yup, that's what this movie's been reduced to; an ice-cream truck chasing a clown car. How is anyone supposed to take this seriously? How did the movie makers even take this seriously? Dave soon joins the chase, but the ice-cream dudes slam on the breaks thinking their being pulled over. The clowns speed ahead as Dave takes over the ice-cream truck. They all agree to look for the clowns at the local amusement park.
    The clowns end up at the amusement park, just as the four guys figured out, and are greeted by a security guard. The clowns all pull out pies. The security guard says, "What are ya gonna do with those pies, boys?" as if he's asking the clowns to throw them at him, which they do. These pies completely cover the guard and kill him. The little clown even puts a giant cherry on top.

    Soon afterward, our heroes arrive at the park and enter what appears to be a haunted house. They wander around until they find a door. The ice cream truck dudes fall into an unseen hole, somehow. They land in a pool of plastic balls, where two girl clowns are waiting. "Are you Debbie's roommates?" one of the ice-cream dudes asks.

    Dave and Mike find the cotton candy room from earlier. One of the clowns enters as the two heroes hide behind cotton candy stalks. The clown sticks a very long crazy straw into one of the cotton candy balls and drinks blood out of it. Now we finally know why these clowns are killing everyone - they're vampire clowns form outer space. After the clown leaves, they find the balloon that Debbie is trapped in, among several similar balloons. Dave shoots the balloon, bursting it and saving Debbie. Why he doesn't shoot the surrounding balloons I don't know, but when the clowns show up, it's too late. Dave kills two more clowns as they run through the halls. They slide down a fireman pole and down a hall of moving, laughing archways as a bunch of clowns chase after them. They reach a door, which opens into another, and another. After five consecutively smaller doors, they crawl through a hole into a large room that looks somewhat like a circus room. They climb up onto the central platform as they are surrounded by dozens and dozens of clowns.

    Out of no where, the two ice cream dudes crash through the wall with their truck. What? How did they escape the two girl clowns? How did they get the ice-cream truck in there? Anyway, they distract the clowns long enough for the three to escape. They all enter the truck, but unfortunately it won't start again. The clowns then all look up, and see a giant clown drop down from the ceiling. Oh crap, it's the final boss - aim for the nose! "Everybody step out of the truck" says Dave. "We can't, it's rented" says the two dudes. Wow, this movie's so bad, it's hilarious. The giant clown throws the truck against another wall, and it explodes. Pwned!

    Dave orders the other two to escape through the hole in the wall as he distracts the final boss. He runs around shooting at the final boss. Meanwhile, Mike and Debbie are now outside of the tent, which is now preparing to leave by um, spinning wildly. The State Troopers arrive to help, including one genderly undefinable cop. They all watch as the tent starts spinning wildly and slowly takes off. Inside, Dave runs out of ammo. The final boss then grabs Dave and brings him close to his face. Dave then pops the clown's mouth with his police badge. The clown drops Dave, spins wildly, and explodes. This causes the tent/ship to explode into fireworks.

    The clown car lands on the road, and Dave emerges from it alive. The ice cream dudes also emerge from the clown car. Wait, the ice-cream dudes survived? How could they survive being inside an exploding truck? "We hid in the trailer with the ice cream". Wow, that was actually very funny. Know what, this isn't a good horror movie, but it's not a bad movie ever. It's a comedy disguised as a bad horror movie, and for that, it's brilliant. If you're in the right mood, this movie is just plain hilarious. It's what you could call one of the great B-movies.

Two word review : Brilliantly bad

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