Killer Klowns from Outer Space Reviews
Killer Klowns from Outer Space is the only feature to have ever been written and directed by The Chiodo Brothers. The brothers are better known as experts in puppetry and special effects, and when you think about the narrative shortcomings this makes a lot of sense. The entire film is pretty much just a series of shots depicting the titular Klowns killing humans in a variety of circus-themed ways while anything else occurring outside of this is just generic plotting at its most obvious. The film does not attempt to seek any innovation outside of milking its gimmicks for sporadic laughs here and there. But as a horror film, there really aren't many chills to gain from the experience.
The main problem in Killer Klowns from Outer Space is that there is really no feeling of a legitimate threat. Unless the viewer is naturally scared by clowns, it is gonna take a lot more for audiences to feel any thrills from the experience because the film is largely a self-parody. In aiming to implement horror and comedy into the same narrative, the horror narrative prevents any laugh-out loud moments from taking effect while the comedy prevents the horror from making any kind of thrilling impact. And the fact that the lack of scares is dragged down even further by a slow pace makes it all harder to swallow. Killer Klowns from Outer Space focuses its story entirely around the creative ways that The Chiodo Brothers can use circus references to form murder scenes, and everything else in the film is so boring that it drags the pace down to the point that the film appears to stretch on for far longer than its actual 86-minute running time. I can admit that there is certainly room to have a fun time with Killer Klowns from Outer Space due to its zany premise and creative use of special effects, but when it all unfolds at such a slow pace with no originality in the narrative, no interesting characters and a sense of tonal conflict, the feature is ultimately less than satisfying.
As far as scripting goes in Killer Klowns from Outer Space, the story has no original twists or turns. It is one which relies entirely on formula with one-dimensional characters at its helm and is proud of that fact. As a result, there is no innovation in the performances and no reason why anyone should care. The real performers of the film are the puppeteers and those who have to act beneath such heavy wardrobe while the actors are as one-dimensional as their roles. And since many elements of Killer Klowns from Outer Space are far tamer than the more explicit 80's slasher films, none of them end up supplying any nudity to the film either. With cast members failing to deliver on the generic demands that fans have come to approve of yet contributing the same lack of character development or genuine intrigue prevalent within the characters of such genre films, they just become a tedious presence within a film which succeeds purely on a stylish level. The script gives them nothing interesting to say as the dialogue isn't smart in any way, nor does it have any line that carry the distinctive 80's zing of the era. So essentially, audiences looking for anything beyond the mild stylistic thrills of Killer Klowns from Outer Space need not apply.
That being said, The Chiodo Brothers do succeed in making Killer Klowns from Outer Space a strong front for their mastery of puppetry and special effects. Killer clowns have long been a gimmick in horror films, but few productions ever implement science fiction elements into the narrative. In the case of Killer Klowns from Outer Space, this is the key gimmick of the film. Since the villains are actually aliens who bear the appearance of clowns, they have a weird array of inexplicable technology and abilities which always comes back to the circus theme of the film. As a result, The Chiodo Brothers are able to come up with some clever ways to kill off the humans of the story, ranging from popcorn monsters to deadly shadow puppets. This is the main gimmick in the film, and honestly it does stand to give Killer Klowns from Outer Space a memorable impact. The film isn't necessarily camp, but its villains' silly choice of murder certainly comes with its comical gimmicks. The way the film depicts them all is also effective because the use of visual effects combined with special puppetry makes for a proudly silly experience which never takes itself seriously. The entire experience is supported by the use of a dark circus-themed musical score which evokes the distinctive feeling of clown fear as an atmospheric contribution for the visuals to lean on.
There is certainly room to have fun with the ridiculous nature of this horror comedy, even if there are times when it struggles to decide between the two genres. And the use of colourful imagery and special effects in Killer Klowns from Outer Space manages to serve as a sufficient distraction from the fact that there is a lack of blood, gore or nudity in the overall experience. Many genre fans may consider this a frustration, but at the same time it means that Killer Klowns from Outer Space can appeal to a younger crowd. Naturally this isn't idea since its the older crowd that has proven consistently to be the dedicated fanbase of the genre, but Killer Klowns from Outer Space proves to offer a more family-friendly genre alternative which should still have enough creepy clowns and dark themes to entertain younger audiences as they transition into more explicit material.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space proves that The Chiodo Brothers are true masters in the art of special effects and puppetry which they use to craft a creative collection of unconventional death scenes, but with no other narrative virtues to support it including a lack of nudity, blood, gore or any interesting characters whatsoever, it ends up being fun in doses but rudimentary as a whole.
In many a scene, director Stephen Chiodo conjures up the closest thing to a red-nosed comedy hell this side of TV's Comic Relief.
Limitless pun-potential is cast aside in favour of an idiot plot and a catalogue of what-will-they-get-up-to-next shenanigans, but, even when the gags fall flat, the film is never unwatchable, unbearable or boring - the latter of which is usually a staple of the silly-pic sub-genre.
In all, Killer Klowns is worth the watch for its tunnel-vision ambition alone - especially if you have a soft spot for old-school puppetry and animatronic heads.
Aliens who look and act like clowns come to invade a small town. Well directed and strikingly designed, one of the cult landmarks of its time. Marred by routine plotting.