Killer Klowns from Outer Space has been one of my favorite horror movies since I was a little kid; it’s hard to decide if you can really call it a horror movie though. I do know that as a little kid, the scene in which the little klown punched a biker’s head off used to scare the crap out of me. I have two distinct memories of the film, the first time was being little and watching it in the backroom of my house. I remember being mesmerized by the clown costumes as well as the over-all weirdness of the movie.
When I was a kid my parents got an account at a mom and pops video store. The first movie I ever got from that mom and pops shop was actually Killer Klowns. At the time it was the first time that I had seen the movie in roughly 10 years, watching in late-junior high/early-high school vs. early elementary school I saw some of the homage’s and understood that unlike most “adult films” I had been exposed to by my family, this was all about having fun.
The movie opens with teenagers Mike and Debbie camping out in the back of a pick-up truck staring at the stars when they see a shooting star seeming to crash in a near-by farm. The Farmer and his dog Pooh-bear go to investigate it but instead find a circus tent in the woods. They go to find an entrance to see the show but instead are quickly killed by the Klowns. Mike and Debbie show up as well and enter the circus tent, while inside they find a room with some bundles of cotton candy, which apparently have human bodies in the core.
They go to the police where Debbie’s ex Dave works (with the always grouchy and paranoid Sgt. Mooney). Mooney is convinced they’re pulling a prank based on Mike’s friendship with the pranksters turned ice cream truck drivers the Terenzi Brothers. They return Debbie to her house but when they arrive to the farm the circus tent is gone. Dave starts to think that Mooney was right this was all a prank.
Meanwhile the Klowns are creating chaos in the streets but Mooney ignores the citizens phone calls as all part of a giant scheme to trick Mooney. Eventually a Klown comes into the police station and Mooney locks him up. As Dave is driving Michael to jail they see a Klown capture a group of townspeople and believes Mike’s story. They rush to the police station to warn Mooney only to discover that he’s dead and being used as a ventriloquist dummy by the klown he arrested. In an attempt to defend himself, Dave begins firing his gun at the klown finally finding it’s weak spot, destroying it’s big red nose will cause the klowns to explode!
The klowns kidnap Debbie in a big balloon and take her to their spaceship (now hidden on a pier). Mike, Dave & the Terenzi brothers follow the klowns to their ship and save Debbie. Suddenly the gigantic “KlownZilla” comes out and grabs Dave as Mike and Debbie make a break for it. The spaceship starts to ascend back into outer space but Dave pops Klownzilla’s nose using his badge. Klownzilla’s explosion is so great that it blows up the ship also, luckily Mike and the Terenzi brothers are saved by hiding in an ice cream truck.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space is generally well received as a good mindless fun comedy-horror, but there are some great homages and many memorable moments in there as well. Much like the movie Tremors the film is a giant homage to 1950’s films, however while Tremors focused a little more on the Radioactive “giant monsters” and universal horror movies, Killer Klowns plays off more of the sci-fi aliens attacking a town concept. The opening with the Farmer and his dog are very reminiscent of The Blob (who’s remake was released the same year as Killer Klowns).
The Choido brothers really pull out all the punches with their concept. They manage to mix in every possible clown image into this movie and use wonderful word play to create memorable and bizarre death sequences. The klowns kill people with puppet shows, shadow puppets and pizza just to name a few. The most surreal moment (and the most vivid memory of the movie for me) comes from little pieces of “popcorn” that turn into clown heads on tentacles which explode out of Debbie’s hamper and toilet.
John Vernon’s performance of Officer Mooney is one of the most iconic “asshole” characters from the 80’s horror movies. His paranoia costs many people’s lives (including his own) and while you may feel bad for some of the people who are killed off (and there are A LOT) you’re okay when Mooney gets it in the end.
You can also thank the 80’s punk band “the Dickies” for giving us one of the greatest horror movie theme songs of all time.