Killer Klowns from Outer Space Blu-ray Review (Mania.com)
By:Robert T. Trate
Review Date: Thursday, September 27, 2012
When one watches Killer Klowns from Outer Space, they immediately have to suspend their disbelief. The title, alone, beckons that. When the opening song beings to play, featuring the title of the movie in its lyrics, it is a foregone conclusion that we will be seeing a film that is nothing more than cheese-ballola. If a film titled Killer Klowns from Outer Space is your cup of punch (certainly not tea), then you’ll completely disagree with my review. Yet, if you love your cheese-ballola, then by all means press on. The big top awaits.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space begins as an homage of sorts to the fifties classic, The Blob. Young people are at lookout point doing what young people do, making out. Our lead characters, Debbie (Suzanne Snyder) and Mike (Grant Cramer) witness a shooting star and take note that it lands pretty closely to them. Both very eager to see that star, they head off for an adventure. Much like in The Blob, Debbie and Mike are not the only people to see the shooting star. An old Farmer (Royal Dano) and his hound dog see it as well and head off for the crash site. The Farmer’s early arrival and doomed fate is supposed to put a great sense of fear into our hearts. As we can now see, Debbie and Mike aren’t going to find any piece of fallen sky. No, they’re going to find Killer Klowns from outer space.
One of the problems with a Blu-ray re-release of low budget eighties films is that it can highlight just how low budget the production was. Killer Klowns suffers a great deal, now, from everything being in 1080p. It isn’t the make up of the Klowns. If anything, that aspect of HD only highlights the brilliance of the make up in the film. It is the cheaply made sets and stand alone cut-out props that look exactly like that in HD. Now, I am not saying that Killer Klowns from Outer Space is any sort of cinematic wonder, script-wise. In my opinion, a film like this belongs on VHS or 35mm with scratches, splices, and mended cuts. This film belongs at the drive-in and the old second run theaters. It’s fun because it is dirty, cheaply made, and damn near close to gorilla filmmaking. A high definition transfer ruins much of the fun of Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
Story-wise, for the uninitiated, it follows very closely to The Blob. Debbie and Mike head into town once they realize just what these Killer Klowns are doing. Much like Steve McQueen and Aneta Corsaut, they run into two very different cops and ask for help. The first is Officer Mooney (John Vernon), who thinks that all kids are scum and no good. The other is Officer Dave Hanson (John Allen Vernon), who just happens to be Debbie’s ex-boyfriend, and wants to help. The story from this point on leads them to try and track down the flying Big Top Saucer and stop these Killer Klowns. It’s campy and filled with images that are better left unremembered from your clown induced nightmares.
What amazes me about Killer Klowns from Outer Space is what Stephen, Edward, and Charles Chiodo got up on screen. There is some great stuff, here. Cotton Candy Cocoons, Balloon Animal Dogs that track people, and a Big Top Flying Saucer. The clowns are creepy as all hell and will give anyone with Coulrophobia reason to never watch the film. Outside of Suzanne Snyder’s Debbie and John Vernon’s Officer Mooney, the rest of the acting is completely terrible. John Allen Nelson does his best to bring a heroic lead to the film, but his character is too conflicted on screen. Whether this is because of what was written in the script or that he simply outshines Grant Cramer’s Mike is for the audience to decide. When I saw Nelson kiss Deb lovingly on the forehead at the end, I was not only confused but thought that it was incredibly out of place. If I had been more interested, I guess I could have looked for answers in the audio commentary from the three Chiodos.
The three brothers did either one of two things. Either they did a lot with the very little money that they had, or they did very little with a lot of what they had. It is really up to the viewer to decide. For this critic, I see a lot of potential and quite possibly a remake for Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
Theatrical Feature Blu-ray
Audio Commentary with the Chiodo Brothers
5 Featurettes: The Making of Killer Klowns, Komposing Klowns, Visual Effects with Gene Warren, Jr., Kreating Klowns, Chiodo Brothers’ Earliest Films
2 Deleted Scenes with Director’s Commentary
Original Theatrical Trailer
Mania Grade: C
Starring: John Vernon, John Allen Nelson, Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, Royal Dano
Written By: Charles Chiodo, Stephen Chiodo, Edward Chiodo
Directed By: Stephen Chiodo
Original Year of Release: 1988
Extras: See Below