2am Review: Killer Klowns from Outer Space

It’s October, we’re only a few weeks from one of my favorite holidays.  Fuck it, this isn’t some Jewish holiday joke, I love Halloween!  And I loves me some entertaining horror movies.  For all the bad ones I show, I like good ones too.  Too bad I’m writing about a good bad movie.  Swerve huh?  But seriously, alien clowns that come to Earth to kidnap people, spin them into cotton candy cocoons and drink their blood?  Sign me up!

For many years, genre fans have clamored for someone to combine their murderous clowns with space aliens and deliver what would no doubt be a multi-Oscar-winning flick. Well, three brothers decided to take that concept with a small budget and make it their own. The Oscars never came knocking on their door, but they did create a unique and entertaining film for those looking for an oddball horror/comedy to watch. I never had the opportunity to see “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” when it was first released back in 1988 and no movie store seemed to have any old VHS copies of the movie. It wasn’t until a few years ago when it was re-released by MGM that I could see this movie and see exactly what the hype was all about. Well, it’s my fault for hyping it so much in my mind, but was I disappointed with the movie when I first saw it? Not in the least.

Directed by Stephen Chido
Written by Charles and Edward Chido
Starring Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, John Vernon, Royal Dano
Tagline: In space, no one can eat ice cream.
Nudity? No.
Blood? A little.
Clowns? Surprisingly, yes!

May I suggest listening to this as you read?
Ah, the opening credits, full of names I really don’t recognize in the least. Hey, what’s that music? Why, it’s the DICKIES doing the theme song! Eighties rock, WOOOO! Flick starts off with officer Mooney (Siegel) driving around, watching all the damned kids running around with their shenanigans. We see a very young Chris Titus drinking a beer and crossing a road. Ah, the days leading up to his sitcom were so exciting to watch.

Elsewhere, at the local make out cliff, “On Top of the World”, several dozen couples are making out as they are full of love, lust and quite possibly sperm. However, they annoyed by some annoying music, as annoying music tends to annoy people. It winds up being an ice cream truck with the Terenzi brothers trying to peddle their wares. Hey ladies, if you don’t like the taste of a meat popsicle, maybe an orange-flavored one would be better! The make out artists aren’t thrilled with the sudden case of blue balls they’ve contracted so they start throwing garbage at the ice cream men. They get back inside the truck and decide to park for a while. Two FAT women appear from the back of the truck eating ice cream and announce they’re nice girls and don’t like the tricks they think are being pulled on them. You’d take free ice cream and not fuck those guys? You whores. They drive off but leave the microphone on so everyone laughs at them arguing as they drive off.

Mike and Debbie (Cramer and Stone) laugh at them some more as Mike says he used to hang out with them all the time but realizes he’s about to score with a chick and stops talking about guys and starts making with the love. They look up and see a strange comet land not too far from them. A farmer in the woods (Dano) also sees it and decides to check it out with his dog, Pooh. He figures thousands of people will come and if he finds it first, he’ll be rich! Debbie decides that finding a hot comet is better than hot sex and makes Mike go with her to look for it.

The farmer finds something, but it’s not the comet he was expecting. It’s a circus tent in the middle of the forest! Instead of wondering why the hell a circus would set up in the middle of nowhere, our crazy little farmer goes in for a closer look and hopefully score a few free passes. Why one man needs more than one pass into the circus, I’ll never know. He thinks something’s wrong when he can’t find the ticket booth. He moves along as a hole opens up in the tent and a net gets thrown out and his dog gets pulled in. He can’t find his dog so he gets mad and punches the tent. It’s really made of metal, so CLANG! He wants his dog back and swears he’ll tear the tent apart and proceeds to try to rip out one of the ropes holding the tent down. Just so happens they’re electrified so the farmer gets quite the shock. A clown shows up and shoots him with some sort of ray that makes everything red.

Meanwhile at the police station, officer Mooney brings in a couple of drunks he found walking in the park, but officer Dave Hanson (Vernon) doesn’t think it’s a big deal. Mooney thinks they’re ruining the town and wants to rough them up a bit but Dave won’t let him. Mooney throws them in the slammer for safekeeping.

Mike and Debbie are still walking around trying to find the mysterious comet and happen upon the circus tent. Debbie gets a bad feeling but now Mike wants to do some looking around. They find the entrance and walk into the tent. Mike starts pretending to act like a carney while they look around the strange inside of the tent. Though it’s colorful inside, it looks NOTHING like the inside of a circus tent. They find an elevator and get taken to a lower level of the tent and they finally realize this might not be a circus after all. Mike tries to guess what it is, thinking it of being a nuclear power plant or a military base. Unless they’re in California, I doubt there are any powder blue and purple military bases. They see something and take the elevator somewhere else. There’s a huge bowl of popcorn popping and huge bunches of cotton candy hanging from the walls. He still thinks it has something to do with the circus but she brings up that maybe they’re in a UFO, cause no one stores cotton candy like how they’re seeing it. Mike believes she’s wrong and rips off part of the cotton candy but it reveals the bloody face of the old retarded farmer from a few minutes ago. Before they can react, a clown shows up with another cotton candy bundle and hangs it. They make loud noises and clown starts chasing them with a popcorn bazooka. Mike and Deb run but now a couple of clowns are on their trail. One of them makes an animal balloon of a dog and it actually starts barking cause it’s picked up their scent?? They make it to Mike’s jeep and narrowly escape. Deb says she has a friend in the police force that might help them.

Meanwhile, the clowns are out and making their way into town. Sloooowly.

Mike and Deb get to the station and start telling Officer Dave about weird clowns and cotton candy cocoons. Dave’s willing to listen to them inside, probably cause it’s such a damn entertaining story already. Mooney listens in and interjects, “Killer clowns from outer space? Hoooly shit!” He says he was over around the farm earlier and no one’s around. Mooney recognizes Mike as one of the Terenzi brothers’ friends and immediately thinks this is just a stunt to sell the ice cream. Mooney tells Dave to go investigate and look like a dummy, but no one’s gonna make a dummy out of Mooney. REMEMBER THAT! Dave’s also disappointed to hear that Deb was making out with Mike. Uh ohhh. . .

Elsewhere, some innocent guy happens upon a little puppet show and watches the two puppets flirt with each other til the female puppet pulls out a gun and shoots the male puppet. Yikes. A clown pops out from behind, and with the puppet still on his hand, shoots the guy and turns him into a cotton candy cocoons.

In a drug store, another clown is knocking shit over and has already turned two women into cocoons. The old clerk doesn’t really care except for the fact the clown is knocking everything off the shelves looking for something. He’s clearly not a regular shopper.

On the way to check everything out, Dave and Debbie argue cause though he’s not her boyfriend anymore, he still cares about her and wants her safe at home. Mike’s in the backseat having to listen to all of this, lucky guy.

Someplace else, a lady in fashionable lingerie opens the door to find a clown with a big pizza box. She doesn’t seem thrilled by the fact she’s getting pizza. You should eat something you skinny bitch. A couple more clowns show up and even a little clown pops out of the box to shoot her with the cotton candy cocoon ray. A fat clown down the road gives a fat lady a heart-shaped box of chocolates only to yank out the ray on her too.

Debbie gets dropped off but tells Mike she’s going to follow them up to the forest after they leave. Dave makes Mike sit in the backseat like a bitch.

Back at the pharmacy, a couple of clowns are checking out the make up selection they have, only to shoot shaving cream in their faces and sneezing into the powder.

In the woods, Officer Dave’s getting pissed at Mike cause the tent isn’t there anymore and doesn’t like joking about dead bodies. The jealous cop lays the cuffs on Mike for pulling such an incredibly well-thought out joke on him.

Elsewhere in town, the midget clown interrupts a biker gang by showing off his hot stuff tricycle that they go crazy for. The ugliest non-female biker of the bunch decides to have some fun. He asks the clown if he can ride the bike but gets denied. He asks if he can at least beep the horn, which is OK. He’s so filled with glee, he picks the bike up and smashes it on the ground. The clown wants to start a fight, which is amusing to the biker. He comments, “What are you gonna do? Knock my block off?” A spring-loaded boxing glove does indeed knock the guy’s head off into the nearby garbage can.

Officer Dave stops on the side of the road to investigate a car with garbage spread all over the place. Goes from investigating alien clowns to littering, nice work. However, as he inspects around the car, it’s covered with pink webbing. Almost cotton candy-like, if you will. Dave takes the cuffs off Mike to shows a pair of candy-covered glasses he found and Mike agrees that’s the same stuff he saw before.

At the police station, Mooney’s answering some phone calls from people complaining about clowns showing up to their doors. It’s still a bad joke so he pours himself some whiskey. The pharmacist calls Mooney to say he’s got a problem, it looks like a clown’s buying a lot of condoms. More calls are coming in about people getting abducted by clowns in balloons. He’s not believing anyone.

Out on a desolate road, some random wanker’s driving into town when a clown drives up next to him. Well, he only looks like he’s driving, he’s hovering in mid air and pretending to drive a car, complete with headlights on his feet. He starts playing bumper cars and the clown knocks him off a cliff.

Back at home, Debbie’s gonna have a shower! WOOO! Oh shit, it’s PG-13. She knocks off the popcorn that was shot at her earlier in the movie and throws her clothes into the hamper. As she enters the shower, we notice some of the popcorn kernels are…moving. Randomly, the fat clown is outside a burger joint and throws some popcorn into the dumpster. One of the workers goes to dump some garbage inside when he notices some weird noises coming from inside. He opens the lid and something drags him inside.

Mike and Dave are driving back into town and share a moment about Debbie, where Dave realizes that she goes for laughs, not stability. Mike wonders why everyone’s shitting on him tonight.

The tall clown shows up at a bus stop where several elderly people are enjoying his shadow puppet show. When you can do George Washington crossing a river on a boat with several people in it with just your two hands, you gotta admit, there’s some talent there. Dave and Mike show up just in time to see the clown create this huge monster on the wall and it actually EATS all the old people who were watching. Mike gets Dave to try to run over the clown but he jumps into the sky and disappears. Dave calls Mooney and wants the state police to come in right away. Mooney thinks they’re trying to kick him out of the force by making him go nuts, so he tells them all to fuck off. Mike spots the Terenzi brothers and goes to recruit them to help out.

In ten seconds, Mike tells them the whole story but they really want to sell ice cream. Mike wants them to at least drop him off at Debbie’s, so they ask if she has any roommates. Mike catches on and says she has two beautiful roommates with big boobs who looove ice cream. Now they’re in the game!

At the police station, all the phones are ringing off the hook but Mooney decides to smoke a cigar and says screw the town. Just then, one of the clowns comes in much to the delight of Mooney. The clown gives him flowers, and Mooney seems to like this gesture of sudden love until he gets sprayed in the face with water. Mooney slaps the cuffs on the clown and says since he’s in Mooney territory, he ain’t got no rights. The clown pulls the ol’ fake hand gag and takes off to the back of the station. The clown’s not doing himself any favors by making faces at Mooney, so he gets locked up in a cell with the two drunks from earlier. Mooney tries to club the clown with his flashlight but the clown’s head does a 180 spin scaring the crap outta Mooney. He tells the clown it’ll be begging for mercy by the end of the night but clown has other things in mind. He takes out one of those birthday kazoos that fold out and it’s gotta hand at the end and grabs Mooney by the neck and bangs his head against the cell doors, knocking him out.

Dave gets to the station but finds none of the lights are working. There are clown shoe prints on the floor so he follows them to the cellblock where the footprints are all over the walls and ceiling. He finds a couple of cocoons in the cell and as he checks them out he notices some bloody body parts in there. He walks back out to the office and sees a clown using Mooney as a dummy.

REMEMBER WHAT HE SAID EARLIER? I TOLD YOU TO REMEMBER! Now scroll back up cause I know you forgot. The clown uses Mooney to talk to Dave saying all they want to do is kill him. Oooh that’s fine if that’s all there is to it. Kill the Terenzi brothers while you’re at it, they can’t even sell ice cream properly. The clown yanks his arm out of Mooney’s back and goes after Dave. He fires on the clown but it does nothing. He shoots the nose and the clown spins around and blows up in pretty, shiny explosion. So there you have it, the clowns can’t be killed unless you shoot them in the nose. Dave gets a hold of someone and tells them to send help.

Elsewhere, the Terenzi’s are having fun by calling out some clowns with their ice cream truck. They really don’t believe Mike until they happen upon a creepy clown parade as they pick up all the cocoons they made earlier in the night. They’re gonna be eating good tonight!

Meanwhile, what seems to be several hours later, Debbie finally gets out of the shower prune-free and opens the hamper. Some weird clown snakes jump out attacking her. She holds them off by spraying hairspray in their eyes. Ok, so, alien clown popcorn mutates into clown snakes, got that? She gets to the door and hears Mike but when she opens it’s the tall clown! She slams the door and runs to the window but before she jumps out she notices a gaggle of clowns with a small trampoline to catch her. She seems to have her doubts as to whether or not they’d actually catch her. It looks pretty flimsy anyway. She turns around and the tall clown tosses her onto the couch. He shoots her but doesn’t turn her into a cocoon, oh no, she gets special treatment and winds up being trapped inside a balloon.

Mike and the Terenzi’s show up just in time for the high-speed chase portion of our film. The police even get in on the chase but it’s only Officer Dave. The Terenzi’s pull over making Dave run into the back of them. The quickly figure out that maybe the clowns went to the amusement park up the road.

The clown car shows up at the amusement park, ironically enough. They must’ve read the part in the script where Mike and Dave figure out they must be going to the amusement park. The night watchman asks the clowns to leave, but they all get out of the incredibly small car as clowns tend to do, and whip out some pies. The watchman is stupid enough to ask exactly what they’re gonna do with them so they pelt him with about fifty pies. They must be made of acid or something cause they melt him down to noooothing. The midget clowns tops the whipped cream/human remains sundae with a very large cherry.

The boys show up and go inside the haunted house part of the amusement park. They talk about what reasons why the clowns could be here, but I won’t bother you with the details. But trust me, it’s all VERY interesting. Dave tells everyone to stick together, but as soon as he opens a door, a trap door opens up and the Terenzi’s plunge to their doom! Ok, they land in a pool of plastic balls like they were five-year-olds. They look around and see a couple of female clowns, and one of them has inflating boobs!

Dave and Mike move on and Mike remembers the place where they are, they’re now inside the spaceship tent. They take the elevator down to the cocoon room where there are many more cocoons now. Practically the entire town is in there. They look around for the balloon Debbie might be in. Fat clown shows up so they hide. Fatty grabs a crazy straw, sticks it in one of the cocoons and sips away.

The clown takes off and they find the balloon. They bust it open to free Debbie. A couple clowns are onto them but Dave blows them up into confetti. They find a pole to slide down and hopefully it’s to safety. It leads down a long hallway with a door. They open it but there’s a smaller door. They open that, another smaller door. They eventually crawl to safety but it’s really just a big room full of the clowns. They’re pretty much fucked until the Terenzi’s bust through the wall with the ice cream truck. The top of the truck has a clown’s head so they use the microphone and claim to be some sort of clown god they should be listening to. The clowns take off as something descends from the ceiling. It’s a huge, fucking clown! Everyone takes off but the Terenzi’s since the truck’s a rental. Clownzilla picks the truck up and tosses it into a wall, blowing it up. YES! THE TERENZI’S ARE DEAD! THANK YOU ALMIGHTY CLOWNZILLA!

Dave draws the monster’s attention as Mike and Debbie run to safety. Dave runs out of bullets and the monster lifts him up into the air. Outside, it looks like the spaceship is taking off, and it looks like a spinning top. The state police arrive, but as usual, they’re about half an hour too late to really do anything helpful. Inside the ship, Dave grabs his shiny badge that has a pointy end to it and pops the monster’s nose, thus destroying the monster. Pretty pathetic weakness for a huge monster clown, don’t you think? The clown blows up and so does the ship.

Out of nowhere, the old clown car falls from the sky and Dave pops out. Um, how’d he get in it if the car was parked outside. And guess what, the Terenzi’s are alive??? Apparently they jumped into the back with all the ice cream which SAVED them when the truck BLEW THE FUCK UP! Oh well, everyone’s happy now. They look up wondering if everything’s really over, of course it is. Then they get hit with a bunch of pies, apparently of the non-acid variety or they’d be burning to death to end the movie.

Overall: Well, there you have it. The Chiodos threw in just about every clown joke they could to pull of the movie and even made a few ones up, though the ending was pretty lame. The movie never was a box office success but you can definitely see why it’s attained cult status over the years.

The effects don’t really hold up well these days, but the budget was only two million bucks, so they worked with what they could. The clowns, though, are very well done. The mouths don’t move when they talk their strange clownish language, but they really do look good, mixing the typical clown qualities and making them look somewhat evil. Let’s face it, you’re not watching this movie for anything other than the clowns doing what they do best, so you shouldn’t really be disappointed. While some of the clown gags fall flat, for the most part they work and are funny. Grab a couple friends and have a good time with this one.  7 out of 10.

Shaun

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