Cinema-Maniac: Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) Review

“You can’t judge a book by it cover” phrase more often than not doesn’t equally apply to films. A film with a ridiculous premise or title tends to fall into the pitfall of just being bad without much of a creative thought process behind it. Sometimes dying before even reaching the credits. As proven with “Killer Klowns From Outer Space” you just never know what to expect to be entertaining.

Killer Klowns From Outer Space is about extraterrestrial klowns terrorizing a small town. Going more towards comedy, horror is far away from it focus as possible. It sets up a scene from a horror perspective playing the scene out as a comedy. One example being the heroes entering the circus tent spaceship where one would expect seeing what horrific things the extraterrestrial are doing to the humans. Instead of revealing anything resembling horror it’s reveal the klowns are turning the townspeople to cotton candy. Why that is the film never explains along with the so called “happy” ending it attempts to sell despite what it presents to us. Despite the goofy premise it has a number of creative ideas that work because of how straightforward the film plays up the concept. The characters in the film are genuinely terrified by the killer klowns that can make balloon dogs that can track their scent to having heat seeking popcorn in their weaponry. This level of goofiness also applies to the death scenes all of which are zany in their creation. Unfortunately the film doesn’t focus solely on the klowns occasionally dealing with bland characters. Where as the klowns provide campy antics the humans mostly take in the ensuring invasions one sidedly. While it’s nice the script attempts to give its central characters development that’s quickly forgotten by the halfway mark. Their dialogue most of the times is typical of a current boyfriend teaming up an his girlfriend ex to save a girl they both have feeling for, but have some terrible lines that even in context sound bad (“Is this place great or what? It looks like it was decorated by Klowns R Us.”). As a whole the script is vapid; aliens arrive on Earth, terrorize a small town, the small town lacks police force, no one believes the heroes sighting of extraterrestrial life, and the heroes face against the queen or king alien in the climax. While the creatures are replace with a something goofy the plot bears many similarity to a setup for an alien invasion film for better and worse.

The only standout performance has to be John Vernon as Officer Mooney with a delightfully over the top performance as a paranoid cop. Vernon screen time is small compared to the rest of the cast, but easily the one that best gets into his role. Leads Grant Cramer, John Allen Nelson, an Suzanne Snyder are adequate in their roles. They can carry the movie, but don’t have much as Cramer always appears whimsical about the extraterrestrial klowns, Nelson constantly looking pissed off at Cramer character, and Snyder going through the motions. Supporting cast are one note delivering some over the top reaction. With the exception of John Vernon none of the supporting cast stand out. Special effects are decent with some glaring mistakes on screen. Klowns costumes reveal several times a visible zipper whenever the camera faces their back. However, the facial animatronics that move their faces fare much better with the silly dark comedy tone. Spaceships are designed to look like a bizarre fun house which technical wise stand out. Varied in color and atmosphere it presents a spaceship unlike any other in the sci-fi genre. Soundtrack is relatively good with the opening “Killer Klowns” by “The Dickies” makes a solid rock ballad out of stock circus music.

Killer Klowns From Outer Space premise loses momentum as it goes on, but not long enough to wear out its welcome. It plays out around with the typical alien invasion film with a sense humor that hits when the klown are on screen, but fails whenever they’re not. It’s a goofy film that uses a traditional alien invasion story and does something that’s not generally done for better and worse.

6/10

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