Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)


A spaceship from out of space lands in a small American town. The aircraft’s occupants quickly begin feasting on the human population. No one seems to notice the aliens because they all look like circus clowns. Two teenagers, Dave (John Allen Nelson, Hunk) and Debbie (Suzanne Snyder, Night of the Creeps), discover the ship, and with the help of the town’s sheriff, officer Mike Tobacco (Grant Cramer, New Year’s Evil), they try to stop the creatures from taking over the planet.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Roger Corman, The King of B-movies, famously said, “you can’t make a cult film, the audience makes the cult film.” I guess he never watched this film.

Friskily directed by Stephen Chiodo, Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a true rarity; an intentionally camp film that works exceedingly well. It’s an obvious spoof of the B-movies of yesterday, specifically the sci-fi films made during the Atomic Age. The dialogue is dumb, the situations are silly, but it is a constantly ingenious horror-comedy. Aesthetically speaking, the film is playful and very funny.

Producer-writer-director Chiodo, an effects designer making his feature film debut here, proves that you can do amazing things without relying on expensive CGIs. The clown make-up is scary as hell. The clowns are pretty nasty, but they are so cool-looking that you’ll find yourself rooting for them. The colorful production design is like Dr. Seuss on meth. The practical and stop-motion effects accentuate the loony. It all plays like a psychedelic trip into the unknown.

I could complain about the acting, but why? This is a film that has no shame whatsoever. I did think John Vernon (Dirty Harry and The Outlaw Josey Wales) was great as a skeptical “copper.” Vernon, famous for playing heavies, is hilarious! The cast also includes Royal Dano (Big Bad Mama), and comedian Christopher Titus (TV’s Titus).

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Killer Klowns from Outer Space can’t be easily categorized. It’s a darkly funny, often nasty sci-fi movie that defies expectations. Not a great film per se, but one that’s hard to resist — a 1980s B-movie that deserves its cult status. P.S. There are rumors that Chiodo is currently working on a sequel and/or a TV series. Color, 88 minutes, Rated R.


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