Stephen Chiodo directs, and co-writes, along with his brothers Charles and Edward, this bright, outlandish and completely ridiculous horror comedy that reeks of 80’s cheese-ball craziness and has, since its release 24 years ago, become a cult favourite. Clowns, yep. Spaceships, yep. Popcorn guns, yep. Cotton Candy, yep. Ice Cream trucks, yep. Murder, yep. Okay, sign me up.
I have always had a soft serve…I mean spot, for this film. It’s corny and the acting isn’t exactly great, but then again this isn’t Citizen Klown, this isn’t The Godklowner, this isn’t Klownshank Redemption, this is a movie about a group of insane murderous clowns (with a k) who come to earth and begin killing the citizens of a middle-American suburban town. Attempting to turn the humans into food by cocooning them in cotton-candy, it’s up to a group of 1980’s American kids to put an end to the madness by entering the Klown’s base (which is a gigantic colourful circus tent, by the way) and trying to get rid of these cosmic creatures with a desire for crazy candy corpse creating.
With a cast, many of whom went on to do more in the horror genre, such as Grant Cramer (Santa Claws), Suzanna Snyder (Return of the Living Dead: Part II) and Royal Dano (Ghoulies 2), among others, the performances are hackneyed and stiff and at times just-plain-awful, yet it all feels acceptable because of the film itself. The acting chops didn’t need to be refined, because we’re watching a tale of killer klowns from outer-bloody-space. If you are familiar with films like Basket Case, The Stuff and Street Trash, as well as Troma-titles like The Toxic Avenger, you’ll know what I mean when I say that poor-acting is not only expected, but almost-welcomed when the story itself is so ludicrous.
It’s self-aware, it’s silly, and it’s a whole load of fun. It isn’t scary (unless you have a fear of clowns, I guess) and it isn’t gory or grisly, but it is still one of those late-night horror flicks that you can just unwind with, and have a good time watching. It’s always, to me, been one of those films that is designed to be corny and crass and stupid, and it achieves it with style, and doesn’t disappoint by only doing things half-arsed. It goes all out on the absurdity, and that is a good thing. A very good thing. A homage to sci-fi classics like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Blob, this alien-invasion candy-fest should really appeal to fans of b-movies, and homages-done-well.
This is Stephen Chiodo’s only directorial foray. He has, with his brothers, gone on to have a successful career in animation, puppetry and special effects, working in big-time pictures like Elf (2003) and Team America: World Police (2004). He even did special effects work on the seldom spoken of, but previously reviewed here on The Cinephiliacs, Ruben & Ed (review here). It’s a little bit of a shame that Chiodo didn’t do more as a director, because I think his work here is commendable, and he seemed to have an absolute blast with this film, and the story. It shows how beloved in certain circles this film is by the fact we’re still talking about it almost a quarter-of-a-century later.
Arrow Video, the premiere cult film distributor in the UK, have released this film on both regular Blu-ray, and Blu-ray Steelbook editions, with wonderful classic, and new, artwork, a glossy booklet, and a load of enjoyable and entertaining special features. Something we’ve come to expect from Arrow from their past releases. With a set of extras that include;
- Limited Edition SteelBook packaging
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements by MGM<
- Original Stereo 2.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio Commentary with the Chiodo Brothers
- The Making of Killer Klowns – a 20-minute featurette looking at the film’s production, including an interview with the Chiodo Brothers alongside behind-the-scenes footage
- Visual Effects with Gene Warren Jr. – an interview with Charles Chiodo and visual effects supervisor Gene Warren Jr.
- Kreating Klowns – an interview with Charles Chiodo and creature fabricator Dwight Roberts
- Bringing Life to These Things – A Tour of Chiodo Bros. Productions
- Chiodo Brothers’ Earliest Films – a look back at the Chiodo Brothers’ early homemade productions
- Tales of Tobacco: A brand new interview with star Grant Cramer
- Debbie’s Big Night: A brand new interview with star Suzanne Snyder
- Komposing Klowns – interview with composer John Massari
- Deleted Scenes with Director’s Commentary
- Klown Auditions
- Image Gallery
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Starburst critic Joel Harley, illustrated with original archive stills and posters
Killer Klowns from Outer Space will be available, on Dual-format DVD/Blu-ray, from Arrow Video, on September 15th 2014.