KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE
Review by Michael Jacobson
Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, Royal Dano, John Vernon
Director: Stephen Chiodo
Audio: Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 86 Minutes
Release Date: August 28, 2001
“Why are they here?
Where did they come from?…Why clowns??”
Film ***1/2 (on the cheese scale)
Low budget horror movies are my secret weakness, and my
love for Killer Klowns From Outer Space is probably proof positive that I
need serious help.
When I was working at my first job at a local dollar
theatre, Klowns actually made its debut there, bypassing all the full
price houses and going straight for the bargain showings.
In between seatings, I would sneak into the auditorium and sneak peeks at
what had to be one of the most gleefully absurd movies I had, or would ever,
It plays like a typical late 50’s sci-fi film.
Teenage couple explores strange falling star.
Old man gets to it first, and becomes the first victim of the alien
terror. Teenagers try to make the
authorities believe them. Eventually,
the police come around, but of course, not until after much damage has already
The touches that make this picture unique?
Well, the spacecraft resembles a gigantic circus tent, for one.
And, of course, the aliens are Killer Klowns.
Using an array of typical clown tricks as their dastardly weaponry, they
are going on a hunt through a quiet little town, killing people left and right
and preserving their bodies in giant cotton candy cocoons.
The fact that the Klowns use balloon animals, popcorn
shooters, and even shadow puppets as weapons of death is perhaps the film’s
most ingenious and twisted offering. The
special effects and art design are actually quite good for such a low budget
film. And the Klowns have to be one
of cheesy science fiction’s greatest creations:
big, ugly, and grotesque, with wide grinning mouths, sharp teeth, and
I’ve come to learn over the years that a lot of kids
apparently have hang-ups about clowns. Their
bizarre costumes and obtuse make-up can be quite startling to young minds, I
suppose. As it turns out, director
Stephen Chiodo came up with the image of a clown as being the scariest vision he
could think of amongst things you could encounter on a dark road at night.
And that’s how movie history is sometimes born.
The acting is mediocre, to be sure, but good performances
would actually be unwarranted. In
fact, they’d probably go a long way to breaking the terrifically fun spell
this film casts. The script is
mostly an excuse to give the Klowns bigger and better and funnier ways of
dispatching hapless victims (two instant classics:
the pizza delivery and the “knock my block off” sequences).
It’s no wonder this film has earned a cult following over the years.
It deserves one more than most.
So sit back, relax, and watch maniacal Klowns do their
worst for an hour and a half. It’s
good, sick fun, and it might have you thinking twice about that next trip to the
Klown fans, rejoice…MGM has done a magnificent job with
this anamorphic widescreen transfer. This
is a very colorful movie, and those colors are a joy to behold on DVD.
The entire range of the spectrum is here, and every color is rendered
beautifully and brightly, with excellent containment.
Images are sharp and clear throughout, with excellent levels of detail.
One or two of the very darkest scenes show a slight bit of softness and
less definition; these are fleeting and not distracting.
Most dark scenes come across just as well as the lighter ones, with deep
blacks and no annoying grain to break up the composition.
A decidedly terrific effort!
For a simple 2 channel surround mix, this movie offers more
signal to the rear stage than most. There
are effects, reverberations, and bits of music that play at a near-continuous
level from behind, with good solid panning from front to back and from side to
side. The score gets some touches
of distortion here and there…it’s terrific music, but sounds like it was all
composed on some inexpensive department store keyboard (which actually adds to
the charm). Still, it’s a very
good mix…fans will be quite happy.
There are five, count ‘em, five featurettes included on
this DVD. One is an interview with
the Chiodo Brothers on the making of the film, one on the score composition, one
on the visual effects, one behind the scenes footage compilation, and one on the
brothers’ earliest films. There
are also some outtakes, two deleted scenes with optional commentary, a photo
gallery, a storyboard gallery, and an original trailer.
There is also a full length running commentary by the Chiodo Brothers as