Welcome to Classics of the Corn, the series in which I share my love for the cheesy goodness that lives in the underbelly of the cinematic realm. Today we’re taking a look at my new favorite piece of corny corny corn, which I loved so much that I decided to post the review only a few days after watching it rather than adding it to the end of the blog schedule as I usually do!
The film in question is 1988’s Killer Klowns from Outer Space, a grade-A “klassic.”
Killer Klowns from Outer Space gives away its entire premise in its title: clowns from beyond Earth’s atmosphere have come to our planet to do some killin’. The film was written by Edward, Charles and Stephen Chiodo and directed by Stephen.
The movie kicks off with an utterly beautiful (and by “utterly beautiful” I, of course, mean “beautifully corny”) theme song that cannot be described in words, so here I’ll share the equally wonderful music video:
With lyrics that warn of the wrath of the clowns (“If you’ve ever wondered why the population’s going down, blame it on the plunder from the likes of the killer klowns!”) and a punk-ish, very stereotypically ’80s sound, I don’t think the theme song for this brilliant piece of corn possibly could be any better.
And much to my delight, things only got better from the wonderful opening with that theme song. Before our clowny friends descend upon Earth, the viewer is introduced to the concept of creepy clowns through a clown-decorated ice cream truck with an announcer who likes to shout double entendres over the loud speaker. “Take your ice cream and get lost!,” the couples at the local makeout spot yell at him while throwing various objects in his direction.
Soon enough, a bright light flies through the sky. The couples gaze on in wonder, assuming that it’s a comet. We follow the comet as it travels through the sky, meeting an old hillbilly man who is just as enamored of the mysterious object as the kids were. He begins talking to his dog about how the UFO is Haley’s Comet and how he’s going to get rich off of it.
Much to his surprise, it turns out not to be a comet all, but… a set of circus tents. If the brilliantly awful performances and overzealous excitement over the flying object weren’t enough to make you fall in love with this film right off the bat, the fact that this dim-witted man thinks that a circus falling from the sky is completely normal should be enough to seal the deal.
Soon after we meet the circus tents, we are introduced to the wrath of the clowns themselves. “What in tarnation’s going on here?!,” our hillbilly friend yells after realizing that the clowns have stolen his dog. “WHERE’S MAH DOAG? WHERE’S MAH POOH-BEAR? I’LL TEAR THIS THANG APART WITH MAH BARE HAAAAANDS!,” he screams before the aliens turn their wrath on him… electrocuting him and shooting him with a gun that wraps him in a cocoon of cotton candy.
Yes, you read that correctly: a cocoon of cotton candy is the weapon/corpse storage unit of choice for our killer clown friends.
More of the town’s people soon begin to discover the carnival. Deb, one of the girls who had been hanging out at the designated makeout point, decides to explore the “circus” with her boyfriend. Deb’s a smart cookie, and she knows something’s not right here: “Nobody stores cotton candy like this!,” she laments before discovering that there are corpses hidden inside of the cotton candy cocoons.
There’s plenty more hilariousness to go around at this hellish carnival. Dogs made of balloons come alive to help the clowns track their victims. Clowns pretend to deliver pizza and gifts in order to take the town’s women hostage. We discover that the clowns are equipped not only with cotton candy cocoon guns, but with killer popcorn guns and killer pies as well.
Props must be given to the Chiodo brothers and their visual team for bringing all of this corny goodness to life. My favorite visual element of the film is the carnival itself. Everything inside of the tents is pastel in color and cartoonish in design. Deb’s boyfriend hilariously describes it as a “new wave European circus,” and I can’t decide whether I’d want to run away from the tents or live in the perfectly tacky, pastel dream land and risk becoming a cotton candy-wrapped “caterpillar” like the rest of the clowns’ victims.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space is such a fantastic B movie. It might even be the best one I’ve reviewed for the CotC series thus far. The film knows exactly what it is and doesn’t ever attempt to take itself seriously. Self-aware B movies are one of my favorite types because they’re so reliable. They give us precisely the corn that we expect from them, ensuring laughs and cheesy goodness from start to finish. The only negative thought I can possibly come up with in connection with this film is that I hate myself for waiting so long to discover it!
The score: 5/5!
BONUS! Fun facts from IMDb that I found amusing:
- Charles Chiodo plays one of the clowns in the film’s ending sequence. The brothers referred to this particular clown as “Klownzilla.”
- All of the clown costumes and most of the visual effects were made at minimal costs by the filmmakers themselves.
- In one scene a car flies over a cliff. This scene was intended to be a major action sequence with a dramatic crash to the ground, but a rope snapped and the car instead tumbled over the edge and got caught on a tree. It was a happy accident, as the unintentional slow tumble completely fits with the film’s campy mood.