A King of Cult Classics: Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Jack DiMaulo, Staff Writer

 When I first heard of Killer Klowns From Outer Space, I was hoping for a poorly written and produced B-Movie, with cheesy dialogue and crappy acting. I was expecting a cheap midnite movie trash like Godzilla vs Megalon. Instead, I got a spoof/love letter to Bmovies, and the best movie I’ve seen in a long time.


Killer Klowns From Outer Space is directed by the Chiodo brothers, three brothers who’s impressive practical effects skills span across multiple pieces of culture. Along with directing Killer Klowns, they did the Large Marge stop motion in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, The marionettes for Team America: World Police, and the creature design/effects for the Critters franchise. 


Our move starts with teenagers Mike Tobacco and Debby Stone, played by Grant Cramer and Suzanne Snyder respectfully, hanging out a popular teenage gathering joint. They see a comet fly through the sky, and crash near their home town of Crescent Cove. Sound familiar? This is in reference to The Blob, and these references to classic sci-fi horror is rampant throughout the movie. Turns out that the object was a circus tent shaped UFO, and the Klowns (which are actually aliens who just happen to look like our earthly perception of clowns) quickly get to work terrorizing the small sleepy college town. The Klowns mostly kill the humans in slapstick ways, mostly through the use of their cotton candy cocoon guns. This fun filled rampage continues until a group of young adults ban together to defeat the Killer Klowns Leader, Klownzilla, and destroy the circus shaped UFO. 


The soundtrack in this film is extremely fitting for this movie. The opening theme, fittingly titled Killer Klowns From Outer Space by the punk rock band The Dickies, gives you a taste of the chaotic circus themed chaos kill fest to come. Other tunes in the movie are composed by John Massari, and boy do they fit the movie. The guitar riffs and circus style electro organ fit the Klowns tone perfectly. Some scenes do not use any music at all to convey fear, and others have an ominous tone. The way this movie uses the soundtrack to its advantage is perfect in the way it displays it in the film.


 However, the crown jewel of this movie is without a doubt the special effects. This film was made in 1988, way before CGI’s rise to power. Seeing that the directors are special effects artists, it is no surprise that the klowns and their weaponry look extremely realistic. The masks worn by the suit actors have animatronic aspects, giving the clowns life and expression with twisted smiles and laughs. 


The animation used for the rays and engine room are also top notch, along with the realistic puppetry for the Klown serpents. As an homage to the great early kaiju films such as Godzilla and Gamera, the fittingly titled leader of the Klowns, Klownzilla, is portrayed in the classic rubber suit style were a miniature model of the set is built to create the illusion of a giant. Stop motion is also utilized in the movie, most notably in a chase scene were a flying clown chases after a man in his car. Set design is this film is also done extremely well. 

The Killer Klown big top circus UFO is some of the most creative design ever scene in a horror movie, being goofy and bizarre in the best, most twisted way imaginable. The setting of this film, Crescent Cove, has really nothing special about it. Using this sleepy town as a backdrop really makes the creepy Klowns and their equipment stand out more, which really helps their uniqueness stick out. 


All of the before mentioned traits really tie into the unforgettable tone of the film. The soundtrack and top notch special effects really give this wonderful movie a mix of zany, dark, chaotic, and creepy. Throughout the movie you will be either laughing at the Klowns one moment or holding your breath for one of their unsuspecting victims. Watching the movie blind is an unforgettable experience, and rewatching it really helps the darker undertone of the movie sink in. 

All in all, Killer Klowns From Outer Space is an excellent movie for b-movie and horror loving fans who could also need a good laugh. The acting can be a slight bit of an eye roller, but that just adds to the absolute comedic value of this wonderful film. The wonderful detail and care put into the production of this film allows me to give Killer Klowns From Outer Space a definite 8.5/10.