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  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

Killer Klowns From Outer Space 1988 Reviewed

Featured Image for Killer Klowns From Outer Space 1988 Reviewed.   Poster for Killer Klowns from Outer Space featuring a clown hand grasping the Earth.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space turns the familiar into the grotesque. Watch as an alien invasion of killer clowns wreaks havoc on Earth with their deadly antics.

The quiet town of Crescent Cove will never be the same. On an unassuming night, a comet crashes outside this sleepy small town, setting off a chain of events that defy the boundaries of both horror and comedy. "Killer Klowns from Outer Space" (1988), directed by the Chiodo Brothers, is not your typical horror movie. It’s a vibrant, twisted carnival ride that challenges our perception of what a low-budget B-movie can achieve. From its outlandish concept of extraterrestrial clowns to its inventive practical effects, this cult classic remains a testament to the wild creativity that flourished in the late '80s.

Key Takeaways After Watching This Film

  • Unique Concept: The film features a one-of-a-kind premise where extraterrestrial beings resemble circus clowns and use carnival-themed weapons to terrorize humans.

  • Blend of Horror and Comedy: It successfully mixes elements of horror and comedy, balancing terrifying moments with absurd and humorous scenes.

  • Inventive Practical Effects: The Chiodo Brothers' use of practical effects, puppetry, and creative set designs enhances the film's visual appeal and adds a tangible quality to the horror.

  • Memorable Characters: Characters like Mike Tobacco, Debbie Stone, Officer Curtis Mooney, and the Terenzi brothers provide a mix of heroism, skepticism, and comic relief, contributing to the film's dynamic narrative.

  • Cult Classic Status: Despite mixed initial reviews, the film has gained a devoted fan base over the years, solidifying its status as a beloved cult classic in the horror-comedy genre.

  • Fear of Clowns Exploited: The movie taps into the common fear of clowns, amplifying this fear by presenting them as deadly extraterrestrial invaders.

A woman afraid while watching Killer Klowns from Outer Space from 1988.
The absurd terror of Killer Klowns from Outer Space paralyzes her with fright.

The film's premise is simple yet utterly bizarre: aliens who look like circus clowns arrive on Earth, bringing with them chaos, terror, and a peculiar penchant for wrapping their victims in cotton candy cocoons. The Chiodo Brothers—Stephen, Charles, and Edward—crafted a narrative that is as nightmarish as it is absurd, blending elements of traditional monster movies with a unique brand of silliness. The opening scenes hook the audience with a blend of eerie music and vibrant visuals, signaling a story that does not take itself too seriously yet remains deeply unsettling.

Grant Cramer stars as Mike Tobacco, a teenager who, along with his girlfriend Debbie Stone, played by Suzanne Snyder, witnesses the comet crash and discovers the sinister big top spaceship. Their attempts to warn the local authorities are met with skepticism, particularly from the cynical and cantankerous Officer Curtis Mooney, portrayed with gusto by John Vernon. Mooney's disbelief and eventual horrifying fate at the hands of the killer klowns underscore the film’s theme of underestimating the bizarre and unknown.

"Killer Klowns from Outer Space" thrives on its practical effects and creative set design. The Chiodo Brothers, known for their expertise in puppetry and visual effects, transform simple materials into nightmarish creations. The clowns themselves are grotesque, with exaggerated features that teeter between comical and terrifying. Their weapons of choice, such as the cotton candy cocoons and balloon animals, are as whimsical as they are deadly, providing a stark contrast to the grim fates that befall their victims.

One of the most memorable moments in the film is the encounter between Officer Mooney and a particularly menacing clown. The scene is a masterclass in blending horror and comedy, as the clown uses Mooney as a ventriloquist dummy, delivering lines that are both chilling and absurd. This balance of tones is a hallmark of the film, making it a standout in the horror-comedy genre.

The supporting cast, including John Allen Nelson as Dave Hanson and Royal Dano as farmer Gene Green, add depth to the small-town setting, grounding the outlandish plot in a semblance of reality. The Terenzi brothers, played by Michael Siegel and Peter Licassi, provide comic relief with their antics, further enhancing the film’s playful atmosphere. The love triangle between Mike, Debbie, and Dave adds a layer of interpersonal drama, although it never overshadows the primary focus: the killer clowns and their reign of terror.

A man afraid while watching Killer Klowns from Outer Space from 1988.
The bizarre menace of Killer Klowns from Outer Space leaves him trembling.

The Terrified Screams of Debbie Stone

The film’s soundtrack, highlighted by the theme song from The Dickies, encapsulates the film’s quirky, offbeat spirit. The music underscores the visual gags and set pieces, amplifying the surreal nature of the story. The clowns' antics, from puppet shows to lethal pie-throwing, are executed with a level of creativity that elevates the film beyond typical B-movie fare.

Despite its low budget, "Killer Klowns from Outer Space" boasts impressive effects and set pieces. The interior of the spaceship, resembling a twisted circus tent, is filled with vibrant colors and nightmarish imagery. The film’s use of practical effects, from the puppetry of the clowns to the cotton candy cocoons, showcases the Chiodo Brothers' dedication to their craft. This attention to detail and commitment to practical effects over CGI gives the film a tangible, immersive quality that remains effective decades later.

At its core, "Killer Klowns from Outer Space" is a film that entertains and delights while also evoking genuine moments of horror. It taps into the primal fear of clowns, amplifying it through the lens of an alien invasion. The juxtaposition of the familiar (clowns, cotton candy, and puppet shows) with the alien and deadly creates a dissonance that is both unsettling and captivating.

The film's reception upon release was mixed, with some critics dismissing it as mere schlock while others praised its originality and charm. Over the years, however, it has gained a devoted following, earning its place as a cult classic. Fans appreciate the film’s unique blend of horror and comedy, as well as its inventive visual style. The Chiodo Brothers' vision, brought to life through practical effects and imaginative storytelling, has ensured that "Killer Klowns from Outer Space" remains a beloved staple in the horror-comedy genre.

In conclusion, "Killer Klowns from Outer Space" is a testament to the power of creativity and the enduring appeal of B-movies. It is a film that refuses to be pigeonholed, blending horror, comedy, and science fiction into a singular, unforgettable experience. The Chiodo Brothers' masterpiece, with its memorable characters, inventive effects, and unique premise, continues to captivate and entertain audiences. Whether you view it as a good movie or a bad movie is a different question altogether, but its status as a cult classic is undeniable. So, the next time you find yourself in need of a nightmarish, whimsical escape, take a trip to Crescent Cove and experience the terror and delight of "Killer Klowns from Outer Space."

And that is Killer Klowns From Outer Space 1988 Reviewed. A true classic in the world of B rated horror movies. 

Stay tuned for more Horror Movie Reviews. 

If You Liked Killer Klowns From Outer Space You Might Also Like These Films

  • "Critters" (1986)

  • Description: This sci-fi horror-comedy film, directed by Stephen Herek, follows a group of small, furry alien creatures known as Crites who escape from an alien prison and crash-land on Earth. The Crites terrorize a small farming town, and it's up to the Brown family and a pair of alien bounty hunters to stop them. Known for its blend of humor and horror, "Critters" features creative practical effects and a campy, entertaining storyline.

  • "Gremlins" (1984)

  • Description: Directed by Joe Dante and produced by Steven Spielberg, "Gremlins" is a dark comedy-horror film about a young man named Billy who receives a strange creature called a Mogwai as a pet. When certain rules are broken, the Mogwai spawns mischievous and dangerous gremlins that wreak havoc on the town. The film combines holiday cheer with horror elements, featuring memorable characters and iconic creature designs.

  • "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!" (1978)

  • Description: This parody film, directed by John DeBello, is a satirical take on B-movies and monster flicks. It follows the story of giant, sentient tomatoes that attack humanity, leading to a government task force being assembled to stop them. The film is known for its absurd humor, catchy theme song, and over-the-top plot, making it a cult favorite among fans of campy horror-comedies.

  • "The Blob" (1988)

  • Description: A remake of the 1958 classic, "The Blob" is directed by Chuck Russell and features a gelatinous, amorphous creature from outer space that consumes everything in its path. When the blob lands in a small town, it begins to devour residents, and a group of teenagers must find a way to stop it. The film is praised for its impressive practical effects and intense scenes, combining horror and science fiction elements.

  • "Tremors" (1990)

  • Description: Directed by Ron Underwood, "Tremors" is a horror-comedy that follows the residents of a small desert town who are besieged by giant, underground worm-like creatures called Graboids. The film stars Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward as handymen who team up with other townspeople to fight off the deadly creatures. Known for its blend of humor, suspense, and creative creature design, "Tremors" has become a beloved cult classic.

Killer Klowns From Outer Space 1988 Reviewed FAQs

Q: What is Killer Klowns From Outer Space?

A: "Killer Klowns From Outer Space" is a cult classic horror-comedy film directed by Stephen Chiodo, released in 1988. It features aliens that look like clowns who arrive on Earth and terrorize the small town of Crescent Cove. The aliens use whimsical yet deadly weapons, such as cotton candy cocoons, to capture and kill the townspeople. The film is known for its creative practical effects and unique blend of horror and comedy.

Q: Who are the Chiodo Bros?

A: The Chiodo Bros is a filmmaking team consisting of brothers Stephen, Charles, and Edward Chiodo. They are known for their expertise in special effects, puppetry, and stop-motion animation. Their work in low-budget movies includes creating the puppets and effects for films like "Critters" and "Team America: World Police." They also contributed to various television shows and commercials, showcasing their talent in creating imaginative and memorable visual effects.

Q: What is the plot of Killer Klowns From Outer Space?

A: In the movie, a group of aliens that look like clowns arrive on Earth after a comet crash outside the small town of Crescent Cove. These extraterrestrial clowns kidnap town residents by wrapping them in cotton candy cocoons and wreak havoc with their bizarre and deadly circus-themed weapons. Teenagers Mike Tobacco and Debbie Stone witness the crash and try to warn the local authorities, but their claims are initially dismissed. As the clowns' attacks escalate, the townspeople, including Mike, Debbie, and Officer Dave Hanson, must band together to fight back against the invaders and save their town.

Q: Is Killer Klowns From Outer Space a well-known movie?

A: While "Killer Klowns From Outer Space" isn't as mainstream as some other horror films, it has gained a significant cult following over the years. Its unique premise, quirky humor, and distinctive visual style have endeared it to fans of B-movies and horror-comedies. The film is often celebrated at horror conventions, midnight movie screenings, and has inspired merchandise, fan art, and even rumors of a potential sequel or TV series adaptation.

Q: What is the reception of the movie by critics?

A: "Killer Klowns From Outer Space" has received mixed reviews from critics since its release. Some critics praise the film for its creativity, inventive practical effects, and the Chiodo Brothers' imaginative vision. They appreciate its campy humor and how it plays with horror tropes in a fun and original way. However, other critics have pointed out the film's low-budget aesthetic, uneven acting, and simplistic plot as drawbacks. Despite these criticisms, the film's charm and originality have helped it maintain a loyal fanbase.

Q: Where can I watch Killer Klowns From Outer Space?

A: "Killer Klowns From Outer Space" is available for streaming on various platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, and iTunes. It is also available for rent or purchase on Google Play and Vudu. Additionally, the film is often featured in horror movie marathons and screenings, especially during Halloween season, and has been released on DVD and Blu-ray, often with special features and behind-the-scenes content.

Q: What makes Killer Klowns From Outer Space unique?

A: The movie stands out for its inventive premise of alien clowns who use circus-themed weapons to terrorize humans. Its practical effects, created by the Chiodo Brothers, are notable for their creativity and craftsmanship, giving the film a distinctive and tangible feel. The dark humor, combined with genuinely creepy moments, makes it a unique entry in the horror-comedy genre. The film's blend of outlandish horror and campy comedy, along with its memorable visuals and imaginative set pieces, have made it a beloved cult favorite among fans of B-movies and quirky horror films.


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