Directed by Stephen Chiodo
Distributed by MGM
Pasty white skin. Garishly colored clothing. Fake smiles worn underneath bulbous red noses. Maniacal giggling. Big feet.
Is there anything scarier than a clown?
Well, how about Klowns? Ohh, even worse. They’re everything that’s horrible in clowns, but larger! And with sharp teeth! And popcorn guns! And rayguns that wrap humans in cotton candy cocoons! And they drink human blood from these cocoons with swirly straws!
Released in 1988, Killer Klowns from Outer Space was the unbelievably loopy brainchild of the Chiodo Brothers, the special effects whizzes who are otherwise best known as the creators of the Crites, those little furry pricks found in the underrated 80s flick Critters (where’s that Blu-ray?). The movie itself is a lot of fun, with an insane premise (said Klowns land on Earth, finding only a handful of heroes willing to stand between them and their plan to cotton candy cocoon the hell outta the human race), loads of crazy humor, and wonderfully inventive set pieces that show off the bizarre villains and their abilities.
While Klowns may have found mainstream success elusive, it has garnered a considerable cult following in the years since its initial release. It also managed to scare the living hell out of me when I was a child. Black humor and camp be damned, the sight of those big, ugly Klown bastards was enough to put me off ever visiting the circus.
Or watching Bozo the Clown.
Oh, and fuck McDonald’s. Any fast food chain willing to put up a mime from hell as a mascot is receiving none of my custom*.
Anyway! Sorry, movie. For those who have never seen it, Klowns opens with the titular d’bags landing on Earth in their big top spaceship. Before long, they’re discovered by both an ill-fated farmer, and a couple of young lovebirds who stumble across their ship and understandably assume it’s a circus tent. The couple, Mike** and Debbie (Kramer and Snyder), soon discover the horrible creatures, and attempt to warn their town, receiving attention only from a disbelieving police officer named Mooney (a great Vernon), and Debbie’s ex Dave (Nelson), also a cop. The trio set out to stop the Killer Klowns, and fun times are had by all. Except for those who die. Or get maimed. Or just plain don’t like the sight of clowns.
Killer Klowns enjoyed a damned solid DVD release around a decade ago, and now MGM has given it the Blu treatment. So is Killer Klowns worth the upgrade?
I suppose that depends on how hardcore a Klowns fan you are. The bonus features are many, though all could be found on the previous DVD release (and sadly, all are in standard def 4:3).
The image on the Blu is an improvement, though only somewhat. The print still shows some wear, there is the occasional noise in darker scenes, and the overall picture is somewhat on the soft side. In addition, most of the colors in the flick seem a bit muted (a shame, for such a colorful film), and the flesh tones are somewhat off from time to time. Still, there is a quite a bit more detail here than on the DVD.
The audio is serviceable, and entirely unremarkable. A pity. Still, for a twenty-five year old, low-budget film, it has a nice enough presentation.
The bonus features include an audio commentary with the Brothers Chiodo, a couple of forgettable deleted scenes, a handful of amusing bloopers, a few odd vignettes (one featuring some Klown auditions), and the theatrical trailer. Rounding the extras out is a series of featurettes on the making of the film, as well as a couple of nifty short films from the Chiodos’ early days.
All said, as a casual fan of this film, I was more than happy with the previous DVD release, and I see no real need to upgrade. There are no new bonus features, the upgraded image and audio are hardly upgrades at all, and the cover for the previous release was a damn sight better than the art for this Blu. Still, if you’re an über fan of this flick, you’re almost certainly going to want this for your collection. And, hell, if you do decide to splurge for it, at least the price is right.
*I’m kidding. The Ronald McDonald House Charities is a wonderful organization. Even if its spokesperson scares the living shit outta this writer.
**His last name is Tobacco. That’s right, Mike Tobacco. I’m not making that up.
– The Making of Killer Klowns
– Komposing Klowns
– Visual Effects with Gene Warren Jr.
– Kreating Klowns
– Chiodo Brothers’ Earliest Films
3 out of 5
4 out of 5