Dead Clowns
Director: Steve Sessions

aka, GRIM WEEKEND 2003
Director: Bob Willems

aka, 2 S.I.C.K. 2006
Director: Tommy Brunswick

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Dead ClownsNow here's an ineptly made & lame amateur horror flick. But of course, what can you expect of a film titled Dead Clowns (2003), about zombie clowns. No one shoves a dvd with that title on it into the player expecting an art film. But even for what it is, it ain't so hot.

As the minimal tale begins, we're introduced to what looks like a nice little fishing village, Port Emmett, with the citizens battening down their houses & boats for the coming hurricane.

This is the quiet before the storm, so we're treated to scenes of bolting boards over windows, with a sampling of character-samples around town: A guy working security at the cinema. A girl checking out survival supplies in her basement. A guy in a wheelchair on the phone to his mom. And so on, all equally inconsequential.

A man & woman pull into a motel to wait out the storm. The woman is from 'round here, & tells the guy the town's furtive history. Fifty years earlier, a circus was coming to town. As the circus train was crossing the long bridge over the bay, a drunken tugboat captain smashed into the bridge pilings.

The train derailed into the bay as a hurricane came up. The clown car, packed with a great many clowns & their kaliope, were covered over in ten feet of silt when the storm finally quit.

Dead ClownsSince then, on stormy nights, so the legend goes, the sound of kaliope music presages the arrival of the dead clowns during hurricanes, eager to avenge themselves against the town.

As if this story weren't silly enough told once, another character will tell it over again from scratch a few scenes later. And of course we do hear kaliope music, & the clowns arrive, in neatly pressed suits that don't seem ever to have been wet, but for a small piece of dried sphagnum moss stuck to the edge of a sleeve.

Now a no-budget stupid-writing bad-actor movie about zombie clowns needs only some good zombie clown costumes to fob itself off as entertainment & get away with the ruse. No one, alas, had any idea of how to create the costumes, so we get nothing.

Apart from giant shoes, the costumes aren't very clown-like or interesting, & as already pointed out, not even wet or ragged. The clown faces have no clown make-up but are black rotten corpses, so while their clothes were no worse for wear after fifty years in the bay, their flesh wasn't so lucky. They look like charred burn victims instead of soggy corpses.

So, not at all interesting for the "clown" ingredient which is where any hope of originality lay. Thus we're stuck with fairly standard flesh-eating zombies. There is one well-staged gore scene, with one rubber corpse-mask munching on raw meat of a hacked-off arm.

That wasn't too bad even if the mask did look store-bought at Halloween. The whole budget seems to have gone into making one hacked-off arm look real, & no other scene is even so much as convincingly gross.

The poster for the film showed an actual creepy clown but it's just a painting of something not in the movie. One scene & one scene only shows a zombie with a clown wig, & it seems to have been spliced into the show late in the game; it went nowhere. If the zombies had actually been clown-like in any of their behaviors & appearances, this might've been a fun little turd of a movie, but it fails even on the level of a turd.

S.I.C.K. It might seem that as clown movies go, Dead Clowns must surely be one of the worst. But in recent years there've been an awful lot of evil clown movies of no merit.

It seems to be a newish theme of choice for filmmakers without skill, who realized a clown suit is even cheaper than a hocky mask. Having the standard slasher psycho dressed up as a clown is strictly a cost-cuttintg choice, with no wit or ability in developing the whole fear of clowns angle.

S.I.C.K. (2003) had advance previews with the title Grim Weekend, a title apparently changed immediately before release. It has a pretend-sequel Mr. Jingles; aka, 2 S.I.C.K. (2006), which is not really related to the previous film except in general theme. Both films are incredibly enough even worse than Dead Clowns.

S.I.C.K.The cleverest thing about S.I.C.K. isn't much, & that's the fact that the initials stands for "Serial Insane Clown Killer." Which sounds like it should be about a serial killer who targets party clowns, a better idea for a film than we get.

If gore is the purpose of such bad films, the low body count in S.I.C.K. bodes ill, having a very tiny potential victim base of unpleasant young people who deserve worse than they get just for being such crabby dullards.

The "cabin in the woods" set-up is standard & oddly enough the cabin isn't very cabin-like so adds no mood or local color to the events, which seem to have been filmed in a suburban ranchhouse living room for interiors, & a tiny inner city park for the outdoor scenes. Worse than usual the cast has nothing to do in the cabin, so they stumble the lamest inane possible dialogues while waiting for bad to happen.

The idea of a "woodland clown" outside the cabin never made a lot of sense, & the addition of discarded doll heads in clown make-up was a potential mystery with pictorial value, but didn't mean anything.

The shambling fat-ass growling axe-swinging clown himself is scary visually but underutilized, as there are no gore FX worthy of the name. A slight twist in the ending didn't save any of it. And the videography throughout looks like a twice-removed bootleg of a bootleg.

Mr. JinglesMr. Jingles is even worse. As a pretend-sequel, it claimed in some of the promotional material to be set seven years after the clown attacks of S.I.C.K., with the release of a revenge-seeking innocent man from prison.

Any no-budget slasher-clown movie could've been alleged to be a sequel, & I'm pretty sure nobody involved in making Mr. Jingles was thinking of S.I.C.K. unless they were thinking, "Wow, clown horror films can be really bad & still get distributed! Let's make one with my camera phone!"

With camera skills of a youtube diarist, the filmmakers seem to have edited the results randomly. The beginning is padded out with the world's longest opening credits, & even padded never quite reaches full feature film length (a blessing in disguise).

But I confess I did like the themesong, which is a little girl's voice singing "Mr. Jingles, Mr. Jingles/ Killer clown, killer clown/ He's coming for the children, coming for the children/ His axe swings down, axe swings down."

He doesn't go for children, though, unless teenagers count. The teens stand around a lot saying dirty words while disgussing drugs or sex or just insulting each other. They incite no concern for their fate.

Mr. JinglesThe horrendous acting dulls even the few little touches that might've worked. Mr. Jingles' appearance is presaged by kaliope music (from space, apparently) & Christmasy jingly bells. Unfortunately this is followed up by laughably amateur slasher FX.

Accidently funny here & there on the basis of ineptitude, it all resembles nothing so much as a junior high school kid's first film attempt, the sort of thing future filmmakers rarely show anyone & certainly wouldn't fob off as a real film, perhaps include with a later film as an "extra" to show how awfully cute they must've been when first they deluded themselves they could make a movie.

All Mr. Jingles has got going for it is the cool evil clown painting on their direct-to-video box. So enjoy the box, it's the only good part, the clown in the movie ain't that one. So heaping incredible upon incredible, Mr. Jingles is even worse than S.I.C.K. whose clown at least was disgusting.

The makers of S.I.C.K. & Mr. Jingles can't be too harshly blamed; they can't help it if they are brain-damaged dweebs without the least semblance of talent. The distributors of this junk however should be punished for ripping off the public. And after either of these two films one could almost justify the existence of something merely as awful & boring as Dead Clowns.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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