Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Director: Stephen Chiodo

VULGAR. 2000
Director: Bryan Johnson

Director: Keven Kangas

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Killer Klowns from Outer SpaceI remember that day in Seattle when my fear of clowns became cast in iron. I was snatched up during the Seafair Parade by one of the Seafair Pirates.

They had greasy black & red & white pirate-clown make-up & odoriferous tattered costumes & shot off loud pistols with blanks while growling harrrr maties threatening peoples' lives. And by an old Seattle tradition, the Seafair Pirates are invariably totally snockered.

One of them grabbed little tiny me from the crowd & ran off with me down the street. I began screaming my lungs out which sufficiently freaked out the drunken clown that he hurried back to return me to my grandparents, behind whom I hid the rest of that parade.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) regards a circus tent of a flying saucer arriving from a distant star, bringing a group of toothy clown-like beings who eat the flesh of other sentient races.

Killer Klowns from Outer SpaceWhen this was a brand new film, it had a theatrical opening in Seattle, & some of the same teenagers who plastered the city with posters for punk concert events were out putting up Killer Klown posters at midnight.

Despite the little extra push to get the film noticed, it only played on a big screen a week, to small audiences. But I was thrilled to have seen it on a big screen. Watching it on dvd years later, it holds up so well.

It was too short though, almost not feature length. The jokes were hysterically dumb & every single one of them made me laugh. "What ya gonna do, ha ha, knock my block off?" some rowdy asks the smallest klown, & the answer is yes.

Killer Klowns from Outer SpaceOr those giant pink cotton candy cocoons, those were lovely. Their flying saucer circus tent & everything about these nasty aliens had a gleeful appallingly ugly beauty.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space has a wonderful sense of humor & huge imagination, & wonderful clown designs that mix grotesque comedy & fanged horror in exactly the right proportions.

Anyone who was never been scared of clowns might not be as impressed with the Killer Klowns as I. They are of course too damned funny to be genuinely frightening even to someone mildly phobic about clowns, but as a satire on horrific clowns, this is apt to remain forever the definitive horror-scifi clown movie.

VulgarFlappy is the gentle yet repulsive party-clown & all-round loser in Vulgar (2000). He has a kiddy act, but also an alternate adults only act.

He shows up for an adult gig & is sexually assaulted at a totally psychotic family's birthday party thrown by two slow-witted young men who've hired Flappy as a special birthday gift for their horrifying father.

This is some of the most disgusting stuff ever filmed, an icky ugly creepy clown gang-raped by even uglier lunatics. Flappy was almost certainly already mentally ill, with unrealistic dreams of getting rich & famous as a clown, but lucky not to have drowned in his own vomit.

Brian O'Halloran in the role of Flappy is horridly good at it. Falling into a nearly suicidal depression, he gets all decked out in full clown garb & stumbles onto a police stand-off. Caring nothing for his own life, he walks into the hostage situation & saves a kid from a crazed father.

Notoriety results for the Hero Clown, leading to an offer to do a local kiddy program. It looks as though Flappy's improbable dreams are coming true. But becoming a television personality regains him the attentions of his rapist, who blackmails him into showing up at another "party" to get cornholed by the family, unless he wants a video tape of their first encounter sent to the press.

What could be more logical than setting out to murder his tormentors? The slaying of the clown-fetish dad & his gross-out sons is gorey & dirty & for a nice guy like Flappy just a tad bit unrewarding. But if he is to succeed with his Flappy Funhouse program without living in constant fear, he has no choice but to come out fighting.

The film's disturbing, & surprisingly good, certainly one of the best of all clown horror films with a little different take than the usual & simpler premise that clowns are just scary. And the "Flappy Hardcore" punk theme song heard behind the end credits, written & performed by Jon Kleiman, is really quite fun.

Fear of ClownsIn Fear of Clowns (2004), artist Lynn Blodgett (Jacky Reres) has a gallery exhibition of her paintings of scary clowns. It's bad enough when murders begin occurring in her neighborhood, & friends begin to be picked off. But when she catches glimpses of an eerie clown like those in her paintings, it slowly sinks in that a psycho is stalking her.

She's in the middle of a rough divorce, with her husband (Paul C. Kangas) trying for full custody of Nick (Jack Porter). As a psychiatric doctor, her husband certainly might have access to a psychopath, though it appears he has only hired an "ordinary" hit man to take out his wife, not the clown.

She's just begun dating Tuck (Rick Ganz), a man she met at an art gallery, & her paranoia deepens as she discovers he's known about her a great deal longer than he admits.

There's an attempt to make the majority of Shivers the Clowns' victims fully developed characters rather than just miscellaneous gore gag nobodies whose lives never mattered from the start. But in the main it's predictable fare.

Fear of ClownsUneven acting ranges from poor (Frank Lama as the detective is awful) to mediocre (everyone but Shivers), which in the realm of slasher movies means better than average. The photography is flat, void of atmosphere, & the editing rather amateur, but once again, better than often expected of direct to video slashers, & I was mildly impressed.

In the "extras" the director mentions in passing that killer clowns are not very common in cinema. Says who? The so-so script does have more to it than the very little viewers expect from a plethora of clown horrors, such as Killjoy one & two (2000, 2003), S.I.C.K. (2003), Mr. Jingles (2006), The Clown at Midnight (1998), Super Badass (1999), Hellbreeder (2003), Gacey (2003), Urban Massacre (2002), Out of the Dark (1989), Blood Harvest (1987), Funland (1986), Deadhouse (2004), the Camp Blood trilogy (1999, 2000, 2004), The Clown Murders (1976), Torment (2008), When Evil Calls (2006), 100 Tears (2007), Secrets of the Clown (2008), Night of the Clown (1998), & scads of others.

Fear of Clowns is by no means as imaginative, original, or textured as Killer Klowns from Outer Space, A Clown in Babylon (1999), Clownhouse (1989), Final Draft (2007), the gross-out Vulgar or Sid Haig's Captain Spaulding character in House of 1,000 Corpses (2003), or even Stephen King's It (1990).

What Fear of Clowns has in its favor is Mark Lassise as Shivers the Clown (who reveals his name only in one of the deleted scenes among the dvd extras). He exceeds in visual physical presence the horrifying image of Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown in It. He just has to stand still with his head cocked a little to the right to be creepy as all hell. And when he raises his axe, you don't want to be anywhere near.

Shivers is built like a brick shithouse, the strong silent type like Michael Myers except vastly more buff. The fact that he's almost good looking makes him all the creepier. When he does talk, he sounds like some kind of talking animal. His actions are evidently directed by voices we cannot hear but which are clear enough for Shivers, who is convinced that if he terrorizes & kills the right person, he'll get better. Brrrr.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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