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Blu-ray Review: KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE
By Jonathan Stryker (Facebook); Jonathan Stryker (Twitter)
Oct 1, 2012 - 12:00:00 PM

When I talk to people today about KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, some of them are under the erroneous impression that the movie was made for video. Quite the contrary, the film was given a small but definite theatrical release on Friday, May 27,1988. I recall walking through Times Square in New York City and passing by the long gone Cineplex Odeon which featured the film on its marquee. I remember balking at the prospect of spending seven dollars to see a movie that looked, to be honest, terrible. I didn't catch up with the film until its home video release sometime later and was positively delighted to find that KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE is one of the most original, entertaining, and outright funny movies made during the 1980s.

The film is low-budget and extremely clever and creative; it almost looks like something that would have come out of 1960s B-movie drive-in cinema by way of Samuel Zachary Arkoff or Roger Corman.  The film has gone on to become something of a cult classic and deservedly so.  The film preys on people's fears of clowns, something that I personally do not share. I never found clowns to be anything other than annoying, however Stephen King's Pennywise the Clown from his novel IT (1986) certainly makes a good argument as to why people fear clowns. 

Filmed in Watsonville, CA and Santa Cruz, CA, KILLER KLOWNS follows a familiar formula of a small U.S. town invaded by an alien intruder, but in this case an army of aliens dressed like circus clowns who land in a ship masquerading as a circus tent!  Their cover is blown when Mike Tobacco (Grant Cramer) and Debbie Stone (Suzanne Snyder) investigate the tent and are stunned to find people cocooned inside cotton candy.  Naturally, when they go to tell the police, they are met with furrowed brows, insults and disbelief.  John Vernon, who played the mayor in DIRTY HARRY (1971), is hilarious as the officious Officer Mooney who just doesn't believe anything that Mike and Debbie have to say.  His partner, Officer Dave Hanson (John Allen Nelson), is willing to listen to Debbie as they were once an item.  Once he does realize the truth, the town is subject to a mini invasion of killer klowns who kill people for sustenance.   

In the film, over-sized ray guns fire popcorn; balloon animals come to life and sniff out trouble; shadow puppets come to life and eat onlookers; and cotton candy is used for nefarious purposes. 

One of the funniest sequences in the film is when a tricycle-riding klown encounters a motorcycle gang and is taunted by a Meatloaf-look-alike crew member who dares him to "knock my block off."  The result is laugh-out-loud funny. 

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE has appeared on home video on VHS (which contained the video of the title track by The Dickies), laserdisc, and DVD (which contained a multitude of extras).  The new Blu-ray features:

            Audio commentary with the Chiodo Brothers (from the DVD)

            Five Killer Klowns Featurettes (from the DVD)

            Deleted Scenes (from the DVD)

            New to the Blu-ray: Vignettes: Holy Smoke & Klown Auditions

            Theatrical Trailer (from the DVD)

Note that the Storyboard Gallery and the Photo Gallery that was featured on the 2001 DVD have been dropped, so hang on to that edition if you want those extras.

The transfer itself appears to be sourced from the same transfer done for the 2001 DVD.  However, the increased resolution alone makes this Blu-ray a worthy upgrade since this film is so vibrant and colorful.  This is a bit of film grain in the overall image, but nothing too distracting. 

Highly recommended, especially with Halloween four weeks away.




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