Take Another Stab at Killer Klowns From Outer Space

This post is a part of the Take Another Stab series, where the horror films I hate get a chance at redemption through an open-minded revisit. There will be blood. There will be spoilers.

Well, here she blows. This is the kick-off to what could potentially be an endless cycle of me nodding and shrugging at horror movies that will never emotionally fulfill me (in case you missed it, you can find a better explanation of what this series is all about here). I chose to revisit Killer Klowns From Outer Space first because it quickly scampers to mind when I think of movies I wanna dump on. But I’m sitting at my desk now and thinking, “what do I actually remember about this movie?” I can’t tell you any character’s name or what even happens at the end. I do remember a couple of kids sneaking a peek under a carnival tent. I vaguely recall giant cotton candy cocoons. But most of all, I remember the stupid looking clowns that didn’t resonate with me in any sort of way. And that’s heartbreaking for a woman like me because I love clowns. I admittedly have a type. I tend to gravitate towards the quirky and surreal look, rather than the hobo-esque or cartoonish clowns. And no, I don’t give two shits about Gacy. I’ve been collecting clown art for a while now and I’ve got a real penchant for the awkward posing, red-tinted clowns that are captured mid scene. But the Killer Klowns? Hate ’em. I don’t like the color of the costumes. I don’t like the creature design. They’re bulbous and uncomfortable to look at. The fact that they’re the leftovers from the trolls in Ernest Scared Stupid doesn’t phase me one bit either. And that seems to be the basis for my strange amnesia surrounding this film. I can’t tell you much else about it other than I dig the theme song by The Dickies. It’s one of the best horror film theme songs out there and I’ll happily defend it. Pretty lame basis for a hate film, isn’t it? I wonder if this’ll be a reoccurring thing, this dislike based on bad memory. It’s tough to describe that “spark” one gets when a film resonates with them. Like, what attracts someone to certain types of films? Not genre per say, but types of storylines or plot elements? I’m going to be asking myself a lot of questions and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some sensible answers. I’m standing firm on my distaste for this one, though. I’ve never praised this movie or willingly watched it. On top of that, I’ve found zero joy in seeing its merchandise polluting the aisles of our seasonal friend, Spirit Halloween. Even the poster doesn’t spark my curiosity. However, the anticipation of watching Killer Klowns From Outer Space from start to finish isn’t filling me with eyerolling dread. That may or may not be a good sign, for there are a few upcoming posts that I’m equating to pulling teeth. THAT’S how I know I’m choosing the right films to revisit. Anyways, let’s do this.

About 1 hour and 28 minutes later

I did it. I finished Killer Klowns without snoring or scoffing. I wasn’t engrossed but I wasn’t really expecting to be. Most of the positives I noted stem from the unique mashup of aliens and circus aesthetic. The cotton candy cocoons were the most disturbing aspect of the whole damn thing, and I was a little too tickled by the balloon animal dog who sprang to life and sniffed out the two lovebirds who got overly brave. The fact that the clowns lifeforce lay within their red, glitter-filled noses also made me chuckle like a burly middle-aged dad. The combination of alien technology and recognizable carnival objects was incredibly clever and seamless (dare I say smart?) I can’t undercut the amount of brainstorming it took to conceive all these little gadgets and gags. Was this the “thing” I missed when I first watched this movie? The overt cleverness of the concept? The innocent-enough gags?

Now despite what I just said, I didn’t like the mashup of aliens and clowns. Why? Because I’m not that big into alien films. There are a handful of alien movies that I’ll consider horror fodder but this one ain’t cutting it. It’s an angsty, quirky sci-fi flick. Yes, I know they popped off a dude’s head in this movie. They also made a puppet out of that asshole cop. People die in sci-fi movies all. the. time. I may have been more lenient if the clown design was less goofy and more… scary? I truly, truly do not like the look of these villains. The creature performers didn’t suspend my belief that these things were anything other than humans in masks. Their strange electronic growls and mewls rubbed me the wrong way, too. Oh shit, am I a snobby clown purist? That can’t be right. There’s a trove of creative clown horror out there that I haven’t experienced or held under a scope. It has to be this one late 80’s occurrence. The blood drinking also threw me off. Aliens that look like clowns? Aliens that look like clowns that drink human blood? Too much lore! To add insult to injury, the big baddie was an Alien Clownzilla?! Gah.

A steaming bowl of monster soup covered in silly string is the best way for me to describe this film. I certainly found more good things to say about it after the second viewing. Honestly, I’m still not sure I like it. Underneath all the colorful tent tops and zany antics, I failed to find a lasting sense of danger in the story. There were quick moments where I thought this carnival aspect was going to get evil. But they were fleeting and no matter how many times Mike Tobacco (what a fucking name) yelled, “they’re killing people!” I didn’t really care. The emphasis was on all the weird shit the clowns were pulling off. And save for a couple gnarly cadavers, we didn’t actually see people being murdered on screen. I didn’t feel any darkness creeping over the land, as they say. I only saw lights and popcorn and ridiculous looking monsters. You may argue that, “this is a horror comedy, man, it’s not supposed to be serious” and I could easily agree. Except that it wasn’t balls-out funny, at least not my kind of funny. Still, I’m glad I went into this as a neutral party. It’s not going to be a regular rotation on my watchlist but I can always admire its insane creativity and that banger of a theme song from afar.

Until the next time, thanks for taking another stab with me.

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