Few titles grab an audience’s attention as effectively as Killer Klowns from Outer Space. The horror-comedy is aptly named, as it takes place in a small town that is overrun by hideous alien clown-like creatures (or “klowns” according to the movie) that begin killing the population.
The movie became a B-movie cult classic thanks largely to its overtly silly title. But is it a purposely cheesy movie, or is it just plain bad? Take a look at some of the things that make Killer Klowns from Outer Space a real disaster and some aspects that are admittedly pretty good.
10 Worst Ever: Not Scary Enough
When it comes to making a horror-comedy, the best examples are the movies that balance the tones of both genres evenly. This is not the case for Killer Klowns from Outer Space as it is clear the filmmakers were much more interested in making a comedy than a horror movie.
In that respect, there is basically nothing for horror fans to latch onto. The movie is not gory, suspenseful, or even very creepy — unless you’re afraid of clowns.
9 Redeeming Quality: The Score
One might be mistaken for thinking this is going to be an awesome movie once it first begins. As the crazy title of the movie flashes across the screen, the score kicks in and it’s honestly a very catchy and memorable tune.
Recorded by the Dickies, the score cleverly combines rock and circus music to achieve a unique sound that fits this movie quite well. It really gets you in the mood for a wacky and weird adventure, even if the rest of the movie doesn’t always live up to the opening music.
8 Worst Ever: Not Funny Enough
While the filmmakers certainly decided to lean more into the comedy aspects than the horror ones, they don’t really succeed with that either. Despite a silly tone throughout the movie, it just isn’t very funny.
It’s not cheesy enough to be so bad it’s good, but it’s clear that the movie is trying to get some laughs. Much of the humor, especially involving the human characters, feels like it was written by someone who had no idea if the target audience was meant to be nine or 90 years old.
7 Redeeming Quality: Klown Gags
While there is very little in the movie to illicit real laughs, there are some clever aspects involving the worldbuilding of these alien klowns. Beginning with their spaceship crashing on Earth and ending up being a circus tent, the movie uses the clown theme to pretty fun effect.
Storing their victims in cotton candy cocoons is a nice touch, as are the balloon animals that come to life. In fact, the montage of the klowns wreaking havoc around town and killing people in exceedingly silly ways is the highlight of the movie.
6 Worst Ever: Dull Characters
The problem with a lot of these cheesy B-movies is that they come up with a perfectly insane premise yet spend no time creating dynamic characters. The human characters are all completely forgettable and largely unlikable people who are hard to care about.
While few people would go to such a movie to witness deep character development, that’s what is needed to elevate such a movie and prevent it from just being a series of gags thrown together.
5 Redeeming Quality: The Dummy Scene
There is one memorable sequence in which the film really nails a balance of horror and comedy. Mooney, the grumpy and violent sheriff of the town, arrests one of the klowns, who he assumes is some misbehaving punk.
When one of the other dull human characters arrives at the police station, Mooney is dead and being used as a ventriloquist dummy. The klown sticks his hand through Mooney’s back, using him to communicate in a great mix of absurdity and horror.
4 Worst Ever: Uninteresting Story
The movie really works best when examining individual scenes. In that context, it can be fun. But sitting through an entire feature-length film like this is more boring than one might think. Aside from the dull human characters we have to follow around, the story doesn’t give us much to latch on to either.
Once the klowns start causing mayhem and snatching folks up, the whole thing gets quite repetitive. The plot just inches forward slowly as we wait for something new or exciting to happen but by then, the movie is over with a whimper.
3 Redeeming Quality: Klown Designs
This marks the only feature film from Charles and Stephen Chiodo, who co-wrote the screenplay with Stephen directing. While this type of filmmaking may not have been their true calling, the brothers are certainly talented and known for their puppeteer work and creature designs in various movies.
These skills can really be seen in Killer Klowns from Outer Space as the klown creatures really look great. They are appropriately goofy looking, but also terrifying and ugly. Whenever they are on screen, the movie feels like a much better movie.
2 Worst Ever: Wasted Opportunity
The biggest problem with this movie is not that it has a silly premise about alien clowns, but rather that it squandered a premise that could have made for a very fun movie.
Especially with the outstanding character design, Killer Klowns from Outer Space could have been a blast if the filmmakers really went for it. They needed to embrace the insanity of the story they were telling and give viewers an off-the-wall, twisted horror movie. Instead, it feels like a movie that started with a title and went downhill from there.
1 Redeeming Quality: Self-Aware Style
The best thing that can be said for a movie like this is that it knows exactly what it is. From the script to the tone to the acting, everyone involved seems to understand this is a B-movie and nothing is to be taken seriously.
It also doesn’t go too far into that self-aware zone where everything is a wink to the camera about how crazy all of this is. It’s just a movie that embraces its low budget and strange premise without caring much beyond that.
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