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Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)


Grant Cramer is Mike
Suzanne Snyder is Debbie
John Allen "DEATHSTALKER from DEATHSTALKER 3" Nelson is Dave
Royal Dano is farmer
John "College dean in Animal House still blaming those Deltas...." Vernon is Officer Curtis Mooney

What the box says:

Finally the truth about clowns is out! Beneath their smirky sinister grins and wildly patterened clothes are clever killers from out of this world. The "juxtaposition of their toy-store arsenal and malevolent intent proves to be a tasty combination" (Los Angeles Times) in this killer entertainment that will leave you fearing those big-top creatures for good.

A spaceship - looking like a circus tent - lands in a field near a small town, signaling the attack of deviant, red-nosed, balloon-twisting psychos from another world who plans to annhiliatemankind - by turning people into cotton candy! Luckily, the town's teen citizenry decides to fight back and teach the cosmic bozos a lesson. But these klowns are no klutzes, turning popcorn, peanuts and carmel corn into playful - but deadly - weapons of madcap destruction and mayhem!


Note: If the movie calls them Klowns, I'm going by their spelling. This is the warning for people who still have spelling tests.

The credits roll as the theme song plays: Killer Klowns from Outer Space song by the Dickies.

Dean Wormer, I mean Officer Mooney is in his police car on patrol on a Friday night.

Making out teens ensue. A clown headed ice cream truck interrupts the lovin’. The Terenzi brothers drive off.

The making out resumes. Debbie and Mike spot a shooting star.

The backwoods farmer sees it land nearby. This guy seems a bit too much like Jordy Veril in Creepshow.

Debbie convinces him to search for it with her.

The farmer finds a circus tent but no shooting star. He searches for the ticket booth. His dog gets snatched. The poor farmer is zapped by a Klown.

At the police station, Dean Wormer, sorry) Officer Mooney brings some guys in to arrest. Mooney is more like a hall monitor with too much power than a cop on the edge. Dave, the other police officer, tries calming Mooney down. Apparently, Mooney has no respect for police academy graduates. If they would graduate Steve Guttenberg, would you respect them?

Mike and Debbie are still searching and find the circus tent. Mike wants to explore the circus. Going inside the big tent, they start to realize something is awfully funny about this circus. After using an elevator and realizing the tent is bigger on the inside than the outside like a TARDIS. A close encounter with a super powerful Van De Graf generator convinces Debbie that it is the shooting star. They hide from an approaching Klown.

Our lovebirds find a room filled with pods of cotton candy. Mike can’t believe that it is aliens. He doesn’t have that problem discovering the cotton candy cocoons contain humans. They barely escape the klowns who open fire on them with popcorn guns.

The Klowns create a balloon dog to track them through the woods. Mike and Deb barely get to his jeep and escape. She convinces him to help her warn the police.

As the simply creepy guitar riff plays, the Klowns walks towards the town.

Mike and Deb tell the story about the Klowns to Dave, her friend.

The Klowns finally get to town.

Debbie tells Dave the story that Mooney overhears. While Dave tries to understand what is going on, Mooney realizes that Mike runs with the Terenzi brothers. Dean Wormer doesn’t trust what those Deltas tell him. (Sorry) He thinks it is a scam... Dave will go with Mike and Debbie to investigate it.

In town, a guy watches a clown version of a Punch and Judy show.

Judy is going to finish Punch once and for all...
The lone audience guy is cocooned.

In the drug store, the pharmacist watches as a couple of Klowns toss things around and apparently cocoon a few customers, too.

Dave will drop Debbie off. Can you guess that Dave is her ex-boyfriend? Even better, he admits to still having feelings for her in front of her date, Mike.

Before we start to dwell on some soap opera, back to the Klowns. The guitar riff plays. Hot chick opens her door to find a Klown bearing pizza. Suddenly, a couple more of the red-nosed freaks appear and cocoon her in a non-sexual way.

Ooh, don't stop the Orgazmo-ray

The Klowns are all over town zapping people.

Deb tells Mike without Dave around. She’ll follow them up to the ten. Mike convinces her into not going. Mike and Dave drive away.

Destructive Klown fu in the drug store ensues.

Dude, don't distribute the love gravy to me.

In the forest, Mike can’t find the circus tent. Dave gets pissed, thinking this was a practical joke. He arrests Mike.

A flock of bikers are chilling. When a Klown pulls up on his mini motorcycle, the Bully biker trashes the Klown-cycle. The Klown cries before donning boxing gloves and really knocks the guy’s block off. One punch is all it takes to decapitate him.

At a circus themed fast food place, a little girl spies a Klown outside. It almost lures her outside. However, her mom drags her away in time.

Dave is driving back to town. He stops at the make out spot. I’m not sure I want to consider the implications of that with a handcuffed prisoner that is dating your ex. Dave can’t find anyone but a strange pinkish webbing. Dave uncuffs Mike from the fibers that resemble cotton candy.

Mooney is getting phone calls about Klowns all over town. He thinks it is just a number of spoiled kids. A call from the pharmacist is cut off. Mooney thinks this is a big joke.

A guy drag races a clown on one of those little Shriner cars. He gets knocked into a ravine where his car automatically combusts.

Deb is taking her shower. The popcorn that was on her clothes starts moving around on the floor together.

Behind the circus burger place, we see a Klown drop some popcorn in the dumpster. A restaurant worker is captured by whatever was in the dumpster.

Dave will have the cotton candy tested.

At a bus stop, a Klown entertains the people by making shadow puppets on a nearby wall. He uses his show stopper which is a shadow monster that eats the audience. Dave and Mike see this happen. Mike crashes the police car seeing the people get eaten.

Dave calls Mooney to tell him about the Klowns. Mooney is positive that everyone in the town is trying to drive him crazy to make him quit.

Mike spots the Terenzi brothers. He’ll ride with them to warn everyone about the Klowns as Dave contacts the state police.

Mike tells the Terenzis about the Klowns and head to Deb’s house.

Mooney keeps ignoring the phone when a Klown walks in the station. The squirting flower ensues finally. The Klown gets cuffed and taken to the cell block. Mooney starts to realize the Klown is

Deb is finally getting dried off after her several hour shower. The popcorn is regenerating.

Dave gets to the police station and finds it dark. He follows the kind of footprints used in dancing classes. The cells have a couple of dead prisoners. Dave finds the Klown with Mooney on his lap as a ventriloquist’s dummy.

Delta House will pay for this...
Dave blows the approaching Klown’s nose off. Blows nose? Quality humor. The Klown explodes. Dave calls the state police about the Klowns.

The Terenzis doubt Mike’s story. They see Klowns harvesting people in parade fashion.

Deb is dresses when Clown chestbursters attack.

We look like the Alien chestbursters?
She manages to escape the bathroom. The Klowns have surrounded her house. She is caught in a balloon.

Mike and Terenzis see the Klowns get away with Deb. The obligatory car chase ensues. Dave joins in the race. When Dave slams into the back of the ice cream truck he jumps in the truck. They figure the Klowns are hiding at the amusement park.

The Klown-mobile pulls in the park. How has this movie gone this long with out the large number of Klowns getting out of the tiny car? Each of them is packing heat. Klown style. The security guard is nailed with enough pies to keep Oprah happy for a few minutes.

The Terenzis, Mike, and Dave arrive and find the steaming pile of security guard. The search begins. They ponder what the Klowns want.

Somehow, the Terenzis get separated from Mike and Dave. They crawl out of the ball crawl and spot to female Klowns with Pamela Anderson inflatable chesticals. The scene cuts away before we get to see dirty freaky Klown sex.

Dave and Mike keep searching and find the cotton candy storage room. They start looking for Deb. Hiding from a Klown, they discover why the Klowns are on Earth. An elaborate silly straw is used to drain the people pod dry.

Dave and Mike are able to free her. As they escape, nose shootings ensue. Through a funhouse, they are barely able to keep ahead of the Klowns.

The Klowns surround them. Trapped with no where to go, the Terenzis crash their ice cream truck through the wall. The Klowns are mesmerized by the clown head on the truck. The great and powerful “Jojo” orders the humans to be released. Everyone is in the truck.

From the big top, a giant marionette Klown descends. It attacks the truck. Mike, Dave, and Deb watch as the ice cream truck explodes.

Dave will distract the Giant Super Klown so Mike can get Deb away. The tent prepares for blastoff.

Dave is shooting at the Super Giant Klown to no avail. The behemoth grabs him.

The tent is starting to spin like a top. The state police arrive to see the tenet blast off.

Dave is able to pop the Super Giant Marionette Klown’s nose. The tent explodes as fireworks ensue.

A Klown-mobile crashes in front of the state police. The door opens. It’s Dave.

Somehow, the Ternezi brothers survived, too. They hid in the freezer when the truck exploded.

As Mike, Dave, and Deb ponder if it is truly over, they are showered with pies.

What I say:

A surprising number of people have stories about clowns, I admit I've had a grudge ever since I didn't get to play one of the games on a local Bozo show in the early 80s. Halfway through the show, I'm so happy. During a commercial break, I learned that names were drawn for the games so there was a disgrunted little sideorderofninjas ensued.

Clowns have never been given much credit in movies. Clownhouse had a bunch of homicidal mental patients disguise themselves as clowns and terrorize a group of boys. If that's not bad enough, the movie was directed by Victor "Jeepers Creepers" Salva. A man far past the Larry "Kids" Clark camp of creepiness.

I must make a confession when I first saw this as a kid. I truly despised it. This was before I had fallen under the spell of Evil Dead 2 I kept renting until it was put up in the previously viewed bin. Years later, I was at friend's apartment watching Moulin Rogue. It took 15 minutes for us to stop the movie and return it. While at the store, I saw the DVD for Killer Klowns from Outer Space. This back being when I had a job and a little extra money, I broke down and bought it. When watching it, I realized how fun it was.

There is one thing about the Klowns I didn't understand. They don't look funny. They've got a mean look about them and none of these people think anything about them. You'd think if a large number of wig wearing clowns with bad teeth started trashing a town, the people would do something. Ever hear the stories about how someone comes into a convenience store in the middle of the night wearing a mask and carrying a hatchet? The clerk doesn't think anything is wrong until the guy robs the place.

The movie had a budget of 2 million dollars and used it extraordinarily. The special effects are just a hair under mind blowingly great for such a small budget. The clown and visual effects weren't that expensive with most of the budget going to production costs. A lot of movies have special effects a tenth as good as those in Killer Klowns. A lot can be said for having the Chiodo brothers working on a movie. They are known for their special effects like the ones in Critters. No one can hit a homer out of the park like the effects in Pinanta Survival Island. Practically every clown gag that could be imagined is is used. Pie throwing, the clown car, squirting flowers. The circus elements work too. Popcorn guns and balloon tracker dogs. The green disintegration and pink cotton candy rays are the beams that almost look as if they were superimposed over the film. The rays aren't amazing effects. However, it seems appropriate for such a cheezy movie to have cheezy laser beams.

Not many movies have the a girl with her current and ex-boyfriends that get along. Sure, the ex is a cop who professes he still has feelings for her. He stays behind in the tent to battle the Giant Super Marionette Klown so she can escape. Really, Dave isn't the jerk ex or anything. He may not have been happy with Mike after not finding the tent to arrest him. However, that was job related mainly. I can't think of any cop that would like to be led on a wild goose chase when people are claimed as dead but no bodies can be found. In fact, Mike and Dave are now friends granted they never met before so it wouldn't make sense for them to be archenemies.

The movie starts out as a tribute to the Blob. Another B-movie with a great theme song. The couple following the shooting star. The farmer that meets a terrible fate by the mysterious object. The police who don't really understand or believe the threat until it's too late.

Few movie theme songs are catchy. Most are just derivative pop songs that don't really fit into the movie. Bad Taste, The Blob, Django, Green Slime, Orgazmo, Pet Semetary, Shaft, Truck Turner are some of the memorable movie theme songs. Most of the James Bond songs are just randoming stringing words together used in the title like Die Another Day. I have to think having Duran Duran making a video for "View to a Kill" is funnier than it should be. However, the Dickies song is just a catchy song for a little B-movie.

Some actors don't play characters as they are in movies and portray themselves like John Wayne or Jackie Chan. There are a few number of guys that can get away with doing it. And definitely, John Vernon is one of them. I can't think of many guys that can play the overbearing strict martinent like him. No offense, and dude you were cool in your voice part in the Captain Stern story in Heavy Metal and in Futurama raging against "ROBOT HOUSE!!!" I'm sure a good majority of people may not realize who he is. I had to put some Dean Wormer jokes in this review. My biggest complaint is we don't get to hear John Vernon rage against "THOSE DELTAS!!!"

My schedule for posting reviews is pretty haphazard. I pick what feels right. In other words, the reviews I post are not posted in the order I wrote them. I had wondered what happened to John Vernon not seen him in any movies in the past few years. In the first part of February of 2005, I heard he had died. It is a shame. So few actors have the presence or such an intimidating voice. Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasence had the same aura. English actors seem to able to put a serious tone to some of fruitest dialogue imaginable. Few Americans like James Earl Jones, the voice of Vader, has the same kind of presence. A Canadian actor like John Vernon could say practically any line and have it come out as profound. However, you could see the difference between Vernon and say William Shatner.

This movie truly lives up to its name. They have KILLER KLOWNS that kill people. These klowns are from OUTER SPACE. Hence, true advertising with this movie title. Besides, this movie isn't trying to hide anything like a movie like Green Monkey which doesn't feature any monkey of the green hue.

Critical reviews are easier to do than ones for movies you enjoy. After I starting the Ninja rating scale, I started to realize it probably would have been better never to have used it. A numerical scale to evaluate movies just isn't that good. Say you go on a 4 star scale which would break down to 100%, 75%, 50%, 25%, or 0%. How does a movie get evaulated if it falls between 2 percentages? I don't want my NINJA scale to be converted to number scale. Thought goes into it. Was the budget so low? Were the actors just going through the motion? Could I spot half a dozen movies that were ripped of for it? Should someone only try to watch the higher rated movies? Your palate or the biological computer in your head needs to be cleaned out. Movie, excuse me, film snobs won't deign to admit a lot of these movies exist.

Update: 11-24-2007

Under the Big Top, Tent of Terror, Carnival of Carnage...Trying to find a circus-themed movie was kind of a challenge. So I decide to reach back into something I had done before and decrease its craptacularity. I was planning on redoing Ape with images and more of witty banter. Then I realized it only had about 5 minutes of a circus in the entire movie. That didn't seem like a good enough choice. However, there was another choice that was far more circus-centric: Killer Klowns From Outer Space.

The few reviews I've redone before, I always tack the new writing at the bottom and not re-edit into what was written before. Can't help but feel that is a cheat to take an old review into something new without giving fair warning.

Clowns with the flying saucer spaceships arriving on Earth to trap people in giant candy cotton cocoons (unlike the Cocoon with Wilford Brimley) and drain out their life juices with silly straws. They track people with balloon dogs. All the little circus special effects help give Killer Klowns that special clown trapping you in a dead end alley vibe...

4 1/2 NINJAS

Quotable Dialogue

"We give you the stick. You give it a lick."
"I'll be hornswoggled."
"Where's my Pooh-Bear?"
"I know you, you little fart."
"Big bad Jojo coming to town."
"They are klowns, and they kill people."
"We aren't as stupid as we look."
"Nobody's going to put me in a balloon again."

Morals of the Story

Farmers love the circus.
Balloon dogs are excellent trackers.
Klowns deliver pizza.
Klowns are superstrong.
Selling ice cream is more important than saving the lives of peoples.
Klowns leave bright orange footprints.
Klowns are excellent ventriliquests.
Klowns reproduce through popcorn.
Don't push big red buttons in spaceships.

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