Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988) ***
D: Stephen Chiodo
C: Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, Royal Dano, Michael Siegel, Peter Licassi, John Vernon
Plot Synopsis: Aliens who look like clowns come from outer space and terrorize a small town.
Review: With a title like Killer Klowns From Outer Space, it's pretty fair to say that this isn't going to be a movie of great depth or substance. The title pretty much tells you what you're in store for. There's going to be klowns. They're from outer space and they're going to kill people. If that's the kind of movie you want to see, this film delivers.
There's a variety of clowns presented in different shapes & sizes. The makeup & effects plays up to the whimsical nature of clowns while also giving them a horror edge that plays up to the the fear that people have of clowns. The costuming is spot on. The horror set pieces are creative and fun to watch. The pacing rarely allows for the momentum to lag. The cast plays up to the material without getting too caricaturist or over the top. This is especially important, because it keeps the proceedings grounded in some form of reality even though the premise is as outlandish as they come. Finally, they don't give away all the best jokes within the first act.
When it comes to comedy, you want to keep the audience in anticipation. You want to keep surprising them. In a lot of ways, comedy is much like suspense in that you want to keep people on the edge of their seat. Even though comedy & horror seem polar opposite of one another, they're both similar in that it's all about milking a scenario to its full potential. Killer Klowns understands that and that's what makes it work as well as it does in that there's a balance between horror & comedy without either genre overwhelming the other.
Imagine if they had placed the horror element in the forefront. Then people would've been disappointed that they didn't find the inherent humor of the material. Imagine if they had placed the comedy in the forefront over the horror. Then people would've been disappointed that they didn't find that tangibly spooky quality that makes people scared to death of clowns.
With Killer Klowns, horror & comedy co-exist with one another harmoniously. This might not seem like a lofty achievement, but to pull it off is nothing short of amazing as most other genre efforts struggle to find a tonal balance. That balance is what allows it to appeal to a wide variety of genre fans that are either looking for a good laugh or a good scare or even both. [PG-13] 88 minutes.
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