DIRECTED BY: Stephen Chiodo
WRITTEN BY: Charles & Stephen Chiodo
STARRING: Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson,Royal Dano
RUNNING TIME: 83 MINS
DISTRIBUTOR: Arrow Films
UK RELEASE DATE: 15TH September 2014
“This is no fun house…” “…no circus either..”
The Chiodo Brothers are a force to be reckoned with. Special effects maestros and cinema’s original fanboys, they are brash, they are bold and they’re a hell of a lot of fun. ‘Killer Klowns’ is their first (and only) directorial venture and is very obviously a labour of their love for the genre.
At first glance, it would be easy to assume that ‘Killer Klowns’ is the workings of a tight budget; a cast comprising largely of unknowns, schlocky looking sets and more rubber clown suits than should probably be imagined, but that’s where ‘Killer Klowns’ and, indeed, the Chiodos come into their masterful own. They know EXACTLY what they are doing and what makes for a witty, successful B-movie. (Combined with their mutual love of nightmarish clowns, of course!)
Taking place in the then present, the plot is something of a homage to classic 1950s sci-fi features such as ‘The Blob’ (1958) and ‘It Came From Outer Space’ (1953) – what appears to be a shooting star crash lands in a field – found by a farmer and his dog. What is discovered, however, is a large, garish circus tent. Cue hilarity, insanity and a LOT of creativity!
‘Killer Klowns’ is to the 80s what ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ (1975) was to the 70s. The ‘tacky’ effects and the OTT acting style is purposeful and all a part of the parody. In midst of the fun, however, there is enough to keep those in search of some genuine scares satisfied. The simple fact that the clowns NEVER speak is eerily chilling. Their zany weaponry is also the stuff of pure nightmares. Cotton candy cocoons (fired from brightly coloured plastic guns) capturing unsuspected victims appear like the creation of something from Cronenberg’s The Fly’. (1986)What is truly outstanding in this blu ray release is the outstanding ‘look’ of the film in high definition.
Every colour is suddenly so completely visceral it is hard to not be blown away by it – whether or not you are a fan of the script or, indeed the film itself. Every scene, every frame is notched up to 11 thus making the fairground setting really come to life. Props to Charles Chiodo for his wondrous production design, here and Alfred Taylor for his stunning cinematography.
In true 80s horror fashion, no feature would be complete without a memorable soundtrack, and ‘Killer Klowns’ definitely delivers on that front. The title track from classic punk rockers The Dickies is suitably camp and really is the cherry on the top of this sundae of pure craziness.
The blu ray release is a MUST have for any fan. There is a plethora of extra features – seeming to serve as something a cast catch up for both the Chiodo Brothers and also the cast. Interview footage from both 1988 and 1991 is meshed with an interview taken from July of this year – showcasing the Chiodo Brothers’ continued successes within their special effects creations and also that their love of creature features and B-movies has never, ever left them and most likely never will. A wonderful line from Stephen being: “Do we want to make a ‘people’ movie? No. We want to make a monster movie.”
The blu ray extras feature bloopers, 2 deleted scenes, cast interviews from both Grant Cramer (a natural lover of the horror genre) and Suzanne Snyder, a ‘The Making of Killer Klowns’ featurette, behind-the-scenes footage, a ‘look back’ feature of the Chiodo Brothers’ earliest film ideas, director’s commentary, a comical look at ‘Klown Auditions’ and also the theatrical trailer.
It would have been nice to have a mention of the much-anticipated sequel to ‘Killer Klowns’, but no mention of it was given by any of the cast or crew. This serves as only a very slight disappointment in an otherwise amazing array of extra features from one of the 1980s most underrated cult classics.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
Limited Edition SteelBook packaging
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements by MGM<
Original Stereo 2.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio Commentary with the Chiodo Brothers
The Making of Killer Klowns – a 20-minute featurette looking at the film’s production, including an interview with the Chiodo Brothers alongside behind-the-scenes footage
Visual Effects with Gene Warren Jr. – an interview with Charles Chiodo and visual effects supervisor Gene Warren Jr.
Kreating Klowns – an interview with Charles Chiodo and creature fabricator Dwight Roberts
Bringing Life to These Things – A Tour of Chiodo Bros. Productions
Chiodo Brothers’ Earliest Films – a look back at the Chiodo Brothers’ early homemade productions
Tales of Tobacco: A brand new interview with star Grant Cramer
Debbie’s Big Night: A brand new interview with star Suzanne Snyder
Komposing Klowns – interview with composer John Massari
Deleted Scenes with Director’s Commentary
Original Theatrical Trailer
Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Starburst critic Joel Harley, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.