Directed by Craig Ross, Tammi Sutton, John Lechago
Written by Carl Washington, Douglas Snauffer, Tammi Sutton, John Lechago
Starring Ángel Vargas & Trent Haaga
Occupying that unique space between the sublime and the awful is Killjoy; Full Moon Entertainment’s stupefying schlock saga concerning the various nefarious exploits of the demonic, homicidal clown of the title. And now, after years of wild west-like distribution from a whole slew of different discount pit companies, 88 Films have whacked this four flick strong cavalcade of deranged cheap-o chunder together in one attractive little box-set; the first time it’s been available as one complete collection anywhere in the world. How long it remains that way though is something else entirely: With Full Moon chieftain Charles Band’s penchant for sequel milking, and with his recent attempt to crowdfund a spin-off web series, Killjoy’s Psycho Circus, this marvellous chunk of fodder will likely need an expansion pack or six by this time next year…
In a move seemingly tailored to simultaneously delight Killjoy’s small but rabid following and horrify its many – MANY – detractors (and, not to mention, bamboozle any poor sod who’ll now become acquainted with it), 88 have, cannily, fashioned this two-disc DVD package as a limited run HMV exclusive. It’s the third set of its kind Blighty’s most B friendly boutique label have produced over the last six months, with the first three chapters of Full Moon’s flagship Puppet Master and Subspecies legacies having both received similar, collector-baiting treatment. While the zippy Killjoy canon isn’t quite as beloved as those distinguished horror programmers – at least not yet anyway – 88’s solid compendium will hopefully go some way to improve its rep among cult circles.
A rare beast, Killjoy, as a series, actually improves with each successive entry.
2000’s numero uno is the unequivocal runt of the litter: Produced by Full Moon’s short-lived urban division, Big City Pictures, it is a crude attempt at reconciling the studio’s distinctive pulp house style with the uniquely millennial wave of hip-horror pictures; a subgenre exemplified by the fun, Snoop Dogg-starring Crow retread Bones at its best, and Albert Pyun’s horrendous Urban Trilogy at its absolute worst. Killjoy is – mercifully – at least a step up from tosh-meister Pyun’s soul crushingly terrible three way, but only just; like them, it too seems to have been assembled as a deconstructive exercise in truly terrible filmmaking. From the shockingly cheap sets, to the hysterical performances, and Craig Ross’ clumsy direction; quite simply, it stinks. Yet, for that very reason, it is never less than totally watchable; a so-naff-it’s-amazing experience in the lofty, essential clag tradition of Manos: The Hands of Fate and Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2.
Though still disgustingly tacky, 2002’s second offering, Deliverance From Evil, fares much better in a conventionally good sense. It benefits greatly from a talent transfusion, the by-this-time fading Big City Pictures being mostly replaced by Dead Next Door maverick J.R. Bookwalter’s Tempe Entertainment; the grassroots outfit responsible for co-producing some of the very best Full Moon movies of the early naughties. Despite being a touch too slow on the get go, for the most part Killjoy 2 is sassily written and directed by future Isle of Dogs helmer Tammi Sutton who, along with co-scripter and fellow Tempe mainstay Douglas Snauffer, re-works the first film’s voodoo revenge idea into a back-woods slasher scenario with surprisingly audacious results. Best of all, however, is low-budget Renaissance man Trent Haaga, who takes the eponymous psychotic jester role over from the screeching Ángel Vargas. Haaga – who’d go on to write the superb indie DeadGirl and last years sleeper hit Cheap Thrills – exudes charisma in a Krueger-meets-Pennywise mash-up; a turn as imaginatively freaky as it is gleefully silly.
It’s Haaga’s show come Killjoy 3, which tardily arrived eight years later amidst Band’s rejuvenated slate of previously dead Full Moon franchises. Shot back-to-back in China with B auteur David DeCoteau’s charming Puppet Master: Axis of Evil, Killjoy 3’s locale is, sadly, used just as inconsequentially; though Axis of Evil, at least, featured a Chinese opera house. Regardless of Full Moon’s cost-cutting ‘minimal set syndrome’, John Lechago – who directs this outing, and whose previous work includes the remarkable, softcore S&M shock cheapie Blood Gnome – crafts a wonderfully dynamic sequel. It’s infectiously entertaining stuff, heavily accenting comedy and cartoon-like, violent slapstick as a bunch of college students cross over into Killjoy’s netherworld via a cursed mirror. Credit too for tying in with the rest of the series through something other than self-reflexive dialogue.
Lechago keeps the energy high for the collection’s final entry, 2012’s barnstorming Killjoy Goes to Hell; released but last year by 88 under the uninspiring alternative title ‘Killer Clown’. It’s once again delirious popcorn fluff; an exceptionally stylish and uproarious blend of sharp, profanity-laced patter and humour even more outrageous than before as Killjoy is placed on trial by ol’ Beelzebub himself for not being scary or evil enough. Haaga dominates but there’s nice, laugh out loud support from part three’s returning quartet Tai Chan Ngo, Al Burke, Victoria De Mare and Jessica Whitaker, as bad-ass clown trio Freakshow, Punchy and Batty Boop, and ingenue Sandie, respectively.
Clag connoisseur’s and thrift hawks will almost certainly recognise Killjoy’s un and deux from their regular spot in Poundlands and car boot sales the country over; thankfully, 88 have trumped those previous Film 2000 and Boulevard editions – and even Full Moon’s own Region One versions – by providing the films with their first anamorphic transfers. Though far from demo material, it’s a thrill having them in a true, 16×9 friendly presentation. The real jewel in the crown, however – for us Limey’s at least – is the inclusion of Killjoy 3, which makes its UK DVD premiere. Extra features, unlike the aforementioned Puppet Master and Subspecies sets which included an assortment of commentaries and various Band-related gubbins, are restricted to 88’s trailer collection and Killjoy one, three and four’s bite-sized, behind the scenes VideoZones. Still, with an RRP of only £5.99 for the full sha-boodle, it’s hard to criticise too much. Fans and the adventurous, just get it bought already.
Killjoy: 3 out of 10
Killjoy 2: Deliverance From Evil 6 out of 10
Killjoy 3: 7 out of 10
Killjoy Goes to Hell: 8 out of 10
The Killjoy Collection is available exclusively at HMV from 13th October, via 88 Films.
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