“The Clowns are a rock group on their way up the ladder of success. In their macabre makeup, it is impossible to distinguish one from the other. Their incredible stage performance center around sadistic, mutilating theatrics and eventually, real murders begin. The police are called in and consider the band members prime suspects until they realize the killings are occurring during their performances. The search for the murderer begins … and ends with the audience chanting, Kill, Kill, Kill!”
The Clowns are an Alice Cooper-like group that sings about killing their fans. So when their fans start showing up dead at their shows, of course, they’re the main suspects.
Directed by Don Edmunds (Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS) and with James W. Robertson, the director of Superstition as the director of cinematography, this is a sleaze, sex and murder filled movie. Which is probably just as you like it, just as the crowds that come to see The Clowns like it and the kind of life the boys in the band are struggling to get away from.
Larry Thomas — the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld — is even in this, as it’s his first film. He hates the movie so much that he wrote an apology on the film’s IMDB page. No apologies for Night Ripper! from Larry, however.
This is a dark, murky film — not just because of the transfer I saw — that has plenty of drugs and sex. It honestly feels like a porn movie without the payoff of sex. The music isn’t bad, with one track that sounds a lot like Motörhead.
I never understand why bands hate the spotlight they find themselves thrust into. And I don’t get it here, either. Also: the story is a total mess. You should probably get fucked up yourself while watching it and yell at the screen a lot. That makes every movie better.
The Clowns are actually a Champaign, Illinois, hard pop-new wave band, The Names, which features Chip Greenman on drums. Chip was the drummer in the Cheap Trick precursor, Fuse, alongside Rick Neilson and Tom Petersson. When Rick and Tom morphed into Cheap Trick, they asked Chip to come back, he turned them down and stayed with his then band, a German prog-rock outfit, Frantic Dwarf. The Names did a couple ’80a D.I.Y singles, and never got signed. And you know what happened to Cheap Trick.
Oh, by the way: There’s more faux-bands to be had with our “Ten Bands Made Up for Movies (and More)” featurette.