Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

How did it take so long for this movie to make it to our site? Has there ever been a better high concept — alien clowns coming from space to eat humans? How did this movie even get made? Man, I have questions. Let’s get some answers.

It’s the only movie to be written, produced and directed by the Chiodo Brothers. These insane masters created the puppets and effects for films such as Critters, Ernest Scared StupidTeam America: World Police, Large Marge for Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and the mouse artwork in Dinner for Schmucks. A sequel to this has been in development forever; if I had my way, these guys would make movies all of the time.

On a lover’s lane in Crescent Cove, Mike Tobacco (Grant Cramer, New Year’s Evil) and his girlfriend Debbie Stone (Suzanne Snyder, Weird ScienceNight of the Creeps) are parked when a strange object falls to Earth.

Meanwhile, farmer Gene Green (Royal Dano, Gramps from House II) and his dog — who my wife knows is named Pooh Bear without even needing to look it up — track the comet and discover the crash site looks more like a circus tent.

Mike and Debbie find the same strange tent and discover teh farmer trapped in a cottom candy-like cocoon as a Klown appears to shoot popcorn at them. They’re chased away by more Klowns and a balloon animal dog, because this movie is ready to tear out your brain, stomp on it and laugh the entire time.

They make their way to the police station where Debbie’s ex-boyfriend, Deputy Dave Hanson (John Allen Nelson, Deathstalker from the third version of that film, Deathstalker III: The Warriors from Hell), and mean-spirited Deputy Curtis Mooney (John Vernon!). Seriously, John Vernon should be in every movie, because he’s majestic in this, treating every single person with oodles of contempt.

The Klowns make their way to the town and start blasting people with lasers, punching people’s heads clean off and shrinking people down and putting them into bags of popcorn. There are also scenes of Klowns drinking people with crazy straws and a giant Klownzilla that attacks the town. Obviously, the reality went right of the window with this one. It resembles the Topps Mars Attacks! cards, with episodic encounters of the goofball Klowns running wild.

This movie frightened my wife worse than any of the many, many films that she watched in her childhood. She was already afraid of clowns, so these Klowns ended up infiltrating her dreams. Yet she still watched it all of the time. She also wanted Debbie’s jumper-tastic wardrobe, which makes a lot of sense when you see her fashion sense today.

While the Chiodos were able to get The Dickies for the soundtrack, they couldn’t convince producers to pay the money to have Soupy Sales — the king of getting pies thrown in his face — appear as a security guard.

You can watch this on Tubi, Vudu and YouTube. If you want the best possible experience, let me recommend the Arrow Video release, which is packed with more extras than a car full of Klowns, including a complete collection of the Chiodo Brothers short films and interviews with the stars and The Dickies.

This is the kind of movie that I’m glad exists. I return to it time and time again whenever life seems meaningless, because the fact that a movie about giant Klowns attacking a small town for food makes me feel better, knowing that somehow a studio bought this and allowed it to happen.

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