“Killer Klowns From Outer Space” (1988) is generally a bad movie. It has the depth and execution of a mediocre high school play; its acting and screenwriting are almost uniformly poor. (The sole exception here is the wonderful character actor John Vernon, who is always fun to watch.) I’m not even sure it tries to be a good movie. But that’s probably okay with both the filmmakers and its target audience — as you can tell from its title alone, this is deliberate schlock.
And … it’s arguably pretty good schlock, despite its failings — depending on your tastes in bad movies. I don’t think I’d recommend this movie to others, but I suppose I’d rate it a 6 out of 10, based on my own enjoyment. In addition to its generous helping of 80’s cheese, “Killer Klowns From Outer Space” manages to do several things quite beautifully — namely its low budget creature effects, costuming and set design.
For a film so clumsily unimpressive, you’ve got to admit that a hell of a lot of creativity went into its titular monsters and their spaceship. (They are not human clowns, the movie informs us, but alien monsters in the shape of clowns — and we don’t get any more exposition than that.) The garish, creepy art designs are actually really damned good, and it’s easy to see why this film developed a cult following among fans of offbeat horror. It’s also easy to imagine that coulrophobics (people with a phobia for clowns) might find this movie genuinely unsettling.
Here’s the good news — if you aren’t sure you’d want to spend money on this movie, you can currently watch it for free (and legally) right over at Youtube. Here’s the link.
Postscript: I thought that Grant Cramer, who played one of the movie’s protagonists, looked incredibly familiar. Yet I was surprised when I learned I hadn’t seen anything else in his filmography. Here’s who I may have been seeing — he is the son of none other than legendary starlet Terry Moore. Classic movie fans might remember her from any number of films from Hollywood’s Golden Age. But if you’re a monster movie fan like me, then you remember her as the young heroine of 1949’s original “Mighty Joe Young.”