Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 8/13/01
Killer Klowns from Outer
1987 (2001) - Trans World
review by Todd Doogan of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B/A-
Specs and Features
86 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, Amaray keep
case packaging, single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch), audio commentary
with the Chiodo Brothers (Edward, Stephen and Charles,) The
Making of Killer Klowns featurette, Komposing
Klowns featurette, Visual Effects with
Gene Warren Jr. featurette, Kreating
Klowns featurette, The Chiodo Brothers'
Earliest Films with commentary, 2 deleted scenes with optional
commentary, blooper reel, storyboard gallery of 5 scenes, 8 production stills
and concept drawing galleries, theatrical trailer, Easter eggs, animated
film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (16 chapters), languages:
English (DD 2.0), subtitles: Spanish and French, Closed Captioned
"What are you going to do
with those pies, boys?"
Well it's about frickin' time. The Bits'
staff has been very, very vocal with MGM about getting this film onto DVD ever
since we found out that the studio had the rights to Klowns.
And even before that, we had every independent DVD company we had access to
hunting down the rights to get this thing released. And now here it is...
staring back at me in all its pancake make-up glory. Was it worth all the effort
and the long wait? Of course. The movie alone is worth the price of the DVD
(which is quite cheap by the way, making it a no-brainer).
Killer Klowns is a cult throwback to the
old 1950s-styled "red menace" horror films, like The
Blob and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
It always begins the same way: some over-aged teens are making out up in scenic
Make Out Point (here dubbed "The Top of the World"), when a meteor
shower lights up the sky and said teens, hopped up on eager to satisfy hormones,
go hunting for the landing point. Meanwhile, back at the landing point, an old
fogy and his dog go a-looking for the same meteor with dollar signs in their
eyes. But in these films, the meteor is never really a meteor at all. It's a
space invasion, this time of the clown kind - or rather Klown Kind.
These aren't your jolly, rollie-pollie clowns, by the way. Sure... they have
the same bag of tricks: balloon animals, cotton candy and shadow puppets. But
there's a dark twist when the balloon animals hunt you down, the cotton candy
enshrouds you to create an edible gelatinous goo and the shadow puppets eat you
alive. Throw in a popcorn gun that shoots alien spores and a giant Clown Puppet
named Klownzilla, and you have the makings of a major cult phenomena.
I don't know why I love this flick so much. The writing is often times weak and
even sillier that it deserves to be. The acting, in most cases, is even weaker.
And the pace and editing could really have been tweaked (the best example being
the infamous shower scene, taking place over a 20 minute period of the film off
and on). But Klowns does have its charms.
From the incredibly cheap, yet wonderful, special effects to the clown design
and implementation, I don't think there's a better "spoof" of 50s
horror out there. It's so much a classic that I think if it weren't for the bad
80s clothing and hair, it could actually pass for a classic 50s flick. All I
really need to say is, if you haven't seen the film... see it. If you hate it,
you're at least not any worse for it. But if you love it, you'll be in good
MGM gives us the long overdue Klowns with
(surprise!) a nice anamorphic widescreen transfer. The blacks aren't all that
solid, and there are a few spots of artifacting here and there - but it's
certainly a better transfer than some films I've looked at lately. Colors seem
to be dead on, bright and well saturated with no bleed. And the sound is a
standard Dolby Digital 2.0 that gets the job done with no muss and no fuss.
Just having the film on DVD would be a blessing in itself. But thankfully, MGM
listened to fans of the film and went ahead with a loaded special edition. To
start with, there's a running commentary with the Chiodo Brothers - Edward,
Stephen and Charles - who directed, produced and wrote the film. It's a good
commentary, though not great and not as insightful as I would have hoped. I
thought they would spend more time on the clown designs, but they spend more
time discussing the cult phenomena and the potential of doing a sequel. Next up
is a set of featurettes. The first, The Making of
Killer Klowns, is a joint interview with all three filmmakers about
what they did and how they did it. It's a pretty remarkable featurette,
considering that the Brothers seldom cross over into territory they visit in the
commentary. There's also a short featurette entitled Komposing
Klowns, with the film's composer John Massari. He discusses how he
got the gig and what thoughts went into the different themes. It's nice because
Massari really shows a love for the film and the themes he discusses get
illustrated with clips from the film. The Visual
Effects with Gene Warren Jr. featurette showcases some of the matte
painting and miniature design work that went into the film. And finally there's
Kreating Klowns, which discusses the
Also on the disc are a pair of The Chiodo Brothers'
Earliest Films. This area shows us some quirky films made by the boys
in their teenage years and incorporates some techniques used in the film. The
films are shown silent (as shot) with commentary from all three brothers. You'll
also find two deleted scenes with optional commentary (which are often seen in
TV cuts of the film). They include an explanation of our heroine's fear of
clowns and a tightrope scene cut due to lighting issues. Rounding out the extras
are a blooper reel, a poorly executed storyboard gallery of 5 scenes (all the
boards are crammed into one screen with no ability to zoom in on individual
shots), 8 production still and concept drawing galleries (which are incredibly
fun and show the designs of the clowns and sets) and the original theatrical
trailer. It's a lot of stuff and all of it's pretty cool. Notably absent is the
music video of the theme song by The Dickies. It was on the original video
release and the laserdisc, but sadly it's not here. So if you have the original
disc, hang onto it. Oh... and clever Easter egg hunters might find a few of
hidden goodies as well.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a wacky
and fun film for kids of all ages. For a low-budget film that's 14 years old, it
still holds up nicely. And I can't wait to see the Chiodo's come back to the
material in either a new movie or TV series. Whatever they do, I'll be there
with clown shoes on.