Sunday, April 29, 2018

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

Directors: The Chiodos Brothers
Notable Cast: Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, John Vernon, Michael S. Siegel, Peter Licassi, Royal Dano, Charles Chiodo

In terms of horror films, the 1980s represents perhaps one of the most diverse decades in exploration of the genre that expanded on the foundations established by the boom of low budget exploitation films of the 1970s. When it comes to truly odd cult hits, it’s hard to go wrong with some of the cornerstones of the genre that came to fruition during this decade. One of these weirdly effective cult films is Killer Klowns from Outer Space, the memorable and completely insane love letter to 1950s science fiction horror that has continually found life through its dedicated cult fanbase as time marches on. It’s only fitting then that the film has now received the full three ring circus treatment on the latest Arrow Video Blu Ray. That’s because, for all of its tongue in cheek humor, blending of style, and generally silly demeanor, Killer Klowns is a film that has as many great stories behind the film as it does in executing its ramped-up horror comedy punch. It’s a film that knows just how strange and off beat it is and embraces it, making it one of those films that defies conventional critiques. It’s also so charmingly B-grade that it deserves the cult audience attention.

Confrontations have never been so silly.
The key to truly being able to enjoy Killer Klowns from Outer Space is allowing it to be what it is versus trying to jam it into any kind of assumed role by the audience. Certainly, the film owes a large portion of its narrative structure and tonal foundation to the science fiction invasion films of the 1950s (think of Invaders from Mars, but with less social commentary and a lot more drunken brainstorming about what could be funny and scary at the same time) and in that manner it embraces its own quirks. It just so happens that the Chiodos Brothers take those blueprints and then wrap them in a heavy jacket of slightly unnerving visuals that meld nightmarish circus themed horror with a tongue firmly planted in cheek. However, knowing that this foundation exists and that the tone regularly embraces the cheesier aspects of its concept is the only way to enjoy this film.

From that point, Killer Klowns from Outer Space creates such a strange mythology for itself in the execution that it remains innately charming in its B-movie magic, particularly in the odd creativity of the kills and villainous monsters that invade the small town. The heroes of the film do leave a little to be desired as a romantic triangle comes off as melodramatic and forced, the acting is hammy at best, and the dialogue comes off as straight forward and often unrealistic. Here’s the thing though. Look at the title again. This is a film called Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Directed by brothers obsessed with special effects. The villains dissolve their victims in cotton candy. They have a popcorn gun. Sure, on a level where a film would be judged on more classical critiques, Killer Klowns is eye rolling at best, but this is a film so firmly in its own reality that the overacting works. The hilariously awkward dialogue works. The gimmicks of all of the clown related kills works. The Chiodos Brothers build such a strange universe that no matter how offbeat, problematic, or awkward the film is that it doesn’t actually matter and it feels completely at home. Oddly enough, it’s brilliant.

To only solidify the film’s standing as a cult classic for legitimate reasons, this latest Blu Ray from Arrow Video is packed. Clicking on the special features option from the menu is like unleashing the maddening amount of clowns from a tiny clown car. As always, the list of all of the features are below, but this includes a ton of the previously released additional material (audio commentaries, interviews, etc.) along with a handful of new stuff. Most impressively, this release comes with a new documentary about the early work of the Chiodo Brothers along with a spattering of the early films they made. On top of all of this, naturally, the film has a fantastic new restoration of a 4K scan of the original negative.

Not your usual suspects.
For those that grew up with Killer Klowns from Outer Space, this release will be a highlight in your collection. Not only because the film is a cult cinema diamond, but because the release itself is brimming with material and it’s the best I’ve ever seen the film. For those who have not had the chance to experience the outrageous world and piece of cinema that the Chiodos Brothers have made, this is the best way to dig into it and hopefully you are able to accept the film for what it is - something that only the world of 80s horror comedies could deliver in whole.

  • Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original camera negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Newly remastered stereo 2.0 and 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio options
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Archive audio commentary with the Chiodo Brothers
  • Let the Show Begin! Anatomy of a Killer Theme Song an all-new interview with the original members of the American punk band, The Dickies
  • The Chiodos Walk Among Us: Adventures in Super 8 Filmmaking - all-new documentary highlighting the making of the Chiodo Brothers childhood films, from the giant monster epics made in their basement to their experiments in college
  • New HD transfers of the complete collection of the Chiodo Brothers 8mm and Super 8 films, including Land of Terror, Free Inside, Beast from the Egg, and more!
  • Tales of Tobacco an interview with star Grant Cramer
  • Debbie s Big Night an interview with star Suzanne Snyder
  • Bringing Life to These Things a tour of Chiodo Bros. Productions
  • The Making of Killer Klowns archive production featurette
  • Visual Effects with Gene Warren Jr. archive interview with co-writer/producer Charles Chiodo and visual effects supervisor Gene Warren Jr.
  • Kreating Klowns archive interview with Charles Chiodo and creature fabricator Dwight Roberts
  • Komposing Klowns archive interview with composer John Massari
  • Klown Auditions
  • Deleted Scenes with filmmaker s audio commentary
  • Bloopers
  • Image Galleries
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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