When I first came up with my Throwback Thirty idea there were a handful of movies that I was super excited about. This week’s film is one of the most exciting. I have always loved a good B movie and, despite my avoidance of traditional horror stuff, will always have time for a worthy comedy horror film… especially one starring aliens that look like clowns. I know a lot of people who are freaked out by clowns but I’ve never seen it. Maybe it helped that I never accidentally watched IT when I was a kid but I’ve never really been fussed either way about clowns. I did work with a guy who was absolutely terrified by them. I admit, we all kind of abused the situation and I was, at times, guilty of humming circus music whenever he was around. It genuinely used to freak him out because he was that scared. Yes, it was a dick move but, in my defence, it was really funny too. So I’d imagine that he’d never seen the 1988 classic Killer Klowns From Outer Space because that would be mental. Like the girl who was in the year below me at uni who was afraid of balloons and, during out college’s end of year party, freaked out during the balloon drop. I’d grabbed a balloon and she forced me to pop it. I was fucking livid! Mate, if you get so freaked out by balloons then why turn up to a place where you know there’ll be shit loads of them???? Not that I’m still bitter 10 years on or anything…
Killer Klowns From Outer Space is one of those films that could easily have been forgotten forever had it not been for its cult status. The campy, comedy horror film has a large group of loyal fans who adore everything about it. Something we should all be grateful for because it’s fucking awesome. Written by three brothers with a background in special effects, KKFOS is the story of a small town being taken over by a group of murderous alien creatures who happen to look like clowns. And if you’ve read that statement and aren’t instantly intrigued by this film then I don’t know what to say to you. Or maybe I do, balloon animal attack dog. Yeah, try to ignore that one. To be honest, if you aren’t already interested then there isn’t really much more I can tell you about the plot that will drag you in. A couple stumble across a spaceship that looks like a circus tent. They discover that the clown aliens are killing the townspeople and set about trying to warn everyone. With the help of a young police officer, they work together to stop the clowns before everyone in town ends up inside a candy floss cocoon.
KKFOS has everything that all the best B movies have but it is also quite a clever film. There are plenty of references to classic horror films like The Blob and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It is an incredibly silly premise and it lacks any real sense of horror but everything about it is perfect. It’s a super funny film that uses its status as a B movie to have the most fun possible. All of the on-screen deaths utilise some sort of clown related imagery and things just get more and more over-the-top. The killer popcorn, acidic custard pies, and the classic clown car gag are all absolutely amazing. It would be possible to criticise every aspect of this film if it wasn’t so blatantly aware of who terrible it was. It’s that sense of self that allows everything to work. It doesn’t matter that the script is awful or things don’t make sense. Yes, there is no development of any character and the plot is so routine that you know every step before you even turn the damn thing on. But none of that matters.
There exist some films that are genuinely really bad and need to be called out for it. Geostorm is a recent example of a film that had much bigger ambitions than it was ever going to be able to pull off. KKFOS has no illusions of grandeur and it is the thing that saves it. If there was any moment in this film when I thought anyone was taking it vaguely seriously then I’d not have enjoyed it as much but they never do. That’s not to say nobody cared about making this film because that’s obviously not true. It’s just that everyone involved is aware that this whole thing is batshit crazy. And, do you know what, I think it’s perfect and I will continue to watch and enjoy this film for the rest of my life.. and I’m not clowning around.