Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Brown picked “Killer Klowns From Outer Space.”
The Movie: “Killer Klowns From Outer Space”
Starring: Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson
Director: Stephen Chiodo
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) Aliens who look like clowns come from outer space and terrorize a small town.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 75 percent
Brown: I’m starting to think we aren’t taking Halloween Month seriously this year on the JOE-DOWN.
And now, it’s time to watch a film involves its own infectious jingle in “Killer Klowns From Outer Space.”
Between Tim Curry’s “IT” and Bill Skarsgård’s “IT” is this… thing. It’s a movie that involves an insane posse of clowns that use popcorn guns and cotton candy cocoons. Having never seen this before, I cannot confirm if they know how magnets work.
Along with “Death Becomes Her” and “The Silence of the Lambs,” this is one of those VHS movie covers I remember seeing in the old video store on the corner of Mississippi Street and University Avenue in Fridley that had an extensive pornography section behind a black curtain. What a time to be alive!
While I still wrap my mind around what the (REDACTED) we just watched, give me your initial thoughts, Froemming.
Froemming: Wait, how did you know the porn collection was extensive if it was behind a black curtain?
Brown: Older brothers find a way to ruin childhood innocence.
Froemming: Uh huh….
Anyway, I had not seen this in a long time. In fact, I am not even sure if I had seen this or not since my childhood up to my teen years was renting crappy horror movies to mock with my best friend, a hobby we picked up from “Mystery Science Theater 3000” that has expanded into my adult life with The JOE-DOWN.
I watched a lot of crap in the 1990s. A. Lot.
So knowing we were going to be doing this, I hopped on Amazon and bought the remastered Blu-Ray of this, because cheesy 1980s B-movie horror needs to be in high-definition. Was I angry with my purchase? No, not at all. It came with a poster I plan on framing and putting next to my framed photo of Tommy Wiseau I got when I bought “The Room.”
Reading that last sentence, I now realize why I am single.
Anyway, as I entomb myself in cotton candy, Brown why don’t you kick this off?
Brown: After our theme song (which still blows my mind) and being reminded of how scary these clowns will be because it’s spelled Klowns, we arrive at the town of Crescent Cove. We see a man with a pair of grocery bags FULL of beer-brand beer. This guy is so ready to drink, he opens a can in public and is drinking in front of a cop.
Turns out, the cop is Dean Wormer from “Animal House,” and he is still reeling from the shenanigans that led to his downfall at Faber College. We see throughout this movie how much he HATES young people.
Those young people are at this movie’s makeout point, which I still think is some made-up BS that movies and TV came up with because these sort of places did not exist in my hometown. Hell, one couple has a blown-up life raft in the back of a hatchback where they’re making out. That may be the worst setting to lose one’s virginity.
Froemming: That couple are our heroes of the film: Mike Tobacco and Debbie Stone, names that are somehow more weird than those behind-the-black-curtain movies you watch, Brown.
As I was watching this, I realized these are college kids, not high school kids, at makeout point. This is the lamest college town in America.
Brown: If those are college students, they are the students that show up on campus after a mid-life crisis because they are NOT in their 20s.
Froemming: All the college kids in this movie are in their mid-30s, which I imagine Crescent Cove University has a high number of non-traditional students. No shame in that, I was one. In my 20s though, not as I approached middle-age.
Mike is there with his college buddies and their girlfriends. I like to imagine among the crowd was Tobin, PJ and Squee.
As Mike is awkwardly kissing Debbie on an inflatable raft in the hatch of his vehicle, they see something in the sky come crashing down to Earth. I was hoping it would take out all these creepy college
kids adults, saving them from a lifetime of debt in student loans.
Brown: Calm down there, Bernie Sanders. That student loan debt will be paid by their families.
When this something crashes, we see my favorite character of the movie: farmer Gene Green and his bloodhound, Pooh. Every hillbilly trope you can think of, that’s Gene. Hell, he uses the term “hornswoggled.” He thinks modern marvels are hot dogs and tacos!
Gene and Pooh go to where this apparent comet fell, only to find a circus tent. In the middle of the woods. With no one around. Whole lotta John Wayne Gacy vibes here.
While walking around the tent, Pooh is captured with a net and we never see the pooch again, which really upsets me. Gene swears vengeance, because this is his “John Wick” origin story. Only, he gets shot with a ray gun via one of the rubber clown nightmares.
I’ve been to worse circuses, I guess
Froemming: We then have Mike and Debbie stumble upon this circus tent in the middle of the woods and it is here I figured out Mike is a bit touched. He wants to go in and Debbie, a voice of (REDACTED) reason, says they should probably not.
Debbie, this is a man who admitted he is best friends with Terenzi brothers, two guys who try to lure women into their creepy-ass ice cream truck and sell their goods AT NIGHT. I say run, run as far away as you can from this man. His judgement is…not sound.
But they wander into this Serial Killer Den of Horrors in the middle of the woods because white people are stupid about things like this, where they find a room that has a giant static electricity ball and another that has dead bodies wrapped in cotton candy.
Only this is a more terrifying concept:
Brown: I’d like to think this was all a drunken stupor from Mike because he carries a bottle of champagne into the circus tent. Also, while trying to be cute with Debbie, he starts talking like a carnival barker and brings up an attraction called the Bulimic Girl, who binges and purges. That is so (REDACTED) up.
When we see that cotton candy has dead people in it, I thought we’d get Charlton Heston pop in and yell that COTTON CANDY IS PEOPLE.
While still trying to get their bearings, one of the klowns sees Mike and Debbie and starts hunting them down… with a popcorn gun.
… Damnit, movie.
If that’s not insane enough, when Mike and Debbie escape the tent, two klowns hunt them down with the assistance of a balloon dog that has their scent?! I mean, you could just use the stray popcorn strands to find them but sure, use the balloon dog.
I need a movie scene grounded in reality.
Aww, I feel better now.
Froemming: Oh, now the klowns are heading into town, and Mike and Debbie head to the police station.
And the town PD is a force of two this night: Cp. Dave Hanson (who used to date Debbie, but it is not weird since the two of them probably are old enough for a 401K) and Mooney, my favorite character. As Mike and Debbie tell their twisted tale of murder, klowns and spaceships, Mooney mocks them and gets the titular line of the film! Killer klowns, from outer space.
Mooney Dean Wormer is moments away from telling Debbie that she’s being hysterical like she’s talking in front of a Senate committee trying to appoint a Supreme Court Justice.
Froemming: Mooney has more charisma, and blood in his body, than Chuck Grassley.
Mooney doesn’t want to be the laughing stock of the town, he has already jailed two 40-year-old punk rockers for drinking off-campus, and like Murtaugh in “Lethal Weapon,” he’s too old for this (REDACTED).
Brown: Well, the drunken antics of the Deltas ended his career in higher education after they destroyed downtown during that parade float incident. So, I can see why
Mooney Wormer is so sensitive about college kids drinking in public.
OK, so one of the most bizarre moments in a movie FULL of them, there is a nameless dweeb that walks into a park gazebo and sees a puppet show taking place?
Life hack for all ya’ll: If you see a puppet show taking place in a park gazebo in the dead of night, RUN! NOTHING GOOD WILL COME OF IT.
And sure enough, this dweeb turns into a wad of cotton candy via Klown candy ray (patent pending).
There’s also this long-lasting joke with klowns laying waste to a neighborhood drug store and the owner does nothing. OK, sure. You go ahead and give the reaction you’d see from a youth acting “rather unorthodox” at a wine and cheese gathering.
Froemming: Dave has Mike show him where the Cotton Candy Horror Show took place, but they drop Debbie off at home first. We then find out that Dave dated her and if you are wondering if this sordid love triangle plays out the rest of the movie, wonder no further. It doesn’t. It is dropped like a lead, candy-colored balloon after then next five minutes or so.
So Mike leads Dave to the spot where the tent was, and it is gone, but a giant crater is in its place. Dave then promptly arrests Mike for being a dumbass who took his girl.
That’s it. That’s the end of the love triangle. Good talk everyone!
As Dave is driving himself and his prisoner back to town, they pass lovers point or whatever and see the cars and everything are trashed like The Beastie Boys came and crashed their party. Here he finds the inside of a car covered in pink insulation that he calls “cotton candy.” He then lets Mike go because Mike’s dad is probably a rich lawyer who will end his career for this.
Brown: And at one point, a biker gets decapitated because one of the klowns is apparently Johnny Cage?
Now, here is an issue I have in this movie that shows up a lot midway through: Who the (REDACTED) would find these klowns funny?
The puppet show? Dude is laughing. At the fast-food restaurant? Kid is smiling and giggling at one of these monsters. Pre-shadow puppet show? Lady is all smiles.
Froemming: Is your nickname Captain Killjoy?
Brown: These klowns are more disgusting than Garbage Pail Kids, man! Tim Curry’s “IT,” I could see that because he looks like a normal clown and does (REDACTED) like this:
Froemming: You truly are Toby Flenderson from “The Office.”
Now the klowns are tearing it up, killing people with their ray guns and Debbie takes a shower. Here we see the popcorn that was on her begins to move, so not even that is safe. Turns out, the popcorn are klown eggs that spawn killer klown heads and spines, which was pretty cool in my opinion. Debbie is under siege in her apartment by clowns to her left, jokers to her right, as if she were stuck in the middle of something.
Brown: Well, I don’t know why they came there that night.
And I’m in agreement with you, I was cool with the popcorn kernels turning into Beetlejuice snakes. Popcorn fell all over that town, so there’s going to be more klowns in time, right? I mean, how many sequels are there to this movie?
Froemming: None. There has not been a sequel to this movie, which baffles my mind in this day and age of sequels and reboots.
Brown: Not even a straight-to-VHS sequel? Damn, this movie seems ripe for that.
Froemming: At the police station, Mooney is ignoring emergency calls because he is getting liquored up and thinks the whole town is out to get him, like he is the Richard Nixon of the police force. And in comes a klown, mocking him to his face.
This was probably my favorite scene in the film. Mooney handcuffs the klown and its hands fall off. And as the hijinks continue, so does his drunken rage as he talks about how nobody gets read their rights in his jail.
Mooney has to be Joe Arpaio’s inspiration in how to conduct law enforcement, right?
Brown: Sheriff David Clarke is intrigued with Mooney’s ideas and would like to subscribe to his newsletter.
Dave gets back to the police station to see nothing but clown footsteps and college kids in cotton candy cocoons. When he walks back into the lobby, he sees a clown with its hand shoved into Mooney’s back and uses him like a puppet. For a campy “horror” movie, this was the first time in this movie where I actually thought “Man, that’s (REDACTED) up.”
In this moment, Dave finds out the klowns’ weakness: Being shot in the nose. Seriously, that’s it.
With this new-found knowledge, Dave goes out to the world, where Mike and the Terenzi brothers are chasing after Debbie, who has been placed in a balloon for reasons that are never made clear.
Then again, how can I expect logic in a movie called “Killer Klowns From Outer Space?”
Froemming: Well, Dave smashes into the back of the Terenzi brothers’ creepy ice cream truck as everyone is chasing after the killer klowns. I will give the one brother credit, he did take out his license and insurance information when Dave got in the truck. This was an accident after all.
The klowns head down to the amusement park, where their ship hides in plain sight. Also, how big is this town? It has its own amusement park and a lot of wooded area? This is not a metro, that’s for (REDACTED) sure.
At the gate, a security guard holds the fort as the klowns bustle out of the tiny car one-by-one, and they murder him with…pies, deadly deadly pies.
Sounds about right for this movie.
The pies melt the guy into a giant goop of melted flesh which a klown places a cherry on the top of. I did snicker at that.
Brown: Since he didn’t melt at first, I thought the klowns were trying to kill the security guard with diabetes. You know, the long con.
Froemming: Looking at you, DJ Fuller.
Brown: Damnit, Froemming. I had blanked out that experience. This is my mind right now remembering all the “Fuller House” we’ve watched.
So, Mike, the Terenzi brothers and a shotgun-wielding Dave enter a funhouse full of killer klowns and red balloons, which made me think of only one killer klown.
Froemming: That doesn’t look like WWF superstar Doink!
Brown: No Dink, either. I know how disappointed you must be.
But we do get women klowns when the Terenzi brothers somehow fall into a ball pit. Later, they show up with lipstick all over their face so one can only assume that the Terenzi brothers were knockin’ clown shoes with aliens. And not the sexy ones that Capt. Kirk routinely hooked up with.
Finding out that the funhouse leads to the circus tent (that is actually a spaceship), we see why the klowns are here: they are turning people into food. One klown drinks someone via elaborate crazy straw, which reminded me that it’s been a long time since I used a crazy straw. Now I want to drink chocolate milk with a crazy straw.
Froemming: Mike and Dave find Debbie in a bright yellow balloon. And to get her out, Dave just shoots it. Like, wow. I thought he was the one with the cool head and now he is just shooting things randomly like he is Homer Simpson when he got into guns. Debbie should probably be dead from that.
But now our heroes need to escape this nightmare-fuel for those who fear clowns. Dave is blasting away but there are too many klowns.
Then the Terenzi brothers blast in with their truck, tricking the klowns that the creepy statue on top of their vehicle is their klown overlord.
Then the real klown overlord descends from the ceiling, what I have read is called “Klownzilla.” And Klownzilla is here to chew bubblegum and kick some ass, and he is all out of bubblegum.
Brown: Well, it helps Klownzilla when Dave is a terrible shot. Seriously, that nose is (REDACTED) huge and now’s the time when your aim is off? I’d tell you to go back to the police academy but I can only assume the funny sounds guy is finally out and patrolling the streets.
The Terenzi brothers appear to be dead when Klownzilla picks up their ice cream truck, throws it aside and it EXPLODES like ice cream trucks are wont to do.
But, Dave FINALLY pops Klownzilla’s nose with the point on his police badge and the spaceship blows up because this movie got real Michael Bay-esque at the tail end.
Froemming: Come on, this movie had a more solid story and plot than any Michael Bay movie.
Brown: That reminds me: We’ve been asked to review “Pearl Harbor” multiple times by fellow reporter/monster Chris Murphy.
Froemming: I like to think of us as Ben from “Parks and Red” and Murphy’s request is the accounting firm he always almost joins, then backs off at the last minute.
Anyway, the spaceship explodes and Dave somehow survives by crashing to Earth in the now-destroyed klown car from earlier. All is well, and then our cast gets hit in the face with pie.
Best. Ending. Ever.
Brown: We are to assume they are melting and in agonizing pain when the movie freeze frames, right?
Froemming: The precedent was set with the security guard! Now, let’s hop on our comically clown-inspired motorcycles and drive on to recommendations!
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: This is the perfect type of movie to sit down with friends with a few drinks and just laugh your ass off at how insane it is. So yeah, I give it a thumbs up.
Froemming: I would. I love dumb horror movies like this.