10 minutes into the film you get a clear idea why this has a cult following. The incredibly imaginative set pieces and impressive artwork almost fool us into believing that this film isn’t low budget. The indelible images you can’t get out of your head.
The title screams “’80s B movie”, but despite the B movie facade, it’s more along the lines of something Tim Burton would come out with. It’s like Pee Wee’s Big Adventure meets The Blob. You go into it expecting it to be so-bad-that-it’s-funny, but instead get a sincerely fun story. And unlike most B movies, you can tell it’s not written by an idiot.
The premise is simple. A couple of teenagers discover that giant clowns have landed on Earth and are going around their small town killing people and putting them in cotton candy cocoons.
These aren’t the typical human clowns you see in the circus, but large costumed individuals that look like walking puppets. They’re high concept super villains like something out of Batman. They shoot popcorn guns, throw pies made of acid, and make hand shadow puppets that eat people.
Practical effects seem to be lost in today’s industry. They bring so much character to older films. If it weren’t for practical effects, Killer Klowns From Outer Space would have gotten lost in the shuffle of all the other CGI showcases. It’s what makes this film unique and memorable–despite the flaws it may have.
The film, at times, tends to be carried by these eye-popping visuals and colorful set pieces, as the plot is underwhelmingly routine. It grows nicely and fills the script well, but story-wise just doesn’t quite live up to the curiosity it inspires. Figuring out the motive of the clowns doesn’t pay off as well as you’d hope.
At least it gives us likable human characters, even if their personalities don’t progress much past what’s on the surface. But they’re much smarter–and much more well-acted–than average horror movie teenagers.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and oddly enough it also doesn’t give us too much to laugh at either. But it doesn’t even matter. We almost don’t notice, because the fun mystery of it all is enough for us to be entertained.
You wouldn’t think this film would be scary, but with the help of awesome visuals and a killer score, it genuinely sends chills down your spine a number of times. Killer Klowns From Outer Space is a half-baked idea, sure, but it fully delivers.