Harlequin Horrors: A Review Of Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)

Yell! Magazine’s review of Killer Klowns From Outer Space:

As some of you who have already browsed some of my reviews know, I loooove the ’80s. Even more accurately, I love semi-forgotten pieces of nostalgia from the ’80s. If you’re a regular reader and are familiar with some of TheMatt‘s works, you’ll surely be more acquainted with this piece of crackerjack film making from 1988.

Killer Klowns From Outer Space Theme Song – The Dickies

The movie starts with first and foremost a really bitchin’ theme song. Seriously, how much more bad ass could that get? Too bad ICP had to come along and ruin clown-themed rock forever. OK, OK, but looking past the theme song, the movie more or less actually starts with car loads of hip young ’80s couples up at the hottest make out spot in Crescent Cove. Two enterprising ice-cream men pull up and begin to sling creatively raunchy rhymes at all of the lovers parked and soon are pelted with tons of empty cans that people seem to save just for this occasion!

Our protagonists Mike Tobacco (yes, that’s seriously his name – played by Grant Cramer) and Debbie Stone (Suzanne Snyder, Night of the Creeps) have a good chuckle at the wacky antics of the ice-cream men.

Killer Klowns From Outer Space - Christopher Titus

Have you spotted pissed off comedian Christopher Titus yet? He’s the blonde bean pole with the glasses. Hard to believe, eh?

The ice-cream men decide that they should stay and park for a while. Their, ahem, enchanting dates in the back of the truck decide it’s not to be after all, and a few unfunny antics later, the ice-cream men are off and away. Something that looks vaguely like a fireball shoots across the sky, leaving Mike and Debbie to marvel after it. Debbie convinces Mike to check the mysterious flying object out after a lot of grumbling from him, right around the same time a seemingly unbalanced old man goes looking for it too. He beats them to the ship and are executed none too pain-free.

Killer Klowns From Outer Space picture

Meanwhile, the local cops in town are waylaid by punk-rock hooligans that look like they would be better suited to attend an episode of Goth Talk (anyone remember Saturday Night Live? Chris Kattan? Molly Shannon? No? Fiiiine.)

Debbie and Mike manage to make it to the spaceship and do the most logical thing, which is to board something that looks like a really fucked up fun-house amusement ride. After a bit of goofing around, they stumble upon the wrong door and find the titular Killer Klowns’ mineshaft of Tesla coils where Debbie realizes that they’re in the shooting star they went to look for. That’s kosher, right? After finding a stash of cotton candy pods, Mike comes to the conclusion that they’re not in any danger whatsoever because what they’ve entered is merely a cotton candy factory. An argument ensues and Mike peels back some of the cotton candy to show Debbie she has nothing to worry about. Naturally, there’s a dead body inside. It’s then that we also get our first glimpse of what a Killer Klown looks like.

Killer Klowns From Outer Space picture

Any time I see a clown, I feel like screaming, “Why the fuck are you here? WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE?” I felt like I was a little desensitized toward clowns until I sat through my most recent viewing. Something of a primal fear raised from the depths of my dysfunctional childhood came into play and I had a brief trickle of fright (or maybe it was pee running down my leg). But I digress and move back to the point: these clowns are either going to make you laugh, make you sweat, or make you grit your teeth. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were any combination of the three. And if, like me, you remember them from the ’80s when you were a wee one, you might have some kind of PTSD flashback.

Said clown shoots a popcorn gun at our fearful growing protagonists, prompting this priceless exchange: “Popcorn?! Why popcorn?” “Because they’re clowns, that’s why!” Ace logic, guys.

Killer Klowns From Outer Space picture

Although I’m sure spoiling the rest of this movie wouldn’t offend too many of you, I’ll close the plot portion of this review. If you’ve read the review for this long and are expecting high-budget special effects, Julliard trained actors, a solid, decent plot, and the kind of fast-paced action that’s going to make you want a dozen sequels, you can just push the back button on your browser right now. Go on, it’s OK. I’ll wait.

OK. Are they gone?

For the rest of you, if you want something that will make you crave the days when movies were somehow both stupid and awesome at the same time without having to be mutually exclusive, this is the flick for you. If you have any sense of humor at all, this movie will make you laugh at how truly god awful it is. Everything about it screams D-budget and it’s one of the reasons why it’s been so embraced throughout the years. The Killer Klowns have become so infamous that they’ve even been made into both action figures and collectors’ masks. I’m honestly sort of surprised that the worst thing that came out of this film was ICP. I mean, that’s pretty bad, but I’m honestly surprised that this didn’t open up the market for screwed up clown movies. There have been a few and I smell a top 10 list coming on right about now, but until then…

Killer Klowns From Outer Space Action Figure

If you haven’t read it yet, go check out The Matt’s article on Top 10 Fictional Weapons. We here at Yell! Magazine are pretty hep cats, if you know what I mean, and we’re going to hip you to some far out stuff, you dig?

And if any of you can answer the age old question “Popcorn! Why popcorn?” with a better answer than “Because they’re clowns, that’s why!” post it below!


Killer Klowns From Outer Space Trailer

Killer Klowns From Outer Space Poster Large
Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
Year Released:
27 May 1988 (USA)
Stephen Chiodo
Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Vernon, Christopher Titus, Brian Degan Scott, Michael Siegel, Peter Licassi, Royal Dano, Adele Proom and John Allen Nelson
Horror, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Official URL:

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