Killer Klowns from Outer Space 4K Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Scream Factory

Directed by Stephen Chiodo
Written by Charles Chiodo, Stephen Chiodo
1988, 86 minutes, Rated PG-13
Released on May 14th, 2024

Starring:
Grant Cramer as Mike Tobacco
Suzanne Snyder as Debbie Stone
John Allen Nelson as Dave Hansen
John Vernon as Curtis Mooney
Michael Siegel as Rich Terenzi
Peter Licassi as Paul Terenzi
Royal Dano as Farmer Gene Green

Review:

The sleepy town of Crescent Cove endures a wild night of terror when a mysterious object falls from the sky. Teenagers Mike and Debbie investigate and find a circus big top filled with strange sights, and worse, killer clowns! They report their findings to the police but nobody believes them. Soon, the alien clowns are walking the streets with their popcorn guns and killer balloon animals, ready to carry people away in cotton candy cocoons. It’s up to Mike, Debbie, Deputy Dave and a pair of ice cream vendors to save the town. Can these monsters be stopped, or is this just the beginning of the end!?

The Chiodo brothers (Stephen, Charles and Edward) have been a mainstay in creature and puppet design for decades. Their work can be seen in everything from the Critters franchise to Team America: World Police and Elf. Their breakout film, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, has become something of a cult classic, beloved by genre fans everywhere. Their creepy titular characters with their oversized heads and hands are both scary and surprisingly funny. Director Stephen Chiodo, working from a script he co-wrote with his brothers, perfectly blends horror with madcap comedy, a task not easily accomplished.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space really is critic-proof in that it is such a fantastic/ludicrous concept that delivers everything audiences responding to such a title could possibly want. The Chiodos know exactly what kind of movie they are making and never take themselves too seriously, but never make fun of the material either. The playful attitude they maintain with cartoon violence and outlandish scenarios is a genuine treat. Adding to the fun is the infectious theme song by The Dickies that sticks in your brain like the best earworms.

Grant Cramer (New Year’s Evil, Hardbodies) and Suzanne Snyder (Night of the Creeps, Return of the Living Dead Part II) star as Mike and Debbie, two All-American small-town kids fighting sinister aliens. Their onscreen chemistry and comic timing are fantastic, as they play everything with a straight face. John Allen Nelson (Feast III, Marry Me or Die) co-stars as Deputy Dave, who proves to be a most helpful ally. Dave’s nemesis is the cantankerous Officer Mooney, played by the always-welcome John Vernon (Curtains, Savage Streets). Rounding out the cast are supporting players Michael Siegel (Back to Black) and Peter Licassi (TV’s Santa Barbara) as brothers Rich and Paul Terenzi, who bring additional comic banter. Genre fans will be pleased to see the great Royal Dano (The Dark Half, Ghoulies II) in a quick cameo as Farmer Gene Green.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a highly entertaining picture that grows on you the more you watch it. It is tailor-made for teen audiences and serves as great gateway horror. There is an impressive body count, but the violence is never mean-spirited or too scary, as the film carries a PG-13 rating. The Chiodo brothers are very creative and original guys and I wish they made more movies. I can easily recommend this release to the generations of horror fans who grew up on the title and to newcomers alike.

Video and Audio:

The original camera negative receives a full 4K scan and restoration with striking results. Picture quality is razor sharp, presented in Dolby Vision (HDR-10 compatible) in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The transfer greatly resembles the work done by Arrow Video for their 2018 Blu-ray release, but benefits from the native 4K presentation. Colors are bold and frequently pop off the screen, and black levels are bottomless. Flesh tones appear natural throughout and there is plenty of fine detail.

A DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix joins the original stereo DTS-HD MA 2.0 track, both delivering solid audio output. The surround mix wins when it comes to atmospheric sound effects. Dialogue is always clear and understandable, and music cues are strong without being intrusive.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

Special Features:

Killer Klowns has received numerous releases on home video, including a Special Edition DVD in 2001. All the extras from that disc made their way onto the 2012 MGM Blu-ray and likewise are present on this new 35th anniversary release from Scream Factory. Sadly, no new content has been created, so collectors will want to hang on to the supplement-rich Arrow Video release from 2018.

Legacy extras begin with a Chiodo brothers audio commentary that is engaging and informative, and most of all entertaining. We learn a lot about what went into making this film, and they are quick to point out several mistakes that made it into the picture. They talk about stretching their creativity under the confines of a super-low budget and share other stories from the shoot.

The Making of Killer Klowns (2001, 22 minutes) is a well-made peek behind the scenes of the production, intercutting then-current interviews with the filmmakers and on-set footage shot in 1987. There is some overlap of information from the commentary, but the featurette is definitely worth checking out.

Composer John Massari reflects on his writing process and inspiration in Komposing Klowns (2001, 13 minutes).

In Visual Effects with Gene Warren Jr. (2001, 15 minutes), the effects supervisor details his contributions to the film and how key sequences were accomplished.

Kreating Klowns (2001, 13 minutes) catches up with Charles Chiodo and creature fabricator Dwight Roberts, who discuss some of the more challenging aspects of achieving various practical effects and making them work in the real world.

A pair of deleted scenes (5 minutes) can be viewed with or without commentary.

Chiodo Brothers’ Earliest Films (7 minutes) offers two of the filmmakers’ creative 8mm short films.

A collection of Killer Bloopers (3 minutes) showcases on-set flubs and blunders.

Klown Auditions (4 minutes) provides a glimpse into the early stages of developing the clown costumes.

The original theatrical trailer is also included.

Look for a short, humorous Easter egg.

Grades:

Movie: Cover
Video:
Audio:
Features:
Overall: 4.5 Star Rating

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Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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