Lots of science-fiction and horror films have been built around seemingly ridiculous high-concept gimmicks, particularly when it comes to totally improbable and impractical monsters. We've had killer elevators, killer laundry-folding machines, killer tomatoes, killer beds, killer penises, etc. What makes Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) so special is that the movie fully makes good on the promise of its extravagant title. If you want a rollicking, highly enjoyable movie about murderous extraterrestrial harlequins, look no further.
The Chiodo Brothers -- director Steven and his siblings Charles and Edward -- have worked together and separately on a variety of film and television projects for the last 20 years or so, generally as creature designers, puppeteers, and art directors. (All three toiled on Team America: World Police.) Killer Klowns is the Brothers' one big chance to run amok in a feature-length film, and they do not waste this golden opportunity. The film feels like the kind of thing a group of brothers might come up with in giggly, late-night brainstorming sessions.
STEVEN: So our villains are evil alien clowns, right?
EDWARD: (snorting) Yeah, and maybe their spaceship looks like a big circus tent!
CHARLES: And their weapons are popcorn and balloon animals! (sprays Mountain Dew out his nose)
If the movie can be reduced to a formula, it would be: The Blob times Gremlins minus the actual monsters from those movies minus budget plus clowns plus terrible sweaters plus Dean Wormer from Animal House. That's a lot to absorb, so let me break it down.