Killer clowns from a torture chamber…and a coffin…and an app…

Big nose, painted face, flaming orange hair, nasty grin. The plot to desensitize the world to scary clowns is never-ending. And you can’t get away from them in horror flicks either – killer dolls, slashers, zombies, anthologies, Halloween films… They’re everywhere! Including this trio of films.

CIRCUS OF THE DEAD (2014)

circus of the dead cover

No, they’re not zombie clowns. It’s Cirxploitation! If you attempt to read between the lines, Circus of the Dead is a story of a man learning a brutal lesson about the importance of family. But the lines are one big run-on of torture, rape, necrophilia, and mutilation. Done quite effectively I’ll admit, but I personally can only endure so much before I need more compelling horror stimulation.

circus of the dead oberst

Most compelling here is indie actor Bill Oberst Jr., who will hopefully go down in horror history as an icon someday. His performance as the psycho gang leader of the killer clowns elevates the film above mere shock for shock’s sake.

circus of the dead boob squeeze

He and his cronies keep people stored away in a vault in their circus tent and torture the fuck out of them between shows (gorehounds take note – it’s brutal) and in their shows as part of the act.

circus of the dead volunteer

When a man (Parrish Randall, another indie horror actor who gives a notable performance) brings his wife and two daughters to the circus, the clowns take a shine to him.

circus of the dead leading man

Soon after, they go to his house and take a shine to his whole family.

The film reaches new levels of depravity when Oberst makes the guy watch while he does the unthinkable to the wife (really, it’s worse than you think).

circus of the dead clown gang

And then…the clowns take the guy on a sadistic raping, torturing, and killing spree around town.

circus of the dead wife head

This goes on for most of the movie, and he only fights back when Oberst shows him his dick. Go figure.

THE NIGHT WATCHMEN (2016)

night watchmen cover

Mitchell Altieri, part of the duo behind The Violent Kind, The Hamiltons, The Thompsons, Holy Ghost People, and the April Fool’s Day remake, goes it alone with this vampire comedy. It’s also co-written by two of the film’s stars, Dan Deluca and horror stud Ken Arnold (ParaAbnormal, Lovely Molly, The Haunting of Pearson Place, The Legend of the Mad Axeman). He’s the dude with his fist around wood in the pic below.

night watchmen leads

The same night three security guards at an office have to train the young new guy, a coffin is accidentally delivered to the building. While the trio is busy goofing off, showing the new guy the ropes and trying to flirt with the female office workers, the office perv (Samantha’s mature man from Sex and the City) wanders into the loading area and opens the coffin.

night watchmen clown in coffin

CLOWN. Fucking clowning. Fucking vampire clown. What the fuck with a vampire clown in a coffin? Wasn’t that a Carly Simon song? I had some dreams they were clowns in my coffin, clowns in my coffin…

night watchmen cast with young guy

The initial banter between the characters before the coffin is open had me thinking the comedy wasn’t going to amount to much in this film. However, once the clown comes out, the vicious vampirism spreads quickly and the humor blows up.

night watchmen vamp girl

I was laughing out loud as these guys face an onslaught of snarling vamps…or more often, run from them screaming in terror.

night watchmen screams

The cast is great and it’s a perfect balance of campy and tasteless humor, suspense, action, gore, and horror with no lag.

night watchmen more cast

Plus, Tiffany Shepis makes a brief appearance, the vampire clown horror multiplies, and I could watch Ken Arnold running around screaming in a tight uniform for hours. Look at those wood poking muscles…

night watchmen stake

BEDEVILED (2016)

bedeviled cover

Pennywise…the app?

Not that it makes much sense, but there’s a whole lot of scary clown action when a group of friends starts using this app that can somehow do anything for you – from turning on your washing machine to turning off your lights.

bedeviled clown reach

Yeah, you really don’t want it to turn off your lights.

bedeviled behind him

Pretty soon, the kids start seeing manifestations of scary figures in the shadows or out of the corner of their eyes, from freaky clowns to a freaky contortionist granny.

bedeviled crawling granny

That’s the cool thing about Bedeviled – there’s a whole lot of freaky things lurking in the shadows…even a psycho Teddy bear at one point. Awesome. But with that comes endless jolting music cues to make tweens scream. It’s loads of fun, but just know that’s about as deep as it gets here.

bedeviled clown boss

The latest in a growing list of movies adapting to current technology to scare the younger horror generation, Bedeviled reminds me of films from the mid-2000s, the era of Pulse, Darkness Falls, The Boogeyman, etc. There’s no denying it’s good clean scary fun when you’re really in the mood for a bowl of popcorn and a cherry cola.

bedeviled soo hoo

The cast includes Brandon Soo Hoo of the From Dusk Till Dawn series, Saxon Sharbino (Poltergeist remake, I Spit On Your Grave remake), and sexy Mitchell Edwards (Gorenos). Trying to find a photo of him shirtless wasn’t easy. This one on his Twitter profile was the best I could do…

mitchell edwards collage

And finally, just to add a little commentary about race, horror clichés, and how they could have been handled differently in this film, ***SPOILERS*** considering “the black guy” makes a quip about how proud he is that he lasted longer than he’s supposed to when it’s down to the final two, it would have been a really refreshing twist if he had been the one to survive instead of the blonde, blue-eyed white girl…

bedeviled leads

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES.

I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.

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2 Responses to Killer clowns from a torture chamber…and a coffin…and an app…

  1. Hi Daniel,

    Just saw this review of CIRCUS OF THE DEAD – thank you for the kind words! That role gave me nightmares – I found his nihilism truly terrifying – so I’m grateful to know that it seemed worth the effort. Also wanted to thank you for all you do to support indie horror. It’s a tough racket and the exposure you give to films that will never be mainstream is really appreciated. Thank you, man.

    with best regards,
    Bill

    Bill Oberst Jr.
    billoberst.com

  2. Daniel says:

    Thanks, Bill. Keep making ’em and I’ll keep watching!

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