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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
And then…the clowns take the guy on a sadistic raping, torturing, and killing spree around town.
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)
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.
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.
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…
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.
I was laughing out loud as these guys face an onslaught of snarling vamps…or more often, run from them screaming in terror.
The cast is great and it’s a perfect balance of campy and tasteless humor, suspense, action, gore, and horror with no lag.
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…
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.
Yeah, you really don’t want it to turn off your lights.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…