Clowns are one of the latest overkill killers of the horror genre. At one point I made a huge blog about clown movies, so why not take on yet another two?
Clown starts off in 1994 with some sort of mass clown slaughter at a desert carnival. I was all excited about a retro 90s movie rather than an 80s throwback for a change, but alas, this one jumps right to the modern day after the opener.
We meet a group of friends checking out the now abandoned carnival. The fun house is still fully functioning, so they enter it. It’s really just a roughly made maze constructed of slat boards, but it is drenched in red and blue horror light, so the atmosphere is pretty dang good for an indie.
There are some minor teases of the killer clown, and cheap jump scares before he finally starts terrorizing the group, so it definitely gets you in the mood. The guy playing the clown is great, and the film is fast-paced, but it becomes extremely repetitive.
There’s a long sequence of the gang being taunted and chased by the clown before the action at last breaks off into something different, including a scary doll room and a few other fun kill concepts as the group is divided and conquered.
However, the film falls back into the taunt and chase cycle as it comes to a close!
Some other details detract from the film as well. First, one of the guys is really annoying and whiny. Then again, one of the guys gives us some beefcake.
Sound effects from the Atari 2600 Pac Man are used as background noise, and anyone who grew up in the 80s knows how damn annoying those sounds are. And finally, while the kids are running through the maze in terror trying to figure a way out, it’s impossible to suspend disbelief when it’s so obvious they could easily just smash through the cheap wood slat walls from which daylight and freedom are pouring through at all times.
BIG TOP EVIL (2019)
Argh. While cannibal clowns flick Big Top Evil does a much better job of mimicking grindhouse horror of the 1970s than most indies that try these days, it can’t keep the narrative arc together at all and is a jumbled mess right up until the end.
If some of the POV in the retelling by the main character in High Tension bothered you, Big Top Evil will drive you nuts. The movie is framed by one of the guys from our main group of friends recounting what happened when they went on a road trip. Problem is, much of what happens has nothing to do with him or his friends, and they wouldn’t have been present for much of what we’re seeing. Not to mention, it feels like every time things are just getting good, the film cuts back to him telling the story.
The friends are heading to a location infamous for its slasher past, but make various stops along the way. Most of the guys are quite cute, and they just might know it…
Yet once again we have one guy who is fucking annoying. What are the chances that would happen in a back-to-back clown horrorthon?
A girl obviously modeled after Sheri Moon’s Baby from the Rob Zombie films invites the friends to a gypsy circus, where Bill Moseley is the ringmaster. So basically the film isn’t actually mimicking 1970s grindhouse horror…it’s mimicking 2000s grindhouse horror that mimicked 1970s grindhouse horror. That’s how damn old I am.
To keep us occupied until the plot focuses on the group of friends encountering the clowns in the last 25 minutes, there’s a subplot about a gang of thieves terrorizing various shops, as well as another about the bad behavior of the crazy gypsy circus people.
Ooh. How much for the pit licking booth?
Clips of the cannibal clowns feedings are also randomly interspersed to make things even more convoluted and out of context with the plot trajectory.
The group of friends finally being terrorized by the clowns is such a good final act it’s a shame the filmmakers couldn’t figure out a way to fill the first hour with the best they had to offer. The clowns are freaky with some great makeup, and the traps the main characters fall into and the kills are a treat, but most of the gore comes in the form of cutaway kills. With practical gore effects and gross cannibal clown feasting, it’s a bummer that we don’t see enough kills depicted on screen.