Director Pete Jacelone has a long filmography of varying styles of horror (I blog about many of his films here), but if you’re no stranger to his violent male sexploitation flicks, you’ll know what you’re in for when watching this one. He has essentially incorporated his shock horror formula (young men in tighty-whities being choked to death) into a fictionalized showdown between two real-life psychos: John Wayne Gacy and Dean Corll.
Gacy’s clown was already given his own feature with The Pogo Project, so in this film much of the young men fall victim to the Candy Man, played with twisted perfection by Edward X. Young.
Basically the two serial killers meet and each describes the gruesome, graphic nature of his kills. True crime fans take note—while dark and over-the-top, the film does borrow from factual details of each killer’s M.O.
This is pure exploitation, so it comes with a disclaimer noting that it in no way means to demean the deaths of the actual victims. In other words, beware if you’re sensitive to actual murders being turned into a pervy flick loaded with young men in undies writhing and begging for their lives while being taunted by dirty old men.
Jacelone always manages to make you feel uneasy at least/repulsed at most without ever showing much more than the victims being choked. It’s what’s implied that causes you to fill in all the gaps in your mind.
The young men never even get naked…It’s only Edward X. who rocks a jock at one point.
He also gives you the icks with his perverse facial expressions, flicks of his tongue, the way he touches the victims, and the things he says, including homophobic slurs that highlight the self-loathing of many male-male killers.
It’s very easy to be up in arms at the treatment of men in The Killer Clown Meets The Candy Man, but if you think about it, that revolting feeling hugely calls out a double standard that has existed in horror since forever. An uncountable number of films have treated women this way and worse over the years, yet they’ve become an acceptable and basically embraced and expected part of the horror landscape. Finding yourself deeply offended by what’s being presented as entertainment here and could be interpreted as the fetishization of torture, rape, and murder of young men may just be pointing out your own hypocrisy about gender.
As disturbing as the subject matter is, Jacelone manages to somehow make you feel guilty for laughing at oddly campy moments. Personally, I couldn’t help but giggle whenever the killers got “turned down” by uninterested guys they approach on the street. And the film makes sure to veer away from all the what-the-fuckery with slapstick conflict and camaraderie between the two serial killers caused by their own deep-rooted issues. The jarring shift in tone to crazy camp feels weirdly inappropriate, but it’s a notable relief to betaken out of the otherwise horrible realism of the kill scenes to which we’re being subjected.
In other words, if you watch The Killer Clown Meets The Candy Man, plan to have everything you know about your own psyche challenged big time.