If there’s a clown movie on a streaming service, chances are I’m going to drop it in my watchlist. So happens I dropped three in my Prime watchlist recently. Here’s how that turned out when I did a clown triple feature…
CLOWN OF THE DEAD (2015)
Clown of the Dead is an Indonesian film, and it’s dubbed on Amazon Prime, so when I first heard the bad dubbing, I was thinking it was going to be a bad movie.
It wasn’t bad! The biggest problem really was the dubbing, because a lot of this film is talk. I think the intention is to build an ominous tone, and at moments I felt like it did, but considering we don’t actually see a clown until halfway through the movie, the bad dubbing that carries much of the story become monotonous.
The film also seems like a simple attempt to mimic many of the clown movies that have hit the market in recent years, right down to a moment when one single red balloon floats by. Sigh. Even so, the familiar territory is comfortable territory.
A young boy sneaks into a carnival opening next to his tenement apartment building and steals a music box.
When he opens it, he unleashes the spirit of the clown version of Freddy Krueger…that we don’t see until the 47-minute mark when he pops up in a Lights Out rip-off scene.
Once the devilish looking clown finally starts materializing and terrorizing the tenants, there are plenty of good, cheap jump scares to make up for it being so derivative.
CLOWN MOTEL (2019)
The intro scene of Clown Motel felt a little silly—a group of thieves burns down a literal clown motel in the desert—so it left me with low expectations.
However, it quickly became more my speed. A trio of ghost hunter guys in an RV crosses paths with a group of girls on a pre-wedding road trip, and they all crash together at an abandoned clown motel in the desert.
So I guess these are clown ghosts. They sabotage the vehicles then terrorize the group and keep them trapped in their room. I’d be okay with that considering there’s a cutie in a towel…
But it wouldn’t be any horror fun if members of the group didn’t begin going out one by one in an attempt to escape. There’s some satisfying low budget gore, and the cast is quite likable.
I was most entertained by one of the guys that comes off as a sort of ambiguously queer pothead. He’s very comfortable being chummy with one of his buddies, although his sexuality and the depth of their friendship are never clarified. However, when he walks in on a clown jerking off and films it, we soon discover we might be dealing with a gay clown ghost rapist.
Another highlight is Ari Lehman, the original drowning Jason Voorhees, who steals the show as a clown in a brief attack scene that is both funny and brutal.
The clown plot is a bit messy, which I had no problem overlooking since the movie is entertaining overall, but it feels like it goes on too long, with a desert chase eventually becoming a cave chase, both of which hinder the momentum.
GAGS THE CLOWN (2018)
It’s no small feat to make the oversaturated subgenres of clown and found footage horror good on their own. Yet, first time director Adam Krause makes a found footage clown horror all in one, and it held my attention from start to finish, which means I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us.
Krause takes the real-life trending stories from a few years ago of a mysterious clown spooking locals in small towns…and makes him a psycho killer. Admit it—that’s everything you were hoping the real story would turn out to be. Come on, just admit it. Am I alone here?
Anyway, the plot follows various groups as they are all affected by the newsworthy story of the creepy clown: kids at a party, two cops on patrol, a right wing radio personality, and a reporter and her sidekick.
The random clown attack scenes are perfectly creepy, but this is also quite humorous in tone, and the characters are mostly quite likable.
Naturally the conservative douche is ridiculously stereotypical, hating the gays and abortion and wanting to take back the country by killing anything that doesn’t look or think exactly like him. In other words, he’s incredibly realistic.
Lauren Ashley Carter (Jug Face, Darlin’, The Woman) is the main reporter, there are plenty of cute guys, there’s a Killer Klowns from Outer Space reference, and the film even manages to do something memorable with its final act and final scene. Gags is definitely the one film in this trio that need to be in my personal collection.