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Film / Killer Klowns from Outer Space

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Stop it! That's our home!

"Killer clowns from outer space? Holy shit."

Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a 1988 horror/comedy B-Movie.

A spaceship shaped like a giant circus tent lands on the outskirts of a small town. The occupants are aliens that look like Monster Clowns. They begin abducting the townsfolk, sealing them in cotton candy cocoons, and then draining them of their blood. Only one man, his two delinquent friends, his girlfriend, and her cop ex-boyfriend can stop them.

A very Affectionate Parody of 50's B Movies (particularly The Blob) with just about every alien invasion and circus trope present.

Director Stephen Chiodo has expressed his anticipation to continue the film in the form of sequels and/or a TV show adaptation. However, he has not yet received an offer from a distributor for any future Killer Klowns movies.


  • Achilles' Heel: Destroying a Klown's nose kills them instantly.
  • Adult Fear: One Klown beckons a child to come to him... whilst secretly holding a mallet behind his back, clearly planning on murdering her. If her mom hadn't managed to stop her just in the nick of time — and entirely for the wrong reason at that — the little girl would have died gruesomely. It's honestly one of the scarier moments of the film.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of 1950s B-Movies.
  • Alliterative Name: Killer Klowns.
  • All Webbed Up: Done using cotton candy instead of webbing.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The alien invaders are an entire race of Monster Clowns, and are consequently all pure evil. They're essentially space clown vampires, but rather than killing humans only to feed on them, they're all utterly sadistic and genuinely enjoy murdering people in increasingly gruesome ways and laughing psychotically about it. Although see below under Boldly Coming.
  • Always Night: The entire film takes place during a single night. Oddly though, it's late enough for young lovers to be out at makeout point - usually implying it being a late hour - however there are still families with children having dinner at the Burger Fool.note 
  • Ancient Astronauts: One character theorizes that a previous visit from the Klowns, hundreds of years ago, gave humanity the idea for clowns, circus tents, popcorn, etc. It's also suggested that they are why many people fear clowns today.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Shorty gets upset over a biker who wrecks his tricycle and "knocks his block off".
    • The rabid officer Mooney who roughs up suspects and refuses to believe any of the reports about the Killer Klowns is murdered after he tries to intimidate one of the aliens.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: Klowns. (From outer space.)
  • Big Bad: Jojo the Klownzilla, who is literally much bigger than all the other Klowns which is why he's their leader.
  • Bad Humor Truck: The Terenzi brothers' latest get-rich-quick scheme. Also devised as a way to get fat girls.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The Klowns' spaceship combines this with Bizarrchitecture.
  • B-Movie: Both a straight example and an Affectionate Parody of the genre.
  • Boldly Coming: Downplayed example (apparently). The Terenzi brothers get separated from the other main characters briefly ending next to two lady Klowns. Cut away, and they come back shortly after Covered in Kisses.
  • Breast Expansion: The two "female" clowns from the above mentioned scene.
  • Bullying a Dragon: A group of bikers mock Shorty, the smallest Klown in the bunch. It does not end well for the main instigator.
    • Mooney whacking Jumbo the Klown with a baton can count as this.
  • Cassandra Truth: Inverted. Sgt. Mooney believes the hundreds of calls coming in of Monster Klowns are all part of an elaborate hoax.
    • Dave believes that Mike is lying to him about the Klowns at first, though he wises up pretty quickly.
  • Cool Starship: It's shaped like a circus tent.
  • Circus of Fear: What the Klowns' mothership is designed as.
  • Clown Car: Near the end the evil Klowns relocate to a closed amusement park, arriving in a little clown car. The security guard bemusingly watches 5 Klowns emerge from the vehicle, who then shower him in acid pies. Since 4 of those Klowns are proportional to or larger than the size of humans, putting all 5 inside that tiny car defies the laws of physics.
  • Creepy Circus Music: The score by John Massari has the feel of a demented, out-of-control circus tune to match with the tongue-in-cheek evil circus theme of the titular creatures.
  • Critical Research Failure: In-Universe example happens when farmer Green sees the Klowns' arrival on earth he deduces that it's the Halley's comet.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Really, where do we start?
    • Anyone zapped by the Klowns' cotton-candy guns, as shown in the few times that they're torn open, is dissolved alive inside of them.
    • A biker gets his head punched clean off after harassing Shorty.
    • A security guard is melted into a puddle of glop and bones with acidic cream pies.
  • Dead Guy Puppet: One of the Klowns uses Mooney as a ventriloquist's dummy in order to talk to Dave, apparently shoving its hand into his back.
    Klown: Don't worry, Dave, all we want to do is kill you!
  • Decoy Protagonist: Mike. Dave turns out to be the real hero.
  • Disney Death: The Klowns' spaceship blows up at the end of the film with Dave and the Terenzi brothers on board. All three of them are alive and well a minute later.
  • Earth-Shattering Poster: A Klown's finger is spinning it like a basketball.
  • Edible Ammunition: The Klowns fire popcorn guns and use cream pies for ammo, except the popcorn transforms into mini-monsters and the cream pies are acidic.
  • The End... Or Is It?: At the end of the movie, The Klowns' ship explodes...and everyone has a "thank goodness that's over" moment...only to be hit by cream pies. Also, there's still the issue of the baby Klowns back in Debbie's apartment.
  • E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: It's theorised that clowns and circuses were inspired by the aliens visiting before.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: See the Page Quote.
  • Famous Last Words: "''I don't know who you are, but when this night is over you're going to be begging for mercy''".
    • From the security guard late in the film: "What are you going to do with those pies, boys?"
  • Fanservice: Averted - there's very little for a monster movie. There's one short Shower Scene, but you never see any of Debbie closer than her elbows or knees.
  • God Guise: The Terenzi brothers try to fake out the Klowns with their clown-headed ice cream truck, proclaiming it's "the great and powerful Jojo". It gives pause to the regular Klowns, but rouses a giant one to contest "Jojo's" claim.
  • Humanoid Aliens: The Klowns, at least as adults (see Starfish Aliens below).
  • I'm Melting!: Near the end the Klowns dispose of a security guard by showering him with throwing pies... which promptly melt him down to a pile of bones.
  • Irony: From Mooney. "Nobody's going to make a dummy out of me!"
  • Keystone Army: The spaceship blows up when Jojo the Klownzilla is killed.
  • Laughably Evil: This is naturally the space Klowns' shtick. They kill people by using normally comedic circus-like magic tricks, but with lethal results—showering people in acid pies, cocooning them in cotton candy, consuming them with shadow puppets, making ventriloquist dummies out their corpses, etc. Evil Laugh optional, but advised.
  • Large and in Charge: Klownzilla.
  • Living Shadow: One of the Klowns entertains a crowd with Impossible Shadow Puppets before creating a T-Rex one and devouring them with it.
  • Living Toys: The Klowns create balloon-animal dogs that actually bark and follow scent-trails much like police dogs.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Jojo the Klownzilla, who blows up the entire Klown ship upon dying.
  • Long Neck: Possibly applicable to the Klown-spawn that arise from the popcorn on Debbie's discarded sweater, although we never seen what the necks are attached to so they could be snake-like instead.
  • Love Triangle: Between Debbie, her current boyfriend Mike and her ex-boyfriend Dave. Word of God says Dave probably wins.
  • Massive Multiplayer Scam: What Mooney thinks is happening regarding the clowns attacking the town (and furthermore, he thinks that he is the target—that the hoax is somehow aimed to force him to quit being a cop). He even decides to believe that Dave is part of it when he radios in asking him to request for backup from the state police. Needless to say, the truth is more horrifying...
  • Make-Out Point: Near where the Klowns land. Christopher Titus makes his film debut as one of the unfortunate teens.
  • Monster Clown: From Outer Space.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • Mooney tries a little Police Brutality on a Klown "prisoner", thinking it's a prankster in a costume. It ends badly, and he gets turned into a Dead Guy Puppet.
    • A gang of bikers decide to pick on Shorty by wrecking his bike. He decapitates the offending biker.
  • Name Drop: From Mooney - "'Killer Clowns from Outer Space?' Ho-ly shit."
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The klowns are in fact, Monster Clown Vampires From Space.
  • Off with His Head!: A biker gets his head literally punched off by Shorty.
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: All of the five main characters survive, Dave and the Terenzi brothers even get a Disney Death when they're shown to have survived the explosion of the Klown spaceship after all. At the same time, their entire hometown (or a very good portion at least) has been wiped out by the Klown invasion, which is ignored with a pre-credits pie gag.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They're alien beings who visually resemble grotesque, somewhat reptilian clowns, and they use ray-guns that envelop victims in cocoons of cotton candy that dissolve them, implying that what the Klowns drink is less "blood" and more "liquefied flesh".
  • People Puppets: Mooney after being killed by a Klown.
  • Pie in the Face: The Klowns throw acidic pies at a security guard, which reduces him to a pile of bones and whipped cream, ending with Shorty sticking a giant cherry on top. Interesting to note that the pies used were not the traditional pie tin with whipped cream, but actual fruit pies that hit the guy with quite a bit of visible force.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Shorty knocks a grown man's head clean off with a single punch. Justified because the Klowns are actually extraterrestrial monsters.
  • Police Are Useless: Mooney is absolutely convinced that the Klowns are a hoax perpetrated by the Terenzi brothers and, apparently, that the same hoax is supported by the entire population of the town. He thinks they're all in on it. Subverted with Dave, who at first doesn't believe Mike and Debbie when they try to explain the situation to him, but eventually joins them wholeheartedly once the threat becomes clear. The rest of the state police do show up at the end, but they are too late to actually help anyone, arriving just in time to see the spaceship explode and the survivors escape.
  • Precision F-Strike: "It's gonna take a lot more than a lame prank like this to get Curtis Mooney to throw in his badge, so fuck you, over!"
  • Rabid Cop: Officer Mooney has to be almost physically restrained from beating up a couple of punks brought in for public drunkenness. He later takes a flashlight to the head of one of the Klowns, which turns out to be not such a hot idea.
  • Ray Gun: The Klown's main weapon of choice is a ray gun that wraps people in a cotton candy cocoon which turns them into a drinkable gelatinous goo, sort of like a gigantic Capri Sun pouch, if you will.
  • Sexy Jester: The Terenzi brothers seem to think the two female clowns are this but most viewers wouldn't agree.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Dumbo when the Klowns appear beneath Debbie's window holding a small trampoline and wearing fire helmets.
    • Officer Mooney appears to be based off of Sgt. Jim Bert from The Blob (1958).
  • Shower Scene: We don't get to see anything, but the love interest Debbie apparently spends a good half-hour in there...
  • Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: Largely balanced. The film is played surprisingly straight for such a silly premise which the filmmakers wisely didn't take too seriously. The klowns are very often Laughably Evil, but the movie keeps some genuine scares for even non-coulrophobes.
  • Starfish Aliens: Though the adults are humanoid, the clowns seem to start life as popcorn, then grow into snakes with clown heads.
  • Stripped to the Bone: Acidic custard pies.
  • Sweater Girl and Guy: Mike and Debbie wear sweaters for pretty much the whole movie. This isn't too odd until you notice it's obviously summer, with leaves on the trees and an ice cream truck not being out of the ordinary.
  • Technicolor Death: The only way to kill a Klown is by popping their noses, which makes them spin around in a green light show before exploding. All in all, killing a Klown is just as dangerous as blowing up dynamite, but just letting the Klown live is a worse choice.
  • Terror at Make-Out Point: The first place the Killer Klowns go to so they can harvest humans for their blood is the teenage make-out spot. When the heroes later inspect the place, they find only cars full of cotton candy and a pair of glasses.
  • Threw My Bike on the Roof: A group of bikers bully Shorty who arrives on a mini-bicycle by destroying it and laughing to each other. Except he is a actually a vampiric extra-terrestrial monster, so he decapitates the biker in question. The rest of the gang wisely take off after that.
  • Tightrope Walking: Exploring the Klowns' tent/ship, the characters encounter a passage where they must walk a tightrope in a fog; they manage, but wobble enough to show it's not easy. The weirdness of the scene increases when they reach the end of the passage, where the rope is bent into steps which lead to the next doorway.
  • Title Drop: See the page quote.
  • Title Theme Tune: Killer Klowns From Outer Space by The Dickies.
  • To Serve Man: The Klowns capture people to drink their victims' blood.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Only two female clowns are seen.
  • Visual Pun: The Klowns' "Big Top" tent/spaceship, when it takes off at the end of the movie, is revealed to actually be shaped like a Big "top"
  • What Are You in For?: Asked of a Klown by a fellow prisoner after he allows himself to be locked in the town jail.
  • Would Hurt a Child: In an otherwise silly movie, the prospect of this provides a moment of true suspense.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: In the title.
  • You Are Too Late: Mike takes Dave back to see the circus tent which is gone. Oddly enough, the huge hole it left behind does not count as any evidence of anything strange to Dave, who promptly handcuffs Mike for filing a false report.