Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a 1988 American science fiction horror comedy film[1] written, directed and produced by the Chiodo Brothers, and starring Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson and John Vernon. It is the only film to be written and directed by the Chiodo Brothers and they also did the practical effects and makeup for the film. The film is about a clan of evil aliens from an unknown region, who all resemble circus clowns. They arrive on Earth and invade a small town in order to capture, kill, and harvest the human inhabitants to use as sustenance.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStephen Chiodo[1]
Produced byCharles Chiodo
Edward Chiodo
Stephen Chiodo
Written by
  • Charles Chiodo
  • Stephen Chiodo
Music byJohn Massari
CinematographyAlfred Taylor[1]
Edited byChristopher Roth[1]
Chiodo Bros.[1]
Distributed byTrans World Entertainment[1]
Release date
  • May 27, 1988 (1988-05-27)[2]
Running time
88 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States[1]
Budget$1.8 million[3]

Killer Klowns from Outer Space was filmed in Watsonville, California, and at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The film utilizes practical effects, including rubber suits. The score was composed by John Massari. The film received generally positive reviews and has been considered a cult classic.

A sequel has been in development hell since the original film's release, with Stephen Chiodo having stated that he hopes to produce a series of films with a total of four installments, or a television series based on the film.[4][5] The SyFy channel announced on October 22, 2018, that it was in talks to purchase the rights to the film in order to produce a sequel.[6]


Just outside the town of Crescent Cove, Mike Tobacco and his girlfriend Debbie Stone are parked with other couples at the local lovers' lane when they spot a strange glowing object falling to Earth. Nearby, farmer Gene Green, believing it to be Halley's Comet, ventures into the woods to find the impact site. He stumbles upon a large circus tent-like structure, and he and his dog are captured by mysterious clownish aliens, the "Klowns". Mike and Debbie arrive to investigate for themselves. Entering the structure, they discover a complex interior with elevators and bizarre rooms. They find a gelatinized Green encased in a cotton candy-like cocoon and are spotted by a klown, who shoots popcorn at them from a bazooka-like weapon and then chases them aided by another one who uses a living balloon dog.

Narrowly escaping, they report the incident to Debbie's ex-boyfriend, Deputy Dave Hanson, and his curmudgeonly partner, Deputy Curtis Mooney. Mike and Dave return to the woods, only to find the tent gone, leaving a large crater in its place. They travel to the lovers' lane, only to find all the cars abandoned and covered in the cocoon's substance. The klowns begin encasing townspeople in cocoons using rayguns that resemble toys. Several klowns perform pranks and mock circus acts, which result in the deaths of many onlookers.

Mike and Dave witness a klown using shadow puppets to shrink a crowd of people, then dump them into a bag full of popcorn, which are revealed to be klowns in larval form. Back at the police station, another klown arrives and Mooney arrests it, believing it to be a teenage prankster. Dave returns to the station to find the place ransacked and the klown using a deceased Mooney as a ventriloquist's dummy. Dave shoots the alien in the nose, which causes it to spin wildly and explode.

Mike meets with his friends Rich and Paul, the Terenzi brothers, and using the PA speaker on their ice cream truck, they drive around town attempting to warn people of the klowns. At Debbie's house, popcorn from her earlier encounter with the klowns evolves into juvenile klowns and attacks her. As she attempts to escape, she is intercepted by the klowns, who trap her in a giant balloon. Mike, Dave, and the Terenzis witness Debbie's capture and give chase, following the klowns to the local amusement park, where they have relocated their tent. Journeying through a funhouse, the Terenzi brothers become separated. After Dave and Mike witness a klown using a crazy straw to drink gelatinized townspeople blood, they rescue Debbie and flee into a maze full of traps.

The trio then finds themselves surrounded by klowns. The Terenzis arrive in their ice cream truck and use the PA to distract the aliens. A gargantuan klown marionette, Jojo the Klownzilla, appears and destroys the ice cream truck, apparently killing the Terenzis, Dave creates a distraction, and Mike and Debbie escape. The tent begins to spin into the air, revealing it to be a massive spaceship. Dave uses his badge to pierce Jojo's nose, causing it to explode and destroy the ship. A klown car drops out of the sky and Dave emerges along with the Terenzi brothers, who miraculously survived by hiding in the ice cream truck's freezer moments before it was destroyed. As the group watches the fireworks created by the ship's destruction, pies fall from the sky and land on their faces.



The popcorn gun was the most expensive prop used in the film.

The film's original title was simply Killer Klowns, but the filmmakers added the words "from Outer Space" to prevent audiences from assuming the film was a slasher movie.[7] Filming took place in the city of Watsonville and at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.[8] The film was Christopher Titus' first role in a motion picture.[7] The popcorn gun used by the clowns in the film, which included a compressor that would allow the weapon to actually propel popcorn, was the most expensive prop made for the production, costing $7,000 to create and taking six weeks to build.[7] The legs of the clowns' balloon animal dog were coated in latex by the film's special effects department in order to keep the balloon from popping on the pine needles which covered the ground.[7]

While the Chiodo Brothers were well-known as special effects artists, much of the special effects work was carried out by other artists, allowing the brothers to focus more on their production duties. However, the brothers did personally construct the miniature set for the "Klownzilla" sequence.[9]

Most of the vehicles used in the film were rented and therefore were not allowed to be damaged. Two cars were accidentally damaged; one was driven off a bridge, although it was only intended to roll a short distance,[10] and the Jeep filled with webbing needed $3,000 of repairs after solvent in the webbing damaged the interior.[7]

The Chiodo Brothers wanted to cast comedian Soupy Sales as the security guard killed by the clowns' acidic pies, as he was known for receiving pies in the face on his children's television show Lunch with Soupy Sales.[7] However, the executive producers did not want to allocate funds to pay for Sales' plane ticket to the production, as they felt that audiences would not know who Sales was.[7]

Jojo the Klownzilla, the colossal klown who appears at the end of the film, was originally intended to be created using stop-motion animation, but was instead portrayed by Charles Chiodo in a rubber suit.[7] In the film's original finale, Deputy Dave dies in the explosion of the clowns' ship, but this was changed after audiences in test screenings desired a more upbeat ending.[7]


The film's score was composed by John Massari. The title song "Killer Klowns" was written and performed by the American punk rock band the Dickies and was released on their album Killer Klowns from Outer Space in 1988. A limited-edition complete soundtrack was released in 2006 through Percepto Records and features twenty-six tracks of the score, the title song "Killer Klowns", and four bonus tracks at a running time just over sixty-nine minutes.[11][12]


Killer Klowns from Outer Space was released in the United States on May 27, 1988.[2] The film was released on VHS by Fox Home Entertainment on July 17, 2001,[13] and on VHS and DVD as part of MGM Home Entertainment's "Midnite Movies" line of home media releases on August 28, 2001.[14] MGM released the film on Blu-ray on September 11, 2012.[15]

On May 25, 2013, the film received a 35 mm screening at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Vintage Park in Houston, Texas,[16] as well as a 35 mm screening at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Yonkers, New York on June 20, 2014.[17]

On April 9, 2018, Arrow Films released their special edition Blu-Ray of Killer Klowns From Outer Space. This release was newly restored, with interviews, documentary featurettes, Klown auditions, bloopers, deleted scenes, a double-sided poster that features the original theatrical poster, as well as art by Sara Deck, and more.

Critical receptionEdit

The film has been considered a cult classic.[12][18] On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an average score of 75%, based on 24 critic reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Killer Klowns from Outer Space's title promises darkly goofy fun – and more often than not, the movie delivers."[19] Leonard Klady of The Los Angeles Times wrote that the film "demonstrates both above-average technical skill and large dollops of imagination".[20] Film critic Leonard Maltin initially declared the film a BOMB ("Strictly tenth-rate."), but gave the movie a second look after a few years; this time, Maltin awarded the picture two-and-a-half out of a possible four stars. In his second review, Maltin wrote "Routinely plotted, but vividly designed, with cheeky humor ... plays its premise to the hilt, all 'circus' bases touched".[21]

Charles Bramesco of The A.V. Club recommended the film, writing that "The film is patently absurd, but the filmmakers are fully committed to that absurdity. It's hard not to respect", and noted the film's "enduring appeal".[22] Charles Webb of called the performances "a little rough", and wrote "If Killer Klowns isn't especially scary, it's only kind of funny but still gets by on the execution of extremely inventive visuals based on the clown/circus motif".[23] Dread Central gave the film three out of a possible five stars.[24] gave the film a rating of 8/10, stating that the film "is the KING of 80's B-movies and it delivers the tacky goods by the truckloads".[25] John Gugie of gave the film a score of 3/5, calling it "a hit or miss for horror and sci-fi fans".[26]

Author Matthew Chojnacki recommended the film in his book Alternative Movie Posters: Film Art From the Underground.[27] Jim Craddock, in his book VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever, gave the film two-and-a-half out of four bones, calling the film a "Visually striking, campy but slick horror flick that'll make you think twice about your next visit to the big top".[28] Director Brian Herzlinger considers Killer Klowns from Outer Space to be "his favorite cult film".[29]

Legacy and cancelled sequelEdit

It was said that 4 molds were made for the main clowns. One was peanut shaped, another was triangular, circular, and the final shape was an inverted triangle. From those 4 molds the effects artists produced 2 clown characters from each of the molds. As for Klownzilla we see at the end of the movie it had its own mask molded just for its appearance.[30]

Two of the masks that were used to create the clowns in the film were re-purposed and used to portray trolls in the 1991 film Ernest Scared Stupid.[31]

In 2005, SOTA Toys announced they would produce Killer Klown figurines as part of their Now Playing film action figures line.[32] One figure was produced in 2006.[33] After SOTA stopped producing the toys, Amok Time took over.[34] In 2017 Amok Time announced they no longer have the licence to release more Killer Klown figures.

The Chiodo Brothers plan on creating a sequel to the film, with the initial release date being scheduled for 2012, though it has since been postponed.[12]

In 2012, Grant Cramer, who starred in the original film, revealed that his character would make a return as a town drunk whom nobody believes. His character would serve as a mentor to young street performers who must fight the Killer Klowns when they return. He described his character as "somewhere between the energy of Kris Kristofferson's character in Blade and Christopher Lloyd's character in Back to the Future".[35]

Like the original film, Stephen Chiodo is set to be the director and Charles Chiodo is set to produce. With production to take place over 30 years after the release of the original film, the timeframe between films will be credited as the longest gap in the release of films in a horror comedy film series.[36]

Stephen Chiodo stated in March 2016 that:

Right now, we are currently pursuing a long arch series for cable. We wondered, should we do a sequel to the first one or do we do a remake? We came up with a 'requel' – it's a sequel and a remake. We've been developing this for a while. It's a trilogy in four parts, and it really follows the continuing adventures of new people who are experiencing this phenomenon of a Klown invasion, and once in a while you see some of the old guys pop up and hear their stories – find out what happened over the last 25 years. It's fucking great.[5]

The proposed title for the first sequel to the original film is Return of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space in 3D.[37] A television series based on the original film is also rumored to be produced.[5][38] John Massari, who composed the synthesizer-filled score for the original film, re-recorded the score with a full orchestra at Warner Brothers Studios in 2016.[39]

The Killer Klowns from Outer Space were featured as a scare zone at the Universal Orlando annual Halloween Horror Nights event for its 28th year. Most of the clowns, the Terenzi brothers, and their ice cream truck are incorporated into the zone.[40]

On October 22, 2018, it was announced that SYFY was in talks to acquire the rights to Killer Klowns from Outer Space and the Critters franchise in order to produce new sequels to both properties.[6]

On July 25, 2019, it was announced that Killer Klowns from Outer Space would return to the Universal Orlando annual Halloween Horror Nights event for a second consecutive year, and would also appear at Universal Studios Hollywood. This time, the characters would feature in a Haunted House attraction rather than the Scare Zone format in which they appeared in 2018 in Orlando.[41] Later in August, it was revealed that exclusive merchandise of Killer Klowns from Outer Space would be sold during the Halloween Horror Nights, along with other properties.[42]

In August 2019, after the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney, it was revealed that Fox intended on developing the sequel to Killer Klowns from Outer Space, but Disney had cancelled it along with over 200 other projects. As previously stated, the sequel was going to be titled The Return of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space in 3-D.[43][44][45]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)". American Film Institute. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)". The Numbers. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  3. ^ Buckley, Heather (July 3, 2014). "Exclusive: The Chiodo Brothers Talk Killer Klowns, Movie Making, and More!". Dread Central. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  4. ^ John Squires (October 18, 2016). "Stephen Chiodo Explains 'Killer Klowns from Outer Space' Trilogy Plans". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Jonathan Barkan (March 21, 2016). "'Killer Klowns from Outer Space' to Return as a TV Series?". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kevin Carr. "22 Things We Learned from the 'Killer Klowns From Outer Space' Commentary". Film School Rejects. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  8. ^ "Killer Klowns from Outer Space film locations". The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  9. ^ Berrian, Roger (December 1987). "Monster Invasion". Fangoria (69): 10.
  10. ^ Stephen Chiodo (director). The Making of Killer Klowns (DVD). Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Midnite Movies). ... to stop the car from rolling down the hill it was on, they put a sandbag underneath the front wheel. And they neglected to take the sandbag away when they had the cable pull the car, so the cable snapped immediately. So the car just kind of rolled down the hill via gravity.
  11. ^ Killer Klowns from Outer Space soundtrack info at Screen Archives
  12. ^ a b c Mandi Nowitz (November 6, 2012). "B-List Movie of the Month: Killer Klowns from Outer Space". Den of Geek. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  13. ^ Killer Klowns from Outer Space [VHS]. ISBN 0792846710.
  14. ^ "Killer Klowns From Outer Space [Format: DVD]". Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  15. ^ "Killer Klowns from Outer Space Blu-ray". Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  16. ^ Robert Saucedo (May 21, 2013). "KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE invade Vintage Park at a rare 35mm screening". Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  17. ^ "NY! See "KILLER KLOWNS" in 35mm at the Alamo Drafthouse with Fango's Michael Gingold!". Fangoria. May 28, 2014. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  18. ^ Quintanilla, Michael (October 27, 1997). "How to have yourself a very Scary HALLOWEEN". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  19. ^ "Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  20. ^ Leonard Klady (June 4, 1988). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Killer Klowns' Fiendishly Clever". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  21. ^ Leonard Maltin; Darwyn Carson; Luke Sader (September 2, 2014). Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide 2015: The Modern Era. Penguin Group USA. p. 760. ISBN 978-0-451-46849-9.
  22. ^ Charles Bramesco (January 20, 2016). "The try-hard charm of Killer Klowns From Outer Space created its own cult". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  23. ^ Charles Webb (October 2, 2012). "Review: Beware An Invasion By 'Killer Klowns From Outer Space!'". Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  24. ^ "Killer Klowns from Outer Space (Blu-ray)". Dread Central. October 1, 2012. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  25. ^ "Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) – Horror Movie Reviews". Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  26. ^ John Gugie (September 19, 2012). "Film Review: Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)". Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  27. ^ Erik Piepenburg (October 24, 2013). "For Halloween, Authors Suggest Lowbrow Film Treats". The New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  28. ^ Jim Craddock (2011). VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever. Gale/Cengage Learning. p. 565. ISBN 978-1-4144-4878-7.
  29. ^ Aimee Murillo (June 25, 2013). "Directors Discuss the Obscure, Bizarre Films They Love". LA Weekly. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  30. ^ "10 Far Out Facts About Killer Klowns From Outer Space". November 13, 2017. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  31. ^ John Squires (September 20, 2016). "Did You Ever Spot the Killer Klowns in 'Ernest Scared Stupid'?!". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  32. ^ Vespe, Eric (February 27, 2005). "Quint looks at some damn cool upcoming movie toys: SIN CITY, DARKO, KLOWNS, THING, AM. WEREWOLF and more!!". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  33. ^ Miska, Brad (April 18, 2012). "[News Bites] 'Catching Fire' Director List Grows, 'Infected' & 'Monster Project' Announced, Tim Burton's 'Vampire Hunter' Art Contest & 'Killer Klowns' Toys!". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  34. ^ Squires, John (October 30, 2014). "10 Awesome Horror Movie Toys That Were Never Released!". Dread Central. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  35. ^ Ike Oden (September 7, 2012). "Return of the Killer Klowns star dishes new plot details". Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  36. ^ Shirey, Eric. "'Killer Klowns From Outer Space' to Return for 3D Sequel in 2012". Yahoo!. Archived from the original on August 4, 2013.
  37. ^ Killer Klowns from Outer Space's sequel – Killer Klowns from Outer Space Archived October 14, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ Dave Trumbore (March 22, 2016). "'Killer Klowns from Outer Space' Could Be Coming to TV in New Series". Collider. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  39. ^ John Massari (September 7, 2016). "Orchestra Recording Session at Warner Brothers Studios: Killer Klowns from Outer Space". YouTube. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ Squires, John (August 27, 2019). "This Year's Official Halloween Horror Nights Merch Includes Exclusive 'Killer Klowns' Figures!". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  43. ^ Geisinger, Gabriella (August 10, 2019). "Fox movies scrapped forever after Disney's big takeover". Digital Spy. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  44. ^ Boone, Brian (August 6, 2019). "Canceled Fox movies we'll never get to see". Looper. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  45. ^ Donnelly, Matt (August 6, 2019). "Disney Flushes Fox Film Development, 'Redirects' Strategy After Big Q3 Loss". Variety. Retrieved September 13, 2019.

External linksEdit