Review Date: 8/6/19
Written, Directed, and Produced by: The Chiodo Brothers
Cast: John Vernon
A true camp classic! Unless you have coulrophobia... A small town is terrorized by a group of space aliens that look like grotesque circus clowns. They feed on humans and use popcorn, cotton candy, cream pies, balloon animals, and shadow puppets as weapons. John Vernon plays a mean, grouchy, and foul-mouthed police officer who thinks the whole thing is a hoax until he eventually falls victim to the seemingly unstoppable red-nosed invaders. Naturally, it's up to a small group of college kids to save the day.
This film is truly a product of its time, and could only have been made in the 1980s. It's a modest production and the makeup and visual effects are superb. The Chiodo Brothers excel at articulated masks, puppetry, optical tricks, and forced perspective photography, and the film looks truly remarkable. The writing is very clever and witty, and the circus theme is milked for everything it's got. It's amazing how the film is able to use overly cheap and mundane props like popcorn, cotton candy, and balloons, and make them menacing. It reminds me of "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" (1986) in the way that it takes a super simple and silly premise, exaggerates it to absurd proportions, and unflinchingly runs it all the way into the end zone. The only part that didn't work for me was the two idiots in the ice cream van, who are constantly annoying and dumb down an otherwise intelligent and engaging script.