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They took your wife away in a balloon?
Well you don't need the police, pal, you need a psychiatrist!
― Curtis Mooney

Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a 1988 American science fiction horror comedy film, made by The Chiodo Brothers and starring Grant Cramer. It is the only Chiodo Brothers' directed and written film – they have worked in many other projects in other roles, such as producing and visual effects.


The film is about a race of aliens (who resemble evil circus clowns) that arrive on Earth to capture and harvest people to use as sustenance.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Warning: this text contains details about the plot/ending of the film.

In the town of Crescent Cove, California, Farmer Gene Green spies a comet-like object falling into Earth. Believing it to be Haley's Comet he goes to find it, coming across a large circus tent-like structure. He is at first amused by the sight, but he and his dog Pooh Bear are quickly killed by mysterious clown-like creatures. Meanwhile, Mike Tobacco and his girlfriend Debbie Stone had also seen the comet and she convinces him to follow it. Coming across the same structure, they discover a massively complex interior that looks nothing like a circus tent, and a room with cotton candy-shaped cocoons. Discovering the old man and a friend's remains in the cocoons, they are nearly captured by the alien clowns who coat them with a popcorn gun as they escape before giving chase with a balloon-animal dog that comes to life. Narrowly escaping, Mike and Debbie travel to the police station to confide in her ex-boyfriend Dave Hanson and his skeptical, curmudgeonly partner Curtis Mooney about the killer klowns from outer space. The latter believes it to be a hoax, and so does Dave after they drop Debbie off at her home and investigate the site to find the ship missing. Coming across a group of cars on the makeout hill "Top of the World", Dave finds the place destroyed and several cars filled with the cotton candy-like substance, and finally believes Mike.

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Meanwhile, the Klowns journey into town and proceed to garner a supply of townspeople using ray guns that resemble toys to wrap them in cocoons. While their tricks seem whimsical and innocent, tricks like boxing gloves and shadow puppets to rubber mallets often turn deadly before the townspeople realize what is happening. One Klown invades a drug store knocking over everything in sight and then kills the clerk, while a group of klowns pretend to deliver a pizza to a girl's house as a klown jumps out of the box and kills her with his cotton candy ray gun; another klown in the park puts on a puppet show that lures a guy to his death; downtown, a Klown drives up in an alley full of biker thugs. One of the bikers decides to pick on the little klown by smashing his tricycle. The klown gets mad and punches the thug's head clear off while the rest of the gang flees; another klown goes to Big Top Burger Hut and tries to lure a little girl into its trap but fails (which infuriates the clown); a tall klown (who has the ability to float on the highway) has a demolition derby with a guy on the road, resulting in the klown ramming right into him and plowing him off the road and over a ledge to his death.

Mike and Dave encounter Slim, one of the klowns, using a shadow puppet to shrink a crowd of unsuspecting people into the palm of his hand before feeding it to a bag full of baby klowns who look like popcorn, but it escapes before Mike can run him down. Mooney, convinced that the calls to the police station are the result of a hoax, encounters one of the clowns and a series of pranks makes Mooney lock him up, not realizing the threat is real however until it is too late. Dave returns to the station to find two prisoners dead, the station decorated with shoe prints, and Mooney being mimicked like a puppet with Jumbo's hand inserted in his back. Dave shoots Jumbo several times before destroying its nose, which causes it to spin wildly and explode. In town, Mike and his friends Rich and Paul Terenzi, who own an ice cream truck they were using to warn people, notice the town overrun by the Klowns and run to avoid capture. At her home, Debbie is attacked by creatures that grew from the popcorn she had been sprayed with, and then is captured by the Klowns when they arrive, trapping her in a giant balloon. Mike, Dave and the brothers give chase to an old abandoned amusement park where five of the film's primary klowns (Slim, Fatso, Shorty, Rudy and Bibbo) had already killed a security guard by plastering him with acidic pies.


Journeying through a funhouse leading to the ship, the Terenzi brothers become separated, meeting two female klowns who sexually harass them off-screen while Mike and Dave find their way into the ship and free Debbie from her imprisonment after witnessing one of the Klowns using a silly straw to devour one of the liquidized townspeople. They run through the maze of a ship together, encountering several strange traps and tricks along the way before reaching a main room called "Klown Kathedral", and are surrounded by the Klowns. They are distracted when Rich and Paul arrive, after escaping the female clowns in their ice cream truck, and manage to trick them into stopping their attack using a fake plastic clown head to give them orders. However a viceroy, and supposedly the giant leader of the Klown army, named Jojo the Klownzilla, arrives as a stringed puppet and breaks free from the strings, wanting to destroy the humans himself. After the other Klowns flee from the leader, he destroys the truck with Rich and Paul still inside. Dave starts a battle with Jojo called Klownfrontation. Dave shoots at the massive clown to distract him from Debbie's and Mike's escape. They escape as the ship begins to coil in and spin like a top before lifting off the ground to leave Earth. Inside, Dave destroys the massive clown's nose with his badge and as a result, he explodes and the ship is destroyed with him. Having escaped to the authorities who had gathered outside the amusement park, Mike and Debbie briefly mourn their friends' loss until the Klown's miniature car drops out of the sky. Dave is alive and they all embrace before Paul and Rich appear from the back of the car themselves, having hidden in the ice cream coolers to avoid the explosion.

List of Deaths[edit | edit source]

Name Cause of Death Killer On Screen Notes
Pooh Bear Killed Jumbo Yes
Farmer Gene Green Killed and electrocuted with balloon ray gun Jumbo Yes
Joe Lombardo Killed with cotton candy gun Rudy No
Bob McReed Killed with cotton candy gun Spikey Yes
Mom #1 Killed with cotton candy gun Rudy No
Mom #2 Killed with cotton candy gun Rudy No
Little Girl Killed with cotton candy gun Shorty Yes
Mrs. Franco Killed with cotton candy gun Fatso Partially
Slug Decapitated with boxing glove Shorty Yes
Mr. Myers Killed with cotton candy gun Rudy Yes
Motorist Car crash Slim Yes
Janitor Eaten Baby Killer Klowns Yes
5 unnamed people Eaten with tyranosaurus shadow puppet Slim Yes
Deputy Curtis Mooney Face slammed against metal bars Jumbo Yes
Punk #1 and Punk #2 Killed with cotton candy gun Jumbo No
Jumbo Shot in nose with revolver and blown up Dave Hanson Yes
Many unnamed people Killed with cotton candy gun Killer Klowns No
Unnamed Person Killed with cotton candy gun Joe Yes
Amusement Park Security Guard Bleed and melted with thrown acid pies Killer Klowns Yes
8 unnamed people Killed with cotton candy gun Killer Klowns No
Boco Shot in nose with shotgun and blown up Dave Hanson Yes
Female Killer Klown Shot in nose with shotgun and blown up Yes
Fatso Shot in nose with shotgun and blown up Yes
Jojo the Klownzilla Nose popped with nail and blown up Yes
Mojo, Joe, Bibbo, Spikey, Magori, Chubby, Rudy, Shorty, Slam, Frank, Tiny Blown up Yes

Cast[edit | edit source]

  • Grant Cramer as Mike Tobacco, a young adult who tries to spread the news of the Klowns genocide.
  • Suzanne Snyder as Debbie Stone, Mike's girlfriend
  • John Allen Nelson as Dave Hanson, the town's police sheriff
  • John Vernon as Curtis Mooney, a violent misanthropic police officer
  • Michael Siegel as Rich Terenzi, an ice cream truck driver
  • Peter Licassi as Paul Terenzi, Rich's brother
  • Royal Dano as Farmer Gene Green
  • Christopher Titus as Bob McReed
  • Irene Michaels as Stacy
  • Karla Sue Krull as Tracy

Klown Performers[edit | edit source]

The performers who portrayed the clowns included:

  • Steve Rockhold
  • Michael Harington Burris
  • Geno Ponza
  • Scott Beatty
  • Paul Haley
  • Dennis C. Walsh
  • Genie Houdini
  • Charles Chiodo
  • Harrod Blank
  • Karl Shaeffer
  • Paul Parsons
  • Jimmy Locust
  • Mitch Bryan
  • Greg Sykes

Soundtrack[edit | edit source]

The score to Killer Klowns from Outer Space was composed by John Massari. The title song "Killer Klowns" was written and performed by The Dickies and was released on their album Killer Klowns from Outer Space in 1988, though only the one song is from the film. A limited edition complete soundtrack was released in 2006 through Percepto Records and features twenty-six tracks of score, the title song "Killer Klowns", and four bonus tracks at a running time just over sixty-nine minutes.

Merchandise[edit | edit source]

In 2006 SOTA Toys produced a Killer Klown figurine as part of their Now Playing movie action figures line.

There are two toy figures. The first is the most common Klown in the movie, a Klown warrior armed with a deadly popcorn blaster, cotton candy cocoon victim, and a colourful base with a pole to hang the deceased. A Tower Records exclusive figure of the same Klown mold has a radical blue paint scheme with vibrant red and purple highlights. This warrior comes with all the same accessories as the regular Klown, with the exception of the blaster; instead he is equipped with a sinister bat (similar to those the aliens use at end of the movie to pummel the heroes). Though the latter Klown model is considered a one-off variant, it can clearly be seen near the end of the film as one of the first Klowns to reveal itself. It can also be seen earlier in the film during the Klown parade, where it is one of the two Klowns pushing the vacuum that collects the cotton candy cocoons. The only discrepancy is that the figurine comes with a white bat, rather than one of the red ones wielded in the film.There's a Shadow Puppet Bozo action figure also.

SOTA's Jerry Macaluso has stated that he would like to create a mega-size "Klownzilla" figure (approx.size up to 20 inches high or more).

SOTA discontinued their Klown figures, but in 2008 Amoktime Toys announced they had purchased the license and their first Klown, "Shorty" will be available July 2009. Their Klowns are in scale with the Amoktime piece and according to Toyfair and the sculptor they have also bought the Shadow Klown aka Slim prototype from Sota and plan to produce it next. They have also mentioned a desire to do a Klownzilla piece in the future.

In 2007 Bump in the night productions began selling a line of officially licensed Killer Klowns masks props and costumes. The line consisted of mask of over sized collectors masks of the characters "Slim", "Shorty", and "Fatso".

The following year they released their Klownzilla and storefront Klown masks. They also sell the popcorn Klowns in a static prop and hand puppet version as well as full Klown costumes.

As of January 2011 all of the Killer Klowns pieces are still available.

Reception[edit | edit source]

Killer Klowns has become a cult favorite. According to the commentary, the Chiodo Brothers are planning to make a sequel to the movie in 2013. On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a positive review, with an average of 71%, based on 17 reviews.

An audio sample of the movie is used in the song "The Staleness", by the hip hop group the Insane Clown Posse. Another audio sample of the movie is used in the song "Whoop D God Damn Da Doo" by The "Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13".

The band Chiodos is also a tribute to the film's directors.

Videos[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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