As horror icon Lon Chaney Sr. once said ‘There is nothing laughable about a clown in the moonlight.’ As quotes go, I can’t help but agree and add that there’s nothing funny about them in the daylight either, or twilight, or the dim glow from a bare light bulb, because let’s not beat around the circus, clowns are freaking scary. While I admire their commitment to a dying trade, nobody smiles that much no matter how good their life is, and what are they so happy about anyway? I can’t imagine terrifying the bejesus out of children pays well.
They are however, excellent big bads to base a horror film around, as It, Killer Clowns from Outer Space and the more recent 100 Tears have proved, but most attempts at the evil clown have fallen flat, and resulted in more comedic than creep. There’s life in the face paint yet though, and I’ve got a feeling that someone, somewhere could match up to, or even surpass the best horror film featuring clowns that I’ve seen to date.
Three bat crap crazy patients escape from a mental institution and, after discovering the travelling circus that has rocked up nearby, murder three particularly horrifying clowns and disguise themselves in their not at all conspicuous attire. Dressed up like every kid’s worst nightmare, they break into a house where three young brothers are home alone, they terrorise the boys in a way that only the criminally insane in clown outfits can.
The film is financed by Francis ford Coppola and directed by the notorious film maker/child molester Victor ‘’Jeepers Creepers’’ Salva; and though his crimes should have no bearing on the film, I felt there was an undeniably uncomfortable amount of half naked pre pubescent boys that is noticeably unnecessary in parts, and you do get the distinct impression that the characters of the brothers are over sexualised in some scenes.
That being said, Clownhouse is an excellent, intelligently made, horror film with a slow creeping sense of foreboding and some genuinely iconic scenes, which bring the goose bumps in waves. Salva has a knack of tapping into the very primal, instinctual fears of childhood, and bringing them into reality with ease. The strange and, at times, jarring soundtrack and corny eighties characters, makes for a very entertaining, incredibly chilling watch