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Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStephen Chiodo[1]
Written by
  • Charles Chiodo
  • Stephen Chiodo
Produced byCharles Chiodo
Edward Chiodo
Stephen Chiodo
CinematographyAlfred Taylor[1]
Edited byChristopher Roth[1]
Music byJohn Massari
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]
Box office$745[4][5]

Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a 1988 American science fiction comedy horror 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 written and directed by the Chiodo Brothers, who also created the practical effects and makeup. It concerns evil extraterrestrials who resemble clowns arriving on Earth and invading a small town in order to capture, kill and harvest the human inhabitants to use as sustenance.

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.

Sequels have been in development hell since the original film's release. Stephen Chiodo stated in 2016 that he hopes to produce three additional films, or possibly a television series.[6][7] In 2018, NBCUniversal's Syfy announced that it was in talks to license the rights to make one or more sequels.[8]


Just outside the town of Crescent Cove, Mike Tobacco and his girlfriend, Debbie Stone, are spending time 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, whereupon he and his dog are captured by clown-like aliens known as "Klowns". Arriving to investigate for themselves, Mike and Debbie enter the structure and discover a complex interior with bizarre rooms, eventually realizing that it is the object and a spaceship. They find a gelatinized Green encased in a cocoon made out of a cotton candy-like substance and are spotted by a Klown, which shoots popcorn at them from a bazooka-like weapon and then chases them, aided by another Klown that uses a sentient balloon dog.

Narrowly escaping to the local police station, they report the incident to one of the officers and Debbie's ex-boyfriend, Dave Hansen, and his curmudgeonly partner, Curtis Mooney. Mike takes Dave to the site of the ship, only to find it missing with a large crater left in its place, prompting Dave to apprehend Mike for his supposed tall tale. The duo then travel to the lovers' lane, only to find it abandoned and one of the cars filled with the cocoon's substance, proving the Klowns' existence and Dave's innocence. The Klowns begin encasing townspeople in more of the cocoons using toy-like rayguns. Several of them perform pranks and mock circus acts, which result in the deaths of several onlookers.

Mike and Dave eventually witness a Klown using a form of shadow puppetry to shrink a crowd of people at a bus stop, then dump them into a bag full of popcorn, which are later revealed to be its species' larval form. Back at the police station, another Klown arrives and Mooney arrests it, believing it to be a teenage prankster. Dave soon returns to the station and encounters the Klown using a now-deceased Mooney as a ventriloquist's dummy. Dave then shoots the alien in its fragile nose, which causes it to spin around wildly and explode into confetti upon its shattering.

Mike meets with his friends, Rich and Paul Terenzi, and, using the public address system on their ice cream truck, they drive around town attempting to warn people of the Klowns. At Debbie's house, some of the Klowns' larvae from her and Mike's earlier encounter with them evolves into juvenile Klowns and attacks her. As she attempts to escape, she is intercepted by the other Klowns, who detain her in a giant balloon. Mike, the Terenzi brothers and Dave witness Debbie's capture and give chase, following the Klowns to the local amusement park, where they have relocated their ship. Journeying through a funhouse, the Terenzis become separated. After Dave and Mike enter the ship and witness a Klown using a drinking straw to drink the blood of one of their cocooned victims, they rescue Debbie and flee deeper into it.

The trio find themselves surrounded by a legion of Klowns, but the Terenzis arrive and attempt to distract the aliens. Their gargantuan leader, Jojo the Klownzilla, soon appears and destroys their ice cream truck, seemingly killing the Terenzis; Dave creates a distraction as Mike and Debbie escape before the ship begins to take off. Dave then uses his police badge to pierce Jojo's nose, vanquishing it and resulting in the ship being destroyed. The Klowns' car then drops out of the sky and Dave emerges along with the Terenzis, the latter of whom miraculously survived by hiding in the ice cream truck's freezer moments before it was destroyed.

As Dave and his friends watch 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 "from Outer Space" was later added to keep audiences from assuming it was a slasher film.[9] Filming took place in the city of Watsonville and at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.[10] The film was Christopher Titus' first role in a motion picture.[9] The popcorn gun used by one of the Klowns 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 seven thousand dollars to create and taking six weeks to build.[9] The legs of the Klowns' sentient balloon animal dog were coated in latex by the film's special effects department in order to keep it from popping on the pine needles that covered the ground.[9]

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.[11]

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,[12] and the Jeep filled with the cotton candy cocoons' substance needed three thousand dollars worth of repairs after solvent in the material damaged the interior.[9]

The Chiodo Brothers wanted to cast comedian Soupy Sales as the local amusement park's security guard killed by the Klowns' acidic pies, as he was known for receiving pies in the face on his children's television show Lunch with Soupy Sales.[9] 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.[9]

Jojo the Klownzilla, the Klowns' gargantuan leader who appears in the film's climax, was originally intended to be created using stop-motion animation, but was instead portrayed by Charles Chiodo in a rubber suit.[9] In the film's original finale, Dave was killed in the destruction of the Klowns' ship, but this was changed after audiences in test screenings desired a more upbeat ending.[9]

Four molds were made for the main Klowns. One was peanut shaped, another was triangular, another circular and the final shape was an inverted triangle. From those four molds the effects artists produced a pair of specific Klowns each. Klownzilla had its own mask molded specifically for its appearance.[13]

Two of the masks that were used to create the Klowns in the film were allegedly re-purposed and used to portray the trolls of Ernest Scared Stupid.[14] However, in a 2023 Zoom Q&A at the Little Theatre in Rochester, NY, Stephen Chiodo said that the only things potentially reused were some ear props, with the resemblance in masks being purely coincidental.


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. Frontman Leonard Phillips wrote the song without seeing the movie. 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.[15][16] The score was later released by Waxwork Records on a vinyl LP.[17]


Killer Klowns from Outer Space was released in the United States on May 27, 1988.[2] The film was released on VHS and LaserDisc by Media Home Entertainment in 1989, and then by MGM Home Entertainment in 2000 as part of their "Midnite Movies" line, and on DVD on August 28, 2001.[18] MGM released the film on Blu-ray on September 11, 2012.[19]

On May 25, 2013, the film received a 35 mm screening at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Vintage Park in Houston, Texas,[20] as well as a 35 mm screening at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Yonkers, New York on June 20, 2014.[21]

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 reception[edit]

The film has been considered a cult classic.[16][22] On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an average score of 78%, based on 27 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."[23] Leonard Klady of The Los Angeles Times wrote that the film "demonstrates both above-average technical skill and large dollops of imagination".[24] 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".[25]

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".[26] Charles Webb of MTV.com 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".[27] Dread Central gave the film three out of a possible five stars.[28] JoBlo.com gave the film a rating of 8/10, stating that the film "is the king of '80s B-movies and it delivers the tacky goods by the truckloads".[29] John Gugie of HorrorNews.net gave the film a score of 3/5, calling it "a hit or miss for horror and sci-fi fans".[30]

Author Matthew Chojnacki recommended the film in his book Alternative Movie Posters: Film Art From the Underground.[31] 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".[32] Director Brian Herzlinger considers Killer Klowns from Outer Space to be "his favorite cult film".[33]

Planned sequels[edit]

The Chiodo brothers planned to release a "requel" (a portmanteau of remake and sequel), titled Return of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space in 3D, in 2012.[16][34][35] Stephen Chiodo was to direct the movie, and his brother Charles would be a production designer.[34] Grant Cramer, who starred in the original film as Mike Tobacco, stated that his character would return. According to Cramer, Tobacco now would be a town drunk, whose ramblings about the Klowns are dismissed. When the Klowns come back, Tobacco, who has been preparing for their return, teams up with two young street performers to fight them. Cramer also said that there might be multiple sequels, each revolving around a character from the original movie.[36]

It was reported later that the release date had been delayed, but, according to the Facebook page for the film, it was "officially in post-production."[16] A page on a website for the original movie promised that the follow-up film (referred to as a sequel, rather than a "requel") would be released in 2013.[35]

In 2016 interviews, Stephen Chiodo stated that efforts to make further Killer Klowns productions had shifted, from planning one or more theatrical releases, to focus on television. He explained the concept of "a trilogy in four parts, with the original film being the first," adding, "We've got it all written out." However, he also ambiguously referred to the same plans as "a long arch series for cable" and "a long-ranging series".[6][7][37]

On October 22, 2018, it was announced that the Syfy channel was in talks to license the rights to make one or more sequels to Killer Klowns from Outer Space, as well as additional movies in the Critters franchise.[8]


In 2005, SOTA Toys announced they would produce Killer Klown figurines as part of their Now Playing film action figures line.[38] One figure was produced in 2006.[39] After SOTA stopped producing the toys, Amok Time took over[40] until 2017, when the company announced that its license to produce Killer Klown figures had expired.[citation needed] Both Klown and Shorty figures have become high-end collectibles, and are much sought after by collectors.[citation needed]

John Massari, the composer of the synthesizer-filled score for the movie, rerecorded the music with a full orchestra at Warner Brothers Studios in 2016.[41]

In 2018, Klowns, as well as the infamous ice cream truck from the film, were featured in a Killer Klowns from Outer Space-themed "scare zone" at Universal Orlando's 28th annual Halloween Horror Nights event.[42] On July 25, 2019, it was announced that the Killer Klowns from Outer Space scare zone of the previous year would be expanded into a full-fledged haunted house attraction for the 2019 event at both the Orlando and Hollywood locations.[43] Later in August, it was revealed that exclusive Killer Klowns from Outer Space merchandise would be sold during Halloween Horror Nights.[44] The haunted house later returned for the 2022 edition of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood.

In 2021, Spirit Halloween dedicated a section of its seasonal stores to merchandise tied to the movie. In addition to costumes, statues, props, doormats, signage, and life-sized animatronic characters were featured.[45][46]

In August 2022, it was revealed that an asymmetrical multiplayer game based on the film was being developed by Teravision Games and published by Good Shepherd Entertainment with a planned release in 2024 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S.[47] It was announced in August 2023 that IllFonic was brought onto the project to relieve Good Shepherd from publishing duties as well as co-develop the game with Teravision. The game, officially titled Killer Klowns from Outer Space: The Game, was released on June 4, 2024.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on April 21, 2018. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)". The Numbers. Archived from the original on October 26, 2018. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  3. ^ Buckley, Heather (July 3, 2014). "Exclusive: The Chiodo Brothers Talk Killer Klowns, Movie Making, and More!". Dread Central. Archived from the original on January 9, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  4. ^ "Killer Klowns from Outer Space". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 21, 2024.
  5. ^ "Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved February 21, 2024.
  6. ^ a b Jonathan Barkan (March 21, 2016). "'Killer Klowns from Outer Space' to Return as a TV Series?". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on October 8, 2017. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  7. ^ a b John Squires (October 18, 2016). "Stephen Chiodo Explains 'Killer Klowns from Outer Space' Trilogy Plans". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on June 13, 2017. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Syfy to Make 'Killer Klowns from Outer Space' and 'Critters' Films [Exclusive] - Bloody Disgusting". October 22, 2018. Archived from the original on November 6, 2018. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kevin Carr (October 17, 2013). "22 Things We Learned from the 'Killer Klowns From Outer Space' Commentary". Film School Rejects. Archived from the original on August 30, 2017. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  10. ^ "Killer Klowns from Outer Space film locations". The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations. Archived from the original on July 6, 2017. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  11. ^ Berrian, Roger (December 1987). "Monster Invasion". Fangoria (69): 10.
  12. ^ Stephen Chiodo. 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.
  13. ^ "10 Far Out Facts About Killer Klowns From Outer Space". www.mentalfloss.com. November 13, 2017. Archived from the original on November 27, 2020. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  14. ^ John Squires (September 20, 2016). "Did You Ever Spot the Killer Klowns in 'Ernest Scared Stupid'?!". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on August 15, 2017. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  15. ^ Killer Klowns from Outer Space Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine soundtrack info at Screen Archives Archived February 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ a b c d Mandi Nowitz (November 6, 2012). "B-List Movie of the Month: Killer Klowns from Outer Space". Den of Geek. Archived from the original on October 14, 2017. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
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  18. ^ "Killer Klowns From Outer Space [Format: DVD]". Amazon.com. August 28, 2001. Archived from the original on May 6, 2021. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  19. ^ "Killer Klowns from Outer Space Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Archived from the original on May 27, 2017. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  20. ^ Robert Saucedo (May 21, 2013). "KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE invade Vintage Park at a rare 35mm screening". Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Archived from the original on November 24, 2018. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  21. ^ "NY! See "KILLER KLOWNS" in 35mm at the Alamo Drafthouse with Fango's Michael Gingold!". Fangoria. May 28, 2014. Archived from the original on October 14, 2016. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  22. ^ Quintanilla, Michael (October 27, 1997). "How to have yourself a very Scary HALLOWEEN". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 19, 2015. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  23. ^ "Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on April 21, 2018. Retrieved May 28, 2024.
  24. ^ Leonard Klady (June 4, 1988). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Killer Klowns' Fiendishly Clever". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 9, 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ Charles Bramesco (January 20, 2016). "The try-hard charm of Killer Klowns From Outer Space created its own cult". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on October 30, 2016. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  27. ^ Charles Webb (October 2, 2012). "Review: Beware An Invasion By 'Killer Klowns From Outer Space!'". MTV.com. Archived from the original on March 2, 2016. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
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  33. ^ Aimee Murillo (June 25, 2013). "Directors Discuss the Obscure, Bizarre Films They Love". LA Weekly. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  34. ^ a b Shirey, Eric. "'Killer Klowns From Outer Space' to Return for 3D Sequel in 2012". Yahoo!. Archived from the original on August 4, 2013.
  35. ^ a b Killer Klowns from Outer Space's sequel – Killer Klowns from Outer Space Archived October 14, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ Ike Oden (September 7, 2012). "Return of the Killer Klowns star dishes new plot details". JoBlo.com. Archived from the original on April 14, 2017. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  37. ^ Dave Trumbore (March 22, 2016). "'Killer Klowns from Outer Space' Could Be Coming to TV in New Series". Collider. Archived from the original on April 30, 2017. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  38. ^ 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. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  39. ^ 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. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  40. ^ Squires, John (October 30, 2014). "10 Awesome Horror Movie Toys That Were Never Released!". Dread Central. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  41. ^ John Massari (September 7, 2016). "Orchestra Recording Session at Warner Brothers Studios: Killer Klowns from Outer Space". YouTube. Archived from the original on August 25, 2020. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  42. ^ "Halloween Horror Nights 2018: Every scare zone REVEALED". June 28, 2018. Archived from the original on September 14, 2018. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  43. ^ "MGM's Killer Klowns from Outer Space Has Landed at Halloween Horror Nights". July 25, 2019. Archived from the original on July 25, 2019. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  44. ^ Squires, John (August 27, 2019). "This Year's Official Halloween Horror Nights Merch Includes Exclusive 'Killer Klowns' Figures!". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on August 28, 2019. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  45. ^ "The 'Killer Klowns from Outer Space' Collection from Spirit Halloween This Year Includes Costumes & More!". August 31, 2021. Archived from the original on October 3, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  46. ^ "Spirit Halloween Has Added 'Killer Klowns from Outer Space' Light-Up LED Statues to Their Shop!". September 17, 2021. Archived from the original on October 3, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  47. ^ "Killer Klowns from Outer Space Is Becoming a 3v7 Multiplayer Game - Gamescom Opening Night Live". August 23, 2022. Archived from the original on August 23, 2022. Retrieved August 23, 2022.

External links[edit]