CLOWNHOUSE (Victor Slava, 1989)


“Clownhouse”, is, bluntly and unpredictably, one of the very decent slasher films of the 80s. And I can imagine, just how your thoughts are as of now, since I have been there while in that horror section with my brother. It sounds ridiculous, and you look at the poster of the film, and you think: “How in the hell?” But it’s very true, and I hope you have faith in believing me when I say it, that, not only is “Clownhouse” a nice, good, terrifying time. But also, that it manages to, also, be a coming-of-age story, with subtleties that some (including me) could either understand, or relate to on some sort of personal level. Yes, “Clownhouse” does that.

When the film is at its terrifying moments, it manages to be startling, slightly disturbing, but fun – and manages to do so without showing a hint of gore. Like “Halloween”, “Clownhouse” is near bloodless, and uses cinematography, lighting, and music to send chills up the viewer’s spine. There is one scene, needing to be noted. It takes place in an attic, and it is one of the most startling and creepy scenes in the film – and it is all done with lighting.

Smart is director Victor Slava (who directed, the very slightly underrated, “Jeepers Creepers”) when he constructs his story, by breathing life into his characters and letting their believable personalities, and their simple teenage angst, help the viewer connect to the terror they have to endure. The film’s main character is Casey (Nathan Forrest Winters), the youngest of three siblings and a boy deeply terrified of clowns. His older brothers, the caring Geoffrey (Brian McHugh) and the bullying and annoying Randy (a young Sam Rockwell), literally force Casey into going to the circus with them, where Casey has to literally face the fears he has. The story picks up from there as, the three boys return home (parents are away) and are literally stalked by three psychotic clowns.

Yes, yes, I know, I know. Sounds pathetic, right? … But it’s not! What Salva does with the film is makes it more deep than necessary. The three siblings are believable, and they all bounce off characteristically without a stroke of dishonesty. One scene that should definitely be mentioned, is a subtle moment in which big, bad ass Randy holds scaredy-cat Casey’s hand down a dark lane. It’s subtleties like that, that make you respond deeply to the later parts when the clowns show up, and wreck havoc at their home.

This review is jumbled, I know. I mean, I wrote it in fifteen minutes and I’ve gone days without sleep, but I want to get it out there, that while “Clownhouse” looks like another cheap and badly done Halloween-wannabe; it in no way is – and is a surprisingly worthy. I really hope that, with this review, I can get some to try to see the film here soon, for “Halloween”, or for whenever. Because, while “Clownhouse” may seem pathetic, it definitely isn’t; and it is surprisingly brilliant. Give it a shot. You’ll be surprised.


~ by jerkwoddjh on May 11, 2009.

One Response to “CLOWNHOUSE (Victor Slava, 1989)”

  1. Thankfully some bloggers can still write. Thank you for this read

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