Thursday, August 28, 2014

YouTube Presents: B-Movie Sundays, part 2 of 2: Clownhouse (1989)

Oof, Clownhouse.
Where to begin? It should be noted that I watched this back-to-back with Mausoleum because the internet is addictive and I need more hobbies. I would describe it first and foremost as not nearly as fun as Mausoleum and significantly more disturbing. Like Mausoleum, it is available on YouTube (link).

The film revolves around a trio of preteen to teenage brothers who could really benefit from increased parental supervision—this definitely feels like an indictment of the late 80’s latchkey kid-ism. The first few shots of the movie depict these young boys in tightie whities and eventually shows one of their bare butts. It’s pretty uncomfortable; I turned to Rob and said, “this is really pedophilic and also not a movie you could ever make today.” As it turns out, the director Victor Salvo was molesting the youngest of the actors on set and would eventually go to jail for it. So, that’s pretty much as horrible as it gets. Salvo would go on to direct Powder and the Jeepers Creepers franchise after his release from prison, so it’s nice that he didn’t let being an awful human get in the way of his career. Guh.

Anyway…Clownhouse. The movie itself is kind of madness. The premise is that this kid Casey is afraid of clowns and pretty much everything else, and his oldest brother Randy (played by an actor* whom Rob recognized as a character with one line from the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, which made me a little sad) is basically a dickhole, and the middle brother Geoffrey is overly protective of Casey. Their dad, much like the husband in Mausoleum, seems to be a busy important businessman who is never seen but is spoken to on the phone. Is this an accepted horror movie trope? The unavailable business patriarch? If not, it should be. About 15 minutes into this movie, their mom straight up disappears. They keep referencing the fact that she won’t be home but we are never told why.
*Editor’s note: I had written most of the draft for this post before I told my very knowledgeable and hilarious friend Amanda (who writes an excellent blog at The Film Stage) about this movie, and she was like, “isn’t that Sam Rockwell?” and I was like, “yeah, I didn’t really know who he was,” and she was like “SAM ROCKWELL HAS BEEN IN EVERYTHING!” which a cursory IMDB search proves that to be true. You guys, this is why I write this blog: because I am a goddamn expert.

Meanwhile at the local asylum for the criminally insane, which is conveniently located a few blocks from the teens’ home—their house is giant, maybe it was purchased really cheaply because of this proximity?—three inmates have escaped. We are to learn nothing about them—not their names, not why they were incarcerated, not their motivations, nothing. In fact, I could be wrong but I don’t believe that any of the three of them utters a single line and they are on screen for a good 70% of this movie.

 After breaking out, the lunatics head to the local circus where Casey had earlier been frightened by a clown, causing him to run out of the circus tent and thus humiliate himself in front of THE WHOLE TOWN. I love how in horror movies, this kind of shit always happens in front of THE WHOLE TOWN. So effective in terms of shame. Anyway, you can see where this is going: the lunatics kill the real clowns, who are innocently just trying to slam some whiskey after the show, and take their clown gear.

(true story: it took me an extra day to finish this post because I was like “WHAT DOES A CIRCUS TENT LOOK LIKE?" Answer: NOT THAT.)

Why would they kill the clowns and take their identities, you ask? They don’t try to assimilate anywhere in the circus or the town as clowns so really, it doesn’t matter why! In fact, I sort of feel like that should be the tagline of this movie: IT DOESN’T MATTER WHY.

Speaking of things that have no actual cause, the three lunatic-fringe clowns then cruise over to the enormous home where the three boys are alone and seemingly just decide to kill them. Why? IT DOESN’T MATTER WHY. The clowns are actually pretty scary, though—I don't normally do this but I wanted to include an actual still from the film so you can see for yourself. This is the leader of the lunatic clowns, impersonating local folk hero clown Cheezo.

Why is the image of a clown waving so horrifying?

The clowns chase these kids pretty much up and down the block and around their house. These kids, I swear—I know that I have never been chased by a bad guy in my own home so it’s hard for me to say what exactly I’d do, but recently one of my cats caught a bird (in my house! it broke in by pecking a hole in an upstairs window screen) and when I went to see what all the commotion was, I guess I surprised the cat and he opened his mouth, releasing a terrifying flying creature that came RIGHT AT ME. I thought it was a bat and I turned heel and ran right out the front door. NOT UP THE STAIRS.

Why are people always running up the stairs? There is no escape from there! You are trapping yourselves! I don’t even care if you die at that point.

Another day, another horror movie where I have decided that people deserve to die. Am I a bad person for thinking that? I couldn’t tell you, but I guess I would actually recommend Clownhouse if only because clowns are the worst possible things on the planet and because stuff that's free is the best. You're welcome!

No comments:

Post a Comment