A group of annoying friends play a prank on one of their equally unlikable pals by all dressing up like clowns and kidnapping his wife on Halloween. The joke’s soon on them though as old wounds within the group resurface and the harmless prank spirals out of control. To make matters worse a stranger in a clown costume eventually starts stalking the group, and it’s obvious that he isn’t playing around. Will any of them survive to prank again?
I remember seeing The Clown Murders at the local video store when I was in middle school but couldn’t rent it because the only copy they had was in Beta format ( my family-as well as pretty much everyone else I knew-had a VHS player). I thought that the box art was creepy as hell (clowns have always given me the wiggins) and I was totally and completely intrigued by it because I assumed it was about a killer clown who gleefully dispatched of his victims in all sorts of cruel and painful ways. The film eluded me for a number of decades (and I pretty much had forgotten all about it over the years) so you can imagine how excited I was when I finally got a copy of it to check out recently after all this time. I couldn’t wait to get home and pop it in our DVD player because I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was going to rule (I even got my wife-who is also a horror fiend-pretty psyched up about seeing it as well as I talked it up like it was going to be one of the greatest horror films ever made or something). So I know what you’re thinking, did it live up to my expectations? Not even close.
Yawn. That pretty much sums up how I felt about it after everything was said and done. As I said earlier I was expecting it to be an awesome old school slasher flick about some psycho in a clown suit running around slicing and dicing a bunch of unsuspecting victims, but I was wrong. I mean come on folks, look at the synopsis up there and tell me it doesn’t sound like a kick ass little slasher flick full of blood, guts, and a slew of death scenes (it least it does to me anyway)! Instead of getting that we are treated to a long, boring movie whose plot mirrors that of a bad soap opera back in the day. To say that I was highly let down by this movie is an understatement, and to be honest I came close to turning it off several times before it was over but I managed to somehow make it all the way through to the end without giving into this temptation.
What is the biggest problem I had with the movie (and believe me when I say that I had a lot of them)? It is mind-numbingly boring. Nothing worth mentioning happens for the biggest majority of it. We get a ton of boring scenes featuring pointless dialogue and way too many flashback sequences that show the group of friends when they were younger (and help explain why certain members of their group now hate each other, but I just didn’t care. I watched this movie because I wanted to see a clown plant an axe in someone’s head, not because I gave a crap about the struggles any of the characters faced when they were younger. If I wanted to watch a movie that featured such scenes I would have watched St. Elmo’s Fire instead.
Another huge issue I had with The Clown Murders was the fact that it wasn’t scary or even remotely creepy. It really isn’t a horror film and to be honest I am even hesitant to call it a suspense/thriller as nothing suspenseful or thrilling manages to take place. It is pretty much just a slow-moving drama (and when I say slow-moving I am talking about a snail’s pace here) and if you are looking for a movie that has a lot going on that really holds your attention you’ll want to skip this one.
Other than watching it to see a young John Candy in a serious role for a change there is really no reason to waste your time with this one (and he pretty much phones in his performance as I’m sure he realized that there was no point in putting any effort into it once he discovered how bad the movie was). I don’t know if this movie is really that terrible or if there was just no way in Hell that it could live up to all the expectations I had for it after first learning about its existence as a wee lad, but I thought that it was just plain lousy. I have a hard time recommending it, but it you want to give it a shot then by all means do so, you may discover something about it that makes it great that I overlooked (but I have my doubts).
The Clown Murders (1976)