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Clownhouse (1988): The Only Thing Scarier than Clowns Is Incompetent Clowns

Clownhouse (Victor Salva, 1988)

[originally posted 1Feb2002]

A clown slowly opens a sliding door on the VHS box.

Heeeeeeeeeeeeere’s BUBBLES!
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I really don’t want to say Clownhouse is a bad film. I mean, you’ve got a standup comic (Tree) dressed up as a psychotic killer clown menacing three teenage boys with his two equally psychotic associates. It’s a late-eighties horror flick. I mean, how bad can it be?

A clown makes a face at a movie poster in a still from the film.

“Of course he deserves to die. Look at his taste in movies!”
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Well, the answer is, pretty bad. And as much as the recent rash of email chain letters attempting to get Salva’s films boycotted drives me to want to contribute to Salva’s coffers, I’d rather watch Powder for twenty-four hours back-to-back than sit through this dog again. Salva enjoys descending into the realm of teen sex comedy humor all too often, including the inevitable masturbation jokes. Salva (who also wrote the screenplay) has a less then fine ear for dialog. At times, in fact, it gets positively hideous.

The movie's three teenaged protagonists have a conversation in a still from the film.

“Well, at least we can rest assured that Members Only is forever.”
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It probably says more than I ever could about the film that only two of the ten top-billed actors in the film, Sam Rockwell (whose film debut was Clownhouse, and who has since gone on to such films as The Green Mile, Heist, and Galaxy Quest) and Karlheinz Teuber (coming back to the screen next year in Kung Phooey), made more than one film after Clownhouse.

Do yourself a favor and avoid it like the plague. * ½


About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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