Film Monthly Home
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
Directed by Steve Sessions
Written by Steve Sessions
Starring Debbie Rochon, Lucien Eisenach, Brinke Stevens, Eric Spudic
Produced by Carol Reordan
You know…when I first got a copy of “Dead Clowns,” I looked at it, and all I could think was, this is too good to be true.
Zombie clowns. Seriously. Zombie. CLOWNS. That’s what “Dead Clowns” is about. A circus car carrying a load of clowns fell into the bay, and fifty years later, in the midst of a hurricane, the clowns come back from the dead to take revenge on the living who left them buried in their watery tombs.
Now, think about this. It’s zombie clowns. Two of horror’s biggest archetypes rolled into one? It’s like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup that fits in my DVD player and lasts for ninety minutes! You got ZOMBIES in my evil clown movie! You got EVIL CLOWNS in my zombie movie!! Even if this sucks it still can’t be that bad! The sheer ballsy audacity required to bring together these two elements—a move, I might add, that has never been done before that I can recall—is a stroke of originality unlike anything seen before.
But then, I was forced to reconsider. An all-too-familiar name drifted by on the cast list, and my jaw dropped. None other than one of my most reliable bad movie barometers: Eric Spudic. Oh holy shit, I couldn’t help but think, Eric SPUDIC is in this? Every movie I’ve ever seen that involved Eric Spudic in any way has been relentlessly craptacular.
So what could I do? I held my breath and plunged on in. Either Eric Spudic would continue to serve as a reliable indicator of a bad movie or, dammit anyway, he would break the streak and force me to regard his presence as merely a wild card. Either result would frankly be unpleasant; either I would be stripped of one of my most reliable indicators of a bad movie or I would be cheated out of what should have been one of the best freaking movies EVER.
Sadly, Eric Spudic’s status remains unchanged. It’s a downright tragedy. There’s a laundry list of problems with “Dead Clowns,” and it all boils down to the same thing:
Steve Sessions has not one damn clue about how zombies work.
First off, zombies don’t care about damage that to them is nonfatal. They don’t know how to use tools, and they definitely can’t remove a piece of plywood nailed over a window. Sessions’ zombies recoil when hit in nonfatal-for-zombies places like legs or arms. Sessions’ zombies have mastered tool usage, which even Romero zombies had a tough time with before they advanced (taking nearly thirty years to do so) to the level of Big Daddy from “Land of the Dead.” Sessions’ zombies even managed high-level strategic thinking like removing barricades piece-by-piece. And don’t even ask me how they get in through otherwise locked doors. I’m beginning to wonder if, according to Sessions, Bozo of the Dead here can pick a lock.Worse yet, it took more than half the movie for someone, ANYONE, to actually fight back against the zombies. Everyone else either tried to hide or was too dumbfounded to move. No, it took some psychopath and his lady, in the worst goth Mickey-and-Mallory knockoff I’ve seen to date, to actually PULL A WEAPON on the walking dead.
At least Sessions’ zombies manage to eat flesh. I was beginning to wonder if they’d even bother to get THAT right.
Seriously, I’m pissed off. This could have been UNBELIEVABLE. But no. Because Steve Sessions is so mindlessly fucking inept that he can’t even figure out a basic zombie movie, the most incredible concept I’ve seen in years is just shot all to hell and gone.
The ending…oh, the ending. The ending has to be the most ridiculous conclusion to a zombie movie I’ve ever seen. And frankly, it doesn’t even make much sense when you factor in the evil clowns, either.
The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, and trailers for “Dead Clowns,” “Dark Ride,” “Drive Thru,” “Mr. Jingles,” “Grim Reaper,” “Dark Harvest 3: Scarecrow” and an advertisement for Fearnet.
All in all…well…at least my Eric Spudic barometer still works. But this is the coldest kind of comfort. A beautiful idea has been utterly, utterly ruined by the most miserable execution I’ve seen since the last time I put on an Ulli Lommel film. Today I mourn.
Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.
Got a problem? E-mail us at email@example.com