Movies From the Black Lagoon: Dead Clowns
Movies From the Black Lagoon
Dead Clowns - 2003, Rated R
By Tom Doty
If you have lowered expectations when it comes to "clown/zombie "flicks then you'll love this entry in the undead cinema oeuvre. Those of you who insist on such outdated notions as production values, however, will be brutally disappointed.
It starts with scenes of several folks getting ready to sit out a hurricane at a place called Port Emmet (no doubt a nod to the world's most infamous clown). These folks are mostly solo so you never get to hear their names. They consist of a young woman, a security guard, a wheelchair bound guy whose mother wants him to come back home, and a couple who have chosen the wrong weekend to revisit her home town. Turns out that they have much more to fear than gale force winds and a little precipitation because fifty years ago a circus train plummeted off the town bridge during a similar storm.
If you've guessed that the clown car was never recovered then you deserve a few toots on a French horn. The storm hits and we are treated to an oversized shoe emerging from the surf. A fleet of the whey-faced fools follows it but their make-up has long since succumbed to the depths (along with most of their skin). They may be dead but these guys are honked off at something and begin coming after the isolated townsfolk.
What follows are several scenes of merry mayhem as our sealed in islanders must fight off the elements as well as a gaggle of zombies sporting checkered shirts and footwear with bells on it. There are also bonus victims who show up because they are on the lam from the authorities after robbing and murdering a man of the cloth. They are probably the worst actors in the film but that's okay as one of them gets the best death via a meat thermometer to the eyeball (in an ode to the famous 'death by splinter" bit from Lucio Fulci's 'Zombie').
That's pretty much it for the plot. There's not a lot of dialog (good thing too considering the quality of the thespians) but the make-up effects are top notch as is the sense of doom and gloom that hangs over the film.
There is an attempt at a clever ending. It involves painting a memorial sign for the forgotten clowns who received no such tribute in their fifty years at the bottom of the bay. Unfortunately but the hurricane erases it before the jesters can retire to their watery grave.
This is no "Zombie land" but the film works for the most part, and looks good. This film is a testament to the ability to save a movie when it's in post-production. Here the best jobs are done by people who came along after the film was shot such as the sound crew. These guys do an amazing job of aiding the creepiness factor. They lay over some great munching and slurping noises over the zombies which drives home the message that these clowns are out for blood, literally as well as figuratively.
Best line: " Man. I bet I have a piece of brain in my hair."
Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail and to read to children every Wednesday at 10:30am at Borders in Hagerstown. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: email@example.com.