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John’s Horror Corner: Clownhouse (1989), Victor Salva’s failed attempt at Halloween horror.

November 12, 2020

MY CALL: Just plain boring and perhaps the least entertaining clown horror I’ve seen. MORE MOVIES LIKE Clownhouse: For more (and far better) evil clown movies, try Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988), All Hallows’ Eve (2013), Terrifier (2016), Stephen King’s It (19902017), and maaaybe even Stitches (2012), Scary or Die (2012) and Clown (2014).

The opening scenes meeting the three brothers are decently done, but the film really finds its footing (however briefly) when they go to the evening circus and young Casey receives a harrowing palm reading. The fortune teller is great. A bit hammed up, but appropriately so.

Later into the evening, a trio of circus clowns are murdered and “replaced” by three murderous escaped mental patients. And these killer clowns find their way to the brothers’ house by chance. As far as creepy clowns go, sure these are creepy clowns. But they’re creepy in a “break in and rob your house” way. But not so convincing as a murderous force in a horror movie.

Occurring somewhere near Halloween eve, the movie becomes a home invasion with embarrassingly hokey action/violence. No atmosphere to speak of… no… no nothing to speak of to its credit. Clearly, writer and director Victor Salva (Jeepers Creepers 1-3, Dark House) had not yet developed the filmmaking chops that would later entertain us with Jeepers Creepers (2001) and sequels.

This shouldn’t be rated R. The death scenes are weak and off-camera, the deaths themselves are basic and uninspired, the blood and gore are nonexistent, and I found movie is quite boring. The most enjoyable part of this movie was seeing a jerky young Sam Rockwell on screen as the oldest brother Randy (Sam Rockwell; Joshua, Poltergeist).

This attempt at horror isn’t really fun (not even briefly), nor scary nor interesting. I was just waiting for something to happen. And once I realized nothing substantial was going to happen… I was just waiting for it to end. Very unsatisfying whether you wanted serious or silly horror, and ranking quite low among horror clown movies.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 12, 2020 7:24 pm


  2. November 15, 2020 8:40 am

    It seems like I remember this one but I can’t be certain. From your review it sounds quite forgettable.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      November 17, 2020 8:41 pm

      Well, there’s that. But also, and I just learned this after sharing on social media, this was apparently the film during which the director molested his child actor(s). :/ So, a bad movie made even worse by its history.

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