Dead Clowns (V)

Someone please give this guy some money to make a film!

Steve Sessions’ ‘Dead Clowns’ is one of the most effective indie horror films I’ve seen in years- it’s too bad that certain factors in the movie ruined it from becoming a genuine cult classic.

As a hurricane approaches the small town of Port Emmett, a varied group of residents are visited by a horror that could not be denied. Fifty years ago a bridge collapsed plunging a circus train into the dark water below. The clown car was never recovered. In ‘sins of the father’ tradition, zombie clowns emerge from the bay and exact revenge on descendants of those who left them buried under the silt and mud for half a century.

I’m telling you, if Sessions had some money for a good cast, a great DP and some script guidance- he could make a terrific horror film. While watching his film ‘Dead Clowns’ I could see where he wanted to go, but couldn’t quite accomplish with the budget he had. He had visions that were only 50% brought to life. Half the movie is terrific, while the other is just god awful.

‘Clowns’ is an extremely slow paced film. Sessions directs and edits the film together like it’s a zombie itself. The way the camera moves and the way the zombie clowns are introduced are on the brink of terrifying. Adding to the camera work and the extremely dark atmosphere, there is a really lull score that leaves the scenes with a sense of dread. Silence is golden in ‘Clowns’ especially after some terrible acting sequences.

Adding the likes of Brinke Stevens and Debbie Rochon just took away from the film; it instantly took away any credibility the filmmaker had. No offense to those beautiful scream queens, but having them play leads in a film truly makes it an instant B-movie- and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. I felt bad for them as I cringed listening to them have to recite some of the most terrible dialogue I’ve heard in a while. Thank god the movie was mostly based on silence and let the camera to the talking. Who watches a movie to be told what’s happening? I like the camera to do the talking and Sessions got this half way down.

Also with the low budget Sessions was stuck using low grade stock footage of tropical storms to edit into his film. A mix of the bad acting, terrible dialogue and grainy scenes took away from what could have been a shocking horror film. But ‘Clowns’ is still worth a watch- not just because of the effective zombie clown scenes, but because of the high level of gore. Believe it or not, it wasn’t cheesy either, it looked pretty darn real at times and I truly admire Sessions for having the balls to attempt an eye gouge scene up close like in a classic Fulci film. He pretty much pulls it off with striking precision.

Sure the film is on real thin ice, but the boat can tip either way- ‘Dead Clowns’ gets close to becoming either a fabulous zombie flick or a terrible B-movie with washed up stars. Either way, you must check it out; unfortunately I think the only place you can see this right now is on DVD in the UK. Bootleggers, get to work, we need you!

Buy it here if you can watch PAL movies from the UK.

Official Score