Welcome to the… – Clownhouse (1989)

With their garish makeup, primary-coloured outfits and their false smiles, clowns have been haunting the collective consciousness for an inordinately long time. How this race of beings ever managed to gain a foothold in society is troubling to say the least, but one has to wonder if it was not as a means of population control – culling the young while still at a vulnerable age. All of this has been chronicled in various films though Clownhouse paints them as hardworking stiffs trying to make a living and getting a few laughs along the way. In this movie, said clowns get killed by some escaped mental patients who steal their identities and go after a few teenagers, propagating the public’s fear of these painted monsters though it needed no help.

As far as slashers go, Victor Salva who writes and directs, does a good job of it despite covering some fairly familiar territory. Factoring in lunatics dressed as clowns adds a level of discomfort as many viewers find them quite frightening and more importantly, they play off the innocence of Casey, the lead character of the film, a boy played by Nathan Forrest Winters who is naturally afraid of them. There are a few murders along the way and a wee bit of blood, but nothing overly exceptional and one cannot help but feel it was a bit of a wasted opportunity for Salva to really let loose. What better situation than a home invasion by lunatic clowns try something new and yet despite that lack of innovation, the movie still managed to be quite entertaining as Salva kept the tension running high and the fate of the boys in question throughout.

With a very effective score that adds to the suspense and horror present and the maker of this film not relying upon the usual blood and guts to sell it to the audience like some of the best horror pictures of old, Clownhouse ended up being a fairly decent picture in and of itself.

3 out of 5

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